DIY vintage placemats

I’ve got a goal in mind: make everybody handmade Christmas presents this year (sorry, I did it, I mentioned Christmas but with such a goal I need to start now). More of my goal to come, a whole post in fact, but for now I want to show you one present I’ve already made that I’m really rather pleased with – and might have to keep for myself. Ha!

So far with the vintage wallpaper that I bought from Sarah Moore Vintage I have been able to do a vintage makeover on my bathroom cabinet and line a chest of drawers. I have just enough left to make a set of six placemats. I’ve seen lots of people covering placemats with photographs of their children and such so I thought I’d experiment with the wallpaper.

I’m really pleased with the outcome…

You will need:

Wallpaper  that I bought from Sarah Moore Vintage or you could try pretty wrapping paper (just use less PVA and more varnish).

Cork placemats that I bought from Amazon but if you have an old set of mats at home you can re-purpose those.

PVA glue and a brush.

Clear acrylic varnish and a brush.

Pencil and scissors.


DIY vintage wallpaper covered placemats by

1. Draw round your mats onto the wallpaper and cut out. Cut ever so slightly within your line so that the paper is an exact fit and does not hang over the edge of the cork mat at all.

DIY vintage wallpaper covered placemats by

2. Pour a lot of PVA glue onto the wallpaper and spread out using a brush (use far less if you’re using wrapping paper as it will wrinkle badly). Make sure every single bit of the paper is covered right up to the edges. However, don’t get any PVA on the right side of the wallpaper.

DIY vintage wallpaper covered placemats by

3. Stick the paper onto the mat and smooth out any air bubbles. Make sure you line the paper up with the board as accurately as possible. If any glue squeezes out run your finger round the edge of the board and smear it over the cork board – try not to let it go onto the paper.

DIY vintage wallpaper covered placemats by

4. Leave to dry for at least four hours and weigh it down with a big heavy book, otherwise the mats can curl up at the edges slightly (which I found out when I tried the first one).

DIY vintage wallpaper covered placemats by

5. When the mat is completely dry start applying lots of thin layers of the varnish, leaving about an hour between each coat. I did about five coats (you may need more if you’ve used thin wrapping paper). Make sure you paint the varnish round the sides of the mats too (I put mine on top of food tins to let the sides dry).

DIY vintage wall paper covered placemats by

Finished! This project is quite time consuming but it’s very, very easy to get a really good finish if you’re patient.

DIY Vintage wall paper covered placemats by

Ready for a little vintage tea.

Now I have to decide who to give them to…

Katy x




  1. Farah
    13th November 2013 / 10:07 pm

    Me! They are DELIGHTFUL and as you may have noticed I have terrible placemats.

    • katy
      16th November 2013 / 10:51 am

      Ha ha! Too late! I’ve taken such a shine to them they are in full use on my dining table, I’m afraid. I could be persuaded to make another set though…

  2. 14th November 2013 / 8:00 pm

    Great idea – thanks for sharing! Did you have any problems with the paper wrinkling with the PVA glue? I had terrible trouble when trying to mount vintage wallpaper to mount board with PVA and ended up ruining lots 🙁 I resorted to Mod Podge, and rolled out all the air bubbles and smoothed it with a rolling pin – worked a treat!

    • katy
      14th November 2013 / 9:40 pm

      Oh no! The wallpaper is pre-shrunk so it shouldn’t wrinkle at all. If you use wrapping paper then you need to be really careful as it can wrinkle up very badly so it’s best to use far less glue and stick it down in stages so you can push out the air bubbles x

  3. 22nd November 2013 / 7:30 pm

    Great idea!! I have two lovely rolls of vintage wallpaper and have had a few ideas with what to do with them, but had not thought of this. They look really good. No wonder you wanted to keep them for yourself. X

    • katy
      23rd November 2013 / 4:40 pm

      Thanks, Melanie. I need to start collecting vintage fabrics now – you’ve inspired me! x

  4. 31st January 2014 / 1:19 pm

    This is pure genius, thank you thank you!!! I’ve been looking for some placemats for about three years now and just haven’t found any to suit my style! I’m off to order wallpaper and cork mats as we speak!!!

    • katy
      5th February 2014 / 10:12 am

      So glad you like it. Send me a pic when you’ve made them 🙂

  5. Dawn
    23rd March 2015 / 6:25 pm

    love your place mats, very pretty. Could you tell me how thick your chosen cork is and how did you cut out the shape or are they pre cut. I am going to give it a try. I bought clear varnish but it is not acrylic like I thought would this be ok to use or not
    Thanks x

    • Katy
      24th March 2015 / 8:54 am

      Hi Dawn. So glad you’re going to give the mats a try. I actually bought a set of plain cork place mats from Amazon for under £10 (search for cork placemats). In terms of the varnish, it’s probably best to do a tester and see how that works – you don’t want the varnish to be ‘sticky’ in any way ie when you put a hot plate on the mat it begins to melt the varnish. Hope that helps x

  6. KP
    10th May 2015 / 4:40 pm

    Could this be done with clear glass placemats – if the patterned paper was applied to the underside of the glass so that it showed through the glass?

    • Katy
      10th May 2015 / 5:41 pm

      Yes, absolutely no reason why not. Only thing I would say is that you should test whatever glue you use first to check it dries transparent on glass 🙂

  7. Nessa
    12th November 2015 / 8:46 am

    Hi, I love this, have got some old cork placemats that need a new lease of life.

    Instead of using wrapping paper or wall paper, could you use photo paper? I have some gorgeous photos that i could re-size and print for making these cork placemats. Thanks

    • Katy
      12th November 2015 / 8:49 am

      Hi Nessa, I am not sure about photo paper. Maybe do a trial before you start as I’m not sure how the glue and water would work with the ink and texture of photos. Hope it goes well! x

  8. Daphne
    5th February 2018 / 11:15 am

    Hi Katy,
    I m very impressed with what you have done and am recycling my old place mats by replacing them with new wallpaper. Do I hv to remove the old prints on the old mats? Also if the old mats are coated with varnish can I stick on the new wall paper without removing the varnish?

    Thanks n best regards,

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