DIY Mid-century marquetry project using vinyl

Have you noticed that wood marquetry is making a comeback? I’ve spotted countless mid-century pieces with a variety of shapes and patterns adorning the wood. If you’d like to recreate this look in your own home without spending a fortune, you can upcycle your furniture yourself and here’s how…

Traditionally, marquetry would be quite a complex process that involved cutting a variety of types of wood into shapes and inlaying the pieces to form a pattern on the surface of a piece of furniture. It was tricky, time-consuming and a real skill. Hand-decorated furniture like this can go for hundreds, if not thousands, of pounds and are genuine heirloom pieces. But if you want to get the look in your own home without splashing the cash, it can be DIYed.

All you need is an old, tired piece of furniture and some of wood-effect vinyl. The self-adhesive vinyl that I used in this project was from and I chose a variety of wood-effect colours including oak, birch and beech. You can cut out whatever pattern you like from vinyl, either by using a computer-programmed cutting machine or by tracing the design onto the backing paper of the adhesive vinyl and cutting out with a craft knife.

The key to achieving a marquetry look is using a selection of wood colours and cutting the shapes with the wood grain in the same direction. This makes the design look well thought out and professionally finished. Wood effect vinyl even has a grain texture embossed into the surface, so it feels like wood to the touch too.  

If you’d like to see the step-by-step process for transforming this tatty old telephone table into a beautiful mid-century marquetry piece, read my DIY post on the Safestore blog “How to to upcycle a telephone table with seat”. You can use this technique to refresh any piece of wooden furniture with a fun pattern or playful design. You could even add coloured self-adhesive vinyl to create a design that has a splash of vibrant colour to coordinate with your decor.

To complete this project I also used a great product by Rust-Oluem. Their ‘Direct to Vinyl’ spray paint refreshes vinyl seat covers with ease and creates a flexible surface. I used it to cover the scratches and scuffs on the old seat of the telephone table and now it looks like new!

I picked up a retro telephone from the charity shop for just £5 and it’s in perfect working order. The only thing is that it doesn’t have a hash key so I can’t use it to phone call centres haha! My compact marble lamp is from Iconic Lights and was reduced to only £10 – what a bargain. I really like the way that the black marbled base picks out the darker oak colours of the marquetry pattern. The adjustable lamp makes this mid-century telephone table look more contemporary too and is just the right side for the tabletop.

What do you think of the finished piece? Would you have wood-effect marquetry in your own home? Let me know if you have a go at this technique or tag me in your photos on instagram @cassiefairy if you’ve made something similar your self.



Please take care, stay safe and use common sense when following the advice, projects, recipes or ideas from Your use of any information or materials on this website is entirely at your own risk. Please read our Terms and Conditions, our Privacy Policy and Disclosure for more information. Thanks!


If my DIY projects or money-saving articles have helped you please consider supporting the 'My Thrifty Life' blog to enable me to create new content. I really appreciate every donation and it allows me to continue helping readers to live a lovely life on a budget 🙂

Posted by

Cassie is a freelance writer with a Masters degree in lifestyle promotion studies. She loves to 'get the look for less' so regularly shares thrifty fashion posts, DIY interior design ideas and low-cost recipes on her blog.

Share your comments, tips and ideas...

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.