Condo Blues: How to Paint a Color Block School Desk

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

How to Paint a Color Block School Desk

Friends, I have a massive treat for you today! Carmen De La Paz host of HGTV’s Hammer Heads and one of my favorite DIY gals, is guest posting today on Condo Blues! 

*Lisa falls over and faints in excitement*

Easily transform an old school desk with vibrant colors using a color blocking technique to create a classic diamond pattern with two tones of color. This back-to-school desk refresh could even be a fun project for parents and kids to work on together!

For high traffic furniture I always recommend a fresh coat of Satin Enamel paint – It has high durability, will accept the next layer of paint well and is easily cleaned with a damp cloth.

 Back to School Desk 

 Student Desk Before

1" ScotchBlue Painter’s Tape w/ EdgeLock
Paint tarps & paint rags 
1” & 2” angled paint brush
2”square brush
9” roller
paint tray
can opener

4’ T-Square
Measuring tape
12” speed square or 18” ruler will be helpful

Color Palette
Desk Base Coat:  Polar Bear (Behr: Interior - Satin Enamel 1875)
Lighter Pink: Pink Chintz (Behr: Satin Enamel 100B-4)
 Hot Pink:  Springtime Blossom (Behr: Satin Enamel 100B-5)


1. Starting with a wooden school desk – select two tones of the same color – in this case a strong hot pink and pastel pink. “Color-block” the drawers by painting half in one color and the other half in the second color.  Feel free to alternate colors in the drawers or place the adjacent – as you see fit for your design.

2. Paint the top of the desk in the lighter pink shade and let it dry completely.

3. Once the paint on top of the desk has dried, line out the diamond pattern and mask out with ScotchBlue Painter’s Tape w/EdgeLock (2080 EL). Note that you may have to do a little math to divide out the desk top and determine what spacing you’d like.

TIP:  How to create your design
  • I like to render it into a computer 
  • Before doing any work on the desk play with dimension and design. Play with the lay out by taping out a few diamonds. 
4. Follow the artist’s rule of dividing your canvas into thirds. Divide the top of the desk into three, and then divide each of the three sections in half. This will give you evenly spaced peak points for your diamonds. Start your layout in the center of the middle column to ensure the design is centered on the desk and work your way out toward the edges. Once it is laid out, mask out along drawn lines and paint using a foam roller for a smooth and even finish.

  • Use a foam roller for a nice even application. Foam rollers don’t pick paint back like a regular nap roller
  • Let paint dry well before applying next coat. It’s always better to build up coats as opposed to applying a thick layer of paint. Paint applied in one thick coat will have a tendency to sag, droop or drip.  

5. Once the paint has fully dried, gently pull tape back by angling the edge at 45 degrees to reveal crisp edges, lines and corners.   

6. Expect to apply two coats of paint.

  • Changing the drawer pulls when working on a piece goes a long way with the final impact of reviving ANY piece.
Student Desk After

Thanks Carmen! This is a great idea to spill up a hand me down/thrift store/had-it-longer-than-I have-known-Husband-it’s-beat- up-and-looking-sad* desk in time for back to school.

*OK, maybe that last one is just me. Seriously, though, I have a freebie student desk that could use a paint job. 

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