Optimizing My Writing Space: DIY Desk Makeover

This is the reveal of my new and improved desk!

I discussed some ideas I had for optimizing my writing space in this post, and after an at times hellish week, my desk revamp is now complete. The process of repainting and stenciling my hand-me-down laminate desk was more time and energy consuming than I originally thought it would be, but I’m very pleased with the end result, and I’ve learned *a lot* about painting (laminate) furniture.

Here is what my desk looked like when I began the project. (You can see that I tested my metallic paint on the keyboard shelf by the time I thought to take a “before” photo.)

plain laminate desk before paint


And here is the end result, after spray painting, stenciling, and sealing.

Painted and Stenciled Laminate Desk




Create an inviting and inspirational workspace to make the idea of sitting and writing for hours on end more appealing.


  1. Laminate Desk
  2. Spray Paint (I used 4 cans of Krylon Fusion for Plastic in Metallic Shimmer on the base and ~1.5 cans of Krylon Dual Superbond Paint + Primer in Ivory Satin for the desk top.)
  3. Stencils of choice
  4. Acrylic Paint (I used three colors I had laying around from a previous project for the stenciling)
  5. Foam Brushes to apply acrylic paint
  6. 1 spray can of Minwax Polycrylic in Clear with Satin finish (to protect desk top)
  7. 220 Sandpaper to sand between coats of polycrylic
  8. Tarp to protect garage floor
  9. Boxes to stand furniture on while painting
  10. Internet Access for continual research

Process (actual not necessarily recommended):

  1. Research via Pinterest for tips on painting laminate
  2. Decide spray paint is the answer to “easy” furniture makeovers and that you want your desk to be a metallic copper
  3. Run all over more than one town looking for the only spray paint that explicitly states it is made to work with laminate (Krylon Dual Superbond Paint + Primer) only to find it is unavailable at most locations and is definitely unavailable in copper
  4. After being lied to by a sales associate regarding the presence of the desired paint in silver, settle on a silver paint made for plastic (because plastic and laminate are basically the same thing, right?)
  5. Also purchase a can of spray polyurethane that is not the polycrylic you thought you needed only to discover you were correct and that the purchased product needs to be returned
  6. Test the paint on the keyboard shelf to make sure it doesn’t simply refuse to stick
  7. Talk father into helping to paint the desk he gave you
  8. Run out of metallic spray paint after base is painted (desk top is still original laminate)
  9. Decide the metallic paint is darker than you expected and so desk top is going to be painted ivory and stenciled (because it should be a simple process, right?)
  10. Do more research regarding stenciling furniture
  11. Run all over more than one town (again) looking for ivory paint made for laminates (found at 1st store, score!–along with foam brushes and sandpaper), correct spray polycrylic (found at 3rd store), and stencils (found at 6th store).
  12. After spray painting desk top ivory, spend 7 hours painting the stencils in a filthy garage in 90+ degree heat, bent over the desk top and unable to sit
  13. Decide the stencils can be cleaned later because your back is killing you (they are still waiting to be cleaned and I’m still in pain)
  14. Due to pain, ask dad to help again by applying polycrylic to desk top and sanding between each coat (3 were recommended, 5 were applied and then the can was empty so we–he–stopped)
  15. Have dad move the desk to new apartment, put it back together, and take picture of end product…1 hellish week complete!

Lessons Learned & Tips for Future Projects:

  1. Plan ahead. *Way* ahead.
  2. When trying a new technique (all of this was new to both me and my dad), begin with a smaller project (like a box, a frame, an end table, etc.).
  3. Don’t attempt to complete entire project in 1 week.
  4. Purchase all needed materials ahead of time, perhaps via the internet to avoid driving around everywhere only to find your desired materials are unavailable.
  5. Painting wood furniture instead of laminate furniture would also make purchasing materials easier, as there are many more products available for painting wood.
  6. Choose more temperate weather for outdoor projects (meaning not humid and 90+ degrees)
  7. Hmmm, I know there are more but I’m drawing a blank, so I’ll end with have fun with it and enjoy the final product of all your hard work!


Although this was a difficult and trying process, I’m extremely pleased with the end result and look forward to using my pretty new desk (once the desk top has plenty of time to dry). It was certainly worth all the work.

Now I find myself eyeing up various pieces of furniture as possible future projects. I won’t be taking them on any time soon (after all, I have some smaller crafts in the works to continue upgrading my work space) but this project definitely has not turned me off from painting and/or stenciling furniture in the future.

The possibilities seem endless…and I have this end table that would look lovely in a metallic copper!

Sources of Inspiration and Information (in no particular order):

  1. Everything I Know About Spray Paint!” and “Painting Furniture 101” by All Things Thrifty
  2. How to Spray Paint Furniture Like a Pro!” by Classy Clutter
  3. Bling for the Bedroom–A Silver Nightstand–Sold” by The Ordinary Made Extraordinary
  4. Painting Laminate Furniture” by Gluesticks
  5. Table Redo for $12–Holla! + My Best Tips on How to Spray Paint Furniture” by The House of Smiths
  6. DIY Desk Makeover” by The Chronicles of Ruthie Hart
  7. DIY Thrift Store Desk Makeover (Using Silver Leaf!)” by LiveLoveDIY
  8. Make It Nice Again” by Pinterest & the Pauper

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