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Upcycling for Good

Paint a school desk

Turn an old school desk into a stylish side table or hallway feature.

Resene upcycling for good with Sarah Herring - Project 48

Finished project
Finished project

You will need: Sandpaper or electric sander, testpot brushes, painter’s masking tape and scissors, access to a printer if you make your own stencil, Resene Waterborne Smooth Surface Sealer, Resene Aquaclear (optional), Resene testpots in: Resene Yes Please, Resene Porter and Resene Shabby Chic.

Top tip: Upcycled industrial items like this work really well alongside modern furnishings to give your home an eclectic style. A piece like this is also a great way to introduce pops of colour that you might not be brave enough to attempt on a larger scale.

Prior to refinishing
Finished project
Finished project
Finished project
Finished project
Step 1 Step one
Step 2Step two
Step 2 Step two

Step 1: Remove any stickers or similar that may be on your desk. Then sand. Sarah used sanded the exterior with an electric sander, but sanding by hand with sandpaper would work just as well. Sarah deliberately left the desk a little rough, as she wanted to keep as much of the age and character as possible. All the dents and dings make it more charming as a feature piece!

Step 2: For a different look, rather than the obvious choice of painting over the timber, paint the desk legs instead. Because the legs were smooth Sarah applied one coat of Resene Waterborne Smooth Surface Sealer to prepare them for painting.

Step 3 Step three
Step 3 Step three
Step 4 Step four

Step 3: Once the Resene Waterborne Smooth Surface Sealer is completely dry, apply two coats of your chosen colour to the desk legs. Sarah used Resene Yes Please – she loves this colour, and it really pops alongside the old wooden desktop.

Step 4: Paint a fun motif on the desktop to modernise it a bit without losing the charm of the old timber. Print out letters onto thick card and use a craft knife to carefully cut them out and make stencils. If you don’t have a printer this can be easily achieved at a print shop, or if you are confident you could paint your letters freehand!

Step 5 Step four
Step 6Step five
Completed Step six

Step 5: Paint each letter to spell out the word ‘hello’ on the table top using Resene Porter and a detail brush. Apply two coats allowing dry time in between.

Step 6: Add a simple strip of colour to the table top in Resene Shabby Chic and give the desk a gloss finish by applying three coats of Resene Aquaclear - this is optional but it makes the desk look a bit more glam. Now style your desk with flowers and books, hang a cute mirror above it and make a feature of it in your hallway or living space!

Upcycling for Good

You can find a huge range of treasures, from ornaments and picture frames, to furniture and toys at your local Salvation Army store that you can easily upcycle with a little Resene paint and some imagination.

"Our Family Stores are full of treasures generously donated by members of the public. We value these donations and try our hardest to re-purpose and sell as much as possible. We’re all about re-using and recycling, so teaming up with Resene on Upcycling for Good was a perfect match. Resene’s products and tips are a natural fit with our pre-loved furniture and accessories, which are usually great quality but could sometimes do with a lick of paint to ensure they fly off the shelves.

Each year, nationally, our stores save 16,000 tonnes from landfill. This initiative increases the value of the donated product, improves the range of goods for our customers, and furthers The Salvation Army’s mission and Resene’s community activity.” Gareth Marshall, The Salvation Army's National Family Store Manager.

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