Make Over Your Desk with Wallpaper Scraps

DIY Desk Makeover via the ModCloth Blog

During our last flea market outing, we spotted a classic vintage school desk that was just begging for a makeover – and picked it up for the price of $3 (bargained down from $5)! To give it a brand new look, we dressed it up in the Top Floral Apartment Temporary Wallpaper that also adorns our office. This vintage desk acts as a perfect entryway table, and welcomes any gal-on-the-go with a place to set her shoes, bag, or sweater, all while providing a wealth of stylish inspiration.

Study the directions below, then ace this clever back-to-school DIY with a smart-looking desk of your own!

DIY Desk Makeover via the ModCloth Blog


  • Thrifted desk or table
  • Temporary wallpaper trimmings from your latest project
  • Paint
  • Craft glue or Polyurethane
  • Sanding block or sand paper
  • Utility knife
  • Tape
  • Brushes
  • Scissors

1. Prep your desk. Clean away the cobwebs and sand any sketches, etchings, or edges smooth. Once finished, use a towel to wipe away dust and debris.

DIY Desk Makeover via the ModCloth Blog

2. Paint your piece with your favorite spray or brush-on paint. We chose a brilliant gold to match the floral motif on our wallpaper — but a cool pastel might offer some clever contrast. Our project required two cans of paint, which yielded two complete coats on the desk and its shelf. Remember to paint and finish your desk in a well ventilated area!

DIY Desk Makeover via the ModCloth Blog

3. After selecting the perfect wallpaper scraps to fit the desktop and seat, tape each piece down to carefully trace the edges. Use scissors to trim any excess paper, then confirm that each piece has the perfect outline.

DIY Desk Makeover via the ModCloth Blog

4. Remove the backing and fasten the wallpaper to each surface, smooth bubbles with a card or another flat tool. Don’t forget that temporary wallpaper can be removed and reapplied, so you can take a second try if an angle seems a bit off.

DIY Desk Makeover via the ModCloth Blog

5. Trim away the wallpaper over any details using a utility knife. We chose to expose the gold-painted bolts that adorn the seat and slats.

DIY Desk Makeover via the ModCloth Blog

6. Apply your finish with a brush, allowing for it to dry between coats. We gave our desk two coats of poly across all of the patterned surfaces, which sealed the wallpaper permanently. You could also use that Mod Podge that’s in your craft supplies.

DIY Desk Makeover via the ModCloth Blog

7. Find the perfect spot in your foyer!

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How are you settling into your new space? Be sure to share your before-and-after photos!

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  1. desireapril 09/06/2013 at 10:25 am #

    Wow! I really love the transformation, you created a beautiful piece.

  2. Bernadine Sengalrayan 09/07/2013 at 2:16 am #

    I’ve been wanting to do something with my desk for ages and even set aside a great poster as the wallpaper alternative. This post is great, with clear instructions and easy to follow pictures. Definitely my next ‘big’ craft project. Thumbs up, Chris!

  3. Mae East 09/07/2013 at 9:29 pm #

    agh! Love this DIY! and great timing — I just purchased some temporary wall paper decals and decorated my sewing machine (today, actually :). I love this tutorial, makes me think “go bigger”.

  4. Kathy S. 10/28/2013 at 6:26 pm #

    Great idea! Very imaginative and how cute in the foyer. Perfect to drop your stuff at the end of the day. Thanks for sharing : )

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