Creative Ideas for Decorating an Old School Desk

école d"avant image by Jean-Michel POUGET from

Turn an old school desk into a decorative accent piece that no teacher would recognise. Maintain the desk's vintage spirit with photos and prints, or be bold with paint and fabric to give it a whole new look. Keep it studious and staid with sepia tones or transform it into a bright burst of colour for a family room or a child's bedroom.

Collage Desktop

Create a charming, vintage-style desktop with decoupaged photos or prints arranged in a collage. Find royalty-free photos online, photocopy old family pictures or search for old-fashioned pictures and books at flea markets. Glue the photos to the desktop with craft glue or découpage medium. If the photos look like new, mix a tablespoon of walnut stain with a pint of clear acrylic finish. Apply the mixture to the glued-on photos to seal them. If the photos are antiqued, use découpage medium as a sealer instead.

Hearts and Flowers Desk

An old school desk can serve as an end table or a night stand when it's decorated in a cottage style. Use shades of green on the metal desk supports to suggest vines and leaves, and paint the desktop off-white or ivory. Create a surprise--paint the inside of the desk bright red. Use heart and flower stencils on the desktop, choosing reds and pinks for the hearts and outlining them in gold. Stencil flowers in varying shades of one colour or select three or four different colours.

Jewel Box

Turn your old school desk into a glamorous jewel box. Paint the outside black or navy blue, and glue black or navy-blue velvet to the inside. Trim the outside edges of the lid with sparkling silver trim from a fabric store, or glue a line of faux jewels around the desktop's perimeter. Stencil a tiara in the centre of the top using metallic silver spray paint, and use the same paint on the wrought-iron supports.


A whimsical creature will emerge when you open the desktop and think of it as wide, gaping jaws. Paint the interior a deep red and add a tongue and a few teeth. On the outside, slather on lavender paint to create a purple hippo body. Cover the supports with chocolate brown for legs. Or give the desk a coat of froggy spring-green, paint the upright portions of the supports dark green and create frog feet at the bottom with black paint. Use stencils to add such features as eyes and horns.

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