Watercolor Desk

One of my favorite things about renting a booth has been making new friends who have quickly become like family. People that share the thrill of finding that hidden gem, or bringing old things back to life. Take this old desk, for example. It became a shop family project as we gave it a watercolor desk makeover.


Aqua/ Turquoise & White Water-color Desk | PlumDoodles.com


Ramona and I shared the cost of this little desk, then began to sand the old white latex paint. A lot of it just peeled off in strips. It’s important to prime before painting if using latex so that this doesn’t happen. We were glad the previous owner didn’t prime, though.

The old paint was kind of like a bad sunburn. You know how the skin starts peeling and you just can’t stop picking at it? Yeah, like that. Soon, the whole gang was peeling. The paint, that is.


Desk Makeover- helpers needed | PlumDoodles.com


I ended up using paint stripper to remove the last stubborn remnants.


Desk stripped | PlumDoodles.com


After some sanding to smooth out the surface, Ramona and I decided (after much hemming and hawing) to paint the body of the desk white, and the drawers aqua.

We were missing one drawer pull, so we decided to replace the 2-hole pulls with single-hole knobs. We added wood filler to the holes then painted the drawers aqua.

The aqua color seemed too plain, so we decided to add a whitewash for a watercolor look. Same technique I used on the whitewashed wooden crate and the beachy end table.


Watercolor Drawers | PlumDoodles.com


We couldn’t stop there, so we also added the aqua- whitewash combo to the desk top. The aqua:


Aqua desk top | PlumDoodles.com


And with the whitewash. See how it just adds a little more interest?


Beachy Watercolor Desktop | PlumDoodles.com


You can see in the close-ups that we also glazed the white areas with my favorite taupe glaze. This gave it a sort of driftwood look, in keeping with the beachy theme that was emerging.

As you know, I use polyurethane or polycrylic on most of my pieces. Ramona likes to use wax. For this desk, we combined our preferences: For extra durability, I applied one coat of clear varnish to the top, and Ramona will be applying wax over the whole thing. I couldn’t wait to share it with you, so I took the “final” pictures before she had an opportunity to come back and finish.

I had some simple brushed nickel knobs left over from our laundry room cabinets, so we decided to go with those.


Beachy watercolor desk makeover | PlumDoodles.com


You can see in this picture that we didn’t get all the holes filled perfectly. Not really noticeable unless you have your face this close, though.


White and blue desk | PlumDoodles.com


What do you think? Should we have stayed safe with a neutral color?


Beachy Watercolor Desk | PlumDoodles.com









  1. Nope this is lovely it really looks like the beach! I like the nickel pulls on it too. Paint remover…no s word, is my arch nemesis now!

  2. I love it, Sheila! I think the colors are great. I sometimes wonder if I should go with a “safe” color, too. I just did a stool top in Duck Egg, but originally thought maybe black. I decided to go ahead, especially since I had just a little bit of Duck Egg left in a sample pot and I wanted to use it up.

  3. Sheila, I love your watercolor washed desk! I think it’s gorgeous! I think you made the right choice too! This should sell quickly! 🙂

  4. Sheila, this rocks!!! i love the new look. What a perfect piece for a guest room, student desk or cottage. The desk turned out to be one of your best makeovers. I suggest your bathroom vanity project has a challenger to its star status in your portfolio. Great job!!! Congratulations to you and your paint-picking team.

  5. This turned out so pretty, I love the colors!
    ~Katie @ Upcycled Treasures

  6. Sheila I adore the new desk, The watercolor effect looks so good!
    Anything that reminds me of the sea , I love!

    2013 Artists Series

  7. What a pretty paint finish! The desk turned out great!

    Linda at The French Hens Nest

  8. Definitely not a safe neutral. I love the transformation and the paint technique you used on the drawers.

    Thanks for sharing at Home{work} Wednesday this week. I hope you’ll link up again this week.

  9. What a beautiful color combination you used! I love how the desk turned out, gorgeous transformation!

  10. Really pretty. I like the beachy feel it has to it. The depth of color is some much nicer than just a solid color.

    Manda @ Our Wolf Den

  11. Amber MacNeil says:

    This is awesome!! I have been contemplating painting my dark entertainment center. I’ll have to prime it a bunch, but I think I’m going to do this! It’s so pretty!!! 🙂

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