Upcycled Desk Ideas

In this post we are looking a different upcycled desk ideas. As you may have seen on pinterest and instagram, more and more people are upcycling their old desks. Futhermore, there are a great number of ways which you can upcycle your old desks. This post will specifically tackle what you can do with your old desks, what can be upcycled and other upcycled desk ideas. Here are just a few of the many upcycled desk ideas out there which you can try today:

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A black and white designed classic vanity desk.

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A table being upcycled by Comcast Washington State.

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Tengreen Burnham table by Roy Shearer

Upcycled Desk Ideas – What can I do with my old desk?

Looking at some of the previous examples shown there are some great options for your old desk. However, when it comes to upcycling, the possibilities are very often endless. For example, if you no longer want it to be a desk, there are thousands of different upcycling ideas to think of with a few pieces of wood to work with. Although, if you want to keep it as a desk and just jazz it up, or add a few little helpful features then it can all be done. Don’t forget if you are struggling with a specific issue or need some advice then head over to the forum and ask the community for assistance.

First, looking at your initial desk, you must check the quality of the wood. You need to know that your desk is going to be strong and durable so if you unsure please contact a professional. Then you will need to think about different upcycled desk ideas you may have. Do you want to keep the desk generally the same but add a nice lick of paint or cool design? Or do you want to create a new design with different features specific to your desired needs.

Upcycled Desk Ideas – How do you upcycle a desk?

Firstly, what have you decided you would like to do with your old desk? How do you want it to be upcycled? If you are going paint your desk, please have a look at our how to upcycle post which describes exactly what to do when painting wood. However, maybe you want to change the shape of your desk to better suit your needs? For example, you may want to cut curves into your desk. To do this, you may need to use an electric saw such as a circular saw. Although make sure if cutting any wood with or without an electrical saw please ensure you will be cutting safely and are adequately trained to do so. Obviously, if you are unsure of anything please contact a professional or ask on the forum for help or assistance.

Give your desk that antique distressed look.

On the other hand, you may want to make your desk have that distressed wood look you may have seen on pinterest or instagram. Now we shall go through the technique to give your desk that distressed wood finish.

  • First, sand the wood down using sandpaper to prepare your wood for painting.
  • Next, apply the primer, remember white primer usually works better with brighter colours.
  • Once dried, paint your desk to the colour you desire by adding coats of paint until happy with the outcome.
  • After this has dried, by using sandpaper and/or some steel wool you can start to add ‘damage’ to the desk. Keep distressing the desk until you have achieved the type of look you wanted. Wipe away any excess dust prior to adding a ‘stain’.
  • Next, add your choice of wood stain to the desk. This will give it the colour you are looking for and should also protect the wood from UV light.
  • Finally, apply a coat of clear Polyurethane varnish to give the desk a clear finish. This will then give it a hard protective coat which helps prevent any future unwanted damage.

If you are looking for more ideas and inspiration, or need any help with other projects, check out the woodworking forum.

Upcycled Desk Ideas – How can I cover my old desk?

There are a few options to upcycle your old desk into something new. There are some upcycled desk ideas such as purchasing some contact paper or sticky back plastic. You can find loads of different patterns and colours to make your desk look totally different. In addition to this, for an even more unique design you can get chalkboard contact paper which you can write.

Also, you could paint your desk following the how to upcycle description on painting wooden furniture. Another of the upcycled desk ideas for covering your old desk could be to make a resin table cover. Resin tables have been getting more and more popular as some fantastic effects can be created with this material.

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Here is a very cool cabinet from Kim Schuster.

What can be upcycled?

Obviously it is not just desks that can be upcycled. Anything in the world can be upcycled. However, sticking with the desk and furniture topic you will see many upcycled desk ideas and upcycled furniture ideas on this site and others. Ideas from making different materials such as big, oil drums into tables or the more common pallets into coffee tables.

Wooden furniture

It is more common that you will see wood as the main material when it comes to upcycling furniture. Table and desks in particular will most commonly be made from wood purely because of cost. Weight will play a major part in material selection aswell because noone will want a heavy metal desk. Also, working with wood is much easier than metal. It is easier to cut, shape and finish in comparison to metal and is therefore usually the better option when it comes to working with furniture. Especially as a hobby, beginner upcyclers will find wood the easier of the two to work with. However, you may want to combine a wooden table top to metal legs for extra durability.


You will see many pieces of furniture built out of pallets. The use of pallets in upcycling has become a huge phenomenon in recent times as pallets weren’t known for building furniture. The rise of this upcycling material has created opportunities for lots of people to start upcycling. Pallets were easy to get ahold of and weren’t expensive to buy. The sizes of each pallet slat appear idea for upcyclers to build a small chair or bench. Some upcyclers may use the pallet slats as a table top, once varnished or painted can make a great design. Making a desk out of a pallet is another of the many upcycled desk ideas you can draw inspiration from.

Old Doors

You may have also seen some table tops made out of an old door. There are different upcycled desk ideas and other tables such as dining tables made from old doors. Especially looking at some old doors with fancy or interesting glasswork. This can make for a fascinatingly designed table top. When upcycling a table from an old door you can make it look like a door still incorporating things like the door knob into the table design. On the other hand, you can of course paint a cool design on it or make use of interesting resin applications. As we always say, with upcycling, you can literally do whatever you want, no rules!

If you are a beginner please check out the forum and ask a question, I’m sure many people can help out with queries you may have. Hopefully you will have a better idea of what kind of project you want to start with and which forum to post on if you get stuck. Meanwhile if you are a more experienced upcycler then I hope you have gained some inspiration to work on a new area of upcycling or an idea for your next project and also help answer some forum questions if you have the time.

Please head on over to the forum to ask questions and also see our other blog posts on everything upcycling.

Furthermore, check out our instagram page @UpcyclerLife to see inspiring projects and #upcyclerlife for a chance of a feature.

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