The Beatles, decoupage and a college sophomore

The Beatles, decoupage and a college sophomore
The finished Beatles tribute desk and fun chair, a wrinkle on the college dorm desk setup. (Photo/Dawn Hoiem)

By Dawn Hoiem

Most moms are realistic when their son gets his first place. As a college sophomore, my son needed a desk for his room, but we all know after a week it will be covered with books, candy bar wrappers and who knows what else. So why bother? Well, because I can.

I found a nice, basic desk on Craigslist for $30. Perfectly functional but not much to look at. It was a some-assembly-required type desk, so not real wood. A lot of people are hesitant to paint this kind of furniture, but with the right prep, you can turn these basic finds into something much more stylish.

First, give the entire surface a light sanding with 100 grit sandpaper. It roughs up the surface and helps the paint adhere better. Then, give it a coat or two of spray primer. The primer was topped with three coats of spray paint on the base. I went with glossy black for a sleek, modern look.

I painted the pull-out shelf bright yellow. In part because I had a can that needed to be used but also for a fun pop of color. My original thought was to go with Batman comics on the top, but later I settled on a Beatles theme. The yellow works either way.

A simple Google search for “Beatles album covers” netted me most of my material. I sized them to the approximate dimensions of a CD cover and printed them out on our inkjet printer. There are endless photos and possibilities on the internet. Whatever your son or daughter is into, you should have no trouble finding ample material.

After I had my photos, it was a game of cut and paste. I used Mod Podge to glue the photos onto the top of the desk. I knew it wouldn’t be smooth, but it won’t be used as a writing desk, so this didn’t bother me. In fact, I liked the rough surface.

If you want something that can be used as a writing desk, you could use spray adhesive and then polyurethane the top. You could also top the desk with a piece of glass, but glass can be expensive so keep that in mind before you choose how to secure your photos. Your best bet would be to score a desk with a glass top before you start the project.

Let the photos hang over the edge a little to make sure the entire top is covered. Once the glue dries, trim the edges with an X-Acto knife. I went back over the top with several more coats of mod podge to make it waterproof: College son = inevitable spills.

Some new hardware completed the look I was going for. To complete the desk set, I picked up a fun chair for $10 at a yard sale. My son now has a very cool desk!

If you have an old piece of Sauder-like furniture, don’t be afraid to transform it into a custom item that fits your family’s needs and personality.

The writer is a transportation communications specialist when she isn’t filling her garage with furniture renovation projects.