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Upcycling for Good

Recycle a school desk

Make homework fun by transforming an old school desk into a bright and appealing workstation.

Resene upcycling for good with Sarah Herring - Project 40

Finished project
Finished project

You will need: Adhesive decorative wrap (from a stationery store), painter’s masking tape Resene Lustacryl in Resene Black and Resene Black White, Resene Quick Dry primer undercoat, Resene testpots – we used Resene Daredevil, Resene Drop Dead Gorgeous, Resene Happy and Resene She’ll Be Right, sandpaper, scissors, something round to use as a circle stencil, and a pencil, testpot brushes .

Top tip: Even if your desk is missing a bit, it may still be able to be recycled. This desk was missing its original frame/legs but could still be upcycled and used on an existing table top, bench or floor.

Finished project
Finished project
Step 1 Step one
Give the desk a good clean to remove any dirt and contaminants. Then lightly sand to prepare it for painting. Once it is clean and sanded, apply one coat of Resene Quick Dry primer undercoat to all surfaces except the bottom inside surface.
Step 2 Step two
Once the primer is completely dry, paint the base of the desk with two coats of Resene Lustacryl in Resene Black. Then apply two coats of Resene Lustacryl in Resene Black White to the lid of the desk. Also apply these two colours to the inside surfaces that have already been primed.
Step 3 Step three
Use a pencil and a round lid to draw some circles on the lid of the desk. You could use a compass or any round objects to trace around. Once the circles are drawn, use masking tape to prepare them for painting. It can be really hard to mask out circles, but a good trick is to cut small nicks into your masking tape so it can bend, and then wrap the tape around the curve of the circle. Always make sure you have pressed your masking tape down firmly so the paint won’t bleed.
Step 4 Step four
Apply 2-3 coats of your chosen colours for the circles, allowing each coat to dry before applying the next. Sarah used four bright and fun colours; Resene Daredevil, Resene Drop Dead Gorgeous, Resene Happy and Resene She’ll Be Right. Carefully remove the masking tape from the edges once all coats have been applied the paint is dry.

paint swatches


Step 5 Step five
Apply some complementary adhesive wrap to the inside of the desk where there is no paint. This is easy to find at a stationery store or similar.

Upcycling for Good

You can find a huge range of treasures, from ornaments and picture frames, to furniture and toys at your local Salvation Army store that you can easily upcycle with a little Resene paint and some imagination.

"Our Family Stores are full of treasures generously donated by members of the public. We value these donations and try our hardest to re-purpose and sell as much as possible. We’re all about re-using and recycling, so teaming up with Resene on Upcycling for Good was a perfect match. Resene’s products and tips are a natural fit with our pre-loved furniture and accessories, which are usually great quality but could sometimes do with a lick of paint to ensure they fly off the shelves.

Each year, nationally, our stores save 16,000 tonnes from landfill. This initiative increases the value of the donated product, improves the range of goods for our customers, and furthers The Salvation Army’s mission and Resene’s community activity.” Gareth Marshall, The Salvation Army's National Family Store Manager.

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