Quatrefoil Painted Desk {tutorial}

Have you ever owned a piece of furniture that just made you say "blah" every time you glanced at it? Guilty! In fact, for over a year, I had been living with a used oak desk that my husband bought. It was a little too rough around the edges for my taste. It was in dire need of a makeover. The solution? I painted a quatrefoil pattern on the top, and now it's one of my favorite pieces of furniture!

The nice thing about this project is that it is super easy on the budget.

Materials - All you need is...
  • to print a quatrefoil pattern (here is a great template from Tatertots & Jello)
  • an Xacto knife to cut out the template
  • a paint brush (preferably a small one with a strait edge)
  • acrylic paint ($1.57) in your preferred color ( I used one 2-oz bottle of Apple Barrel's Burnt Umber #20512)
  • Minwax's Polyurethane in Clear Gloss (if you want a big can with lots of leftover paint for future projects, go with the 32-oz can for $11)-- to seal the acrylic paint
Time - This is where the project becomes expensive in terms of the time it takes to finish it. I split it up into 2 days, and spent approximately 5 hours on it, if not more. In my opinion, it was worth it, though!

Let's take a look at the before picture of the desk. It's plain and boring and scratched up. Blah.

Time for a makeover!

Step 1 - Print and cut out the quatrefoil pattern using the template. I only cut out one template, but this also made the project take longer because I had to wait for the stencil to dry before I could add on to a section.

Step 2 - Once you have your stencil, tape down the parts that do not interfere with the parts you are painting.

Step 3 - The picture above does not show this, but I eventually found that my paint was more likely to stay within the lines when I used my brush and painted around the edges and then filled in the middle of each section. It took me 2 coats of paint, by the way. It could be worse! :)

Step 4 - Wait for a section to dry, and then move your template such that it adjoins with the section you just painted.

Here is what it looked like when I was about three-fourths of the way through.

I'm so surprised that I didn't mess up the pattern. I am by no means a perfectionist, so if I can do this, so can you!

Step 5 - After you have finished the piece of furniture and the paint is completely dry, give it a coat of shiny polyurethane to seal the acrylic paint. I waited approximately 4 hours and gave it a second coat.

Here is a photo of how the clear gloss can deepen your paint color, and make the whole thing more professional looking.

(Note: The other after pics of the desk were taken before I had a chance to polyurethane the desk. So, it actually looks shinier than that now.)

And here is the final result! (minus the clear gloss)

What do you think?

UPDATED: I wanted to show you pics of how the desk looks now with the polyurethane topcoat.

See how much shinier it looks? I like it much better, and now my quatrefoil pattern is protected. Yay!

Linking to...

Just a Girl Show & Share Day; Shanty 2 Chic; Thrilling Thursdays @ Paisley Passions; Under $100 Linky Party @ Beyond the Picket Fence; Power of Paint Party @ Domestically Speaking; Restored It Wednesday; Get Your Brag On @ Gluesticks; Creative Juice Thursday @ Momnivore's Dilemma; VIP Party @ Designer Garden; Favorite Things Friday @ The Speckled Dog; Sunday Showcase @ Under the Table Dreaming


  1. Very cool! It looks so mod and unique!

  2. Your desk turned out so great Lauren!! I love the color that you used too.

    Very nice!!

    I shared it on my TT&J facebook page :)


  3. Your desk looks wondeful. I have been trying to decide what to do with my vanity-table-turned-desk. I am seriously taking this into consideration! Thanks for the tutorial ☺

  4. Your table turned out fabulous. I'm a new follower. I hope to see you at DIY Home Sweet Home. I throw a link party every Monday. It would be great if you could join me for the next one and link you up Projects.


  5. Looks fabulous! I commend you for cutting out that pattern, that looks labor intensive. I just can't make myself cut out one--I always have to use one premade---of course, that puts me at a disadvantage.

    Love what you have done.

  6. Wow... did I say wow? Just a moment while I close my mouth! This is a FANTASTIC project. Great job! I would be delighted if you would link this to my VIP party today! http://designergarden.blogspot.com/2011/03/vip-party-6.html


  7. Very nice... really very very nice... its a very vintage design and I saw it with different projects but neither to paint like this ... lokks superb... your table turns to be a very beautiful one...
    Happy spring time
    Hope you like to pay a visit to my new spring arrangement saved in a cloche

  8. WOW! I am amazing DIY...i am very impressed!

  9. I like the top. You have much more patience than I do! I Stumbled your post.

  10. Omigosh gimme! hehe I love it! That pattern is SO gorgeous! I had no idea it even had a name. I'm now sitting here thinking about what in the house I can paint with this pattern! SUCH a great job Lauren and definitely worth it. :O)

    ~ www.billiemonster.com ~

  11. I love this!!! Had to share on my FB page! Great redo!

  12. This looks wonderful. Thank you for sharing the project and template link. Following your blog.

    Please stop by to check us out at www.theoldblockhouse.blogspot.com

  13. I am CRAZY about this! Thanks so much for sharing. I need to get brave and try this out!

  14. Love this project- it turned out amazing!
    I just came across your blog and wanted to drop a line : )

    Jenna @ jhaugan.blogspot.com

  15. You did a wonderful job! And with only 1 template!! I'd have needed loads to complete this, looks fab.

  16. That looks amazing! I would need 4 templates to make it look that good!

    Thanks for linking to Creative Juice Thursday! I hope to see you back this week {party opens on Wed night @ 8pm CST}

  17. Hi Lauren! Thought I'd let you know I featured your desk on my blog today if you would like please grab a button!

  18. I think this looks lovely - it looks like a well-cared-for antique.

  19. The desk looks wonderful! I found you through your comment on Kreative Knack (I saw the word quatrefoil and I had to take a look) and I'm now your newest follower. I just started my blog last month and I'd love for you to check it out sometime.


  20. This looks FANTASTIC! I will definitely be copying this one- thanks for the idea!


  21. I love this! Found it via pinterest, it looks amazing!

  22. I LOVE this! I have become inspired and will be trying this on a small coffee table of mine...can't wait to get started!!

  23. Thanks everyone for your kind words!

    @Bergs & @Sally Smith - Thank you! I'd love to see pics when you try out the quatrefoil pattern - I know it's going to look fabulous! :)

  24. This is great!! I bought a table at Goodwill specifically for using a quatrefoil pattern on it and I've even primered the table, but haven't gone any farther. I've been afraid to actually DO it! But you make it look pretty easy!

  25. Oh my gosh, this is SOOO cool! I'm doing this for sure! Thanks for sharing!

    Nat from NatSprat.blogspot.com


Thanks for your kind comments!