How to make your own cork topped desk


I have been on a journey of self-discovery this weekend.


And in the process, I have learned three very important things about myself.

(1)  I discovered that when I drive in the car with my husband and he leaves the windshield wipers on for 37 minutes after it has stopped raining and they are scraping against the window even though there is not a drop of rain in the sky and the wipers are making a sound that resembles nails on a chalkboard and no one else but me even notices…..

…..if I just think about this…..I will forget all about the wipers.


Take a closer look at the cork topped desk


(2)  I discovered (again) that I really like the Olympics.

I really liked them last time I watched them in 2010, too.

But they are only broadcast every two years.

So I forget.


Adding cork top to the desk was an easy way to hide unwanted scrapes and scratches


(3)  I also discovered a simple solution to a damaged top on a yard sale desk.

Add a cork top.




Here's a closer look at the desk


It was so easy.

I purchased two packages of stick-on tiles at Wal-mart.

I laid the cork tiles in a diagonal pattern on the top of the desk.

Then, I hot-glued them down and cut the excess cork off the edges of the desk with an exacto knife.


Here's how the desk looked before the makeover


Here’s the before.

This is what I started with.

When I bought it at the yard sale I can remember thinking to myself…..I might need to do a little sanding on that top.


I can hear you laughing 🙂


And here's how it looked after the update


This is what it looks like now.

After a little paint and hot glue and two packages of stick-on cork tiles from Wal-mart.


And a little journey of self-discovery 🙂


PS  If you have been reading this blog for any length of time… know by now that I am not the best at the step-by-step directions.  Therefore, if you have any questions at all…  “Why did you use hot glue instead of using the stickers that came with the cork package?” or “How did you cut such a clean edge with the cork?” or “Why does that number pillow that you made from a tote bag keep showing up in all the pictures?” please feel free to e-mail me anytime.

After all, we have an unlimited number-tote-bag/pillow question policy here at Thistlewood 🙂

PPS  Don’t forget about the All About Color Link Party tomorrow!


PPPS  Sharing this post over at Between Naps on a Porch and Kim’s.





Want to know how to decorate your home for free?
Click here to get my FIVE BEST secrets.


  1. Image for andrea cammarata andrea cammarata

    As always...a BRILLIANT project brought to you by the color red and self-discovery!!!! Cork on the top is genius once again! LOVE this and WOW the color just brings it all together in a perfect blend! Kudos my friend...Kudos!!!! I do have to admit I wasn't too happy to loose that swimming relay... : ( but STILL FUN!!!! : ) hugs and see you tomorrow as we host the All about Color Linky party!

  2. Image for Barb @ Grits and Glamour Barb @ Grits and Glamour

    About the sanding part. Just a little. Did you hear me laughing? :) Love that you painted it red. Briliiant. And how did you luck up to find baskets to fit those spaces? Lucky duck. Love your desk, so cute. I will refrain from asking about your tote bag pillow....for now.

  3. Image for Beverly Beverly

    Eek! I could almost here those danged wipers. It drives me crazy, too. I guess I need to try to focus on something pleasant. Or, just tell him to cut the wipers - now! Adn, my automatic wipers thinking one drop of rain means they should come on. Yikes!!! Love the finished desk.♥ And, fabulous idea about the cork squares.

  4. Image for Mary@athomeonthebay Mary@athomeonthebay

    Karianne, that is an amazing transformation. I love the red and the cork idea was great! As for the pillow showing up, I already know the answer. :D I have a few things that keep showing up in my photos too. That is a sign of a good pillow! Have a great week.

  5. Image for Linda @ it all started with paint Linda @ it all started with paint

    Wow, Kari ... I'm blown away by the before versus the after. Seriously. I would've looked at that before and thought, "kindling." You made it just beautiful! And so happy to know that you arrived safely and are enjoying the Olympics. How upsetting was it last night when Jordyn Wieber didn't advance to the all-around? :) Linda

  6. Image for Kim Kim

    First of all I would have asked your hubby what was he so heavily thinking about since he was clueless to the scraping windshield wipers. That would have driven me nuts! Love that desk style and red is perfect. Great idea using cork to cover the ruined top. You go girl.

  7. Image for Debra Van Dyke Debra Van Dyke

    Hi, Hilarious about your husband. You must be my lost twin sister. Triple love the post and desk. It is lovely!

  8. Image for Sonya Sonya

    Hi, Karianne! Great solution! I love the way your yard sale desk turned out. The cork was a great idea! I'd also like to say thanks for all the great posts and smiles that I enjoy in between my infrequent comments! Your photos and your humor both are such a joy to see and read! Even though I may not always be able to comment, I love reading your blog! You have a gift, my friend!

  9. Image for shirley@housepitalitydesigns shirley@housepitalitydesigns

    Ha!!!...You crack me up every morning...I have learned that I must not have a mouthful of coffee when I read your post in the morning..!!!....Truly love the brilliant red...unbelievable transformation!...Love the cork idea!...Now you can truly "stick a fork in it"...or would that be pins!.... Have a great day!!

  10. Image for Jo @ To a Pretty Life Jo @ To a Pretty Life

    Amazing! Red is the perfect colour for that desk, and the cork just finishes it off. By the way, I teared up as I red your lee press on nails story. My husband has considered joining the navy but so far has stuck to being an accountant.

  11. Image for Betsy(@coastal-colors) Betsy(@coastal-colors)

    What an amazing idea! This is perfect! I love the red with the cork too- great choice! Very clever!

  12. Image for betty betty

    That's a great idea. I like it!.......and yes, the wipers drive me absolutely CRAZY and my husband just drives right along like nothing going on. And the cereal boxes facing all different ways in the pantry drives me crazy too. I just don't understand......I'm going to make a sign right now for my pantry. LOL ~betty

  13. Image for kathy kathy

    You never fail to crack me up! I think the wiper thing comes with the gender genes, like not putting the TP on the holder, every stinking article of clothing sent to the laundry in side out. We all know the list. Anyway, the cork on the desk is a winner. Perfect solution for a piece that doesn't warrant a long overhaul, and very fetching look. kathy

  14. Image for Kelly Kelly

    Wow! Wow! Can't say it enough. You did an amazing transformation on that desk. I love it in red and the creative idea of using cork on top. Too cute!! Looks great in that room. I never would've guessed that you found it in the condition you did at a yard sale.

  15. Image for Debbie Hein Debbie Hein

    Hi Karianne, You are such a pleasure to start the morning with...I just love the mix of both "life stories" and diy projects. I know exactly what you mean about the wipers. What is it with them? That noise drives me nuts. Here's one that "mine" does ALL the time...there is a corner that we turn by out house. It is more of a curve than a hard turn. EVERY time we go that way and make the turn, the turn signal does not automatically turn off...So it blinks and does that annoying "turn signal clicking". Do you know the one I mean...he will drive that way until 1. We make the next turn, or 2. I say "Please turn that blankity blank thing off before I go nute". Or something to that effect. Afterall, if there are kids around I do not use that language because I am a "lady". I always imagine what the cars behind us must be thinking...but since no one is honking at him for having his turn signal on and not turning, I can only conclude that they are men, and are doing the same thing. Sign... Your hubby is of course just sitting there with you beside him just thinking how very lucky he is that such a beautiful girl agreed to be his wife. And I am sure that with each swish of the blades, he is counting his blessings....Isn't that romantic? So let's just go with that. Your desk is perfect. Makes me want to destroy the top of something just to paint it and finish it just as yours is. And by the way, I absolutely LOVE the olympics....They are my favorite "sport".

  16. Image for Bliss Bliss

    This is my recent fav of yours. Love how it turned out. You have more patience than I if you could wait 37 freaking minutes with those wipers........ I think there is some undiscovered male gene to blame. ~Bliss~

  17. Image for GinaE GinaE

    Your desk looks so great! You have such a great eye for anything decorating. The red is the perfect color compliment. Oh yeah, how DID you get the edges so straight?

  18. Image for Linda Adams Linda Adams

    Hi Karianne, Brilliant idea using cork for the top! I'm curious about the red color? I forget which room, perhaps the family room? Oh, and what is going on with the sisal coil on the desk top? I do like the red and the pillow looks to comfy. Have a super week. Joyous Wishes, Linda

  19. Image for Jean Jean

    37 minutes?!!! I couldn't last that long. I might make it 37 seconds before I ask him to turn it off...or flip them off myself`! I love the cork idea! I can't get over how similar your wicker desk looks like the one I just re-did...only I sanded mine.

  20. Image for Andrea Andrea

    what a fab project! I love the red you chose to paint it. My only problem is my girls would ugly it up with umpteen pictures of 1D on the top. I'd have to lay out the rules for what things could be applied to the cork =) My hubby has an annoying windshield wiper habit, as well. You see, it has to be absolutely pouring before he turns his on. Even if he can barely see out of the windshield from all the 'light rain' drops on it, if it's not pouring, he doesn't turn them on. So. Annoying. ps I love the olympics too. Makes me want to actually get fit, which is saying something! I especially loved the 2010 olympics since it was hosted in my hometown of Vancouver, where I was born and raised. The excitment in the air was amazing, and although I lived on Vancouver Island during the olympics (a 2.5 hour ferry ride from Vancouver), we still met so many people from all over the world who were here for the olympics and did a bit of traveling afterwards to the island. so much fun!!!

  21. Image for Ally Ally

    Did you try staring at your husband with a slightly maniacal glint in your eye? I find that works. I bow to your obviously superior diy skills. I have to admit, I would not have seen the potential in that sad wicker desk.

  22. Image for Kathy :) Kathy :)

    Oh my those NOISES that could push me right OVER the edge, YES I too hear them.......WHY don't guys hear them?? It really is a guy/gal thing, and I like to think I have the answer.........are you ready? "Back in the day when the man went off and hunted we Mommy's stayed home and we had to be alert to ALL noises:" !! Also how many of us watched in amazment as our hubbies snored away while the baby cried ??? (Of course my boobs knew long before the first eh lol) Love that little desk.............great job Kari Anne............we recently picked up a secretary (Brimfield), oh I've been wanting one for so long, it needs some TLC and I am debating upon painting it...........??? I saw the tour of your home over at Rhoda's...............I could move right in, you've done such a NICE homey <3 it Have a great day, it's a 10 here :) All the best, Kathy :)

  23. Image for Scribbler Scribbler

    When I saw this in my mail this morning, I thought again what a clever girl you are! I think the desk looks smashing. I like those cork tiles for various things, too. I cut some for my DR surface tops, but I did not stick them down. When I have guests in there, I lay them out on the surfaces and cover them with a runner to keep hot dishes from damaging the furniture. When the party is over, I just put them away till next time.

  24. Image for Sandy Sandy

    Just wanted to thank all the comments concerning husbands and car wipers. I now know it's not just me rolling my eyes in anticipation 'is he turning them on before we sight the ark?" or "does he not realize the rain ended two Frankie Valli songs ago?" Love your red desk. Definitely finding something to paint red this fall.

  25. Image for Drama Mama Lori Drama Mama Lori

    My husband tailgates. Not because he's 'road raging' or even in a hurry. It's because he has absolutely no foresight and doesn't realize until near-collision that he should probably change lanes. Drives me (literally and figuratively) completely bonkers. Husbands. Which is why I almost always drive. Oh, love the desk too! I have to admit I probably would've passed it up, but I really like the red. You're a genius. ~L

  26. Image for Becca Becca

    LOLOL ... and, after reading your post, I've discovered that you are WAY more patient than me! :) I LOVE what you did with the desk and would've NEVER have thought to add a cork top. You rock, girl ... now please turn the wipers off!

  27. Image for Diane | An Extraordinary Day Diane | An Extraordinary Day

    And why is it that I'm just now seeing tomorrow's linky party? I'm sure that I get so caught up in your creative transformations that I just over looked it. Yes? So....I'm writing it on my calendar for next month. LOL! Love the RED!!! What is it about red? Oh great save with the cork, too!!

  28. Image for missy george missy george

    Cork..What a great idea..It would take a lot more than that though, to make me ignore the windshield wipers..I love the Olympics as well..I feel as though I know the girls gymnastic team personally..

  29. Image for Louise Louise

    I thought my husband was the only one who let the wipers go on and on and on ... long after the rain had stopped! Glad to know that he's not alone (and neither am I).

  30. Image for Kimberly from Serendipity Refined Kimberly from Serendipity Refined

    That desk is adorable. In fact, it's WAY cute! To be honest, I kinda' covet your desk in a friendly sort of way. That desk AND the cute little star pillow. Okay, and the tote bag pillow too. I mean, really, I figure that if I'm gonna covet something, I should just go full-out. Right!? That's what you'd do, I mean if you didn't already HAVE such an adorable desk and perfect pillows with just the right amount of summertime Americana just right for the Olympics. Right?! For the record, I do NOT covet the perfectly staged number from running some marathon or the ticket stubs from some cool events. I don't covet those very much at all. So, when you're packing the pillows and the desk (and the chair, too, of course) to send them to me, you can keep the number and the stubs. 'Cause I'm thoughtful like that. xo

  31. Image for Kathy Kathy

    Oh Kari~~I do believe you should get transformation of the year award for this one!! Fabulous, indeed! Clever to use cork on the top & what is the great red color?? <3 all of it!!! Blessings!

  32. Image for Yvonne @ StoneGable Yvonne @ StoneGable

    You are a clever one KeriAnne! I What a great solution to a very hard to fix problem! I'm keeping idea for future use! Your choice of paint color makes this desk so cheery and it really pops with all your white!!! Please come by and share this with TUTORIALS TIIPS AND TIDBITS, linky goes live Wednesday at 8:00!

  33. Image for Anne Anne

    I don't know what the heck happened to my feed, but all your blogposts for the last week just showed up suddenly tonight! I missed EVERYTHING!!!!!!!!!! (if I knew which emoticon was a pout, I'd insert it here) Cute table, love the tray that your sister did and I totally missed the Twitter party... sigh. Missed you!! Have a great night. btw I don't think I would last 5 minutes with the windshield wiper going and no water to push out of the way. Choice words would be spoken and dirty looks, too, maybe. Just sayin' xox

  34. Image for Jo-Anne Jo-Anne

    I really like this idea we have a desk in the bedroom that the top of is not the best so this would be a great idea for that desk.............thank you

  35. Image for phyllis phyllis

    I saw that Toby Mac tkt for Murray state and then remembered you live around here too! I LOVE Toby concerts. Your desk is amazing!!! Love the idea :)

  36. Image for Heather Heather

    Karianne, only you could take this little desk and make it look like a cover picture for Better Homes and Gardens Magazine!! I would have taken one look at it and thought - this is so cute but there is no way I could make it look nice....but you certainly did!! You need your own TV show girlfriend!!!! I love the red color you chose as well, and the cork top it just so clever!!! And I feel your pain about the windshield wiper problem!!! Except my husband does the reverse.....he waits until the windshield is completely covered by raindrops before turning them on!! Drives me just a little nuts!! I love how you added the drawer to the middle too - more storage space!! Am pinning this and sharing on facebook! :)

  37. Image for Kelly @ JAX does design Kelly @ JAX does design

    If cork can dress up a floor, then why not a table top? :-) Very creative way to hide all the scratches & dings and save yourself a lot of time and work sanding! I like that you put the cork tiles on the diagonal and not square.

  38. Image for Kathryn Kathryn

    Thank you MMS , I find the best blogs what you did with desk,I have a desk I picked up and I am thinking a little red with the black that I am going to paint it....I have a chair I did, and now that I found the desk I am going to team them up....I loved the idea of cork how smart...I would love to do that on a desk for myself.....again a great makeover...I have had such a crazy week...of my 18 project pieces I have not got one done this week.....and with no rain the past few weeks and 106 yesterday and 100 today....I think I could handle some flapping wipers....but I get it...kind like a turn signal....Giggle....

  39. Image for BethM@Under A Pile of Scrap! BethM@Under A Pile of Scrap!

    I know I would not have considered painting it red or using cork for the top, but it's knocking my socks off!! (keeping a mental note on these ideas). And both pillows are making me swoon with the way you have them staged in the photo!

  40. Image for Carrie Carrie

    YOU CAN'T JUST TEASE THE TOTE BAG/PILLOW QUESTION AND NOT ANSWER IT! Tee hee, if you feel inclined to answer I'd love to know where you got it. Probably it needs a link, but I'm not judging, only begging. ;-)

  41. Image for Jamie Asper Jamie Asper

    What a great looking desk. Love the red and I love the cork board top. So very creative!! Visiting from the Funky Junk Interiors link party. ~ Jamie

  42. Image for Janet - Painted Piglet Janet - Painted Piglet

    The desk is absolutely adorable and the little star pillow just makes me smile! The other annoying hubby-driving habit is when he thinks he is "testing the brakes" or something and just keeps lightly braking every couple hundred feets... like tapping them, only sporadically enough that he's not really trying to stop... arg!! LOL Oh well, as long as he brakes for yard sales and things on the curb, I guess it's okay. :)

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