Inspiring Workplaces: DIY Custom Cork Board

how to paint cork

What a weird title, right?  I thought it sounded better than paint a cork board to pin your stuff to…but that does have  a little ring to it, huh.  😉  So, using a cork board as an organizer or inspiration board is no new thing.  Just about everyone is using them inside of cabinets or as a command center by a doorway, right?  Love those…

inspiring office

My problem area started in my office, specifically with the desk.  As you can see in the above “before” or “in progress” pic, it is a great desk…it’s massive and I L-O-V-E it because it literally holds everything. I’m talking everything.  It’s like a desk version of a clown car.  However, when I am sitting at it blogging or working, I am staring at a whole lot o’ nothing.  Just a big black hole. Nothing screams inspiration like a big blank space, am I right?  I knew I didn’t want to actually paint or permanently change anything structurally about the piece itself…I just wanted to be able to break it up a little bit.  Installing a removable inspiration board was the perfect option.  I mean who isn’t happier when they are staring at things they love?


via Lonny

I’m all about about surrounding myself with inspiration whether it’s pretty fabric, motivational quotes, my boys artwork or little memorabilia reminding me of a special moment, so I was actually pretty excited about the idea of putting up some removable cork tiles.



The back of my desk had 3 square recessed areas so all I needed to do was cut the tiles to fit these areas and voila, I would be done.  But, I just wasn’t feeling the plain cork.  Yes, it would be covered with items, but I wanted something just a little different.   At first, I wanted a clean classic look.  Covered in linen with maybe, a greek key embellishment around the edges? However, that idea would have required me to a. change out of my pajamas and b. spend money.  Since I had leftover cork tiles from another project I did, I was kind of determined to come up with ways to change them up a bit using items I already had on hand thus allowing me to stay in my pajamas for a bit longer. 😉  Saving money was a big motivator, too.

painted cork

I started playing around with different ideas while painting some different scraps of cork that we had in our basement.  Using painter’s tape and foam sticky letters, I tried a few different things and obviously, the bottom spotted sample was my favorite.  It reminded me so much of the Hinson & Co. Snow Leopard Fabric that I was obsessed with, remember?

It was a super simple project and if you want to create this look for your cork board, here is what you will need:

  • cork tiles, cork board, or a cork roll
  • painter’s tape
  • black and white paint (I used acrylic, but I think anything would work)
  • sponge brush, paint brush, or roller

First, I painted all my tiles with the black acrylic paint.

 painted cork tiles

 Once those were dry, I started tearing off small pieces of painters tape and randomly placing them all over the tiles.

black painted cork tiles

You can make your pieces as large or as small as you would like the.  Mine ranged from 1/4 inch to 1 inch in length.

stenciled dots on cork

As you can see, I had to cut my tiles and connect them to fit the recessed areas of my desk.  I just connected them by painter’s tape on the backside.

corkboard squares

I know…I’m super fancy over here…right down to the dark terrible iphone picture.  There might be better ways to do this, but again, I was trying to be resourceful.  For those of you who have a larger area to cover, you might be better off buying the rolls of cork instead of the tiles.  Totally up to you.  Once I got all my tape pieces placed down, I took my white paint & poured it on my tile.

painted cork

 I used a foam roller to gently spread the white paint around covering the whole piece.  You can use a foam brush, too, just be careful as you are going over the tape…as it gets covered with paint, some of the edges of the smaller pieces will want to come up a bit.  Because I tend to be lacking in the area of patience when it comes to projects, I didn’t even let the white paint dry before I started removing the painter’s tape.

black dot cork board

I used my nails to grab the edges of the tape to peel off, but you could always use tweezers to get them off, too.  It was so fun to see the random pattern when the tape was removed.  I love how the texture of the cork makes the spots look even more irregular.

office makeover

Once the paint dried, I simply took the sticky strips that were included in the cork tile kit, applied them to the back and then stuck them to my desk.  If your tiles are not sold with the sticky strips, command strips would also work.  And that’s all there is to it!  Now, I’m off to start styling my desk and pinning up my inspirations (literally).  It’s like back to the olden days…before Pinterest! Ha! 😉

black desk green chair

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