For Your Next Furniture Flip, Skip the Paint and Try This DIY Instead

published Jun 22, 2023
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Credit: Erin Derby

In the past few years, tile has proven to be a powerful design element in plenty of places outside of kitchen backsplashes and bathroom floors. There are plenty of unexpected places to use tile, but an easy and renter-friendly one is on furniture that appears in bedrooms, living areas, outdoor spaces, and more.

Tiled furniture can add a surprising pop of color, and has the added benefit of being water-resistant (great for exterior spots, but also interior spots where you don’t feel like whipping out a coaster). And because DIY tile projects don’t require more than a few square feet worth of materials, you can splurge on a tile design you might not be able to afford in a larger application.

Credit: Erin Derby

Need some more convincing to reach for tile over paint for your next ? Check out this tiled desk from a recent Apartment Therapy house tour of the 530-square-foot Brooklyn apartment shared by roommates Carrie Carrollo and Celia Skvaril. The blue-tiled beauty is in Celia’s bedroom, but both Carrie and Celia worked together to create it.

The pair started with a plain desk built by local fabricators to custom measurements, but you don’t necessarily need to have something specially designed for your space. The most beginner-friendly route is to tile only the top of your selected desk or table; for a more advanced project, you can tile the entire thing, legs and all.

If you’re tiling a piece of existing furniture — as opposed to building something new, like Celia and Carrie did — the key is to find something with flat surfaces and minimal (if any) details, which will provide a smooth base for tiling. Drawer fronts add another layer of difficulty to the project, so keep that in mind when selecting a piece. (Want to buy new? Look for something like the ultra-simple IKEA TORALD or the single-drawer IKEA MALM.)

Another tip: Broad legs are more beginner-friendly, as they’re less likely to require lots of tile cutting. Celia’s desk, for instance, has legs that are exactly as wide as a single tile, which made installation a snap.

As for the actual tiling, don’t be intimidated. “It was both of our first times working with tile and grout, and it was surprisingly approachable and fun,” Carrie says of the desk she made with (and for) Celia. For guidance, check out our step-by-step tutorial on how to make a tiled table — and for design inspo, read up on our picks for the top tile trends of 2023