top of page

Boho Painted Desk Tutorial - How to Layer & Distress with Terra Clay Paint

Updated: Jul 21, 2023

I thrifted this desk for my home office makeover & wanted to give the dark finish some more color to bring out all the details. Watch how I layer & blend to get a colorful distressed look using Terra Clay Paint. I made a step-by-step tutorial and a video to follow along with all my tips for getting the best results.

Materials for this Project:

  • White Lightning Cleaner

  • 220-grit Sandpaper

  • Premium Chip Brushes

  • Terra Clay Paint in the following colors:

  • Bougainvillea, Cerulean Blue, London Blue, Daffodil

  • Satin Clear Coat by Dixie Belle Paint

Step #1 Always Clean Your Furniture before Painting

The first step to painting furniture is cleaning it with a TSB-Based cleaner. I use Dixie Belle’s White Lightning mixed with warm water & a scouring pad to remove all the grime and grease. Then use a clean rag & water to remove any residue. This is crucial to help your paint adhere properly.

Step #2 Scuff Sanding

You don’t need a primer with this paint, but I gave the whole surface a light scuff-sand with 220 grit sandpaper to help my paint stick better to the glossy finish. If you don’t have a glossy finish, you can skip this step.

Step #3 Apply the First Layer of Paint

Starting at the outer edges, I apply a base coat of Terra Clay Paint in London Blue around all the details. I’m not worried about brush strokes because I’ll be blending more later.

Using the same brush, I start blending out from the middle with Cerulean Blue.

Let it dry for a few hours before adding another layer. This paint lightens up as it dries, so you can see the difference in the pictures above.

Step #4 Layering Colors

I like the blue by itself, but what fun is that? I want this desk to have a little personality with colors peeking through.

First, I mist water only where I'm painting to help the paint glide over it. (For a dry-brushed look, you can skip the water.)

I start painting the outer corners with Bougainvillea for a pop of pink. Without adding more paint, I work the color up into the details.

TIP: You can adjust the amount of distressing you do with water. The more water you add, the more it reactivates. If you decide you don’t like something, spray with some water and blend it right back out.

With a new brush I add my next color, Daffodil. I start around the corners then dry brush it on the details.

You could leave it with a dry-brushed look, but I want to give it an aged & layered look. I use a clean dry brush to blend all the colors together & soften the lines.

Let this dry for 2-4 hours. Since Terra is water-activated, you can walk away from this project as long as you like. Simply spray with water to reactivate the paint or just layer more on top.

After letting it dry, I tone it back down with some more blue. I mist water only where I want to paint, then use gentle strokes to apply Cerulean Blue.

With a clean brush, I come back to gently blend out the brush strokes.

I want the finish to be primarily blue with just some colors popping out. If I add too much blue, I can just add more water to blend it out and reveal the pink underneath.

TIP: The more you work the paint when it’s wet, the more you reactivate the layers under it. If you want to lock in a certain finish, you can clear coat it before adding more layers.

Tip for painting around glass: Terra Clay Paint wipes off easy with water. For tight corners, just use a small craft brush dipped in water then wipe with a paper towel.

Step #5 Sealing Terra Clay Paint with Satin Clear Coat

I use a chip brush to apply a water-based sealer, Dixie Belle’s Satin Clear Coat. You can also use the oil-based Terra Wax or Gator Hide which is a water-repellant sealer.

When you apply the clear coat, the paint color will darken temporarily. It will go back to the original color once it dries, just a tiny bit darker. This will make it easy to see spots you may have missed while you’re applying it.

I will add at least 2-3 layers of clear coat to give it a nice smooth finish that will stand up to using every day. You can also use the oil-based Terra Wax that’s available soon or Gator Hide which is a water-repellant sealer.

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and feel inspired to try this fun project. Put some comments down below if you do!

For more inspiration, check out my catalog of free painted furniture tutorials here on my website & YouTube Channel!

Make sure to follow me on all my social media platforms:


bottom of page