Sometimes it pays to work with what you've got. Instead of centering their child's desk against a featureless blank wall, the homeowners behind this project decided to capitalize on a shallow, wall-interrupting corner. Using color as an architectural tool, they turned the recess into a welcoming homework nook.
The ingredients include a desk that's deeper than the recess it occupies. To compensate, the design disguises the corner's inhospitable lines by wrapping them with blocks of striking color extended to different lengths. One block comes to a dramatic stop at the outside corner, intensifying the impact of the blocks above and below it, which keep traveling. Floating shelves, painted to meld with the upper blocks, further the illusion. Making the lowest color block magnet-ready, which you can do with a special base coat, creates space for pinup artwork.
The palette is cheerful but not childish: soft-blue walls; shots of marine blue, school-bus yellow, and firehouse red; and enough gray undertones to anchor and warm up the steely desk. To make this tableau really come alive, just add one student and a pop quiz.

Shown: Behr's Monaco (base coat), Ocean View, Artesian Water, and Vibrant.
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    Tools List

    • paintroller
      Large roller for walls (base coat)
    • nap roller cover
      Roller cover For smooth surfaces, like plaster: - to ¼-inch nap. For lightly textured drywall: ¼- to ½-inch nap.
    • roller tray
      Roller tray
    • 30-foot tape measure
      Tape measure
    • pencil
    • 3-inch painter's tape
      Painter's tape
    • plastic putty knife
      Plastic putty knife or credit card
    • dense-foam paint roller
      Dense foam rollers for color blocks and shelves
    • 2-and-a-half-inch paintbrush
      2-inch paint brush
    • artist paintbrush
      Small artist's brush

    Shopping List

    Latex paint in four colors. Get 1 gallon for the base coat and 1 quart each in a contrasting sheen for the accent colors.

    Magnetic primer (optional)