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   DIY Colorful Computer Keyboard Posted by Chica 
April 13, 2014 
Chica
 

Between my job and my personal life, I spend a lot of time on the computer every day. A LOT. So much that I really need my workspace to be cheerful, fun, and inspiring. A plain old black keyboard like this just doesn’t fit the bill. But what’s a girl to do?

DIY colorful computer keyboard

I’ve been going crazy lately with the new Americana Multi-Surface Satin Paints from DecoArt, because they are so easy to use and work on just about any surface you can imagine, including plastic. I had some sitting on my desk the other day, near my keyboard, and I thought… Could I? Should I? Yes!

I picked out a set of my favorite bright colors: Canary, Flamingo, Deep Turquoise, Orange Sherbet, Poppy, Apple Green, Blue Bird, and Iris.

DIY colorful computer keyboard

Then I picked out a keyboard. I needed something simple, basic, and inexpensive. I found the perfect match with the Microsoft Wired Keyboard 200 for Business, which has a minimal design, comes in black and white, and is very affordable. It also had the benefit of having the letters printed on flat, rather than raised. You don’t want raised letters, or else they will show after you paint the keys.

The first thing I did before I started messing with the keyboard was to take a picture of it and print it out. This was going to be a vital reference point later on in this project!

DIY colorful computer keyboard

Next I began the task of removing all of the keys from the keyboard. I used a thin letter opener to pry them off, but you can use anything flat that you can get up under the keys. Every type of keyboard is going to be a little different, but the keys on this kind have a little square cavity on the back that hold them in place.

DIY colorful computer keyboardDIY colorful computer keyboard

I needed to come up with a way to prop the keys up to dry after I painted them, so I got to thinking about what I could put in that little square cavity. I’m not sure where the idea hit me, but I realized that the cushy end of a Q-tip would be perfect! I cut some in half and stuck one into each key. It fit snugly and made a perfect little handle.

DIY colorful computer keyboardDIY colorful computer keyboard

Then I just stuck each one into a chunk of foam I had leftover from the packaging on some electronics. I sort of put the keys in order, but didn’t worry about it too much because I knew I was going to be painting randomly with different colors and it didn’t matter.

DIY colorful computer keyboardDIY colorful computer keyboard

As I did this, I made note of the fact that most of the keys were the same size, but some were different sizes, like the Shift, Tab, Enter, and Backspace key.

DIY colorful computer keyboard

Then it was time to start painting! To get a nice, smooth finish, I used a cosmetic wedge to gently dab some of the paint onto the key. I only applied a very thin coat, so that no blobs or brushstrokes would appear. These wedges do a great job of making an even coat.

DIY colorful computer keyboardDIY colorful computer keyboard

Then I moved on to the other colors, painting roughly the same number of keys with each color. I made sure to pay attention to those larger keys and was careful not to use the same color on two that were going to be next to each other, like the Shift and Enter keys.

DIY colorful computer keyboard

This paint dries pretty quickly, so by the time I was done with the first coat of all the colors, I was able to start over again with another coat. I kept on applying thin coats until I got the opacity I was looking for. Some colors (like the yellow) took more coats than others (like the purple).

DIY colorful computer keyboard

Don’t you just love this army of brightly-colored keys?

DIY colorful computer keyboard

Of course, I’d covered up the letters on these keys, and I needed to fix that. But rather than just go willy-nilly writing them on, I stopped to do some careful arranging first. I referenced my photo and started putting the keys back on the keyboard, carefully setting them there WITHOUT pushing them down in place. I started with the bigger keys, and made sure I had a good color distribution.

DIY colorful computer keyboard

Then I looked through the smaller keys and found the three with the little sensory bumps on them. If you’ve never noticed, most keyboards have little bumps on the F and J, to help touch typists find “home row” without looking. If your keyboard has a keypad on the side, like mine does, there will also be a bump on the 5 key. You want to make sure to put these three keys back in the proper place on the keyboard.

DIY colorful computer keyboardDIY colorful computer keyboard

Then I filled in the remaining spots with the regular keys, again NOT pushing them down, but just setting them there gently. I took time to distribute the colors around evenly and get a look I was happy with.

DIY colorful computer keyboard

Finally I was set and ready to write the letters on. I took the keys off, one by one, referenced my photo carefully, and used a fine-tip black Sharpie to write the appropriate letter/word on each one.

DIY colorful computer keyboardDIY colorful computer keyboard

The Multi-Surface paint itself has a lovely satin finish that doesn’t require any sort of sealer, but I was worried about the Sharpie wearing off with repeated use, so I put all the keys back on their Q-tip pegs and gave them a couple light coats of Americana Sealer/Finish matte spray for good measure.

DIY colorful computer keyboard

Then all that was left was to stick the keys back in place, pushing them down for good this time.

DIY colorful computer keyboard

Just look how cool the result is. Can you even believe it?

DIY colorful computer keyboard

I am completely in love with this keyboard and how lovely it looks on my desk at work!

DIY colorful computer keyboard

The possibilities with this technique are endless. I was flooded with ideas for color combinations, and I decided to make another keyboard for my desk at home. This time I focused on a color I’ve been fascinated with lately (turquoise) and a trend that everyone loves — ombré!

Once again I went with the perfectly-suited Microsoft Wired Keyboard 200 for Business, but this time I got white so that it would be easier to cover.

DIY colorful computer keyboard

To accomplish the ombré pattern I wanted, it was critical that I keep the keys in the exact position during the painting. So I was very careful to line them up perfectly. I switched from my old chunk of foam to a 2″x12″x36″ sheet of Styrofoam, which did a better job of holding the keys upright.

DIY colorful computer keyboard

This time I wanted to paint the whole keyboard, not just the keys. I started by painting the area under where the keys go, just using straight Deep Turquoise. Since the keys would end up covering most of the area, I didn’t have to be too neat, and I didn’t have to cover it all. I just needed to establish a good background color.

DIY colorful computer keyboardDIY colorful computer keyboard

Then I used some masking tape to protect the cord, and used a small brush to paint around the little lights on the corner of the keyboard.

DIY colorful computer keyboardDIY colorful computer keyboard

Then I grabbed another cosmetic wedge and applied the Deep Turquoise to the rest of the keyboard.

DIY colorful computer keyboard

I kept adding coats of color until I got the coverage I wanted.

DIY colorful computer keyboard

At last, it was time to work on the ombré. I wanted to make each row of keys a different color, so I knew I would need 6 shades of turquoise. I decided to play with the colors a little on scrap paper first, so that I had a good reference point. I just mixed a little more Cottonball in with the Deep Turquoise to achieve each shade.

DIY colorful computer keyboard

Then I used the same technique as before to apply paint to the keys with the cosmetic wedge. I started with my darkest shade, which I put on all the keys on the bottom row.

DIY colorful computer keyboard

Then I moved up, row by row, using the lighter shades, finishing with the lightest at the top. I found the white keys a LOT easier to cover with paint than the black keys were, especially for the light colors!

DIY colorful computer keyboard

Then I wrote the letters on, and sealed the keys like before.

DIY colorful computer keyboard

When the keys were dry, I popped them back in place on the keyboard. Fortunately, I could use the same keyboard photo as before, since this white keyboard had the same layout that the black one did.

DIY colorful computer keyboard

Gee, I thought I loved the first rainbow keyboard, but I might love this one even more! The ombré effect is just what I was aiming for, and the gradation is gradual and perfect.

DIY colorful computer keyboard

By the way, there are two keys on this keyboard that actually cross over two rows. When I got to those, I just painted the first color over the whole thing, let it dry, masked it off, and then painted the top with the lighter color. Easy peasy!

DIY colorful computer keyboard

The way this keyboard looks on my desk at home is pretty stinking awesome, wouldn’t you say?

DIY colorful computer keyboard

I already have tons more ideas for other color combinations for more DIY colorful keyboards. I can’t wait to make them and share the results with you all!

P.S. If you want one of these keyboards but don’t have the patience to make it, we can help. Check out our painted computer keyboard listing on Etsy to order one custom made just for you.

DIY colorful computer keyboardDIY ombre computer keyboard

14 comments so far:

  1. Linda Jeter said: (April 14th, 2014 at 3:19 pm)

    Hellooooo..

    What a kewl (cool) idea this is!! Great project to do with grandchildren (plastic gloves of course!)..and I had just purchased a keyboard that is black w/yellow keys and huge letters and numbers…
    Anyways, I am always trying to find projects I can do w/my grandchildren all ten of them!! Ranging from 2yrs old to 18yrs old…thanks for the DIY !!

  2. pommeliane said: (April 14th, 2014 at 3:56 pm)

    Magnifique

  3. mary warren said: (April 14th, 2014 at 4:56 pm)

    my keyboard is spattered with so many paint sprays it looks horrible! This is a wonderful idea to clean it up !

  4. Chica said: (April 14th, 2014 at 5:47 pm)

    What a great way to fix it up, Mary!

  5. chooka said: (April 15th, 2014 at 1:45 pm)

    I saw this on boing boing and couldn’t believe how easy it is to make a great looking keyboard! I bet this would make for a great family project.

  6. Mike said: (April 15th, 2014 at 3:29 pm)

    Very, very cool! I might try this, but I’m thinking of using some pre-fab letters, like Letraset or possibly some actual thin plastic stick-on lettering.

    Again, very nice, looks really slick!

  7. Chica said: (April 15th, 2014 at 6:46 pm)

    Thanks, chooka and Mike!

  8. TXMess said: (April 16th, 2014 at 1:07 pm)

    What a great idea!! My plain black keyboard is so boring!

  9. Harrison said: (May 10th, 2014 at 5:41 pm)

    This is such a good piece of art. I don’t know how you come up with these ideas! :)
    I’m so desperate to do it, but sadly I only own a mac laptop so obviously I can’t… unless you can suggest an idea of how to paint computer keys which are backlit? Thanks!

  10. antonio ruiz said: (May 13th, 2014 at 9:59 pm)

    I want to know the price, I live in Valencia, Spain and how many days I can have this product and the form of pay it, or if I can buy in Valencia. Thanks you very much. I hope your answer. Thanks……

  11. Chica said: (May 14th, 2014 at 7:22 am)

    Harrison, glad you like this idea! I personally would be afraid to try painting anything as permanent and expensive as a laptop. If you really want to paint a keyboard, maybe you can make one for a gift for a friend!

  12. Chica said: (May 14th, 2014 at 7:28 am)

    Antonio, you can find out more information about purchasing a keyboard in our Etsy listing: https://www.etsy.com/listing/186183321/custom-painted-ombre-computer-keyboard

  13. Jennilyn said: (May 18th, 2014 at 4:08 pm)

    LOVE this project! I am going to shamelessly copy, probably in orange ombre…If someone is painting a used keyboard (instead of brand-new clean), clean with rubbing alcohol and let dry to degrease keys so the paint will stick better.

  14. Chica said: (May 20th, 2014 at 6:12 pm)

    Great tip, Jennilyn. Thanks for sharing!

Have something to say? Please comment!

Please visit Chica and Jo at http://www.chicaandjo.com for even more clever ideas!