Yard Sale Vintage Desk Transformation

Desk Makeover
Desk Makeover
I love how smooth the bare wood looks

Good afternoon!  Today I’m sharing a makeover I did on this vintage desk, it was in need of some serious TLC, as you can see from the picture below, it had 5, yes 5! coats of gloss paint that had bubbled and cracked, but underneath the crappy paint job was a sturdy, solid wood vintage desk that I couldn’t wait to get started on. 

I knew from the start that this was going to be hard work, I started by applying a coat of Citristrip to start the process of paint removal.  The customer for this piece wanted a similar design to the desk I made over for myself which has a chalk paint bottom and a stained dark wood top so I really needed to get all of the paint off of this piece.  I left the Citristrip on the desk for a few hours, and when I came back to it….it had dried 🙁 so, I applied more, this time making sure it was a thick enough layer to stay wet.  It worked this time around and I was able to scrape off the paint and most of the stain from underneath it, after giving it a wash down it was good to go. And, as I sit here and re-read what I’ve typed I realize that it sounds like it took 10 minutes rather than 3 or 4 hrs to prep this piece :flushed: It’s not quite that easy!

As you can see from this picture, the top of the desk still had patches of the old stain, I used my electric sander to sand these back before applying the stain.  This got two coats of Minwax Dark Walnut wood stain, I left all of the deeper scratches and marks on the top and these were highlighted by the dark stain, I love the character that this gives to the wood.  With this piece the customer also opted for no clear coat or varnish, over time the stain will fade as arms and laptops rest and rub against it giving an even more worn appearance which luckily both my customer and I both like.

The following day when the stain was dry, I taped off the top edges, flipped the desk over and applied the first coat of white chalk paint.  What I didn’t do, was check for stain bleed and as I was towards the end of the second coat of the chalk paint I noticed that orange patches were bleeding through the white paint, I should’ve guessed this would happen as the paint stripper had removed any varnish that would have prevented this from happening.  Now this has happened to me before so I really should’ve known better (check out my post on 5 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Started Painting Furniture).  I also know (from experience) that even applying an additional coat of chalk paint at this stage will not stop the stain bleed,  the easiest way to fix this is to apply a coat of a good quality primer which has stain block properties, if you don’t have that you could also use a coat of Shellac to seal it.  I opted for the primer which solved the problem on this desk, I then went ahead and added the final coat of chalk paint to finish up.

Desk Makeover

As this was drying I did two coats of the same chalk paint on the drawers, and also sprayed the drawer handles black.  Giving it overnight to dry completely I went ahead and distressed the edges slightly as I wanted it to tie in with the worn look of the stained top, I then sealed the painted areas with clear wax and reattached the hardware.  The finished item looks really good and despite the hard work turned out to be one of my favorites.

Have any of you guys painted a vintage furniture piece?  If not I really think you should give it a go, it’s easier than you think and if I can manage it i’m sure you can too!  I would love to hear your feedback about this post and also see pictures of your own projects 🙂 Message me in the comment box below.


One Thought to “Yard Sale Vintage Desk Transformation”

  1. Courtney

    This is amazing! 🙂

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