You may have seen a few posts about my office makeover, and here is the first piece of furniture to go in it.

Ok, not exactly in this form. This was when I first got it at Goodwill for just $12. I had big plans for this desk, you can read about them in this post. But- like any normal DIYer- after I got into the project I changed my plans a bit. Read on for the play by play.

First I got busy sanding. Starting with 60 grit, I uncovered a rainbow of colors from who knows how many owners. But what’s that peeking out in the corner?

Well HELLO gorgeous! I squealed with delight when I envisioned it with a natural stain.

That is poplar according to my husband who knows these things. I patiently sanded the rest of the frame in preparation for priming. You can use a product like Zinsser 1-2-3 water based primer.

Before I got busy priming, I wiped the top down with a damp rag and let it dry. Then I applied a coat of Minwax Natural Stain with a disposable sponge brush (like the one pictured above). When staining, you want to brush in the direction of the grain. While the stain soaked in, I applied two thin coats of primer on the rest of the frame. Here it is so far.

I just love how the stain brought out the natural color of the wood and really gave it a polished finish. The clean white against the butcher block-esque top was enough to convert me to the light side (from my previous natural on black legs vision). I decided to paint it white and distress it lightly. But first I had to deal with the drawers. There were holes to fill from several types of hardware that had been installed.

Elmer’s Wood Filler would fix that up quickly. Simply squeeze some of the thick paste onto your finger and smear it in the hole. You want to make sure that it is at least flush with the rest of the wood. After it dries (about 15-30 minutes for fairly shallow repairs), you can sand it down for a seamless finish.

I also took this opportunity to see if Elmer’s would help me out with another cosmetic issue. The “split” middle drawer was just a little bit too country for me, and I thought maybe I could fill the gap for a clean finish.

We’ll revisit that drawer in a bit. Let’s talk about paint now. My original plan included my fav spray paint, Krylon Metallic Oil Rubbed Bronze. It’s the perfect black finish, it has more character than a flat black and looks more realistic to me that a glossy black brush finish. But having been swayed to the light side, I decided to use a can of semi-gloss white trim paint I had on hand.

White is a bit of a challenge because it shows flaws, and you need more coats to get full coverage. Despite 2 coats of primer, I still applied at least 3 to the frame, and close to 5 on the drawers. This is mainly because the desk had quite a bit of wear and tear. If your furniture is in good shape, you may not have to do as many. When it comes to painting-less is more. You will always get a better finish by doing more thin coats than fewer thick coats. I also sanded in between a few of the coats with 220 grit paper (again more specific to my roughed up desk), but it’s not necessary if you’re sticking with thin coats and you have a nice surface.

To complete the look, I decided to do a little bit of distressing. The key to a realistic finish is to choose spots that would naturally wear down over time. This includes corners, edges, and faces that might be rubbed down from regular use. For my desk, this meant the corners and edges of the drawer, and some details on the legs. I used 220 grit to take the sheen off the whole frame, then 150 grit to wear through the paint on the edges.

Here’s the finished product, complete with some adorable pewter knobs.  Did you notice the split drawer is gone? I think it came out great, what do you think?

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9 Responses

  1. tanya

    I L-0-V-E IT! You created such a beautiful turn around! I never would have imagined that it ever looked like it did before, awesome, and inspiring! :)

  2. Becky

    A woman after my own heart ! I LOVE doing projects like this one. Thanks for the info. on filling the holes ! BTW, my husband calls me MacGyver too, but for my ability to repair anything with what I find in my purse or around the house :-)


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