Antique revival to two-tone beauty

I love desks.

I’m not entirely sure why I love desks so much, but I think it has something to do with the idea of organization and compartments.

Could be because they are so easy to makeover but have such impact when you do.

Maybe it’s because there are a bazillion of them on Craig’s List and Kijiji, that you can’t help but get an ugly duckling for a steal.

Today’s desk makeover has to be one of my all-time favourite desk makeovers ever.  (and I’ve done a fair share of desks makeovers!)

I picked up this roughed up beauty for a steal on MaxSold.  I’ll be honest and say that I mainly purchased it to get my hands on the gorgeous antique handles it was sporting….

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because there wasn’t much else going for it.

The top was water-marked and scratched everywhere,

Desk makeover, gray desk, two tone desk, grey desk, antique desk, refinished desk, painted desk

and the body was spotted with water damage and scrapes as well.

Desk makeover, gray desk, two tone desk, grey desk, antique desk, refinished desk, painted desk

But purchasing handles like those would have run me roughly $12 per, and they probably wouldn’t have been as nice as these.  I figured “worst case, I ditch the desk and keep the handles for another project”.

Let me show you what 10 minutes with a random orbit sander can do:

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Did you see that coming?

I did – sanding is just about my favourite part of any project – the results are so dramatic and gratifying.

I sanded the top of the desk and the upper drawers all the way down to the bare wood, and then rough-sanded (just enough to get the varnish off and smooth out any scratches) the rest of the piece.

I sprayed a coat of primer onto the body and remaining drawer faces.  Once that was dry I gave it a light sanding with a 220 grit sanding sponge to get a beautifully smooth surface to work with.

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For this desk makeover I used Benjamin Moore’s Amherst Gray and sprayed three coats (with dry time in between each).

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I gave the antique handles some love and scrubbed them with ENJO marble paste to remove a bit of the tarnish.

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I could have probably got them a bit cleaner if I’d kept at it for longer, but after 9 handles with a scrubbing pad, ENJO cloth and Hubby’s toothbrush, my arms were tired.  I like this ‘aged patina’ look anyways.

The two-tone effect of this desk makeover was accomplished by applying a coat of Minwax Special Walnut stain to the top and upper drawer fronts, followed by 3 coats of clear, semi-gloss polyurethane.

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Look at that shine!

The drawers had pretty scruffy interiors, and who wants to buy a desk with a beautiful shell, but gross insides – so I sanded them smooth as well.  The upper drawers received a coat of stain and polyurethane on the insides as well – just to fancy them up and give the new owner a fresh start.

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Would you believe that I paid $21 for this beauty?  It’s easily worth ten times that now!

Desk makeovers are the perfect project to test out your refinishing potential because:

  1. you only have to strip, sand and paint drawer fronts (mainly flat surfaces)
  2. they are relatively easy to flip (particularly if you live in a college town)
  3. they are easily and inexpensively found online, at garage sales, and in your parents’ basement
  4. if you can find one with great handles, you can sell those off separately and still make more than your money back.  (heck, I’LL buy them from you!)
  5. they take up very little paint, so one quart will cover several pieces.
  6. they are so dramatically transformed, you can’t help but become addicted.

All it takes is a little patience, a touch of elbow grease and a vision.

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Desk makeover, gray desk, two tone desk, grey desk, antique desk, refinished desk, painted desk

It’s garage sale day – head out and grab one today!

What I used:

Have a great one!

Too funny

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2018-06-18T13:39:20-04:00July 14th, 2017|BEFORE & AFTER, REFINISH/REPURPOSE|5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. sabrina corbet July 15, 2017 at 12:36 pm - Reply

    Love this project
    Hope you get a good price when u do sell it
    I find you very inspiring, and gets me into a frame of mind to complete some of my sanding, painting projects
    Keep up the great projects
    Perhaps, this w/end I will sand my door (back door to garage), prime, paint and then I can cross it off my to-do list!

  2. Lee Ann Heavener December 10, 2017 at 8:07 am - Reply

    Wow! I never saw that coming! You do beautiful work and very creative.

  3. Lauren December 14, 2017 at 8:57 pm - Reply

    Hey there! The desk looks great! I have a random orbital sander but I don’t have the same success you had in so little time! What grit did you use? Did you put anything on it before you sanded? Thanks!

    • Shelly @ 100Things2Do.ca January 8, 2018 at 10:56 am - Reply

      It depends what you’re trying to remove… if you have layers of paint to go through, then you might be better off using Smart Strip (it’s fantastic!). If you are sanding through stain and varnish, like in this project, try a 120 grit first to find out if the surface is solid wood or veneer. If it’s veneer, the 120 grit shouldn’t grind it off. If it’s wood, you can take a step back to a 60 grit which will remove everything in no time! Have fun!

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