Fixing up furniture is one of my very favorite things to do. In fact, when I first started this blog, I thought I would be posting a lot more about amazing furniture transformations.
The truth is, I don’t have the storage or work space to do as many furniture fix-ups as I would like. So when I do them, I think they’re a lot of fun.
This is my latest baby and I am thrilled with it!
It Was Fate
A few weeks ago, I wrote a little post about buying myself some flowers because of a botched desk order. I was sooo bummed when I learned the desk would never be delivered.
You see, I had a very specific list of requirements. The desk had to be small, but not too small. It had to be pretty with lots of storage and have the ability to stow things away that I normally keep on the top of my desk. This new desk was going to be in a very visible space in my home so it had to not only function, but look good. I had searched high and low to find such as desk and was paying more for it than I normally like to pay for new furniture. However, it fit all my requirements so I was excited about it!
After the deal fell through, I pulled myself up and dusted myself off and started the search all over again. I searched online retailers, furniture stores, Craig’s List, antique stores and finally, a local Facebook buy/sell page. It was there that I found this little diamond in the rough:
It wasn’t the secretary desk I was hoping for and from the seller’s picture, I could tell it was in tough shape. But it had good bones, it was well-made (it is solid wood with dove tail joints), it had lots of storage and I knew I could make something of it.
I immediately messaged the seller and drove to her house to pick it up.
When my kids saw the desk in my car I started to explain that I knew it was in rough shape but it was going to look really nice when I was done with it. My 10-year-old daughter said, “I know, Mom. It’s a fixer upper.” Ha! That girl cracks me up, and she knows me so well!
The desk originally had a small trim embellishment that went around the entire desk (you can see the light colored area near the top in the before picture). Some of it was missing, but could have been replaced since I had the missing pieces, but I decided to keep it simple and just remove the whole thing.
I gave it a light sanding and removed all the old hardware.
I decided to use Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in Coco for this piece. I wanted it to be understated and elegant. I liked the bail pulls that it originally had, but the old ones were in really tough shape and one was missing a piece.
I found bail pulls that were almost identical to the original at D. Lawless Hardware and you won’t even believe the price per pull — just 75 cents each! They are solid, sturdy and definitely not cheaply made. I am so impressed with the price and quality.
Before installing the new hardware, I lightly distressed the paint to reveal some of the details and went over it with two thin coats of clear wax to finish it off.
The top that was so scratched and battered now looks creamy and a little time-worn but in a good way.
I am so thrilled with this new/old piece that I don’t mind that it’s not the secretary desk I originally envisioned.
Since I can’t just close a door to my desk clutter, I bought some lidded baskets at Home Goods. The bottom one holds additional files and papers and the top is for tossing miscellaneous stuff inside when I’m in a rush to tidy up.
The desk, paint, hardware, and storage baskets cost me hundreds of dollars less than what I was going to pay for the brand new desk that never came. Yes, hundreds!
It makes me wonder why I ever considered buying something brand new.
If you have never made over a piece of furniture before, here are a few tips for finding the perfect fixer upper:
- Shop Craig’s List, furniture auctions, local Facebook buy/sell pages, garage sales and antique stores.
- Look for good bones — nice clean lines, a cute shape or a timeless style
- If the piece is damaged or full of dings, inspect it to see if it’s still solid. Does it wobble? How easy is it to fix it?
- Decided if paint, sanding, new stain or re-upholstery might rejuvenate the piece.
- Be aware of the cost for new vs. the cost of buying and fixing up something damaged. Some pieces are not worth the investment after you total the cost of the item, paint, hardware, etc.
- Consider the overall quality of the piece. Many old pieces are extremely well made — even better than new furniture. A solid piece, though scratched and dinged, might be a good investment of a little elbow grease and time.
By the way, the brand new desk I ordered was approximately $1500.00.
My old/new desk cost me a little less than $200 total. Are you motivated to rescue something yet?
*My desk hardware was purchased using a gift card provided to me by D. Lawless at a blog conference, however, all opinions are my own.