Desk Makeover

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!

desk makeover with Annie Sloan chalk paint

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:

old beat up desk


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!

old beat up desk gets a makeover


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. 

brass bail pulls


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.

desk painted with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint


The top that was so scratched and battered now looks creamy and a little time-worn but in a good way.

Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in Coco


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.

lidded baskets hold extra desk storage


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!

how to save hundreds on furniture

desk painted in Annie Sloan Chalk Paint Coco  

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. 

before and after of an old desk and the results


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?


signature with flowers



*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.



I often share at:  Metamorphosis Monday, Your Designs This Time, The Scoop, Wow Us Wednesdays, Inspire Me Tuesday, Furniture Feature Friday, Something to Talk About, Amaze Me Monday, Share Your  Style

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23 Responses to Desk Makeover

  1. Shari says:

    LOVE LOVE LOVE your ‘new’ desk!! I recently bought a ‘used’ desk from a facebook yard sale page, and the funny thing was that I bought it from someone I knew! The desk was the perfect size that I wanted and was $40.00. My husband kept trying to get me to buy a new one, but I didn’t like any of those (especially for the amount of money!) and the most expensive ones we were looking at were only about $200.00 LOL I didn’t paint mine, but your paint job is gorgeous!!! Love your colors and your style!

    • Julie Julie says:

      Thanks so much, Shari! I wish I could have found the right desk for $40 but after the other one fell through I was happy to pay what I did to get something that met all my requirements. Funny you ended up buying from someone you know — it happened to me once also — small world! lol Have a great day!

  2. Tammy says:

    Looks great love the color. You did a great job!

  3. Ashleigh Hall says:

    Julie!!! I love your new desk!! And the fact that you re-did your new one yourself AND it was $1300 less than a ‘real new’ desk just makes me love it even more! What a great reminder to us all to NOT buy new if we have the chance to score something previously loved and add our own personal touches (paint, new hardware).

  4. D. Lawless says:

    Thanks for the link and awesome photos of our hardware there! Next time you need hardware just come ask me!


    • Julie Julie says:

      Thanks, Derrick! The bail pulls were so reasonably priced I was able to get a few more pulls and knobs for my daughter’s bathroom all using the same gift card! I’ll be posted her bathroom re-do soon – stay tuned! πŸ™‚

  5. It looks great Julie! Love the color!

  6. Hey Julie…the desk that was not delivered was meant to you have found that fabulous one…great job…I love it!…and that hardware is gorgeous too!….

    • Julie Julie says:

      Thanks, Shirley! Truthfully, I like this desk better — it’s better quality and I think it has more character. It really was meant to be! πŸ™‚

  7. Crystal says:

    I love the transformation. The color is wonderful. It is simple yet shines all at the same time. Great job!

  8. pauline cordery says:

    Love it!!!!! It looks great. You did a fantastic job. I feel inspired!

  9. I know how frustrating it can be to find that perfect piece of furniture to suit your needs. So glad yours ended well, I love this transformation.

  10. Love your transformation Julie-it’s a stunner!

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  12. Lisa says:

    Hi Julie, I love your desk makeover and sometimes I guess things have a way or working out, with your other one not arriving and then you were able to create this beautiful desk. Love it. Thank you so much for linking up to the Something to Talk Abut Link Party and GREAT NEWS your being featured across all 7 blogs tomorrow morning so we hope you’ll join us again then. hugs, Lisa

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