Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Domestic Project-Old Desk Face Lift

So this post isn't feminist in nature or about being pregnant, BUT I feel its post-worthy. Who doesn't like a good household project?!

Ever since we bought our house a month ago I've had lots of projects to keep me busy.  Several weeks ago my husband and I spotted a desk at Pottery Barn that we both REALLY wanted to get but it costs $900, naturally.  A few weeks later I saw that someone put a post up on FreeCycle giving away an old wooden desk.  I checked out the picture and decided that with a little hard work and some paint that I could transform it into a desk that both my husband and I love.

So, here's the dream desk:

Here's the desk we got for FREE on FreeCycle:
Here's the free desk, transformed:
Pretty cool, huh! Obviously, it's not as pretty as the Pottery Barn one but in the end it only cost us about $100 bucks.  Here's what I did:

1. 4 large sheets of sand paper, fine
2. 1 pint of Behr low-VOC paint and primer in one in white
3. 2 paint brushes--one about 2 inches wide and the other an inch wide for the smaller areas
4. 6 new drawer handles
5. 1 large drop cloth to protect the floors
6. 1 to 2 safety masks to protect yourself from inhaling the dust and paint particles from sanding as well as the paint fumes.

Free desk, as we will call it, is in pretty good condition. It is made of solid wood and is the perfect size for our study.  The downside of course is that it was sponge-painted a gross grey color and the top of the desk had at one point been painted black and where the grey paint was chipping there were huge areas of this black paint coming through.

Before I started sanding my hubby took the old handles off of the desk.  Unfortunately, one of the rusty old screws cut his finger so in the midst of the desk project he had to go get a tetanus shot.  Poor guy. Anyways, back to the sanding.  My goal wasn't to strip the old paint completely off the desk--that would have taken days--but instead I wanted to make sure that the loose paint was sanded off and that the surfaces of the desk were smooth.  Total sanding time: around 4 hours.  I sanded it all by hand and in hindsight wish I would have gotten an electric sander.  My hands, wrists and forearms are still sore from all of the sanding and I've had 48 hours to recover!

Before I began to paint, I vacuumed up the piles of paint/sanding dust that surrounded the desk on the drop cloth.  Then I took a damp cloth and wiped down every inch of the desk to capture any remaining dust.  This is a very important step because the last thing you want is the gross dust to start sticking to your freshly applied wet paint. It is important to have a very clean surface before painting.

Painting was a piece of cake! To get this antiqued look I did the following:
I applied a layer of paint and moved on to another section.  Once section two was done with a layer of paint, I went back to the first section and took a large sponge and drug it across the surface in a straight line, applying medium pressure to the sponge. Be sure to pay attention to the direction you are dragging the sponge. For the top of the desk, I followed the pattern of the wood and went horizontal.  For the drawers I went horizontal and the legs I went vertical.  Once the painted and sponged section was 80% dry, I went back over and dry-brushed the surfaces to add a little more character. Total painting time: 2 hours.

Next, I had hubby install the new handles and voila!  Our desk is complete :)
I had a very hard time picking out the handles.  I originally thought I wanted to go for something ornate and feminine but ended up going with a more utilitarian piece of hardware.  The good news is that if I change my mind in a few years, it's easy to grab new handles and install them!
More domestic projects to come!

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