Today, I am sharing an antique desk makeover idea that wasn’t supposed to happen this way! Wondering what I am talking about?? Read on!
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old desk on Facebook marketplace
You know those times that you open up a local sell and swap page on Facebook and the first thing in that feed is a deal?? That doesn’t happen too often but when it does, grab your keys and head out of the door!
That’s exactly what I did. I checked my local Facebook sell and swap and low and behold, the very first post was this late 1800’s antique desk! Believe me, I responded as fast as my little fingers could type and then grabbed my keys! I was headed out to pick it up! 😃
Little Barkly came with me!
how to make an old desk look better
This gorgeous antique desk sat in my workshop garage space for several weeks. I had plans to refinish it for my own use. But while on Instagram stories one day, a local follower saw it in the background and asked if it was available.
Of course, I said yes. There’s not much around here that I won’t sell! 😉
She sent me her ideas for the desk and we agreed it would be hers in the near future. Come to find out, her hubby is working from home indefinitely and he needed a designated space for work.
This antique desk was just what he needed.
Her biggest problem with the desk was the top. It had been recovered with faux leather and was just not what she wanted. Can you blame her?
- milk paint
- paint brush
- orbital sander & sanding discs
- hemp oil
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how to remove leather on desktop
We fixed that problem for her by ripping off the faux leather!
It wasn’t the easiest task, but we tagged teamed it, and got it done! I started the process by using a chisel to slowly loosen and peel back the faux leather.
After removing the faux leather, we were left with an extremely sticky mess of adhesive. It looked like black tar, no kidding! 😫 Nothing was taking the adhesive off — heat gun, scrapers, adhesive remover….. Nothing!
Hubby got out the big tools – his belt sander. He sanded the top down to bare wood one evening after dark so we don’t have any pictures of that process. But it did remove all of the adhesive!
The wood underneath the faux leather was gorgeous! Nail holes and all!
antique desk makeover
We chose to remove the top completely from the base to make sure it was solid. To do this, we had to remove the nails. And how happy I was to see these square nail heads!
The rectangular shaft and square nail heads help to date the piece – late 1800’s!
We secured the top down to the base with modern-day screws from the underside so they wouldn’t be visible. Using these hand-forged nails to attach the top could damage them. Screws will hold the top more securely.
I have a little plan for these nails. As soon as I have that project finished, I will let you know!
old desk restoration
After the heavy-duty sanding with the belt sander, I used an orbital sander to smooth the surface. I started with 100 grit and worked my way back to 220 grit. Our client decided to go with the black wax that I suggested to her.
The wax was so easy to mix myself! I used one part of Miss Mustard Seed Milk Paint (still in the dry form) to three parts MMS Furniture Wax.
I applied the wax in the same way as I have with other pieces. Super easy process, apply the soft wax with a brush and then buff with a soft, lint-free cloth.
I’ll show you how to apply wax to furniture in this post: “How to White Wax Dark Furniture.”
antique desk with hidden compartments
Let’s talk about the details of this antique desk!
See that little door on the side of the antique desk towards the back? It’s kinda like a hidden compartment! I do believe the door was added sometime after the original maker built the desk. The door doesn’t have the same design as the drawer fronts or the door on the front of the desk.
I love that this antique desk has already undergone a makeover!
Honestly, it is just a smart design! How often do things get lost and stuck in the back of cabinets??? Such a great way to reach those little lost items!
The drawers. Do I need to say anything else?? Take a look at the Knapp joinery on this middle drawer!! The craftsmanship is stunning!
I ran the sander over the drawers to clean them up. Doing this helps to highlight the beautiful workmanship of the Knapp joinery (also called Pin & Cove and Pin & Scallop.)
repair drawer on antque furniture
Take a close look at the side of this drawer. It had been repaired in our modern time. See the lighter shade of wood along the bottom edge? There were several areas on the antique desk that had repairs just like this!
I love that someone saw the value in this treasure years ago and repaired it with the care that the original craftsman had. They even took the time to cut around the joinery. Love that!
paint for antique furniture
Our client wanted the antique desk to have a masculine feel to it so she chose Miss Mustard Seed Milk Paint in Typewriter. I applied two coats and then a coat of MMS Hemp Oil to nourish the wood.
I also applied a coat of MMS Furniture Wax to add some durability to the finish.
old desk with drawers
Can you see the circular spot on the third drawer? I can’t be sure what that is or how it got there but to me, it’s part of the story this antique desk has to tell. Not all ‘imperfections’ need to be removed. Those are the very details that make antiques rich in history!
antique desk makeover idea
I can see lots of meaningful work being accomplished at this desk! I mean, who wouldn’t want to bust out some work while sitting at the gorgeous antique desk?? 🤓
BTW, are you wondering where the hardware is? I thought you were! My client wanted to take her time looking for the hardware herself and will be installing it as well.
Thank you! ☺️
Thanks for stopping by for this antique desk makeover idea! I’ve enjoyed having you here and I hope you found this post helpful! ☺️
I would love to know your thoughts about the antique desk makeover. If you have any questions about its history or the makeover process, ask in the comments below!
more desk makeover ideas
We love sharing step-by-step tutorials of many of our projects here on the blog. Here are a few more desk makeover ideas for you to enjoy! Just click the image to see the full story 🙂
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