Desk Makeover Ideas | Before and After

Are you looking for easy desk makeover ideas? Then this diy desk makeover is for you! Let’s get started!

Pinterest graphic with before and after of desk makeover

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trash to treasure desk makeover

We were on our way home from running errands in town and while we were coming down our road, hubby said, “There’s a desk at the neighbor’s house and it’s on the side of the road with a ‘free’ sign on it. Do you want me to stop?”

My eyes looked in the direction he was pointing towards and then I spotted the ‘free’ sign. Omgoodness, that word gets me every single time.

Even if I don’t really need or want another project on my already-piled-high stack of inventory.

before view of desk ready for a desk makeover ideas blog post shwoing dull walnut scratched wood
screenshot of Instagram stories

desk makeover ideas

You can probably guess what I said to hubby about stopping the truck!

Yep, it came home with us. And my mind started to think about some desk makeover ideas.

Especially when I saw the shiny, formica top that this 1980’s cheapy desk had on it!

Let me just say, it was ugly. Just plain ugly.

Hubby tackled that problem right away by building a reclaimed lumber top like he has so many times before for our projects.

Like this washstand.

And this pair of nightstands.

And this farmhouse sofa table

close up of reclaimed wood top for a desk makeover project
screenshot of Instagram stories

what is a good color to paint a desk?

With all the at-home learning and stay-at-home working situations people are in, I thought I would hop on Instagram stories and see if anyone needed a desk. I gave them options to customize this desk makeover and asked them for their ideas.

A few people came back with responses about paint color and they were mostly to stay neutral. So I picked out a gorgeous white called Picket Fence by Fusion.

I have a thing for picket fences.

side view of desk showing makeover ideas and staged with chair, lamp, books, wall art and hanging lights

flashback: laundry room makeover

Earlier this year, I used Fusion Mineral Paint in Casement in our Laundry Room Makeover. Casement has a bit of gray and I wanted more of a true white.

As a side note, you can see how I used Casement in our own home!

You can see all four of the Laundry room makeover posts here. Just click the image to go to the post!

Be sure to check out those posts – you won’t believe the difference paint made in our laundry room!

Let’s get back to the current project…..

In reality, it was another reason to buy a container of paint. Wink, wink.

close up and side view of desk makeover ideas showing white Fusion Mineral Paint and staged with various desk items and an antique chair

how do you revamp an old desk?

Revamping this old desk was pretty straightforward.

The desk had one coat of Zinsser Shellac Based White Primer (after it was cleaned of course!) and then two coats of Fusion Mineral Paint in Picket Fence.

side view of desk showing the reclaimed lumber top that was white waxed for desk makeover ideas blog post

easy whitewash technique

The handbuilt, reclaimed lumber top that hubby built needed to be lightened up a bit in my opinion so I did a white-wash technique with Fusion.

It’s an easy technique that I have used before.

First, I watered down some of the paint in a separate container – an approximate 1:1 ratio.

Then I applied it to the top with a brush and immediately wiped off the excess with a blue disposable shop towel. That was just enough to tone down the color giving it a soft white appearance. The gorgeous grain is still visible and I just love that, don’t you?

top view of reclaimed wood top on desk for a desk makeover ideas blog postt

**If you can’t build a custom top like this, check your local lumber store for pre-made butcher block style sections of lumber and have it cut to size.

The top needed a top coat because it will get plenty of use so I used General Finishes High-Performance Top Coat in Flat.

The flat finish gives the top a hand-buffed waxed look that is my favorite. It also provides nice protection to the wood surface.

front view of drawers painted in white Fusion Mineral Paint and spray painted hardware in gold

paint the drawer pulls

The drawer pulls were removed and spray painted in Rust-Oleum Pure Gold. They were originally an antique gold that was popular in the ’80s and I think this flat gold is more in tune with today’s style.

desk makeover idea showing painted base of desk with white waxed top and staged with lamp, books, chair and wall art

new home for the desk

And here she is all finished! Not bad for a freebie on the side of the road, is it?

The desk has already found a new home. In fact, it is being used at Wilderlove Handmade and Vintage as part of their check-out counter and office space for the new store!

school desk painted in Fusion Mineral Paint showing desk makeover ideas staged with lamp, chair, books and wall art

pin for inspiration!

Thanks for stopping by today for these desk makeover ideas! I hope you are inspired the next time you see a roadside freebie. All these pieces usually need is a little love, some scrubbing, and a pretty color of paint and they can continue to be useful!

I would so appreciate it if you would pin any of the images you see in this post! It helps to get my name and business out into the world.

Plus, someone might need some inspiration for their own trash to treasure project!

Pinterest graphic with before and after of desk makeover

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Until next time…

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  1. Freebies are just the best!!! They are like a little gift from God!!! I love the legs on this desk, it’s so cute!!!

    1. Cynthia Gayle says:

      Yay for all the freebies!! The are manna from heaven!

  2. Oh, Cindy, it’s beautiful! You are so lucky that your husband understands your addiction to old furniture! Mine would probably have driven faster past the house in the hope that I wouldn’t see it 😉 I love the colours and of course, your styling – perfect as always!

    1. Cynthia Gayle says:

      Hahaha!! Yes my hubby loves all the same junk….I mean treasures….that I do!

  3. Beautiful job Cindy! I enjoy white washing too. I haven’t worked with Mineral paint. I’m more of a chalk paint girl. Maybe my safety net.

    1. Cynthia Gayle says:

      You should try mineral paint! I have used Fusion on several projects and I really like it! Thanks for stopping by:)

  4. What a precious desk … it reminds me of one I had growing up. Wish I still had it and could give it new life like you’ve done. How great that it found a home in a local store. Your husband sure does know you well!!! xo

    1. Cynthia Gayle says:

      Maybe you can find a similar desk to the one you had as a child! That would be so awesome!

  5. Cindy, I just love a good before and after photo. This desk project came out great! I love how you did the top of it.

    1. Cynthia Gayle says:

      Thanks, Tammy! My hubby is super talented at building those farmhouse style tops for our furniture 🙂

  6. Curbside finds are always fun! You made this look so cute. I checked out your picket fence post too. Last weekend I hemmed and hawed over some free fence panels too long and lost out on them. I am so mad at myself. Thought you’d understand my pain ha ha.

    1. Cynthia Gayle says:

      Oh no!! Pickets are so much fun to create with!! I would send you some of mine if I could! Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  7. I love all of your finished project yet this one brings me back to my childhood! I had a desk so similar that I received as a Christmas gift from my parents.
    so glad you rescued this!!!!

  8. I love what you did with the desk! It’s always awesome to get a freebie. I’m sure it didn’t take long to find a new home. Always enjoy your furniture projects, Cindy!

  9. What a find! I have always had a great fondness for vintage/antique items-the stories they can tell, if they could talk, right? This desk came out beautifully, Cindy❤️❤️!

    1. Cynthia Gayle says:

      Thanks Patti! Yes, if only the furniture could talk – they could tell us all sorts of stories!

  10. I’ve got an old desk that is going to need a makeover before I dare put it in our new house! I’ll definitely be referencing this post. Pinned for later!

    1. Cynthia Gayle says:

      Yay!! If you have any questions when you get to your project, feel free to reach out! Hugs my friend!