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Yard Sale Desk Makeover

July 24, 2014

CREATE   |   Published July 24, 2014

Do you ever see a piece of really junky furniture and wonder if it still has potential?  Check out this furniture transformation for proof that even the worst pieces can be made into something beautiful!  |

I'm finally ready to show you the finished desk that I rescued from a yard sale at the beginning of the summer.  It was a long process and I let it sit many times just waiting for inspiration to hit about how to fix various problems it had.  But it is completed now, and it may be one of my favorite furniture transformations ever!  It truly is a complete transformation from something destined for the landfill to a piece perfect for any home.

Do you ever see a piece of really junky furniture and wonder if it still has potential?  Check out this furniture transformation for proof that even the worst pieces can be made into something beautiful!  |

So, this is how it started......

Rolltop Desk Before | Anderson and Grant

About a month ago, I shared with you some pieces I purchased at a yard sale.  I'm sorry to say that they've all been sitting in my shed since I bought them.  I think the task of transforming anything that is in rough shape, while incredibly exciting in terms of creativity, can be a little draining when you know the work that is ahead.  I finally decided to bite the bullet and start transforming the little desk....not because it was the best or worst of all the purchases, but because it was the easiest one to get out of the shed. :)

This desk had seen much better days.  It was neglected.  The pieces were starting to pull apart.  The finish was dirty and worn.  The drawers had long again been broken out of the desk leaving a big space on the side.  The rolltop was broken in two sections.  The shelf on the inside was missing two of the dividers in the center and had a big chip on the edge.

But I had to have it.  At $5, I saw a treasure in the making.  That is what I do....I find cheap junk and turn it into something fabulous...or at least I think I do!

The problem is that this desk actually went from pretty bad to worse.  The more I worked on it, the clearer it became that I really didn't OVERPAY for the desk like I had originally thought.  That is one of the downsides to refurbishing, well, junk.  Sometimes you overlook problems with what you are about to buy because you are so excited about what it could become.

The finish, while very worn in places, wasn't sanding off easily in other places.  This wouldn't matter, except my plan was to stain the desk top.

Pieces on the side were starting to pull apart.  I'm not sure whether it was like this when I bought it or happened from moving it around for storage and to work on it.

And it was missing a piece of trim on the side, which I totally didn't realize when I bought it.

And then it looked like this after some scrubbing, sanding, and well, destruction.....

When I realized putting the frame of the desk back together wasn't going to be an easy process, I tore the entire thing apart.....kind of in a fit of rage.  Hammers and loud pounding were involved.   It didin't look good, but I knew it would get better.

Fixing a Broken Desk | Anderson and Grant

And finally, my roll-top desk is done and beautiful.

Amazing furniture transformation of a trashed desk purchased at a yard sale | Anderson & Grant

I had a vision of how to transform this piece from the moment I saw it, and I stuck with that vision until I had in front of me what I was seeing in my head.  There was so much wrong with this desk, but that provided the opportunity to do exactly what I wanted with the piece.  I think you would agree that I really could not hurt the desk!

Black Painted Roll Top Desk |

The roll top of the desk was broken in two pieces.  This was surprisingly easy to fix and I'll be sharing a little tutorial about how to do this next week for those of you wondering how to get it done.

Fixing a Broken Roll Top Desk |

There was a missing piece of trim on one side of the desk.  Since the shelf inside the desk was broken beyond repair, I cut the wood from the shelf to the size that I needed for the trim.  This way, the tone of the wood is maintained throughout the piece so that the distressed wood showing through matches.

The space where two missing drawers were has been turned into a shelf for office supplies, files, or books |

The space where two missing drawers were has been turned into a shelf for office supplies, files, or books |

There used to be drawers on the side, but they had been broken out.  I cut a piece of wood to fit into the bottom of the space, and added a piece of trim to the front.  (Oddly enough, the trim I had was already stained in the exactly color I needed to match the desk!) This space would be the perfect place for a basket to store files or office supplies or to shelve some books.

Comparison of Refurbished Desk with Rolltop Opened and Closed |

This desk doesn't have any fancy turned legs or decorative trim.  It needed a little something to keep it from looking too plain.  So, I decided to stain the desk top to add a little interest.  It is no secret that I love painted wood furniture that has a stained top.  And lately, I've really been loving the combination of rich wood with distressed black paint.

Sanded desktop for staining |

The desktop and little "shelf" on top of the desk were stripped down to the bare wood (which was no easy task, let me tell you!).  Both were stained with American Walnut colored stain.  

Imperfections still exist in this desktop adding to the charm of this finished desk | Anderson and Grant

Even through all the sanding, there is still some distressing and imperfections that show through the finish, which I think really adds to the charm.  In no way is this desk an expensive antique.  It was broken apart to begin with, and I really enjoy maintaining the imperfection in a beautiful way.

Black Painted and Distressed Rolltop Desk |

After staining the wood, I used painter's tape to mask off the edges where I didn't want to paint.  Then I coated the entire piece with two coats of black chalk paint.  After the paint was dry, it was distressed around the edges.  The final step was coating the piece in some of Miss Mustard Seed's antiquing wax.

Pull up a chair and sit at this beautiful refurbished desk from Anderson & Grant!

The desk is on the small side and was probably a child's desk back in the day.  It is still a good size for an adult to use in an entryway or small space to write out bills or work on a laptop.  It will take an odd sized chair to actually be pushed in, but I love the look of the chair sitting next to the desk anyways.

Restoring a broken down desk with some stain, chalk paint, and a lot of hard work!  |

I'm putting the desk back to start collecting some inventory for my open house in November.  Can you believe how fast this year is zooming by?  I've really got to get painting and shopping and crafting if I'm going to have anything to sell!


Vintage cane back chair gets a farmhouse makeover

An updated antique booster chair

yard sale chair makeover

Grandma's antique dining table gets an update
Dining room sideboard made from an antique dresser

Before and After....Refurbished Yard Sale Roll Top Desk | Anderson and Grant

So, are you loving this desk as much as I am?

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