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A dutiful desk gets a new life


Today I’ll show you one more project related to the office spruce up. It’s not the last thing that needs to be done in the room but I’ve come to a fairly natural stopping point and anything else I decide to do in there after this is just gravy.

If you’ve been following along with this project, you’ll recall that keeping the whole effort on a shoestring budget was important to being able to do it at all and this project certainly speaks to that.



The cabinets were certainly the ugliest beast in this room but the desk was no looker either and it looked even worse once I got the cabinets freshened up with some paint. The desk was another laminate wonder, but I really liked how it functioned. I like desks with a privacy panel (I rarely wear skirts but I’m not very good at sitting in a ladylike manner all day) and you don’t find those much anymore. Also, buying a new desk, even a relatively affordable one, would have been a budget buster. So you know what I did next. Yep. Spray paint. I’m getting predictable.

Painting it outside was not an option given that it was the middle of winter so I had to get a bit creative, and in this that meant getting down and dirty in the basement of the building where my office is. I created my own little (temporary) paint booth by putting a tarp on the floor and taping plastic sheeting (thin and cheap) from the ceiling then sealing it to the tarp.

I actually took the desk apart to make it easier to move and paint. I didnt go crazy with the sanding, just a good once over with 120-grit to rough up the smooth plastic laminate. As usual, I gave it a good scrub with Dirtex and dried it thoroughly. Since I was changing out the hardware, I also filled the holes with wood putty.

This photo confirms my suspicion: Tyvek suits are not figure flattering for the under-5’3″ set.

Then, in an attempt not to poison or paint myself, I donned a full Tyvek painter’s suit, booties, plastic gloves and a respirator. Using my patented trusty Super Thin Coat method, I primed each piece of the desk with two coats of Zinsser Cover Stain primer spray paint. After those dried (about an hour) I covered it with semigloss Rustoleum spray paint. I don’t know how many costs I did, but I used three cans and probably could have used a fourth.

I let everything dry overnight and the very carefully put it all back together in my office. I knew the paint wouldn’t be fully cured and I didn’t want to scratch it.

I figured the paint would do well on the sides and drawers, but I had no such expectations for a top that would see a lot of wear given that it’s used daily. We took off the laminate top (it was held on by a handful of screws) and replaced it with a butcher block desktop I had picked up along with the countertops on our relationship-challenging trip to Ikea. (Sidenote: Did you see the episode of “30 Rock” where Liz and her boyfriend go to Ikea and everyone warns them not to? Hysterical.) I stained and Waterloxed the top the same way I did the counters (with almost all the same problems) and then attached it to the desk with the screws we saved from the old top. Then I drilled new holes for the hardware and attached the same handles I used on the cabinets.

I’ve been thrilled with the results. So far the desk, both the painted parts and the wood top, has proven to be vey durable, sustaining chair bumps, spilled water and random stapler incidents with aplomb. I think the desk top was about $60 and the hardware was another $12 or so. Add in the spray paint and sandpaper, and I got a whole new looking desk for less than $100.

I also sprung for a new solar shade. After all the improvements to the room I couldn’t bear to rehang the ill-fitting blinds.

The desk wasn’t the only thing that got the spray paint treatment in the office. Read more about that here and about my favorite thing–the fabric bulletin board backsplash–here.

Note: This is the first post I’ve ever composed entirely on my iPad. That means I couldn’t color correct the photos like I normally do and I don’t even know how this will appear. I apologize if it’s a big mess.

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