I love it when I enter someone’s home and they have stories to tell about the furniture or items they own. I personally love for my home to be filled with things given to me from friends, passed down from family and some from my travels. It’s nice to be able to look around each day and be reminded of all the little “stories” that belong with the things you keep. These things that we live with each day should tell a story of who we are, where we came from and what we love.
To most, this just looks like an old desk. But this desk and I have a history. For as long as I can remember this desk has sat in a room nearby as I was growing up. It’s been the center of games, I did my homework on it and my mother paid bills and wrote letters sitting at this very desk. I’ve watched it being moved from room to room, from house to house, my entire life. It’s also been painted all sorts of different colors to match whatever style was going on in the room it was placed in. I think because it has been moved to so many homes and seen so many changes it resembles somehow how I’ve bounced from place to place and gone through change after change. No desk I could go out and buy could ever compare to this one because of those memories.
That is why it was important to me to save the desk and give it a new life in my home. When it was passed down to me it was spray painted an ivory shade with bits of the maroon popping out from the paint flaking off. I contemplated about colors and whether to take it back to bare wood or not. Knowing what I knew about how many layers I would have to take off and not really wanting to take off too much for fear it might lose some of it’s Wabi Sabi; I decided to just paint over the existing paint after sanding it down a bit. For those of you who don’t know what Wabi Sabi is, it is a wonderful process that things, people, landscapes go through celebrating the imperfections in life instead of trying to get them to be perfect. I wanted every imperfection to show through because those were my memories that I didn’t want to lose. I wanted to see all of them because each one brought back a memory from my childhood. I still have the scar on my leg where I did a cartwheel in the hallway and hit the edge of the desk. And I wanted the desk to have the scars we put on it as well.
Here are the tools you will likely need for repainting most pieces of furniture (add or subtract items as you deem necessary):
- wax (Slideez drawer lubricant works best)
- wood putty
- sand paper
- painters wax or sealant
- paint tray (I use take out food leftover plastic cartons)
- hardware (see some of my personal favorites below)
- paint (my favorite colors are from Farrow & Ball: http://us.farrow-ball.com)
HARDWARE: I went to pick out new hardware (which you should ALWAYS do BEFORE you start painting just in case you have to make alterations). I couldn’t find hardware with the same dimensions of the old holes probably due to the desk being so old so I chose new hardware and came home and drilled new holes. I then covered up the old holes with wood putty. After letting the wood putty dry, I sanded it with small grit sandpaper and finished it off by smoothing a VERY thin layer on my finger and going over the teeny tiny holes with watered down putty to make sure it was completely smooth. I let the final putty wash dry for an hour.
Here are some really cute options for hardware for a desk like this:
PICKING PAINT/ SANDING & PRIMING: I tested my first color then sanded the desk completely with a smooth grit sandpaper to rough up the paint so that my primer would adhere to and smooth out the areas that the paint was chipping off. I then cleaned off the desk and work area and primed the desk completely. After seeing my first color choice was too dark for the space I was putting the desk in, I chose a different color: Benjamin Moore Jamaican Aqua. In retrospect I wish I had chosen a tiny bit more blueish tone as this color tends to have a bit of aqua green but it still looks pretty in the room nonetheless.
PAINT: After the primer completely dried overnight I then put on the first coat of paint on the desk and drawers and let the entire thing dry overnight again. Be sure to NOT get paint on bottom of the drawer or where it will be pulled out. This will cause sticking! If you do accidentally get paint on it or you have a drawer that is sticking you can either find out where it is sticking and sand the bottom of the drawer or use a bar of soap or wax (I use Slideez drawer wax for these issues) on the sticking surface and “wax” the surface to make the drawer pull out easily.
PAINT/SECOND COAT: The next day I got to work on the second coat making sure I didn’t go over the same wet area twice as not to leave lines in the paint. I then let that dry overnight. You can see from the picture that the desk has a deep enough coat throughout so that it looks fully covered with no previous colors showing through so there was no need to add any more coats. If your project still doesn’t look the desired color, do not be afraid to add another coat. Just make sure the previous coat is dry before adding another one and try not to let the brush go over the wet paint too much as not to leave lines.
PROTECTIVE FINISH: Since I am using this desk as a vanity and will have water based products near and on it I decided to put on a clear PolyAcrylic coat over the paint. This also protects the paint job from additional chipping. If you aren’t going to have any water based items on your project you can use a Polyurethane, wax type sealant, tung oil or epoxy coat instead. The paint job should last a lot longer protecting it with a finish. I used a semi-gloss Poly Acrylic finish and it gave it a little bit of the shiny glam look I was going for but if you would like a flat or satin finishing coat.
ADDING HARDWARE: I allowed everything to dry for 2 days just to be sure (recommended drying time is 8-10 hours). Then added my new hardware… and this was definitely the easiest part of doing this project.
I added washers to the back of the hardware because the holes I made were a little large. You can see my previous holes filled with putty that the antique hardware used to go in in this picture:
After completing this final step it was time to move on to my favorite part of any project… Putting everything together! I added a vanity stool from Pottery Barn Teen, a beveled mirror hung with a ribbon from Home Decorators Collection and a vanity mirror from Home Goods… HERE IS THE FINAL RESULT!