Thrift Shop Desk Makeover

Thrift Shop Desk Makeover

After completing a thrift shop chair project, this desk is my first “big” thrift store makeover project, ever! It’s a writing desk which desperately needed to be refinished. I found at a our local thrift store. At first appearance, the desk left a lot to be desired. I had a plan from the second I saw it, this thrift store desk was going to be great! However, the desk had other plans in mind… The makeover didn’t turn out how I had planned, at all!

Thrift Shop Desk Makeover

I decided I wanted to try to find a piece of furniture to makeover, so Katie and I went to the thrift shop to scope out some stuff. Our thrift shops are tiny and are often filled with laminated junk, but sitting there in the middle of the room was the ugly oak writing desk. It was plain and had no spunk at all – just an ugly old desk. I think the only thing which stuck out as cool was the handles – they were neat!

You won't believe what this desk looks like now!

I’m not sure Katie knew what to think of the desk, I think she thought I may be crazy – but said it was cool anyways (lol). I was pretty sure I could transform this thrift store desk into something neat, or at least something half way decent that I could make a few bucks on. However, the thrift shop desk doesn’t resemble the finished product I had imagined when I first saw it. The desk decided it wanted to create it’s own awesomeness.

The second I saw this thrift store desk, I knew exactly what I was going to do. I was going to paint the base of the desk an off white color and paint the top of the desk a chocolate color. I even picked up the paint at Home Depot to give this desk a makeover and turn it into a masterpiece. But, of course, nothing ever goes as planned – right?

I began the process of removing the old finish – I decided to skip wood strippers and go straight to a 150 grit sand paper on my Ryobi orbital sander. It ripped the finish right off and made quick work of uncovering the desk. It took about 4 hours total to strip the desk down, which included removing all the hardware, sanding the crevices of the desk and the desk leg details with a piece of sandpaper and all that good stuff.

Once I had done the first go-round of sanding, I took a step back and saw something I didn’t expect. An epic looking smokey wood desk. I don’t know what happened – but the desk went from this nasty looking thing to a beautiful smokey wood like look, like it had been in a fire or something. I thought it was great!

Thrift Shop Desk Project

Naturally, being my first major thrift store makeover, I turned to Facebook to get the opinions of my friends before I went ahead and painted it. Nearly all of them said to seal it up and call it a day, because the desk looked amazing the way it was!

Well then. I guess I’m not going to paint the desk after all! The desk has decided that it wants to look like a pile of natural smokey, burnt wood of awesomeness — so it’s going to stay that way! I have to say, I’m actually happy it worked out this way. The desk turned out better than I had imagined!

Thrift Shop Desk Finished ProjectI finished the desk base with a WATCO Danish Oil in Natural Finish and I finished the writing desk top with Minwax Wood Finish in Dark Walnut. I applied 3 coats of Minwax Polycrylic Protective Finish to seal the top of the desk only to protect it from future wear and tear.

Thrift Shop Desk Finished with WATCO Danish Oil and Minwax Stain

The oil finish I put on the base was the easiest finish I’ve ever applied to anything – ever. I’m glad to have found this product called WATCO Danish Oil, it was wicked easy to use! You just tip the jug to the rag and wipe the oil on!

Note that the Polycrylic is a water based material, but it does cover the oil stain! There was no need to apply Polycrylic on the base of the desk, just the top which will get the most wear.

Thrift Shop Desk Makeover

My original plan involved painting the desk, and also ‘flipping’ this thrift shop desk and making some money to invest in the next project. However, Katie liked the finished desk so much that she wanted to keep it. So, it now has it’s own place in our living room!

Check out my next thrift store project, this thrift shop chair!

Thrift Shop Chair Find

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