An Old School Desk Gets a New Look

One of the great things about being a DIY blogger is that people think of you when they’ve got old furniture hanging around, knowing you’d love to get your hands on it. It’s really pretty awesome.

Shortly after I blogged about the girls’ school desk makeovers (this one and this one), my cousin contacted me. He said he had a small school desk that would be perfect for Noah, if I was interested. His sons are around my age now (ok, a *little* younger;), and this desk belonged to them when they were little boys. It’s a nice, solid wood desk and as soon as he sent me a picture of it I knew it’d be just right for my boy!

My cousin had actually bought this at a consignment shop 30 years ago, and back then it was really old. I love that it has such a long history, and we’re keeping it in the family.

Here it was before:

desk before

You wouldn’t believe how sturdy and heavy this little desk is – the chair alone weighs a ton! That old saying ‘they don’t make ’em like they used to’ came to mind when I saw this.

I knew this particular stain wasn’t going to work in my son’s room. He already had a lot of dark walnut going on. So I sanded the desk down, and the seat ONLY on the chair. I didn’t want the whole thing to be stained – I thought it would lighten it up a bit if the rest of the chair was white. (Plus, I find sanding to be a big ol’ pain in the you-know-what so if I could avoid some of it, I’m totally gonna go that route.) I used an orbital sander and it got the job done! The only tricky part was the inside of the desk, but I got as far back as I could, and used a piece of sandpaper and manually did a little – it’s so dark, you can’t see inside anyway, so I was satisfied with just doing that tiny part that is visible.

desk Collage

I went with Minwax Dark Walnut Stain. THEN! Oh I’m excited about this one, people! My neighbor and good friend just discovered this GENIUS (yes, caps are needed for this) product by Minwax – again, I have to shout – WIPE ON POLY!!!?? Say whaaaat?  Yes, poly that goes on pretty much foolproof. You wipe it on with a rag. Repeat. The end.

Now the desk is nice and smooth and protected and full of dark walnut loveliness.

Ready to see?

school desk makeover

school desk makeover

school desk makeover

I decided to add a red chair pad for a little color. And comfort. He’s a pretty tiny dude right now, but I’m sure we’ll ditch the pad at some point as he gets bigger. I also decided to paint the bars on the chair back in a light grey, just to make it a little more fun.

He is LOVING his little desk space!

school desk makeover

school desk makeover

It’s just his size. And when it’s not, I hope to hand it off to a nephew (or niece!) or cousin and keep this gem in the family for years to come. Judging from the great condition it’s in, I think this bad boy can withstand the test of time;)

And how cool is it that all three of my kiddos have these cute little school desks – all so different – and I spent a whopping $20 TOTAL for all of them?!

Big thanks to my awesome cousin for this perfect addition to The Big Boy Room. You rock!



  1. super cute! I love those old desks and just thinking about all of the “learning” that took place on that desk! I really like how you kept the desk the natural wood and painted the back of the chair grey to tie in w/ the stripes in the white board – you’re good! Lucky little Noah!

  2. Rondell says:

    Turned out great and your lucky to have the chair to go with it!

  3. Love this! I need to lighten my schedule so I can get back to stalking…erm, following, you regularly AND yard sale stalking. It’s time to start updating stuff!!

  4. Did u use a minwax polyshade color? No dark walnut listed in the polyshades so wanted to check with you first:) Thanks and love ur work!

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