Antique desk makeover and my left-hand girl

I mentioned recently that I had to get a Cortisone shot in my elbow to help my tendinitis cure, but while I was healing I jumped on a antique desk bargain I found on Craig’s List. I’m healing nicely and doing my therapy daily. 😉

My “right-hand man” in this adventure was really my left-handed girl, my daughter, Emily. Just a day after my shot, we were lucky enough to have the seller load it into the back of my vehicle and cart this heavy, solid wood desk home.

Thankfully, the weather was cooperative last week. The timing was perfect because it comfortable enough to work in the garage.

She started the process with a good scrub down. The desk had been stored in an old shed for who knows how long. It was a dirty, dusty, cobwebbed mess. She may have commented more than once how long it took her to get it clean. 😉

After it was clean, we scraped the top to remove parts of the veneer that were peeling, sanded it down and applied several coats of spackle to get a smooth finish.

Originally, we weren’t confident the spackle job and Chalk Paint would be good enough to keep as a final product. We thought we would get it as smooth as possible and then, after our move this spring, we would decoupage a map on top to hide the mess of the patched top.

You can see a large discoloration in this photo which was taken after the first coat of paint

The paint color was a mix of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint Aubusson Blue and Graphite. I wish I could tell you proportions, but I literally just used what was left the Graphite in the bottom of an almost empty can and mixed in some Aubusson Blue.

To revive the rest of the desk, I lightly sanded down the really rough nicks and jagged imperfections, as well as, some sticky residue on the drawer fronts with 200 grit sand paper.

And here’s the quick and easy part:

To revive the finish I applied a combo of the Johnson’s clear wax and Annie Sloan’s Dark wax all over the piece. Looks great right? One thing that can keep a desk this nice looking clean and tiny is a large size mousepad.

Generally, the way I do this is to add a tablespoon of dark wax into some type of container. I use an empty wax jar, and grab some clear wax on my brush and then dip the tips of the brush into the dark wax and spread it on.

And to prove that anyone can do it, I even got my son, Miles, whose room the desk was headed, to apply the rest of the wax when my arm started to hurt. 🙂

After the wax dried the next day, we buffed it with a soft rag and hauled this super heavy piece upstairs to Miles’ room.

To hide the stains inside the drawers, we lined them all with Kraft paper.

We were shocked how little you could see the imperfections of the patch work we did on the top after the waxing. And look how great the refreshed finish looks!
I love the old patina. Totally refinishing the piece would have made it look too perfect.

I love the old pullouts under the desk top. And you’ll note that we opted to remove the center drawer. Miles is 5′ 10″ so he could use all the extra leg room under there as possible.

It was a simple, quick and easy project that anyone can do. I promise! My teenagers did most of the work. 😉

If you’re looking for a beautiful antique desk for your home, why not consider purchasing one online through the world of antique furniture. Here, you’ll find fantastic examples that have been restored to the highest standards. Not only do they do desks, but also bookcases, chairs, tables and a range of amazing antique furniture!

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  • Diana Petrillo
    March 1, 2014 at 6:44 pm

    Hi Leslie–I'm visiting via Persia Lou's party 🙂 So glad I did; I've been reading a lot about waxing and I think your explanation has done the trick. I've got some old pieces that need a bit of reviving and my old standby, Howard's, hasn't done the trick. Do you get the Johnson's clear wax at the grocery store? I'm presuming you have to order the Annie Sloan wax,

  • Leslie Davis
    March 1, 2014 at 7:00 pm

    Diana, thanks for stopping by. I get my Johnson's Wax at my local Ace hardware. I will mention that on white or cream colored pieces I only use Annie Sloan clear wax because the Johnson's has a slight yellow tinge to it. It spreads very nicely and is inexpensive.

  • Diana Petrillo
    March 1, 2014 at 8:40 pm

    Thanks Leslie!


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