I recently refinished an old wood desk and transformed it into a farmhouse decor style. This desk was sitting in an old barn for over 10 years. The back was removed, someone had decided to run wiring to it and cut a light switch hole in the desktop. As some point, mice had chewed up that wiring, making it useless.
I love the look of white or ivory with warm, rich wood accent pieces. Replacing the top was a great opportunity for me to add in an earthy cherry stain color to warm up the white. I wanted this desk makeover to be a one-time project, and white is so very classic. However, I went with a warmer ivory tone that I had on hand because it adds just a little more polished a look.
The original desk was constructed from hardwood birch. I left the drawers and structure of the front part of the base exactly how I found it, with no modifications. However, I replaced the back with beadboard panels. I made a fascia of beadboard over the two ends to complete the look and tied it all together with trim painted in the gorgeous cherry tone.
Of course, this desk was a heavy piece. It required more carpentry than I can do. My husband loves woodworking and did the carpentry and I took on the extensive sanding, priming, and painting. It took a whole lot to obliterate that oil-based green paint. It appeared that the green paint/wiring/hole cut in the top occurred sometime around 1990. I say this because somebody scribed a date inside one of the drawers.
Here are a few images of what the desk looked like when I found it in an abandoned barn:
BREAKING IT DOWN:
We started by breaking down parts of the desk in order to start over. All the drawers were removed. The pullout keyboard tray was discarded as it’s obsolete with my laptop. The slats that firmed up the back of the desk were pulled off so to add the beadboard. The little wood buttons that cover the screw holes were pulled off with pliers and put away safely. The handles were removed from the drawer and set aside to be spray painted later.
My favorite part was cutting out all the odd wiring and pulling off the desktop. I decided to rebuild rather than try to somehow fill the gaping hole where they put a light switch. That was a very “unique” feature, to say the least.
BEADBOARD TO ADD BEAUTY
Because we had laid the desk down onto its front (drawers removed) we had it in the perfect position to add the beadboard.
We measured twice for beadboard panels for the back and sides. We snapped a chalk line to cut our panels. They were attached using an air compressor brad nailer which leaves the tiniest of hole to preserve the beauty of the beadboard.
After the beadboard was attached, we stood the desk back up and it was as sturdy as new.
Here’s a quick little video of my hubby nailing the panel. You can see how he found the back of the drawer supports to nail into, moved his hands away, and nailed it in.
We took careful measurements of all trim pieces. My husband cut them for me. My stepdaughter and I stained them and set them aside to dry as he continued attaching beadboard.
SPRAY PAINTING PROJECTS:
We also had a couple of spray painting projects. We sprayed the handles a dark hammered bronze. We also took the tiny buttons that cover the screws and painted them to match the drawer pulls. The wood tone of the birch was off from the cherry and they just looked wrong.
We also took the tiny buttons that cover the screws and painted them to match the drawer pulls. The wood tone of the birch was off from the cherry and they just looked wrong. Ten minutes of spray paint fixed that problem!
SANDING AND PAINTING (A LOT OF IT!)
I thoroughly sanded the green drawer panels and front sections that were now still exposed. The green paint would not go away. Period.
I had two choices: stripping or stain blocking primer. I took the easy way and used Zinsser Stain Blocking Primer which completely blocked the remaining ugly green paint…in two coats.
I also sanded and primed the beadboard so that it accepted the paint evenly. It was raw wood and the sanding smoothed out the rough spots.
I used Valspar’s Fossil White paint from my local Ace Hardware store. I chose a flat finish so that it mimics a matte chalk paint effect, without the expense of chalk paint. It took two coats to get a great finish.
BUILDING THE DESK TOP:
It took two sets of hands to build the new desk top. We used pine boards to create the top. We joined them with wood glue, clamped them together, and let them dry for an entire day and night.
We sanded and stained the top. It took three coats of polyurethane, with a light sanding between each coat, to make sure the desk top is well protected from coffee spills.
Unfortunately, this was such a labor intensive job that I forgot to snap photos. Sorry ya’ll!
ATTACHING THE DESK TOP AND TRIM:
Finally, we attached the desktop to the desk.
We added all final trim back to the desk using the air nailer again.
Finally, we screwed the handles back into the drawers and popped the screw cover buttons back onto the desk panels and drawer fronts.
THE FINAL RESULT:
Finally, I had a desk completely reworked. I am thrilled with the outcome. It was a long project done over several days. This was because of all the different parts that needed stained, painted, drying times, etc.
This desk is going with me to my full-time job, it’s not staying to live at my own home office. I know I will get daily use out of it and enjoy it every work day.
I feel like this outcome was worth the effort:
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