Old-School Desk Makeover: Before and After

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Amelie found this vintage school desk at her local thrift store. It was solidly built though marked by years of hard use. At that time, she was looking for a desk for her daughter. This small desk was the perfect size but Amelie did not like the black and yellow wood finish. She decided to buy it despite its outdated style.

Amelie was confident she could bring some life and personality to this vintage desk. She was ready transform her child’s study space into a vibrant and inspiring environment.

You’ll see, a painted desk makeover is a simple and affordable way to revamp a workspace and make it truly your own. Follow our tutorial to find out how you can create a piece of furniture that not only looks great but also boosts your productivity and mood!

Tools and Supplies Used for this Makeover

Prep work


Cleaning is an important part of any furniture makeover. It’s actually the first step in giving your piece a new life. Before she started painting, Amelie gave the piece of furniture a thorough cleaning. She started by vacuuming it to remove any dust or dirt and then used a mild detergent and warm water to get rid of any greasy residue left behind.

2) Sanding

Sanding is the next step of this makeover. I know most people don’t like sanding. However, it’s a crucial part of any furniture transformation as it helps to create a smooth surface for painting. It also helps the paint adhere better.

Before starting, Amelie put on some protective gear to keep her safe from the dust. She used an electric sander to sand down the entire desk. Discover what sander and protective gear we recommend Here.

choose the best sander for furniture prep


It was now time to add some color!  She stirred the paint thoroughly to ensure an even consistency and used a paintbrush to apply the paint in long, smooth strokes. She first applied two coats of white paint of the top of the desk and the drawers’ front to get a beautiful finish.

To create a pattern of small strips on the top of the desk, Amelie applied painter’s tape of the top.

She also applied two coats of grey paint of the top.

While allowing each coat to dry before applying the next, she took care of the drawers. Amelie decided to paint each drawer with a different pattern. To get beautiful and regular patterns, she used stencils.

When stenciling, here, at Ohmysander, we love to use a cheap makeup sponge from the dollar store. We found the makeup sponge gives you a bit more control when applying the paint than the paintbrush. And you, what tool do you prefer to use for stencil painting? Share your experience in the comments below!

The alternating colors and patterns on the drawer fronts make us completely forget the austere look of this small desk.

You’ll notice that the body of the desk and the sides have not been painted. They were in rather good condition so Amelie decided to leave the wood unpainted.

Finishing Touches

To make the painting job more durable and protect the natural wood, Amelie applied a clear topcoat all over the piece. This will help prevent scratches and stains. It’s important not to skip this step, especially when it comes to furniture for children. And speaking of children’s furniture, I would recommend applying non-toxic and/or eco-friendly sealant.

Finally, Amelie removed the black drawer handles and fitted new wooden ones.

Here is the final result!

Painting this old-school desk was a fun and creative way to revitalize Amelie’s child study space. I’m confident this customized piece of furniture will create a unique environment that inspires productivity and creativity. This is the perfect desk for a child’s bedroom.

Are you ready to grab your paintbrush and transform your outdated desk? Remember our motto: “It’s not about what it is, it’s about what it will be.” By adding a splash of color and creativity to an old desk, you can make it a place where you or your kid actually enjoys spending time.  

Save this project on Pinterest!

Happy Makeover!

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