Tutorial: How to makeover a desk with paint

When we moved to NC last year so that I could attend grad school, my husband brought along his desk, which he has had for who knows how many years. It has had its share of damage from him leaving sweating cups on it as a teenager, but really it was the hunter green color that was preventing me from getting the look I was going for in the room. With that said, the desk has many good attributes as well: It has a nice shape, it hides the monstrosity that he calls a computer (it's from the early 2000s), and it is heavy and well-built. 

For about a year I have been talking about painting it, and I finally got up the courage to do it. J was even nice enough to help me! How lucky am I to have a husband who will help me with my projects?! Anyway, I am so glad we painted it because it has really lightened up the room (the dark green from before felt so heavy), and it has helped break up the row of large pieces of furniture that we have against one wall. It is quite pretty now. 

Here is an after pic:

Here it is before:

So, this is a really simple project. It just takes some guts (because the paint is permanent, ya' know) and a little bit of time.

Materials - Paint brush ($2 - $6); Foam rollers ($5); Sandpaper ($2.88); Paint (approx. $17)***

***Feeling a bit impulsive and with J's approval, I used some touch-up wall paint that we had on hand. I'm crazy, I know. We were on a painting high after finishing up the second coat of paint in the office/guest bedroom, which took 2 whole days, and so we figured we would give the desk a whirl. I think it was around $17 for a gallon of Valspar interior acrylic latex paint in Antique White Eggshell Finish at Lowes. But, hey, it all worked out.

Time - Approx. 3 hrs + drying time (30 min to an hr in between coats)

Note: Having someone to talk to while your painting makes the time go by faster and the process more enjoyable. :)

I'm sorry... In my haste to makeover the desk, I forgot to take pictures of the different steps. It's an easy project, though, and the steps are fairly simple.

Step 1 - Move the furniture away from the wall and place a drop cloth underneath.

Step 2 - Using fine-grained sandpaper, sand down the finished surface using circular strokes.

Note: Some furniture paint may have lead in it, so to be on the safe side, where a ventilator mask like we did. There may be other precautions that you need to take that I am not aware of.

Step 3 - Take a wet cloth or paper towel and wipe away the excess particles that your sanding created, and then thoroughly dry the piece of furniture.

Step 4 - Paint your heart out! J and I used both a paintbrush and a foam paint roller to get the job done. It took between 2 and 3 coats, waiting 30 min to an hour in between each coat. The number of coats depended on which part of the desk we were painting. The more visible areas will likely need 3.

  • I have heard that using a paint roller increases the risk of bubbles, but I did not have that problem. In my experience, it distributes the paint evenly and quickly (pro), but it is hard to get into corners and small spaces (con). You will inevitably need a paintbrush for those tight spots.
  • Also, keep in mind that this is the quick and dirty way to paint furniture - I imagine a professional furniture painter would probably use some kind of sealer. We painted the desk over a month ago, however, and the paint looks great. We had an accident when we were moving the computer back in place, though, where it nicked the paint a little. Still, I don't regret foregoing a sealer…at least not yet. 

That's all, folks!

And now for some more pictures of J's desk all shiny and fresh.

I'm linking to...


  1. Hi Lauren!
    Great job on the desk! I love the concept of your blog too, well done all around! :)

  2. Thanks so much for sharing. I get relavant information from your post.
    Airless Spray


Thanks for your kind comments!