Craigslist Secretary Desk Makeover

I’m looking forward to sharing this project with you, since it is one of my favorites and the desk that I sit at while creating these blog posts!  About a year ago, I went out in search of a desk that fit in the nook you see below in my bedroom.  The trick was finding something that wasn’t too big, but also big enough to be practical (and also cheap!)  Usually I like less ornate, more modern furniture, but this one definitely checked all the “practical” boxes with all the storage and good work area.  Since it wasn’t too expensive I felt okay with painting it, even though a few friends & family members thought I was crazy for wanting to!  My thought was, I wanted to make the desk FUN, something I enjoy working at.  As-is, this desk is pretty, but too stuffy for me.

My Craigslist desk before chalk paint
My Craigslist desk before chalk paint

I also found a chair on CL that was also inexpensive and had similar lines/legs.  Since it was a completely different color wood, painting was a must to make the two pieces go together.

Craiglist chair to go with Craiglist desk
Craiglist chair to go with Craiglist desk


I decided to try a bold color that I haven’t been brave enough to use in other rooms of my house: Annie Sloan’s Florence!

I painted this over a year ago before I had any blogging aspirations so I didn’t take photos of the process – just these couple of shots with my phone:


As you can see, I taped off the center portion of the desk and left it the dark stain.  There is actually a pretty design on the desktop that I didn’t want to cover, and the thought of painting the inside cubbies and tiny drawers seemed like a lot of unnecessary work.

Once I painted everything and let it dry I distressed using a “wet sand” technique.  Wet sanding doesn’t use any sandpaper, but just a wet rag on newly dried paint.  The paint is taken off a little chunkier this way.

Wet sanding on the ornate details

After wet sanding I waxed the whole piece with clear wax, and then a very light application of dark wax.  I actually like the color Florence so much better with a little dark wax on it!  Dark wax makes it a much richer color.

DSC_1379 DSC_1377 DSC_1370

Here are some pics of the chair I painted and recovered:

IMG_2358.JPG IMG_3565 IMG_2357.JPG

I got the desk all put back together, and still felt like something was missing.  I remembered seeing some gold gilding wax when buying my paint, so I went and bought a little pot of it.  Pricey stuff!  I honestly don’t remember how much I spent on it, and maybe it’s better that way.  But it was easy to work with, and it tied in the gold hardware that came with the desk.  The whole thing looks very pretty and girly for my office!

DSC_1388 DSC_1387  DSC_1376

I used this same technique of paint, wax and gold gilding for a metal file cabinet that I redid to match (post coming soon).

I’m glad I went bold with the color, I enjoy working in a space that is bright and cheery.  Desks are one of my favorite things to paint, they can be a statement piece that really displays your personality!  I wanted my artsy, quirky and feminine characteristics to come through with this desk and chair.

Here it is with my computer set up, ready for me to get back to work!


Do you have a room or piece you painted where you were bold with your color choice?  Please share how it turned out!


6 thoughts on “Craigslist Secretary Desk Makeover

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