As I mentioned earlier, we got a new desk for our office so the one I’ve had forever had to go.  We brought it out to the garage, took a few pictures and listed it on Craigslist.  I was actually surprised that it didn’t get many hits, and contemplated just donating it.  The night Erin and Maggie came over to paint, Erin was redoing a side table with some chalk paint.  I loved the color and how easy it is to use (no sanding or prep!!) and decided that I’d repaint the desk and try to sell it again with a more contemporary look.

Wooden Desk Revamp

What you’ll need:

  • 2 8oz containers grey chalk paint
  • 8oz white chalk paint
  • Paint brush
  • Polycrylic clear finish
  • Screwdriver
  • 5 cabinet knobs

I think we got this desk when I was in middle or high school, so it’s been with me for a long time and travelled from move to move through the college and post grad years.  The white piece on the shelf part is a magnetic strip for pictures.  When we moved to our house, I used the top as shelves that held random yard tools in our garage, and some fertilizer spilled and left a blue spot on it, oops.  So this is what I was working with…


The first step was to remove the wooden knobs and magnetic strip.  I unscrewed them, then sanded the area by the knobs since there was some wood stain built up that needed to be smoothed down.


Then I started painting.  I had one container of gray chalk paint that I bought from Michael’s.  There was enough in it to cover the desk and most of the shelves with one coat to get me started.  I decided to paint the back of the shelves a different color, which is why they weren’t painted yet.  At the end of the first night everything had a coat of paint on it and was drying.



I picked up some white chalk paint for the back of the shelves, but they were out of the gray I had used before.  I used the little bit of gray left to finish as much as I could and painted a few coats of white on the back of the shelves.  This part took a few days to complete since I’d paint a coat after work, then let it dry overnight.

Note: I ended up not using painter’s tape and just trusting I could paint the edges in a smooth line.  For the most part this worked well, but I had to paint over a few spots where I messed up and white was on gray or vice versa. 


Apparently Michael’s sells out of that gray chalk paint fast, because I checked and checked, and it was almost never in stock.  I found some at Hobby Lobby that I thought was a similar color and used it to touch up some areas on the shelves and desk.

And then the paint dried — totally not the same color, at all.  Whoops.

Finally, I got more of the gray paint and I did a second coat on the desk.  I also had to make sure I covered up all of the places where I used the wrong gray paint..

desk 08

desk 09

When all the painting was done and you couldn’t see through to the wood, I moved on to the next step — sealing the chalk paint.  You can either use wax or polycrylic finish to seal the chalk paint.  Wax takes a little more effort, and while the finish may look a little better, you have to maintain it and wax it over the years.  Polycrylic finish is a one and done kinda deal, plus I had just gotten a can to use on my corn hole boards – bingo.

I covered the desk in a coat of clear polycrylic sealer, and let it dry some more.  Like it recommends, I did 3 coats of polycrylic on it, just in case.  This actually changed the color a little — it made it darker, and smoother to the touch instead of chalky.

desk 10

The last step was to put the new knobs in. Thanks to y’all for helping me decide which ones to use — I ended up with the teal & white ones I found at Hobby Lobby.

The knobs weren’t long enough to go through the shelves and be clasped on the other side, so I got creative.  I ended up using a big drill bit to make the holes bigger on the inside of the shelves by ~1/2″.  Then I was able to get the washer and nut on securely.  I screwed the new knobs into all the drawers, screwed the magnetic strip back in, and was done!

desk 01

desk 05

desk 07

desk 12Now that looks a lot better!  Anyone in Charleston looking for a desk with shelves? 😉

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