Wooden desk makeover // Before & After

2 March 2014

In 2011 we moved to a new flat (hardly new as our tenement building is from late 19th century but new for us) and  I was on a lookout for a wooden desk. I was studying a lot at a time as I just started med school and wanted a dedicated working space in our living room for my anatomy and physiology books.

I looked at IKEA options, but I didn't want a yet another chipboard piece of furniture that I didn't love. Then Jakub emailed me a listing from gumtree advertising a solid wooden desk for £30. On a Saturday we drove to Duddingston village in Edinburgh to pick up my new desk and discovered that it was in serious need of some TLC. I'm not sure what kind of wood it was made of, it was stained a dark brown colour so it was clear it needed sanding and a new coat of paint.

Here are before pictures (not a great quality).

Initially I wanted to paint it white and add colorful drawer handles but then decided to go to homebase and look for inspiration in the paints aisle. My second idea was to go for white legs and a dark stained table top. Eventually we decided on pale blue with navy blue drawer fronts.

Now it adds a splash of colour to our living room and it's definitely my favourite piece of furtniture in our flat. Living in a rented flat is not my favourite thing but adding my own mark especially when I can do some DIY and feel like an artist/furnitire maker for one weekend is something that I both enjoy and look forward to doing more of in the future. Doing someting feels tons better than creating endless pinterest boards (guilty).

This was our first bigger DIY project and I didn't expect the amount of dust and sanding it would take to get the wood to the stage at which it could be painted. The painting part was much more fun. Initially I considered getting the drawer handles from Antropologie, but the price for 3 of them would be almost as much as I payed for the desk i.e. way too much. Instead we got cheap knobs from IKEA and they do the job just fine.

Here is some more information about the project:


  • sanding - about 5h
  • 3 coats of paint - about 3h  (we didn't use a primer, probably a mistae but the paint is still fine after 3 years)
  • painting drawers - about 2h


  • desk, Gumtree, £30 - it just about fitted into our tiny peugeot so we saved on transport #win
  •  paint - for the main desk I used Laura Ashley Pal Duck Egg in eggshell finish, and a sample of navy blue pain from Dulux as I knew we didn't need the whole pot of paint for the drawers
  • porcelain white knobs - IKEA
And here are some final pictures from last week:

 We didn't do a great paint job on the legs, will have to go back one day and paint those again.

 The paint on the drawers is more like in the the picture below. It's quite a vibrant blue. I love it.

 Overall it was a very enjoyable project and quite an easy one for the first attempt on DIY.
My next plan is to finally sort out a gallery wall in the living room and frame some prints for our bedroom.


  1. Looks really nice! If you don't like sanding try chalk paint by Annie Sloan for your next project (http://www.anniesloan.com/) - no need for sanding as the paint sticks nicely to pretty much any surface. I painted many of my charity shops and gumtree finds with it.

  2. Nice job! It looks so cute now!


  3. bardzo pinterestowo to wyszło (w sensie - to komplement). jakkolwiek wtrącę swoje 3 mądre grosze i ośmielę się założyć że już nigdy nie poprawicie nóg - nie żeby było widać, że coś z nimi nie tak - ale już się wam nie będzie chciało. stąd wiem, że sama mam kilka dwuletnich niedoróbek (jak grzejnik wystający w wejściu do kuchni) i już nigdy się za nie nie wzięliśmy ;)

    1. Pewnie masz racje ale musiałam sie wytłumaczyć dlaczego nagle cześć nóg jest nadal brązowa. Czasem mnie nachodzi ochota zeby zupełnie je przemalować,moze jak zmienimy mieszkanie znowu. Odnawiania starych mebli to moje kolejne powołanie z którym sie minelam.