I am so seriously in love with this piece, y’all.
I’m not going to lie though; getting it to look like this was no easy task.
The weekend before our packers came in Monterey, I came across a roll top desk on a facebook “for sale” page. The girl said that she was open to offers, so I messaged her and asked if she would take $30. She said yes, and I sent Jarrod to pick it up (the pick up process was a pain in the butt, but I’ll skip over that).
The desk was scratched, had initials carved into it, had permanent marker stains, and was pretty beat up cosmetically. But structurally it was fairly sound, and I knew I could make it look good.
Or at least Pinterest convinced me that I could…
My plan was to stain the writing surface and to use milk paint and then a glaze on the rest of the desk. I had never refinished furniture (or anything for that matter), but all of the blogs I’ve read about refinishing made it sound easy cheesy wheezy!
We got to Pennsylvania, got our house pretty much unpacked, and I decided to get started on refinishing the desk.
Fifteen minutes into sanding the writing surface down, I was on my phone researching palm sanders and then on my way to Lowe’s to buy one.
Once I finished sanding and cleaning the writing surface off, I got ready to mix up my paint/stain. Rustoleum’s Kona Brown diluted with water. I opened up the paint can, and was surprised by what I found. Kona Brown wasn’t very brown. It was more like California Raisin purple! I hoped that mixing it with water would make it look less purple, but it was still pretty purple-ish. Thankfully when I brushed it onto the wood and then wiped it back, it lost some of it’s purple-ish-ness. I did two coats of the stain, a coat of poly (Minwax Water Based Polycrylic) over the top, and was happy with the results.
The next step was milk paint. I used Old Fashion Milk Paint in Sea Green. Milk Paint comes in powder form and is mixed with water. The blog that I was using as inspiration suggested using warm water to help lessen the number of lumps in the paint. I used warm water and mixed the heck out of that paint, but I still had little lumps (more on that in a bit).
Painting this desk was a thorn in my side. And an ache in my back. Literally. To get into all of those little nooks and crannies, I had to lay on the ground and become some sort of contortionist. I began to wonder why in the world I had picked a roll top desk as my first refinishing project.
Once I finished painting on the milk paint, I took sandpaper to the whole desk (other than the stained part). With milk paint, some flakes off really easy, and then everything else stays. You never know where it’s going to flake though. I found this to be true as I had a huge spot flake off on the top of the desk. I’ll be finding something to sit on part of that spot!
Once I cleaned off the dust from sanding, I pulled out the glaze that was supposed to go over the milk paint. I put it on a section, wiped it back, and didn’t really like what I saw. I called my mom out in the garage (my mom was totally awesome taking care of the kids while I worked on the desk), and she didn’t really like it either. We tried a few other things, but didn’t like them either.
Back to Pinterest I went. I came across some blogs that mentioned using wax over milk paint. My mom said that she had used wax to finish wood crafts before, so I kept reading. And then I made another trip to Lowe’s.
I came back with Minwax Paste Finishing Wax in Natural. I tinted the wax myself with some Burnt Umber acrylic paint. We tried it out on the back of the desk, and it was totally the look was I going for. After A LOT of waxing on and off (I seriously felt like the karate kid), my desk was finished!
I am so happy with way it turned out! I peek into our den a few times a day just to see it. Even though it was a total pain in the butt to do, it was worth it.