Before and After - Vintage Desk/vanity for a Little Girl


I found this desk and chair at a local tag sale for $10! It had a very poor paint job but it was too cute to pass.
I don't usually sand down my pieces if I am going to repaint them. Normally a good cleaning and some light sanding and priming do the trick, but the paint job was so, so bad, that there was no way around it.
First I stripped the paint with zip strip. This product is powerful stuff and it works fast, but you do need thick gloves, a respirator and plenty of ventilation. Most people prefer more gentle products such as Citristrip but I don't have the patience to apply and clean it 4 or 5 times, so zip strip is my go to.
Next I sanded the desk, drawers and chair using my electrical sander on the flat areas and sandpaper on corners and details. I started with a 80 grit, then went to a 120 and finished with a 220.
This is the chair after a good cleaning with TSP diluted in water.
I wanted to use some beautiful turquoise knobs I bought especially for this project, so I filled the holes in all drawers using Minwax High Performance wood filler, then sanded it well making sure the surface was completely flat and smooth.
Next I drilled the holes for the new knobs.
I primed desk, drawers and chair with Rustoleum Primer spray. I had to apply two coats because the residual stain was bleeding A LOT! Bleeding is one of my worst nightmares and it happens quite often with old pieces. That's why I always use oil-based primer.
Using my inseparable friend, the spray gun, I started spraying the darker shade of blue (Benjamin Moore Cool Aqua - satin) in the interior of the drawers, as well as mirror and chair. Two coats. Once it was dry, I covered the turquoise parts and sprayed super white (Ben Moore) on the front of the drawers.
Then I sprayed the light shade (Benjamin Moore Icy moon drops) on the desk. This picture doesn't show but I taped and covered the interior of the drawer spaces to avoid overspray.
I used gray primer on the chair because I ran out of white, but since it would be painted in a darker blue, the gray worked perfectly fine. Believe it or not, the residual stain in the chair also bled through the gray, so I needed to apply two coats.
I sealed everything with Minwax Polycrylic satin (spray).
This is the final result. Sorry I don't have a closer picture of the mirror here, but you can check my blog for more pictures.
I paid $0.25 for this teddy bear in my local thrift shop. Isn't it adorable?
I can picture this set in my niece's bedroom. It's a shame she lives too far away, in Brazil.
Painting drawers on the inside is a pain, but in some cases, it just has to be done. Isn't this a nice surprise?
I am so happy with this transformation! If you decide to try it and have any questions, feel free to ask!
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Pat Rios | The Wood Spa

Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!

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Have a question about this project?

3 of 8 questions
  • Karyl
    on Jul 12, 2019

    I love this project. I have looked at paint sprayers but have never been confident enough to buy one. What kind of sprayer do you recommend?


  • Jane
    on Jul 12, 2019

    What is the benefit to using regular paint ( like you used) verses chalk paint?

    • Pat Rios | The Wood Spa
      on Jul 12, 2019

      Mostly cost and color variety. One sample of regular paint is more than enough for a project and it costs about $7.

  • Christine Cajigas
    on Jul 23, 2019

    Omgosh, this is solo beautiful! A lot of detailed effort went in to your project. And it paid off. Thank you for so much for sharing. Whomever ends up with this, is very very fortunate. Thank you for sharing. 😊

Join the conversation

2 of 124 comments
  • Dawn
    on Sep 9, 2019

    Beautiful job!

  • Ticia
    on Sep 23, 2019

    I have a similar desk which is over 100 y/o and in much better condition than what you found. I was offered $100. for it about 35 y/ago. I've had it professionally refinished and while I applaud your efforts to make it your own, it isn't something I would want to do but I guess that makes me a purist. You did a lovely job . I hope the little girl loves it for all the work you put into it.

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