One Room Schoolhouse Desk Gets New Life

4 Materials
1 Day

I found this desk on the side of the road. It sat there for a week and I finally decided to pick it up and take it home. It had a bit of damage, but someone had tried to fix it and so it needed very little from me.
It was covered in a purplish red stain. Someone had already started to remove the stain, but must have given up. There was a nut/bolt missing from the iron, but other than that it was in good shape. You can see the small crack in the seat.
I proceeded to remove all the stain and smooth out the wood. I didn't want to remove all the remnants of its use, as there were a few dings and shallow crevices that probably came from various uses over the years. There was also a thin board under the writing portion of the desk that I removed completely. It was once used to hold books and supplies, but it was weak and not necessary for what I had in mind.

After I thoroughly cleaned and sanded the piece smooth I took a wire brush to the iron and removed any rust or rough spots. Then I spray painted it a brushed black color. It made the iron shine and gave it new life. After a couple coats of the spray paint I was ready to start the wood portions.
My favorite flower is the iris and so I chose that as my design. My original plan was to have a cluster of irises that would start on the seat and end up on the back of the seat. But, after penciling in my design lightly I decided that it was too busy and so I went with one iris on the back of the seat only.

Then using Unicorn Spit a water-based stain I started painting in my design making sure to do it lightly enough that the wood grain could still be seen. I used White Ning, Pixie Punk Pink, Molly Red Pepper, Lemon Kiss, and Dragon's Belly. I then stained the area around the iris with !!Squirrel!! and Lemon Kiss, White Ning, and Molly Red Pepper.

I proceeded to do the same to the writing portion of the desk. Using the colors of the iris to blend with the brown of the !!Squirrel!!. I had painted the underside of the desk and seat with a black. I took some Midnight Blackness and diluted it a lot. Then after tapping most of the black off my brush I tapped the edges of the seat, back and writing portion and an adding an occasional swipe across the flat areas of the wood to give it an aged look.
Finally, sealing the project. I used Min Wax Polyurethane Spray sealer in a Semi-Gloss finish. 4 coats with light sanding in between each one finished off my project.
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I knew the desk would be going into my entryway, and so I placed it in its spot and now I enjoy seeing it every time I walk by. I am looking for a small vase that will fit in the inkwell hole to hold little flowers to help brighten the area.

It is a beautiful piece, that if left outside much longer would have been an iron frame (which granted could have been repurposed), but now it is preserved and will be cherished and enjoyed for years to come.
Top writing portion

Suggested materials:

  • Sander  (Hardware store)
  • Unicorn Spit stain  (
  • Black Spray Paint  (Hardware store)
See all materials

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