Desk Makeover With Colorwashing & Drybrushing

5 Materials
5 Hours

I found this desk at a thrift store for $15. It was very sturdy and in fairly good condition. It just had a few scratches and general wear&tear. I decided to give it a facelift!

Check out my video tutorial!

Here is the original desk. Or, this is how I got it - after I started working on it, I realized the previous owner had painted it this dark brown color. The original table was an off-white.

I sanded everything with 120 grit sandpaper. I worked a little harder on the top because I wanted to get the finish completely off so the wood grain would show through the colorwashing. I switched sanders because the circular sander wouldn't get into all of the corners of the body of the desk.

I painted everything with three coats of a light gray paint.

For the first layer of the top, I did colorwashing with the same light gray that I used on the body of the desk. I mixed the pain with some water and stirred it very thoroughly. Once the mixture was ready, I used a paint brush to apply the paint. Then I used a clean, dry rag to wipe off the access. The paint becomes very thing after adding water to it, so it really helps to clean up the paint before it causes puddles and dries unevenly.

Once the light gray colorwashing was dry, I did the exact same process with a dark gray. I mixed dark gray paint with water, stirred, applied it with a paint brush, and wiped off the access with a dry rag.

For the third layer, I did a dry brushing technique with the dark gray. I really wanted to have a layered affect and the dry brushing leaves brush strokes that really help emphasize a layered look.

I simply dipped the tip of a paint brush in the paint, then dabbed it on a paper towel. Then I did really light brush strokes across the whole top. I wanted a soft look, so I wiped the brush strokes to remove the appearance of harsh strokes.

*Once this step was completed, I did another layer of colorwashing with the dark gray, to really blend everything together.

**And then the desk top got 3 layers of polyurethane.

For the drawer handles, I used the original round knobs. I sanded them down so that it appeared to have two flat ends. I then used a silver metallic spray paint to give it a new color. These quick and simple steps really made the handles look completely different.

Here is a close up of how the desk top turned out after 4 layer of color washing and dry brushing!

Final look!

As a desk.

As a coffee bar.

Before and After

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Have a question about this project?

3 questions
  • Kimberlee
    on Apr 8, 2021

    Can you take a picture of the top only it’s hard to see what it looks like?

  • GMS28
    on Apr 14, 2021

    what was spray paint used for? and what did you put on top after to prevent staining if coffee or something spilled on top?

    • GMS28
      on Apr 14, 2021

      so just like minwax polyurethane, the paint on type?

  • Marge OShea
    Marge OShea
    on Apr 14, 2021

    The base of the table appears to be a shade of blue. what color did you use?

Join the conversation

2 of 3 comments
  • Thanks!

  • Jill Krol
    Jill Krol
    7 days ago

    I did this to a 48" round drop-leaf pedestal table that was given to me in disgusting shape. It was impossible to sand off the top, although the pedestal came clean with a lot of work. Then I tried a can of expensive paint remover - that can did 1 tiny square foot. So then I found Krud Kutter. It worked like a charm in minutes and I got the table top & bottom down to bare wood in less than 30 minutes. Then I did the painting with watered down acrylic paints. We're talking 6 shades for the table top and they were 2 ounce bottles at 65 cents each (on sale from 87 cents each at Hobby Lobby). The base took a larger bottle (I think it was $1.99). I got triple thick polyurethane, which I put 3 coats on the entire table. It turned out fabulous. I would share a picture, but for some reason my phone isn't sharing with my computer today.

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