Giving A Curb Find A New Look - MCM Desk Makeover - Wood And Paint

Deer Run Revamps
by Deer Run Revamps
11 Materials
4 Hours

In the furniture refinishing world, there's nothing better than finding a great piece of furniture on the side of the road 🎉

While taking my pup for a walk, a few doors down from me had this beautiful MCM (mid century modern) desk that was in great shape just sitting on the curb waiting for the garbage truck to pick it up 🤦‍♀️ Obviously, I couldn't let this beauty disappear forever, so I ran back to my house and dropped off my pup, grabbed my van, and went back to pick up the perfect gem!

Read on to see how I transformed a plain desk into a modern beauty.............

*Whenever picking up a used piece of furnure, you want to inspect it really well for any sign of bugs, but this rule is especially true for those "curbside" pieces. You can even wrap a large black bag (or 2, 3, 4, how many it takes to tightly cover it) around the piece and spray insecticide in it, preferably one for bedbugs. Tightly cover the piece and tie it closed. Allow it to sit in the sun for 48 hours, dispose of the bag(s) and continue on as usual.

*Price is based on the amount of product used, not the initial cost of the products

*Time is based on work time only, does not include dry time

After The Makeover

Before The Makeover

After making sure the piece was bug-less, I did my usual prep....

But first, I want to talk about the paint that I use. Skip ahead if you're not interested in learning about my favorite paint.........

I use Frenchic Furniture Paint when it comes to painting furniture and home decor. It's a chalk and mineral paint that's non toxic.. no Voc's, additives or's odorless and even certified child safe, so you can paint a babies crib indoors with the pup right next to you, worry free 😁

But, the best part for me.. it's self leveling, most colors are 2 coat coverage and I never ever have to use a primer before painting! Which is huge for me! Primers always leave a ton of brush marks that are highly visible in the painted finish. Not a pretty sight 🤦‍♀️

This paint comes in 3 ranges, all are extremely durable, but 2 of those ranges (Lazy Range and Al Fresco Range) have a built in sealer, and one is an indoor/outdoor paint. The Al Fresco Range (indoor/outdoor range) is waterproof, scrubbable and can withstand the harsh elements of being outdoors... making it perfect for exterior doors, patio furniture, kitchen and bathroom cabinets, dining tables...anything that gets a ton of use, needs a lot of cleaning, and/or will be outdoors.

Frenchic is a bit pricier than most other chalk and mineral paints, but since you don't need primer or a sealer for 2 of the 3 ranges, it turns out to be cheaper in the long run. Plus, I save a ton of time by not having to apply those extra products ♥️

But enough about my favorite paint and back to the flip........

I decided that I wanted to keep the veneered drawer fronts wood while painting the body. Usually, I would keep the top natural wood as well, but this top was laminate, so it had to be painted with a good quality paint.

Clean each drawer well, inside and out with a degreasing cleaner. I prefer to use Frenchic's Sugar Soap. It's non toxic but really gets the job done! It works just as well as TSP and it can even remove nicotine 🤯

Now it's time to strip off that old varnish. I use either the stripper pictured above or Jasco brand. It works within minutes and gets the job done in one application, saving me a lot of time...but, use whichever stripper you prefer.

Apply a good amount of stripper to the drawer front and spread it around evenly

Wait a few minutes and then scrape off the gunk.

I like to have a trash bag opened up and laid out under the drawer so that I can just scrap the gunk right off the drawer front and into the garbage bag.

Typically, you would scrape off the stripper in the same direction as the wood grain. But with the curvature of the drawers, I had to go against the grain in order to get all of the gunk up.

Once you have scrapped off the stripper and varnish/paint/whatever you're stripping off, wipe the surface with mineral spirits. This will remove the excess gunk. If there's still some stubborn gunk, grab a sponge and scrub with mineral spirits.

*I do not recommend using steel wool when staining or keeping the wood natural. Tiny pieces of steel wool can embed themselves into the wood grain, giving the wood tiny gray flecks that will rust.

This is where you need to be extra careful. Sanding through the veneer is easy to do, so don't sand in one area for too long. The edges are usually the thinnest, so try not to go over the edges very much.

Start with 150 grit sandpaper and a random orbital sander. This will give you the best results, quickest.

Once you have majority of the stain removed and the wood looks even, switch to 220 grit sandpaper and smooth it all out.

Sanding curved surfaces can be tricky. The sander did sit flat on each side of the drawer, but a thin strip in the middle was left. Since the sanding discs are slightly larger than the sander's surface itself, I was able to use the very edge of the sander to get that middle strip. Then I went over that middle section by hand with 220 grit sandpaper

I also sanded the legs by hand... the legs are solid wood, so I didn't have to worry about sanding through any veneer. I started with 120 grit sandpaper, then moved to 180, then 220

When staining wood, always use a prestain wood conditioner. This prepares the wood for an even stain application.

I use a foam brush and apply an even coat to each drawer front and the legs. Wait 10 minutes and then wipe off any excess.

I then applied an even coat of Varathane's Provincial stain using a foam brush, wiping back any excess stain immediately. This stain didn't give the wood any color, but it did bring out the grain better than if I had just sealed it

While the stain is drying, I moved onto the body.

Clean the body really well with the degreasing cleaner.

Once the piece is thoroughly cleaned and dry, sand out any scratches and fill any gouges with wood filler. Make any necessary repairs and scuff sand the entire piece (where ever you're painting) using 220 grit sandpaper. Doing a quick sanding of the surface is super important because it keys the surface and gives the paint something to really grip onto. Make sure you really scuff up any laminate surface.

Then wipe any dust off with a damp rag or a tack cloth.

Now, you're ready to paint!

I used Frenchic's color Loof from the Lazy Range, it's the perfect black.

I painted the entire body... sides, frame and top.


For a brush mark free finish, use a high quality brush. Frenchic makes great brushes, along with Cling On and Blue Ice. For large flat areas, you can also use a foam roller. Foam rollers leave very little texture, unlike a low nap roller which will give you quite a bit of texture.

If your paint is too thick, brush marks will really show! Thin out the paint a little bit by using Floetral (found in most hardware stores that sell paint) or, if using a waterbased chalk/mineral paint, you can put some paint in a separate container (just enough paint for your project) and add water to make it thinner.

Keep your brush damp while painting

Mist the surface with water while painting

Another way to eliminate brush marks is by sanding in between coats...

After the first coat dried, I took 220 grit sandpaper and did a quick sand to smooth any brush marks.

Wipe away any sanding dust and apply the 2nd coat.

Once dry, again, sand with 220 grit sandpaper.

Now, even tho the paint that I used has a built in sealer, the color is just a bit too matte for my liking and I needed to get rid of the sanding marks (any sealer/wax will do this). And since this piece may get quite a bit of use, extra durability won't be a bad thing.

I absolutely LOVE Frenchic's wax. It's so creamy, goes on super smooth and I don't have to buff it. Without buffing it, it leaves behind the most perfect sheen..not quite satin but not ultra matte either. A very modern look in my opinion.

I use car wax sponges that I get from Amazon for applying wax. A small amount goes a long way! So put about a 1/4 teaspoon of wax onto the sponge, fold the sponge in half to spread the wax all over the one side of the sponge, and then go over a section of the piece in a circular motion, then wipe in even strokes, all in the same direction. Allow to dry, or you can buff if you prefer more shine.

I waxed the entire piece including the drawer fronts

I always go the extra mile when refinishing a piece to sell, so I added some contact paper on the drawer sides as well as inside the drawers.

I chose a textured black paper for the drawer sides

And a concrete look for the inside

I also grabbed an old chair from my unfinished inventory and painted it in the same color, then reupholstered the seat with a black and white modern patterned canvas

Now take a seat and enjoy your new desk! Or turn it into a vanity by adding a mirror ♥️

Black and wood is my all time favorite combination. The contrast is simply divine 😍 It can give an elegant feel, industrial vibe, farmhouse if distressed, or it can be modern. You just can't go wrong with the black and wood combo

The curved drawers are everything!

Check out our Facebook page for more refinished furniture ideas

You can visit our Etsy shop to find Frenchic Furniture Paint, Redesign With Prima goodies and so much more! Even this desk!

Thank you so much for reading! I hope you've enjoyed this tutorial and are inspired to create something beautiful ♥️

Resources for this project:
See all materials
Any price and availability information displayed on [relevant Amazon Site(s), as applicable] at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.
Hometalk may collect a small share of sales from the links on this page.More info
Frequently asked questions
Have a question about this project?
Join the conversation
2 of 18 comments