We had a neighborhood garage sale last month and we sold a bunch of stuff. What Derek didn’t tell you: During the sale, Mya and I took a break from selling and went down the hill to see what our neighbors had to offer…. and we wound up with this gem– an old school desk that we made new again.


Ok, it wasn’t much of a looker when we obtained it, but I saw some potential. (And I figured it would be difficult to make it worse than it was!) Mya’s taking more interest in coloring and drawing, so it seemed like the perfect time for this new project. A metal base and a wood top looked like a solid foundation, right? So for $10, we snatched it up (or rather we walked home and asked Derek to please go pick it up in the car!)

I started by taking it apart and assessing the damage. Upon further inspection, the metal base had been painted 3 times (first tan, then blue, then pink). The wood top was split in two and had gouges and dents. The 4 metal feet were difficult to adjust because they had been painted over and over (and over) again. Screws were rusty and laden with paint. But all I needed were some supplies and power tools (insert Tim “the Tool Man” Taylor’s grunt here)!

Paint Stripper @ $10
Latex Gloves (already owned)
Coarse Brush (already owned)
Plastic scraper (already owned)
Steel wool (already owned)
2 Cans of spray paint @ $12
Paint (already owned)
Wood Stain– Natural (already owned)
Polyacrylic (already owned)
Screws @ 12 for $1
Wood Glue (already owned)
4 metal feet @ $4
Sander + Sandpaper (already owned)
Epoxy coat (already owned)


METAL BASE: It took almost the entire can of paint stripper to strip down the three layers of paint. (After-the-fact, my sister-in-law told me about the wonders of graffiti remover, which I will definitely be trying out in the future!) I then used some steel wool to smooth-out any remaining rough paint residue. There was still paint on the metal before I spray painted, but it was a smooth, clean surface and stripped as much as I could get it off. I went with a Krylon Dual (Paint + Primer) Hammered Silver because I thought the “hammered” look might help blend the imperfections of the metal surface. Turns out, I can’t really see much of the “hammered” appearance, but it still turned out okay.


WOOD TOP: Sanding, gluing, wood filling, and more sanding was needed. I decided to paint the tabletop edge a color because the rest of the desk was pretty neutral. To preserve the top surface from all of Mya’s inevitable art projects, we coated with a clear epoxy. (We will share how to do this in a later post!) Even after sanding, the bottom was still pretty beat-up with paint and gouges, so I just painted it a light grey (and put our 3 handprints on it.)

All-in-all, I’m really happy with how it turned out! I love how we can easily display Mya’s artwork on the magnetic metal surface, the tabletop’s glossy finish is practical and pretty (oooo shiny!), and the fun turtle detail and handprints will help remind us of this fun time in our lives.


“Why the turtle?” you may ask? One of Derek’s and my favorite words that Mya says is “turtle.” It sounds more like TUH-TELL and it gets us every time. Also, Derek was mowing last week and he spotted a baby turtle in our side yard. So, ever since Mya saw that turtle, she asks to go see if he is there. I guess Mya could say “I like turtles.”

Even though we haven’t yet figured out where exactly the new mini desk will reside, Mya seems to like her new arrangement. We still need to find her a chair– hoping for a good craigslist find! She likes finding our handprints on the bottom and pointing to Dada’s, Mum’s, and “My.” For now, the compartments have become homes for dollies and doggies.


Gotta love a garage sale score! What’s your favorite garage sale find?!

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