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How To Paint A Desk With Latex Paint

Paint a desk with latex paint and spray paint the drawer pulls for a modern look.

You can revive old furniture even if it looks like you should take it to the landfill. Cleaning the furniture is key to 

grungy desk makeover with distressed white paint and metallic hardware

This desk was given to me, but I really didn’t want it. When you see the before photo, you will know why. After I finally worked up the energy to tackle the desk, I was glad I did. The dark metallic hardware pops against the white paint. Looks great, doesn’t it?

Today is the Furniture Fixer Upper Tour ( I was sick and this post is two days late) and the links are at the bottom of the post. Now it’s time to see what this desk looked like when it was hauled into my workshop……

before furniture makeover

I told you it was a mess. The desk belonged to my neighbor’s Mom and it had been stored in her basement for many years. It was part of a set and I have the headboard and footboard, which is a mess too. The vanity stool, nightstand, and dresser were in great shape so I don’t know how that happened.

clean really dirty furniture with Simple Green then use bleach

Even after I started cleaning the desk, I was debating whether I should just haul it to the dump. But I kept at it because I would have been disappointed in myself if I had tossed it. The first step in the cleaning was to brush the loose dust off and then vacuum the desk inside and out.

Next, I cleaned it inside and out with Simple Green, changing the rag and the water several times during the cleaning process. The last step was to go over the desk with a 50/50 mixture of bleach and water. Want to do away with all the mold and yucky stuff. I didn’t really see any mold but just in case.

sometimes you have to clean painted furniture with bleach

The white paint was still discolored in the areas where the grunge was but I knew it was clean.

place furniture drawer pulls in a plastic bag to keep from losing them

You notice I removed the drawer pulls before cleaning the piece. I always put the screws and drawer pulls in a plastic bag to keep from losing some of the pieces. Experience taught me this.

gray primer for furniture

The desk looked like it may have been painted with oil-based paint so I applied a coat of Glidden Gripper Latex Primer tinted gray before brushing on the latex paint.

furniture with one coat of white paint (2)


Next I applied a layer of white paint or off-whitish paint. The paint is a mixture of white paints I had on hand. I hate to buy new paint if I can work with what I have on my paint shelves. The photo above shows the piece with one coat of paint. I applied two coats and that was it.

layering block technique for faux distressing furniture (2)

Once the paint dried, I used a layering block with dark, almost black paint to faux distress the white paint. You can see a complete tutorial on the layering block here…Layering Block Distressing Technique Is Crazy Easy. Or I included a video tutorial I filmed using the block at the very bottom of the post.


desk painted white with dark metallic hardware and an antique wood chair (3)

I layered the black paint on the drawer edges and all the fine details. Then I ran the block oh so lightly over the entire surface of the drawers and the desk.

metalllic gold spray painted furniture pulls (2)

Well, moving on to the original drawer pulls. I sprayed the pulls a bright metallic gold while the paint was drying on the desk. Then when I screwed the first two knobs back on the desk I was less than impressed. The gold didn’t look good with the faux black distressing at all. Of course, my first plan was just to leave the desk white and add a gloss sealer. In that case, the gold might have worked. Not now.

use Rustoleum metallic oil rubbed bronze spray paint on furniture pulls and drawer handles

Soooooo, I pulled out another of my favorite spray paints, Rust-Oleum Oil Rubbed Bronze, and sprayed the hardware again.

how to clean furniture and paint it white with faux distressing (3)

This time it was perfect! The contrast between the white paint and dark metallic pulls couldn’t be better.

desk painted white with dark metallic hardware

The chair I paired with the desk is a piece I bought at auction and we use it with hubby’s desk in the house.

furniture-I-bought-at-an-auction-8_thumb (2)

The chair is a beautiful antique piece I bought at an online auction. I paid $6 for the three chairs in the photo above. Can’t beat that. I used Howard’s Feed n Wax to refresh the chair’s original finish. It works great!

desk painted white with dark metallic hardware and an antique wood chair

I really need to find a chair to go with the desk before I take it to the shop to sell. Would a chair painted to match the desk look better than a wooden chair with a stained finish?

desk makeover
Distressed White Paint and Metallic Hardware Make This Desk Shine

Supplies used in this project:
FolkArt Layering Block
Rust-Oleum Oil Rubbed Bronze Spray Paint
Simple Green
Howard’s Feed’n’ Wax

If you have an extra minute, leave a comment before heading out on the tour. Take the Furniture Fixer Upper Tour by clicking the text links below the “before” makeover photo collage……

furniture fixer upper before makeover photo October 2022

Furniture Fixer Upper Tour
Painted Empire Dresser – Confessions of a Serial DIY’er
Two Tone Painted Furniture – Salvaged Inspirations
Black and White Painted Furniture – Girl In The Garage
Grungy Desk Makeover – Petticoat Junktion (you are here)

As always, thanks for being here, Kathy

My video showing how to use the layering block…

How To Faux Distress Paint With A Layering Block

Author: Kathy Owen
Kathy Owen is the founder of the home decor blog Petticoat Junktion where she shares tutorials on painting furniture and upcycling thrifty finds into unique home décor. Her DIY projects have been featured on the Home Depot Blog, Plaid Crafts, Behr Designer Series, and in numerous magazines. Kathy’s newest website is HappyHomeDIY.com


  1. I thought all those spotty spots on the desk in the Before were mold/mildew! Glad to hear it was merely filth…better for your health, really. I personally like the contrast of the darker chair with the desk, but I think you could pull off nearly anything with it!

  2. Love how you brought that desk back to life! I really like the contrast of the dark chair with the white desk, although I do have to agree with #Angela that a pop of color for the chair would be nice also. Great job – I hope it sells well for you.

  3. Great job with restoring the desk and not just throwing it out as so many people would have done. I like the dark wood of the chair against the white or even a pop of color for the chair would be lovely. Maybe the chair should just be a separate purchase with more than one chair option available for people.

  4. Wow, that desk was SO BAD before! Big kudos to you for cleaning it up and making it beautiful, Kathy! xo

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