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How To Update An Old Wood Desk

Learn how to update an old wood desk or any piece of furniture with paint and a change of furniture knobs. Totally transforming furniture is my favorite thing and this desk turned out great.

How to paint an old desk using white paint and replacing the knobsI chose a white color simply because neutral colors sell better and this desk is going to my booth at the shop. I really like using bold colors and sometimes doing a unique paint finish but those furniture pieces don’t sell as fast……usually.

old desk for paint makeover

This is the desk with the original stained finish and drawer pulls. The price was $22.00. Sometimes I get a deal at the auction but most times prices are too high for me. You can see the desk needed help.

how to repair furniture desk drawers (2)

The first step in any furniture makeover is checking the piece over to see if there are any repairs to be made. Well, the desk had some drawer issues. The sides were coming apart where the drawer front meets the sides on a several of the drawers and the veneer on the drawer fronts on almost all of the drawers was coming loose.

How to repair furniture drawers

I made a video showing the repair process and I’m going to walk you through it too. I used my Ryobi brad nailer to nail the dove tailed sides of the drawers back together. Several of them had pulled out of place.

How to repair furniture drawers_Moment(4)

Next I worked on the drawers where the veneer was pulling away from the drawer fronts. I used wood glue to glue the veneer in place. It’s important to push the glue in between the veneer and the drawer front.

how to repair furniture desk drawers (4)

Then I used two clamps and a piece of wood to hold the glued veneer in place. Since the veneer was loose all the way across the top of the drawer the strip of wood works well to hold the veneer in place instead of using multiple clamps along the drawer. The JTS taught me this trick. You can watch the video below to see the whole drawer repair technique in action….

How to make furniture drawer repairs.

how to paint a vintage desk

I used my favorite oops can of paint for the makeover. Sadly the can is empty now. You can see another of the white oops paint makeovers here….How to Paint And Distress Fake Wood Furniture


how to update an old wood desk

The photo of the drawer above shows the desk with two coats of paint. The look is kind of flat and blah so I amped it up with some faux distressing.

mixing paint colors for distressing furniture and painting knobs (2)

I didn’t have the perfect color so I mixed one up. I added really dark, almost black paint and dark gray paint together.

mixing paint colors for distressing furniture and painting knobs (3)

This is the color I came up with, kind-of dark gray.

distressing furniture using a layering block (1)

Then I used my layering block to faux distress the edges of the desk and drawers and touch just a little to the surfaces. You can see my tutorial on the layering block here…Layering Block Distressing Technique Is Crazy Easy

wood furniture knobs to paint

Now to replace those outdated drawer pulls. Hobby Lobby wasn’t having a drawer knob sale this week so I scrounged around in my knob stash and found 9 mix and match wood knobs.

Rustoleum Driftwood spray paint for furniture knobs

Still trying to keep the furniture makeover to neutral colors I found a can of Rustoleum Spray Paint, Driftwood color, on my paint shelf. I like this color a lot but it didn’t have the pow factor I was looking for against the white.

mixing paint colors for distressing furniture and painting knobs (1)

So, guess what. I painted the knobs with the paint I mixed up for the faux distressing.

old wood desk painted white

I love the way the desk looks now. The dark knobs really pop against the white paint and the desk doesn’t look out of style anymore. It’s really not hard to update old furniture.

white faux distressed paint

The knob on the middle drawer has more detail than the plain wood knobs and I like it too.

how to update an old wood desk using white paint

You can see the faux distressing in the photo above. The technique is so easy and fast too. It probably took about 15 minutes at most to run the layering block over the desk and drawers. There is no perfection to this look so don’t try. A lot of the new furniture has this faux distressed look. Find my latest desk makeover featuring a floral furniture transfer and bold paint here.

So tell me what you think and then take the Furniture Fixer Upper tour. Just click the links below the “before” makeovers photo collage…..

Furniture for paint makeovers before photo

Furniture Fixer Upper Tour……

Stenciled Desk Makeover – Confessions of a Serial DIY’er
How to Paint Gold Accents on Furniture – Salvaged Inspirations
Red Painted Table – Girl In The Garage
Update and Old Wood Desk – Petticoat Junktion (you are here)

how to update an old desk with white paint and new knobs

That’s it for me. You guys have a great day, Kathy

Kathy Owen founder of Petticoat Junktion
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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

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  1. I agree with you about the natural or stained wood. I don’t really refinish pieces because it is very time consuming and painstaking and I can never recoup even a small part of my time when I sell the furniture. When I feel I can revive a beautiful finish then I do my best instead of painting it. Thanks for your comment.

  2. Natural wood is so lovely & rare. Refinishing/treating wood then updating hardware would be my 1st choice

  3. Kathy, it looks simple and beautiful. I’m sure someone will buy it quickly! Also- how lucky that the mismatched knobs look so good now! xo

  4. This desk looks so much better now! It was a great price and the work was worth it for such a great outcome! XOXO

  5. Sometimes……most of the time, less is more. I like the simplicity of this redo Kathy. It is fresh and would fit in with a lot of different decor styles. It would fit nicely in my bedroom! I wish you and your family a very Happy Thanksgiving!! ??

  6. Great idea to make those odd knobs all cohesive with paint. The dark knobs against the white look great! Pinned XOXO