Making Lemonade out of Lemons {MCM Desk Makeover}

Thursday, September 12, 2013 -

I found this simple desk at a garage sale many moons ago. I promised my husband I'd start working through my stash in the garage, so it was time for this desk to get a makeover. 

At first I thought it was from the early 90's dues to the pickled white oak, but once I started taking it apart, and noticed the construction, I realized it was definitely Mid-Century. Structurally, it was in great shape, but cosmetically it needed some help.

The bottom aprons under the drawers had chipping veneer. 

I peeked underneath the veneer and discovered solid, hardwood. So, off the veneer came. Not the most fun project in the world, but I've had worse.

I've found that often it is better to remove damaged veneer than to try to repair it, but it all depends on your sub-structure, desired finish, etc.

In addiction to the damaged veneer, There were a couple nasty burn marks on the desk top. Even after a pretty aggressive sanding they were still obvious. 

 Not wanting to damage the intact, top veneer, I decided to take a "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em" approach and work with the discoloration instead of trying to remove it.

Make lemonade out of lemons.

I decided this little desk need a matching chair. I dug through my stash and found another, mid-century relic.

I tried a new paint gun, which I'll talk about down the road (HOLY COW its amazing!!! Seriously, I'm so excited to share it with you). 

The whole lemonade idea gave me inspiration and I sprayed the chair and body of the desk a cool, light yellow, sealed with 3 coats of Minwax Polyacrylic in satin. The top got a "weathered wood" finish using the same technique I talk about here, and was sealed with 3 coats of matte Polyurethane (my new favorite sealer).

I filled the existing hardware holes with Bondo, so I could add my own updated knobs. I wanted the knobs to be simple, yet stand-out. So, I hit the hardware store and came up with some homemade backplates. 

 I took some 1 1/4 inch fender washers (for $0.24 a piece) and painted them as well as the new knobs.

I attached the new hardware and here is the final look. What do you think?

I'm really happy how the dark weathered oak and the yellow go together.

To tie the chair and desk together, I painted the wood hole plugs on the chair in the same metallic paint I used on the hardware.

What do you think? Would you study here? The set is available under my shop tab.

Linking at:


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  1. this turned out so good! I honestly love finding old furniture and redoing it, you get this sense of satisfaction and end up falling in love with it even more! So amazing!

    -Hailey Cheyenne

  2. Love the finished, polished piece!

  3. Looks great, like they should have always been a set! What kind of paint did you use for the hardware and hole plugs?

    1. Thank you! The hardware got a whole bunch of colors on it. First, Rustoleum's Automotive primer, then shiny silver, followed by a light spritz of warm bronze (both by Rustoleum), then black glaze and then Polyacrylic to seal them.

  4. You did an amazing job on this! It looks great! I found you on Miss. Mustard Seed! If you like to link up come over to Craft Frenzy Friday at!

  5. I love the washers as back plates and painting the plugs with matching metallic paint - it really makes for a cute set!! Great Job!

  6. Aggghhh you are so awesome!!! It looks amazing and I love how you made the plugs on the chair to match! Totally inspiring!

  7. This is adorable!! I love that yellow color!

  8. You totally rocked this! Fabulous job! xoxo

  9. Amazing work, you are very talented.


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