How to: Repaint a desk

I was “gifted” this really simple, but classic desk from my boyfriend to use as a makeup table/vanity. While I loved the character, the desk was pretty beat up. There were imprints and scratches on the top and the knobs mismatched. I decided to take on my first larger project in my new apartment and paint the desk an awesome shade of teal gray. Not knowing a whole lot about furniture repainting, I researched a couple of different blogs and home repair sites to see what kind of tools I would need and how complicated this project would be. Turns out, it was really easy!

Here’s the original desk and a closer photo of the top, definitely needed a good sanding. I found my paint at my local True Value, I opted for a chalky green/gray that would go with a lot of different color combinations. (True Value in Fresh Meadow)

FullSizeRender (1)

IMG_1318What you need:

-Paint (Opt for satin or a gloss in between a satin and a matte–a gloss will show every crack/error)
-Primer (Just ask your hardware store for a cheap recommendation)
-Sandpaper or an electric sander
-Two to three large foam rollers
-One small foam roller (optional)
-Paint brush (For smaller areas and trim)
-Knobs (Optional if you’re replacing these)

An alternative to finding and purchasing knobs from a home or hardware store is to spray paint the existing knobs a shiny metallic or black matte.


Post-sanding, pre-primer.


After the first coat of paint, plus two 1×2’s for shelves to hold my records. (blog post to come!)


  1. Remove all hardware.
  2. Using sandpaper or an electric sander, sand down the wood, removing any build up or scratches.
  3. Prime your piece of furniture, applying a thin layer and letting dry according to instructions or overnight.
  4. Paint your first thin coat of paint. If painting a desk, be sure to paint the trim, tops, sides, and inside. Let dry overnight.
  5. Paint a second layer of paint and let dry overnight.
  6. An optional step, depending on what kind of finish you want is to add a clear gloss finish that’s water-based.
  7. Add your final hardware and you’re done.FullSizeRender

My biggest splurge was on these new shiny copper and teal knobs from Anthropologie. I intensely stalked the site waiting for the price to go down ($16 a piece, yikes), but after two months of staying strong, I finally caved. However, I did find the brown and maroon colored knobs in the same family on sale in stores and snatched up two for my entryway table–more photos to come on that.


Overall, I’m really pleased with my new desk! I love the color and how the knobs match perfectly. Although I’m still thinking there’s more work to do, ideally I would love to add a piece of white and black marble to the top, but in the meantime I’ve looked into alternative options. One is a large marble cheeseboard from Crate and Barrel to set my lipstick and brush jars on, and the other option is marble contact paper. That’s right, you can totally fake marble anywhere you want.

FullSizeRender (2)

FullSizeRender_1 (2)

What project are you working on? Have you re-painted furniture before? Post in the comments!

One Comment

Leave a Reply