Ugly Black Desk Transformed to Pretty White Delight

It happens every once in a while. I decide to take on a project and half way through the project I realize there’s twice as much work than I anticipated. At that point, I really need to decide how far I want to go with this? I sell many of my furniture transformations so I also have to ask if the project will be worth it? Just to get the piece out of my garage to make more room for other projects, usually means the answer is YES!

ugly desk before and after

The transformation of this ugly black desk turned out to to be such a time- consuming project. It was originally a find on craigslist many years ago, provided many a homework and bill pay spot for Lewisville, but the big desk just didn’t work out in our smaller house when we moved. I started the desk in one house, and one year later, finished it another.

Almost immediately after we bought this desk and brought it home, the paint started to peel away and chip off.

ugly black desk


The previous owners had just painted over the original desk which I found out was red. Primer wasn’t used and I’m pretty sure they used a latex  paint over oil base paint, which means this desk needed to be stripped, not just sanded. That’s also why the paint kept chipping off. You can’t use latex paint over oil.




I don’t like using paint stripper because it makes a mess. If there is no other way, and in this case there wasn’t because sanding just wasn’t going to take away all that thick black paint, then my choice is to use Citristrip.

I’ve used this product a few times and have always been happy with the results. The bonus is that you can use it indoors if needed. It works but doesn’t have a toxic smell.




The entire desk needed to be stripped. DSC02486

The back veneer was also peeling off, so I just helped it along. I was replaced with 1/4 inch wood cut to size at the Home Depot.DSC02487

I also decided to put sliders in the doors to make them roll easily. These are side mount sliders and very easy to install, but you have to make sure you have room above the drawers because the sliders do lift the drawer a bit.

So after a few days of stripping and sanding, and even using a razor blade in the details of the drawers, the desk was ready for primer.


Because I was going from dark to light, I used two coats of my favorite primer.


I used the brush on formula for the body of the desk and the spray formula in the details of the desk that were hard to paint.





But it was transformed!


I used this oil base paint so that it could endure many hands on it and last many, many years for the new owners.







The original silver knobs didn’t fit on the thick bottom drawers, so pretty crystal knobs replaced those.



And the back of the desk now fits with the rest of the awesomeness that is this new white desk!



The project took longer and cost more than I wanted, but it was the best lesson in persistence. I wanted to quit. I wanted to take it to the first thrift store around the corner and donate it. But there’s something about quitting that doesn’t sit well with me. There’s something about throwing in the towel and leaving a project undone that doesn’t work for me.

Remember that old saying, “when the going gets tough, the tough get going”? That was this project. I wanted to finish, well. I wanted to conquer it. I had to get tough, come up with solutions, and finish it. Results: I love it. It sold and I made a good profit on it. And the best part was the profits went to Lewisville family fun days.

Working on our homes and giving time to projects isn’t always easy. I persist not only for myself, but for my family. I always want to give my best, not my good enough. Not always easy, but they’re worth it.



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