Skip to Content

Old Desk Flip: How to make a piece of junk a jewel again

Love this? Share it!

Looking for an easy DIY project? We’ll show you how to update an old desk so it’s as good as new!

Confession: I am kind of a junk a-holic. OK, I am a total junk a-holic and I potentially have a problem (or according to my husband I do have problem!). :)

I love old furniture and old stuff. I am always looking for the next yard sale or junk store anywhere I go. So imagine how happy I was when the little town I used to work in was having their annual town yard sale!

Small town + old stuff = happy me!

Old Desk Flip DIY refurbishing a $20 garage sale desk - Splendry

I came across this adorable old desk for $20!!! It was pretty beat up and had some large stains on it so it wasn’t a great option to sand down and re-stain. It was a great option to use with one of my new favorite paints.

How to Update an Old Desk

First thing first was to clean this piece up! I started by taking out all the drawers and removing all the knobs by unscrewing them. 

I used Murphy’s Oil Soap (You can buy this at Home Depot/Walmart, etc.) and wiped down all the wood. It will eliminate most smells from the wood and really brings out a great shine.

You want to make sure you really clean the pieces off and remove any debris (think spider webs, dead bugs, you know, fun stuff).

Old Desk Flip DIY - Murphy's Oil Soap used for cleaning wood - Splendry

Now the fun part…painting! Normally you are supposed to sand a wood piece down and then prime and paint it. It’s a lot of work and takes a long time. But, there is this little gem out there called Annie Sloan Chalk Paint.

Old Desk Flip DIY - refurbishing a desk with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint - Splendry

Let me now tell you how amazing this paint is. No need to sand or prime! :) She has many online videos and tutorials to show you exactly how to do it. 

The color I chose for this desk was French Linen. I did two coats on the desk and loved how the paint color turned out.

how to update an old desk

To seal Annie Sloan Chalk Paint (which for a desk you definitely want to do) you apply the clear wax and then to get a distressed look you use the dark wax. I could write an entire post on exactly how to do this but she has great instructions on her website.

I chose to go very light with the distressed look because I was loving this grey color!  Once everything is dry it’s ready to use.

how to update an old desk

I loved how this desk turned out! From something rough and ugly into something pretty!

So, pros and cons of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint


  • no sanding required
  • no priming required
  • great color options
  • gorgeous results


  • None. There are no cons.

how to update an old desk

I hope this showed you how easy it is to update an old desk, and that you’ll try it for yourself!

Want more? Check out this trunk revival, you won’t believe what it looks like now!

How to bring life to an old trunk

Originally published March 11, 2016

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Kath Olsen

Monday 23rd of March 2020

Can you use this paint on a mahogany piece?


Wednesday 2nd of January 2019

Can you use antique glaze over this.


Tuesday 10th of April 2018

I wasn't aware of Annie Sloan's chalk paint. Great find and the desk looks magnificent!


Saturday 3rd of March 2018

Wow. Thanks for the great tips! I got an old desk and several other times too that were given to me. I didn't know how to fix them.


Monday 20th of March 2017

This turned out so great! I love repurposing old items.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.