Makeover Monday: Refurbish, Don’t Refinish

Desk Makeover: after

I found this well-loved desk in Goodwill months ago. I grabbed it for $15, knowing it just needed a little TLC. It’s smaller than a regular desk, perfect for an elementary school-aged student (or a hall table until then…). I loved the shape and the little details (brass keyhole, pull-out writing surface), and wanted to retain some of the original character. So I decided instead of refinishing it like I did with the bench project, I decided to just restore it.

Desk makeover
She was a little rough when I got her.
Before: desk makeover
She had some great features, like a locking drawer and pull-out writing surface, but the wood was stained and dry and DIRTY.

I don’t have great photos of how sad the finish really looked. It had weird white streaks, several cup stains, and even some carvings. But that was part of its charm. I felt this piece needed a little imperfection, which is why I decided not to refinish it.

“If it was so ugly, then what DID you do?”

I just did a little touch-up.

Wood Touch-up Tools
All of these products are great to have on hand.
  1. I washed it down with diluted white vinegar. I scrubbed with a Scotch sponge and cleaned off the surface dirt and dust.
  2. I diluted Murphy’s Oil Soap and scrubbed again with steel wool.
  3. I let it dry for a few days (just because that was the time I had, not because it was necessary for the wood).
  4. Here’s my FAVORITE part: I applied Scott’s Liquid Gold with a soft towel. If you’ve never tried it on some sad wood, TRY IT. I wish they’d sponsor me (hint, hint) because I use this stuff everywhere. It really does restore wood and last for months. Just wipe on, and wipe off the excess. Allow to soak in.
  5. Finally, I wiped it all down with Howard Feed N Wax Beeswax according to the directions (again, great stuff to protect wood!)

Overall, this could have been done in a couple of hours (if I didn’t move on to other projects in between), and I still have some lovely imperfections:

Desk after
Todd Albright, wherever you are, I have your desk.

Isn’t that brass keyhole lovely? It’s what sold me on it initially. The vinegar did a good job of polishing it up a bit.

Desk Makeover: after
After! Isn’t it cute?

Sorry I don’t have better photos of the result, but as you can see, it has a nice, rich healthy glow to it now. One of the legs still has a chip at the bottom, but it’s steady and in solid shape. Until the kiddo is big enough to use it for her own desk, I’m keeping it as a little side table or lamp table. I love the curves and that it has a little history to it. Now we have a nice little piece of furniture, and it only took a couple of bucks and a little elbow grease!

What makeover project are you crushing on right now?

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