The Right Way to Refinish a Rolltop Desk

Roll top desks are such classy statement pieces in any home.  It’s so rare to find one in excellent condition.  They are notorious for being difficult to paint because you can easily gunk up the tambour (rolling portion) with paint causing it not to roll at all.  If you are lucky enough to come across one, here are some tips for a successful transformation.

You Will Need:

  • Brushes and 6″ rollers
  • Wood Filler
  • Mouse Sander with low (60) and higher (180) sanding pads.
  • Zinsser 123 Primer
  • White Paint – I used Behr Ultra in Ultra White Satin
  • Base Coat for Faux Stain – I used Behr Honey Butter Flat
  • Gel Stain – I used Minwax Gel Stain in Walnut
  • New Hardware
  • Minwax Wipe-on Polyurethane.

I stumbled upon this desk on a Facebook page that a friend was selling.  This desk was perfect to redo because the top portion comes off and the tambour just slides out making it so much easier to refinish.  The desk was structurally in great shape but the surface needed some love.

Rolltop Before

I knew I was going to sell this piece so I decided to do the surface a dark stain using my gel stain method and would paint the rest white.  I realized that the plastic sleeve on both sides that the tambour slides into was already dark brown so I tried to spray paint it white to match what would be white.  Let me save a little spray paint and a lot of frustration by telling you that was a horrible idea.

Spray Paint Rolltop

The spray paint started peeling away when I moved the tambour up and down.  It looked horrible so I spent over an hour scraping the spray paint out with a putty knife.  I decided to faux stain the interior of the top to better match the plastic sleeves as there was no easy way to change their color.

Spray painting the tambour is also a horrible idea.  Ask me how I know…

I took off the hardware and filled obvious holes, scratches and dents on the desk with wood filler.

Filler

After 48 hours of drying, I sanded the entire desk with a rough sandpaper pad (60) with my mouse sander.  Have I mentioned lately how much I love my sander?!? Below is a picture of the two of us!   (Also, wear a respirator or mask when sanding the wood filler because those tiny particles can get in your lungs…No bueno!)

SanderSanding

Sand the tambour by laying it out flat on the ground and sand as you would the rest of the desk.

SandingTambour

After sanding it was time to prime.  Once again I used Zinsser 123 water-based primer.  I just found out they made a spray paint  version which I will have to try out on my next project.  Get a nice thick coat of primer on your piece of furniture.  You’ll notice that I didn’t get any primer on the groove the tambour slides into.

Prime 1

After priming the rest of the desk, I laid the tambour over a round kitchen garbage can that was on it’s side.  I wanted to open up the creases so I could get primer in each crease between the wood slats.  I was able to do this with a thin coat of primer.

Prime Tambour

Get just enough primer to fill in the dark portion in between the wood slats.  Use your brush to wipe off any excess and wipe your brush on some paper if you have too much paint on your brush.  You have time to wipe off the excess before it dries.  What you don’t want is a thick layer of wet, drippy paint on the tambour or the paint will crack once it dries.  The Zinsser 123 Primer is perfect for this application because it is thin but clings well to the grooves while covering well.

prime 2

At this point, fill any remaining holes, dents or scratches on the rest of the desk.  You should now be able to see them easier with the piece primed.  Sand those parts after they are dry.

Halfway into this process, I realized  that this desk didn’t have any of the cute ‘card catalog’ style drawers that you so often see on these desks.  I decided to add some using some unfinished jewelry boxes I found online.

Jewelry Boxes 1Jewelry Boxes 2

I bought two for each side and glued them together with carpenter’s glue and clamped them overnight to dry.  I also pulled off the wooden knobs, filled the holes and then made holes for some cute pulls.  Make your holes before you paint because you don’t want to risk screwing up the final finish.  I then glued the drawers onto the inside of the desk using wax paper to ensure the glue didn’t seep onto the desk top.

Base Coat 1

 

I started painting the desk with the yellowish base coat on the places I would faux stain and used white on the rest.  It took a couple coats of white paint because the desk was so dark.

I used the same process on this desk as I did with the end tables in my post How To Gel Stain Wood  Here is a pic of the first coat of gel stain.  You want to leave some sections only partly covered in the first coat to make the second coat a little more translucent and “wood-grain-like” in those parts.

Gel Stain

Back to the tambour…While I let each coat of gel stain dry at least 24 hours, I laid the tambour flat on the concrete and added a thin coat of white.  Again brush off any excess.  It was still a little streaky at this point but you will touch that up towards the end

After the second and final gel stain coat, I added a coat of wipe-on polyurethane to the stained parts.  The nice thing about latex paint and polyurethane is that you know that in 10 years the finish will look the same and be just as durable.   Both finishes provide a clean, wipe-able surface that will not hold dirt easily.

I have a friend that did her entire kitchen cabinets in chalk paint and wax.  They looked fantastic but after only 6 months they looked awful because the porosity of the chalk paint held on to every speck of dirt and dust in her kitchen.  She ended up redoing them in latex shortly after.  (Getting off my soapbox now…)

After touching up the tambour one last time, I put the desk together including the main drawers, the top and the tiny drawers.  I also added new hardware to the whole desk including ‘card catalog’ style drawer pulls to the top drawers.  Didn’t they turn out cute?

Drawers

 

Desk Transformation

Rolltop Desk with Stained Top

Notice the concrete floors in the background.  We had a massive flood which I shared about in my post Beauty From Chaos: How to Find Peace in Any Situation.

Rolltop Desk with Closed Top

This desk was quite an undertaking but worth it to bring out the full potential of such a fabulous vintage piece.  Thanks for stopping by and be sure to check out my other furniture transformations!

Writing Desk Makeover

Coffee Table Reveal and a Word About Transparency

Made Over, Inside and Out – China Cabinet Transformation

 

‘Til Next Time,

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Rolltop Desk at www.renovatedfaith.comTheRightWayToRefinishARolltopDesk

DIY Entertainment Center (without building a thing!)

When we moved into our house a year ago, I realized we would need a better solution to fill this large wall in our living room.  A small TV stand wasn’t going to cut it.   I needed an entertainment center with some shelves so the space wouldn’t look so barren.

before

I looked at several media centers in furniture stores but they just weren’t my style and most were a few thousand dollars.   I needed a sleek, inexpensive solution to fill a large amount of wall space.

At one of the furniture stores, I stumbled upon this dresser in the “scratch and dent” section of the store.  At the time I purchased the dresser, it went on clearance for $300, less than half the original price!  It had a few scratches and one broken knob – I figured I’ve rehabed much worse!

scratch-and-dent-dresser

I realized I would need something on each end so I found these shelves at Target.  I liked the way the molding and the legs were very similar to those on the dresser.

target-bookcase

I have a deck of Behr paint swatches and found the color that best matched the white of the dresser.  Who knew there could be so many shades of white?!  I used that paint to touch up the scratches on the dresser and also paint the shelves.  (I used Zinsser Bullseye 123 Primer before painting since the shelves were so dark.)  This picture gives you an idea of what the shelves looked like with just one coat of primer.  It really made all the difference!

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To help the bookcases and dresser to coordinate, I bought new knobs for both pieces.  I spray painted the existing dresser pulls and new knobs in Rustoleum Universal in Iron Rubbed Bronze.

hardware

The back of the bookcases was laminate and it was pretty obvious because of the big seam down the middle.  I decided to cover the backs in bead board wallpaper to give it added texture and character.

beadboard-wallpaper

If you haven’t used Martha Stewart’s bead board wallpaper, it’s a pretty great product.  It looks identical to bead board and is very easy to install and paint.  I wouldn’t recommend it for super high-traffic areas like a mudroom by an entry door, but it is excellent anywhere else.  (There’s a bead board wallpaper tutorial to come!)

I decided to paint the wallpaper in Behr Sonata, the same color as the backing of my China Cabinet.  This color coordinates really well with navy and it’s one of my favorites!media-center-after

Next I had to decide how to fill my new shelves!  The nice thing about bookcases is that you can easily change the feel of a room by how you accessorize them.

Now I guess I have more of a traditional, nautical feel but it would be super easy to change out a few items to give it another style.

 

My favorite accessory is this framed quote, something my late grandfather carried around in his wallet.  My mother found it after he passed away: “Resolve to be tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving, and tolerant of the weak and the wrong.  Sometime in life you will have been all these.”

baba

He was such an example of godly character and his life personified this saying as He was always kind and considered others as better than himself.  So much I have learned from him has affected how I parent my daughter as I posted in Leaving a Legacy of Faith.

 

 

before-and-after

 

I’m very pleased with my “entertainment center”.  I was able to customize it specifically to my needs and the bead board wallpaper added some extra character and color.  This was a fun project and a much better alternative than our little TV stand.

If you like this project you may also like:

Light and Airy Master Bathroom Makeover

DIY Faux Painted Sign Tutorial with 15 Free Scripture Printables

 

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‘Til Next Time,

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*As usual, there are no affiliate links in this post.

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Writing Desk Makeover

When I stumbled on this antique writing desk, I knew it had incredible potential.  The previous owner has painted portions of it in gold acrylic paint.  This piece took a lot of sanding to repair some water damage on the top but the results are well worth the process.

before-desk

I’m pleasantly surprised with the outcome as it doesn’t look like the same table.  I also refinished and covered a chair to match.

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As mentioned, there was an incredible amount of sanding that had to be done on this piece before coating it in Zinnser’s Bullseye 123 water-based primer.  I painted it on and it was dry in 30 minutes.

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I then put on my first coat of blue paint.  I mixed a few colors I had to get just the right shade but it is almost identical to Behr’s Sonata Blue, except maybe a tad grayer.  After the first coat, I sanded the piece lightly with a fine grit sanding pad on my mouse sander.  Then, I added my last coat of blue with some floetrol mixed in to reduce brush strokes.

I thought this desk would be an ideal piece in someone’s living room or bedroom  as a small work space that was still inviting.  My friend Katie bought this piece for her bedroom to do just that.

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I also recovered the chair I painted to match, adding upholstery trim to give it an extra pop.  Miss Mustard Seed would be so proud!

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I couldn’t find a drawer liner I liked so I used this Waverly fabric instead.  I ironed it with lots of spray starch.  After cutting it to size, I attached it to the drawer with Elmer’s spray glue.

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What stands out to me about this project was the massive amount of sanding that had to be done before I started priming or painting. The top had some water stains and I had to let the desk sit in my garage a few weeks to make sure it was dried out.  Then, I put on my respirator and started sanding off the damage until I could see a fresh, even wood surface.  Here is a picture of said water damage and also how the surface looked when I finished.

I spent so much time sanding that I burned up my sander, but I knew there was no way around this excruciating task.  To achieve its beautiful finish, a process had to take place.  Rushing the process or skipping over steps would be a detriment to the finished product.  Although painful (especially to my sander), this was a step that had to be endured.

In my last post on Goal Setting, I stated that development is a necessary part of the process.  If you are waiting for God to work in your life for something you’ve always dreamed, know that He already is.  He has not forgotten you and your current phase in life.   Although difficult, your current waiting game  and stage of development is vital to see His plan come to fruition.

He knows what we need to learn and where we need to grow.  That often comes with some sanding but He also knows the end result is worthwhile.

If you have been waiting for God to bring about His Plans, know that the “when” is just as important as the “what”.  There is nothing worse than being where God wants you to be before you are truly ready.

Know this period of sanding is just for a time.  This too shall pass.  For this season, rely on what He has shown you and trust Him for He hasn’t yet.

‘Til Next Time,

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writing-desk

Filling the Void

before wall

After removing a brass towel bar and painting the bathroom, I contemplated what to hang on the wall over the master bathtub.  I knew whatever I displayed should be relaxing and enjoyable for the end of a long day.    Although a flat screen TV was very tempting, I decided to frame some verses that meant a lot to Jeremy and I.  We each picked two.

These verses are special to us because they are not just informative words on a page but they serve as directional markers on a map, pivot points that show us how to find our true North.  The world and even our hearts can be very deceiving, but one thing holds true – no matter your country, social status or salary, the Word of God pierces our hearts the way nothing else can or does.

Along with countless others, these truths represent defining moments in our lives where God illuminated His Truth to us.  We carry them with us, not just on the wall of our bathroom but on the wall of our hearts to know the depth, height and breadth of a loving God who actively leads His children along life’s perilous journey.

When my heart betrays me, I find solace in the truth of His Word that is alive and active, sharper than any double edged sword.  God continually works in the hearts and minds of His children through the truth of His Word.  Not just initially as a book laid on the coffee table of eternity, but God perpetually uses His Word in the DAILY lives of His children to guide them as a shepherd watches his sheep.

When I look at these transparent frames, I know these verses are not just words on a page to merely be read.  Their purpose is to be embraced – they are to be trusted, knowing the Author will catch me every time I fall.  One thing I know for sure…”My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” – Psalm 73:26

after wall