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ESTABLISHED 1856Finding the perfect thrift store desk is no easy task!

the purchase

For six months, I have been on the hunt for a perfect desk to rehab. I wanted a nice, sturdy, wooden desk that was big enough to hold my laptop and Brett’s Mac computer. I also didn’t want to spend more than $50, since I knew I’d be redoing the entire piece. I scoured Craigslist ads and searched through various thrift stores, only to come up empty handed. That is, until I went out on a Saturday morning shopping trip with my mom. This happened to be the same trip that I bought the standing lamp.

It was the second stop of the day and she saw this cute sewing desk. We checked the quality; it was sturdy. We looked to see if it was laminate or wood; we thought it was wood. We checked the price; it was only $15. Should I buy it? We mulled it over for a bit until she talked me into it. Side note: My mother is the worst (or best, depending on how you look at it) person to go shopping with. She can talk me into buying anything. The last time her and I went to Target, I spent more than $200 on clothes that she said were too cute to pass up. She has this innate ability to justify almost any expense. It’s a gift.

After bringing my treasured desk home, my dreams were slightly crushed when my dad said it was indeed laminate and not completely wood. My mom and I were both shocked and slightly upset, because we thought we could tell the difference. How does he just take a quick look and tell us otherwise? Being upset lasted for about two seconds and then I realized, who cares? It’s a sturdy desk and it was only $15.

table before

the overhaul

To prep the desk, I lightly sanded down all surfaces with 220 grit sandpaper and wiped it clean with a wet towel. I didn’t go too heavy on the sanding because I used chalk paint and it’s not necessary to completely strip the surface. After all that, I got to painting! I used Dutch Boy chalky finish paint from Menards in Antiqued Lace. The paint went on really nicely and I have used it for other projects as well. I used two coats because I wanted it fully covered.

After painting, I used the 220 grit sand paper left over from the prep work and scuffed up the edges and some other random areas. After that, I applied light wax to the entire desk. I dabbed a cotton cloth in the was and applied small, circular motions to all surfaces. After the waxing, I wiped it down with a clean, cotton cloth and presto – all done!

table after 1

Now for the finishing touches – new pulleys and a basket. I found the basket at Michael’s when they just happened to have a 50 percent off sale on all their storage containers. I may or may not have gotten a few because hello, they were fifty. percent. off. You just can’t pass up those deals! And more baskets = more things to fill them with!

The pulleys were from Home Depot. I love them. I also could have sworn that they were the right size. However, when I put them on, they were in fact too small. Luckily they are longer than the old holes so you can’t see them, but they don’t line up. Which means I need to drill in new holes to have the pulleys functioning. Small, overlooked detail…

table after 2

the takeaways

  • Make sure the desk you buy is the material you think it is. Laminate is oddly similar to wood.
  • If you are looking for a specific piece of furniture, be patient. It will come along.
  • And when it does, it might not be what you thought you wanted.
  • Measure your drawer pulleys with an actual measuring tape. Do not eyeball it at the store. You will most likely get the incorrect size.
  • Keep an eye out for sales. I waited to buy the basket until it was on sale. I could not justify spending more on the basket than the desk.

I am coming to realize that I thoroughly enjoy redoing furniture. It is so wonderful to create something that is 100 percent unique. Plus, it is going to look absolutely perfect in our new house!

All my best,


kelly signature


  1. Thrift Store Office Chair Makeover - […] of the first posts in this blog was about making over a thrift store desk. Haven’t read it? Click here…

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