It would be easy to give all the credit to Pinterest.

You can only see so many craft projects before you start to believe that YOU TOO CAN BE CRAFTY!

But let’s rewind for a moment.

I was really pregnant when my mom came out for a week, she needed a desk to work at so we bought one at a yard sale for $20, Cody got the big sides sanded, and then it sat.

And sat.

And sat.

My mom came, we made her a desk out of two TV trays and a plywood board.

The desk sat in the garage under a recumbent bike and a dozen other odds and ends.


Cody started blogging and needed a desk for our desktop computer, “I need to finish that desk!” he said.

It sat some more because Cody bought a new desk, one that didn’t need refinishing.

I need to take that desk to Goodwill.” Cody finally said after close to two years of that desk sitting in our garage.

I saw this post from Chelsea about her refashioning an old ugly thing into a very lovely new thing.

HEY! I COULD DO THAT! But it kind of seems like a lot of work, and I don’t have an old ugly piece of furniture.


I then met Tausha in Park City at EVO and it turns out her entire blog is about refinishing, restyling and repurposing things.

I told her about my desk, she told me about Annie Sloan chalk paint, and that there was no need to prime, sand or strip when using it and a seed was planted.

August happened, the weather got nice and I convinced myself that I needed to refinish the desk and I needed to do it now.

I decided to buy the paint locally (if you can consider Sheridan, Indiana local) rather than order it online because LOCAL! WOO! (I also couldn’t decide on a color.)

I read Tausha’s post about chalk paint, talked to the owner of the store where I got the paint and here’s what’s happened:

  • I took out all the old hardware and covered in the holes with wood putty and a putty knife. I also filled in any big gouges and rough bits with the putty and and sanded all the repaired spots with 80 sandpaper attached to a palm sander.
  • I went to bed.
  • I washed off the whole desk with a big damp rag and let it dry.
  • I taped off the edges of the drawers, based off of this post here, to maintain some sense of tidiness. (This photo really gives you an idea of what rough shape the desk was in.)


  • I painted. And painted. And painted. I used the color ‘Arles’ which is a deliciously warm and muted yellow. I had bought an Annie Sloan paint brush as well as a 2″ angled detail brush, I can see why all of the tutorials and forums I read said used the best brush you can buy, the paint is sturdy and if you use a cheaper brush you’ll end up with little hairs all over and it will frustrate and infuriate you.
  • The paint dried really quick, so I added another coat, the parts that weren’t sanded (and much darker) required close to three coats while the rest looked good with two. (There’s a lot of talk about one coat being so shabby chic! Letting the natural flaws and brushstrokes show through! I twitched at the seven different shades after one coat so I covered the whole darn thing until it was solid.)
  • I fed the baby, did some work, ate some lunch then went back out to wax the thing. (This is where I digress and say that I only waxed because I was told to wax and I’m not sure why one would wax instead of any other number of finishes, but the wax made it velvety with a tiny hint of sheen and once I figured out how to wax properly it went really quickly.) I used the Annie Sloan clear wax. It’s smelly, ventilation is your friend!
  • I then drilled new holes for the new hardware. YAY NEW HARDWARE! I then put on the new hardware BECAUSE I WAS SO EXCITED YAY! (Plus Vivi kept pushing the hardware-less drawers in and I broke at least 3 nails trying to dig them back out.) This photo was taken before I distressed the edges, it was also taken in almost direct sunlight which is why it looks SO SUNNY YELLOW! (Also, that’s dried putty on the floor, not a flattened mouse.)


  • While the wax marinated (I mean, it didn’t have to marinate, I just didn’t know what to do next) I came in and asked Pinterest how to distress furniture. I found this post and she said “JUST GO FOR IT WITH THE PALM SANDER HAVE FAITH IN YOURSELF!” So I went back outside, put on a dust mask and took to the edges, details and corners with the palm sander fitted with 120 grit sandpaper. I got pretty gutsy at the end, and it felt pretty good. Even better? It looked really good. (If you’re going to do this, it’s totally worth the $30 for a palm sander.)
  • And that was it. (Well, I cleaned off all the dust and vacuumed out the drawers.)

It took me less than 36 hours to turn this old desk into a really cool desk. (See, and this photo makes it look orange-ish, WORK WITH ME LIGHTING.)


I don’t really have anywhere specific for it, I just wanted to give myself a project. However, I want it somewhere where I’ll see it everyday, BECAUSE GUYS I DID THIS WITH NO HELP FROM CODY. (Well, he helped me take it into the house…)

I want to refinish all the things now.

I really want to paint our old piano blue.

Our dining table and chairs white.

(No Cody, I’m not going to, UNCLENCH.)

So there you have it, someone who’s never done anything like this in their life, doing it and doing it well in just over a day with the help of the Internet.

Put to use immediately.



  1. That is absolutely not the color I remember you buying, but it looks amazing! Nicely done, my friend. Now I know who to turn to when I finally find the right dressers.

    Casey Reply:

    @JustHeather, I pulled a paint color switch RIGHT AT THE END.

    Heather Reply:

    @Casey, Sneaky girl! I never saw it coming.

  2. I’ve wanted to do this for a while (because of Pinterest) but I can never find that perfect piece of furniture. It’s BEAUTIFUL and you did such a wonderful job!

    Casey Reply:

    @Karen Sugarpants, Thank you! This desk was from a yard sale in our neighborhood, you’ve seen my neighborhood.

  3. I’m reading this while waiting for the final coat on a set of chairs to dry. I also painted my coffee and end table blue and a garage sale lamp red. SO EXCITED ABOUT THIS CRAFTING!

    Casey Reply:


  4. You are so crafty. Those of us who are about to die from jealousy salute you.

    Casey Reply:

    @Ami, Pff, oh, I’m sorry, did my crafty get in the way of teaching your children about the Etruscans?

  5. Fantastic! It looks like something from Pottery Barn for hundreds of dollars! Nice job.

    Casey Reply:

    @Alisa, EEE! Yay! Thank you!!

  6. Oh my GOODNESS, this is amazing! I’ve done several refinishing projects, but this is spectacular! I currently have 2 unfinished Ikea nightstands just waiting for a crafty touch…. I’m just feeling a little scared.

    Casey Reply:

    @ClassyFabSarah, Scared? It’s IKEA! LET’S CRAFT THE NIGHTSTANDS!

  7. I am so impressed that I’m about to die. Plus- I now want to paint my piano blue.

    Have to mention that I so love your garage is piled with junk- it gives me comfort that we’re not the only ones : )

    Casey Reply:

    @Mynde, Half of our garage is a mess, the other half fits my car.
    It’s an organized mess, but a mess all the same.
    I saw a photo of a blue piano and I’ve wanted one ever since.

  8. Very nice! I laughed out loud when I saw the putty b/c it DOES look like a flattened mouse.

    Casey Reply:

    @KDA, It was there when we moved in, there may or may not be a mouse underneath.

  9. Melissa Smith says:

    Yes, yes – ever since this: – and I don’t even OWN a piano…but if I ever find one on the cheap that needs some TLC, blue is it! Rock on, handywoman! LOVE projects like this – no male assistance required.

    Casey Reply:

    @Melissa Smith, THIS. This is the one I LOVE.

  10. This is absolutely fabulous.

    In a non-judgmental aside, am I the only person on the internet who isn’t into the shabby chic look? My favorite stage of this was pre-distressing.

    However, as the goal was a shabby chic distressed piece, I do have to say that the sanding was well done and it looks like it is a real vintage paint job with years of use making it shabby, not something you just banged out last week with your crafty little self.

    I’ve been intending to redo the dressers in our room but I’ve been scared to actually, you know, DO it. Seeing posts like this is helping me work up the courage.

    Casey Reply:

    @Della, Truth: I’m not really into shabby chic either. BUT this thing was already so beat up and so, let’s say, “FULL OF CHARACTER” that it had to be borked up on purpose, I either needed it to be absolutely PERFECT, or shabby.
    Absolutely perfect wasn’t happening so we went with shabby. (Also? With the way Vivi beats things? It would have been shabby in no time anyway.)

  11. Thanks for the mention, friend. It turned out great! Love the new hardware. I’m starting an ASCP project this weekend. I got a sample and medium paint brush a couple months back, and they’ve been staring at me. I’m going to have to keep telling myself “brush strokes are OK” as I paint. We’ll see if I’ll be able to handle it.

  12. Love it!

  13. I’ve been reading your blog for a really long time and love it! This is my first ever comment!

    You did a fab job on this desk! I’m thinking if you wanted to, you could sell that baby for an easy $150 and get it! I LOVE IT!


  14. Um, love it. I think yellow is happy and we all need a little more happy.

    And the wood putty on the ground DID look like a flattened mouse. I’m glad you addressed that.

  15. So lovely! You did a great job and I’m inspired.

  16. I love that you wrote “boom”. It’s just another reason why were kindred.

    Beautiful desk Casey. Nicely done. Now, if only I could find something to refinish. I’ve been looking for AGES.

  17. Oh hai, I’m finally here reading your post and am now even MORE obsessed with what I wait paint next. I have a dresser, roll top desk and kitchen table lined up… but now… Annie Sloan. The closest place is 3 hours away. I might have to Benjamin Moore them… 😉

    You’ve done an amazing job, Casey. I love it!