Vintage Desk Makeovers – A Labor of Love

I painted a desk for my granddaughter when she started school.

I knew then I’d be painting three more at some point.

One grandson hadn’t expressed an interest in one until this past weekend. He lives several hours away so he and his grandpa found one at an estate sale near his house. They took it apart and rebuilt it. It is now in place in his room, waiting to be painted at some point.

His brother is just 4 years old, so I have awhile to go before he will need one.

My other grandson, brother to my granddaughter, is in first grade now. They have moved and his room is big enough for a desk. We had promised him some time ago I would paint my late brother’s desk for him, so we are in the process of that right now.

This is a different desk, a child’s desk…. but it seems my brother and I always had a thing for desks. Lol. And seeing the toy phone on his, he must have been my secretary. Notice I had the nicer desk. 😁

My brother’s desk is a vintage 60’s style small desk. I imagine my parents ordered it from Sears or Montgomery Ward. My mom ordered stuff all the time back then from the catalog store we had in our small town. Originally it would have looked something like the one pictured below (photo found on Internet.)

My dad refinished the desk that had been my late brother’s sometime in the 70s or 80s maybe. He was doing a lot of refinishing furniture for relaxation back then. I remember well that he would use some kind of concoction he made and warmed up that included linseed oil. I can kick myself for not getting a picture of his work on the desk before we got started. But, I often get so into starting a project, I forget to take before photos.

Now that I refinish furniture I often wonder exactly what that recipe was he used for sealing. I even try to remember if he mixed it with the stain, but too many years have passed to remember much more about it. Who knew I’d be doing this same thing years later. Of course, he mostly removed paint and stained. I usually remove stain and paint. Lol

He refinished an antique bedroom set for me right after I got married in 1972 that I still use today. The finish is still beautiful on it.

Keep in mind this sealer he used was an important thing to remember and I should have thought more about it before painting.

My brother was given a pocket knife by my uncle back in the day. Yep, no one thought anything about that. You know boys loved to keep pocket knives handy for carving or whittling or whatever. Well, my brother’s whatever happened to be carving his initials. It seemed he carved his initials in my sister’s convertible top! That was the last of him carrying his knife around in his pocket.

However, I guess at some point he carved his first and middle initials in his desk. When my dad refinished the desk, he must have decided to leave them (my brother passed away at age 18) as you could still faintly see them. When my husband sanded the top, there they were. 😏

I thought about various ways to try to keep them visible. A friend suggested having my grandson add his initials, which would have been a great idea. But the more I thought about it, I decided the memories were mine and my sister’s and not the new generation’s, so I decided I will paint over them as they are now sanded smooth. I do think I will put this photo in a frame for my grandson, tell him the history and write on the back of the photo. He can then tell the story to future generations.

So, my husband had sanded the top because there were some other scratches we wanted to smooth out. He scuffed sanded the rest to prep for painting.

I cleaned it well, as I always do, thinking all the time, that the finish was so nice and smooth on the desk my dad must have used poly on it to seal it. I did notice that after I cleaned well and it had dried, there seemed to be a haze. So I cleaned again. The haze came back. I thought then I wondered if he could have used his linseed oil sealer. But it had been 30+ years. I figured too much time had passed to matter, so I applied the first coat of paint. The second coat started pulling up the first coat and I stopped right there. I knew I couldn’t go any further.

In hindsight, I knew my dad probably did use his linseed oil recipe. But more importantly, my mom spent 30+ years after polishing it with Pledge. It dawned on me that haze was probably built up wax from the Pledge. So my husband then sanded the whole thing down to bare wood and I’m starting over.

Moral of the story: when in doubt of a previous finish, don’t assume scuff sanding and a good cleaning is all that is needed. When you see a funny looking haze after scuff sanding, assume it could be a build up of product of some kind. Then, strip or sand completely.

I will be using shellac all over to help seal in anything missed before starting to paint again.

In the meantime, here’s a sneak peek of what’s to come. I will be updating with pics of the process.

I’ve included a pic of the spray shellac I will be using. As an FYI, shellac will also stop bleed through and seal in odors such as cigarette smoke and old furniture smell if you have a piece that still has odors after thorough cleaning.


The complete sanding and spraying all over with shellac worked.

So here is my grandson’s Avenger desk. We used action figures to make the drawer pulls. We removed the old handles and filled in the two holes. We drilled a new hole for each drawer and centered it for the action figures. We drilled holes in each action figure and placed a couple of washers we painted black behind each figure to make them far enough away from the drawer to grab hold of. We ran a screw through all and secured it with a nut inside the drawer. When he tires of them, it will be easy to change it up. He’s pretty fond of Pokémon right now so I will be on the lookout for those.

The colorful desk organizer is vintage, too. It was once a Playskool grill and now perfect for holding pencils, paper, scissors, etc. 😆

Pumpkins for Today’s Modern Decor

It’s official. I will be selling these pumpkins through custom orders.

They are available for sale in my SharSum Paint Sales Shop on Etsy.

I love the yarn. It is a Jersey t-shirt type material that is a dream to work with. This color is called clay, which has a grayish cast. I also will be making them in cream and a variegated color with these two colors combined with a brown.

The medium ones will be the size shown here and are approximately 3” tall (without the stem) and 5” wide. They will be $14.00 with shipping available based on location. Estimated time for completion 1-3 weeks, based on the amount ordered. The smallest will be about 3″ tall also and about 4 1/2″ wide. These will be $12.00 +shipping. The large are a little larger, about 6 1/2″ wide. They will be $16.00 + shipping. Free delivery or pickup in Sullivan, Missouri.

I love this pattern and the colors. These pumpkins are perfect for today’s modern decor.

PM for more details or to place an order if local.

This arrangement is also for sale – $59.99 plus shipping. These pumpkins are crocheted with chenille yarn.

Update Your Own Good Quality Furniture

Why buy new at the big box stores and pay high prices for what will be, many times, manufactured wood. Your own older furniture that was good quality when you bought it just needs a fresh look.

That was the case with these tables. They were solidly built wood tables that had some wear and tear and a little water damage on the tops and just needed a new look. We worked with the owner on the finish she wanted and Wow! What a difference. She now has a like new set of tables for a fraction of the price of new ones.

After thorough cleaning before and after, we stripped the tops and used Minwax Pecan stain. The apron and legs got a light scuffing by hand with 220 sandpaper and were painted with Missouri Limestone Paint Company “Grannie’s Lace” and slightly distressed. All received several coats of Varathane Ultimate water based crystal clear Polyurethane, satin finish!

And now…… the after! Sigh! Just beautiful.

These beautiful tables are now back home and their owner couldn’t be any more pleased!

Feel free to contact us for a custom quote on your furniture. We would like to see you pleased with how nice some updating on your own furniture would look!

A French Country Tray

Doors are not just for cabinets.

Unfinished cabinet doors can be turned into beautiful and functional serving trays.

I took a 22″ long x 11 1/2″ wide unfinished cabinet door and painted it with Missouri Limestone Paint Company “January”, front and back. I don’t even remember where we got ours, but we ended up with several. You can find them, though at Lowes, Menards, Hoods, etc.

I then gave the whole thing one coat of Varathane water based Ultimate Crystal Clear Polyurethane – Satin Finish. This was to create a good base for the Prima Marketing IOD post card stamp I found on Amazon.

I applied more of the Varathane, making sure I gave the top about 5 thin coats for durability. I find the water based Varathane I use does not yellow, as long as you prep pieces, use thin coats, and do not allow drips or pooling in corners.

Next I added some little legs I painted silver to bring it up off the counter. I found some beautiful vintage silver handles in my stash for the final touch.

I couldn’t be happier with this truly beautiful and functional tray.

Here’s another tray I made with a different size unfinished door. This one was painted with Missouri Limestone Paint Company “Sour Green Apple” and I used an IOD transfer on it.

Gray Weathered Wood Nesting Tables

I have been searching for a good way to create a gray weathered wood look for a table top ever since I saw my cousin’s new dining room table. I was sure I could paint something similar.

These nesting tables had been waiting patiently for me to work the gray weathered wood magic on them. The time was now.

I came across a tutorial from Angela Marie Made which showed the look I was going for so I pinned it and waited for the right time to try it. Thank you so much for sharing this technique!

First up, the legs – the tables are well made – solid wood with metal inserts for the legs to screw into. I’m sure there is a furniture term for that but I do not know what that is. Just know the legs easily screw on and off with no worries. We cleaned, hand sanded, then cleaned again and they were ready for paint.

My original idea was to paint the legs a light gray, but once I painted one with a new custom color “MO Graystone” we created in our Missouri Limestone Paint Company chalk-style paint line, I knew it would be too light. So I started dry brushing “Sunday Silver” over the lighter gray, lightly in the detail areas and heavier on the rest! I used just a small amount of paint, dabbing most paint on the brush on paper towel first. This is a great way to distress without sanding and it was fun to watch it happen.

Two down, 10 to go!

Love this distressing technique

Table tops: My husband cleaned, sanded, and cleaned again (top and bottom) and I used Varathane Premium Fast dry stain in Kona. I stained the bottoms for a finished look but did not do the weathered wood finish on them. I thought that Kona would darken them a lot, but actually didn’t. The wood is a very hard wood so I probably could have given them another couple of coats, but I lack patience in waiting for oil stain to dry so I chose to do just one coat.

I watered down the “January” color 50/50 and painted it on, then wiped off excess and rubbed in what was left. I could tell it was going to be lighter so I also used a little “Sunday Silver” here and there and rubbed it in. Yes, it turned out lighter than my inspiration, but I love how it turned out.

Love when the furniture decides how a technique is going to look.

I put five coats of Varathane water based Crystal Clear polyurethane Satin on each table, sanding lightly between coats. I love the satin finish!

Now that I’ve experienced how nice this technique is, my plans are to use this finish on this farm table set I have to paint and sell. But that’s a project for another day.

A Jewelry Box Makeover

For more information on all of our 45 gorgeous colors and how to purchase them locally or online, please visit our Color Chart Page.

This is a jewelry box I upcycled for my nine year old granddaughter. She chose this one because it was the biggest. 😂

I painted it the color she chose, which is pretty close to the color of the stripes in her curtains. Missouri Limestone Paint Company “Harvest Pumpkin”.

I used Glaze Couture “Champagne” over it for a little sparkle. A painting friend was kind enough to give me the Champagne glaze, but I ordered Black Chiffon from the site, Delya Design.

I painted the drawer sides Rustoleum “Copper Penny Metallic”.

I painted the hardware and then used a touch of Rustoleum “Gold Metallic”.

The detail is Missouri Limestone “Navajo Blanket”. It matches the color of a stencil on her wall.

I then sealed it all with Varathane Water based Crystal Clear Polyurethane Satin Finish.

The navy blue flocking is original and in great shape. The desk I painted for her in her room has that color. She has a pink bedspread so she has a very colorful room. Lol

This jewelry box will be a keepsake she will be able to use even as she gets older.

Time Saver DIY Hack – a Mani/Pedi While Riding in Car From St. Louis to Chicago

Technically, you could call this a painting project. Painting nails. So I say this counts as an appropriate post for my blog. 😁

And if you’ve ever traveled the roads from Missouri through Illinois to get to the Chicago area, you know you need a distraction. Until you get to the wind turbines. I love seeing the wind turbines. I think they look so peaceful.

I was so busy getting ready to go on a trip after some marathon painting and delivering furniture and grandkids visiting, I didn’t have time to actually fit in a visit to the nail salon. And let’s face it. When you are a painter, salon manicures are pretty much a waste of time anyway.

But, I did think ahead so I brought along some nail supplies, planning on doing it in the car while my husband drove. I pretty much make him drive all the time when we go on trips. I learned early on if he was going to tell me step by step how to drive, then he might as well do it himself. Am I right? So, through the years that has freed me up to enjoy many things along the route… grading papers, reading, sleeping, working on the computer (love my hot spot -except when I forget to turn it off-?uh oh), and now setting up a portable nail salon.

First of all I must thank McDonalds. Without their donations, this would have been just another paint your nails in the car thing which would be no big deal. But McDonalds made this a game changer. 😂

I posted this on my Facebook page, too. I tell you, this is going to go viral! Feel free to like my post, my FB page, and share, share, share. You can say you know me when I become an Internet sensation!

Important supplies:

* Used coffee cup from McDonalds (dry it with a napkin they provide)

* Drink carrier (who knew when we accepted McDonald’s offer of one that it would make the perfect salon tray)

* Handy dandy little knife found in the console. 🤷🏼‍♀️ An amazing assortment of items in there. I could take it on Let’s Make a Deal and come home a winner. Note: Be sure to get a lesson on how to close the knife. 🙄

* Those foam things for your toes because God knows its going to be hard enough as it is contorting your body in the front seat to get to them in the first place. You sure don’t want smudges.

* Car air conditioner turned on full blast

Car air conditioner vent works great for drying!

* And, of course nail polish

* First, cut down the coffee cup with the knife. Be careful because this is a dangerous little thing.

* Finally make a pit stop at a rest area before you begin because you don’t want to be interrupted.

*Arrange your supplies and you are all set!

That’s it! Enjoy this life hack you are sure to try again and again.

Warning: This is it on the pics. The actual contortions getting a salon perfect mani/pedi won’t be pretty. And neither will the finished pedicure. I may share the manicure. We will see.

Update: Ok….you get to see a bit of the mani. The hand may or may not have gotten a little bit of filtering.😉

Update: I know I wasn’t going to share any pedi pics (I truly hate seeing those myself) but this is too funny not to share. Turn the mode of the car air conditioner to the leg area and stick your feet under the dash. Perfect pedi drying!

Update: Last pedi pic, I promise. This is all you get to see…think Wilson on Home Improvement … when you only got to see the top of his face. Trust me, you’ll thank me that you are only seeing the top of my toes. But, those sparkles really finish the pedi off nicely. 🥳

Now, what can I do for 2 more hours traveling from Missouri to Chicago? Not as many cornfields to see due to flooding.

And I still can’t believe the luck of finding this knife tool! I’m sure it has a 1,001 more uses. 😂