Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Printers Desk Re-Do

Ever since I saw the printers desk from Pottery Barn in the fall 2010 catalog, I knew I had to have it. The rustic patina, the pretty pulls! It's pretty much the Rachel to my Ross. The peanut butter to my jelly. But with a price tag of $699, that is just not going to happen, friends.

So I made one! Well, made one OUT of an existing desk. I've yet to find the cajones or the time to actually make a piece of furniture from scratch- but it will happen. I digress.
Let's see my desk before:

Gross, right? 

Well, with some walnut stain and a little elbow grease over a weekend- I turned it into....

THIS BEAUTY!!!!! What do you think? I am posting it for sale in the greater Palm Beach county area so if you're interested, give me a shout! 

Want to know how I did it?

You will need

  • Mask (optional, but recommended)
  • Gloves
  • Paintbrushes ( one large, one small)
  • Foam craft brush (large)
  • Rags
  • Tarp
  • Screwdriver ( to take off hardware, if applicable)
  • Stain
  • Wood Conditioner (optional) 
  • Minwax Polyurethane
  • Sander
  • Sandpaper 

  1. Sand your the piece all over, being sure to go WITH the grain of the wood. If there is existing finish/paint on it, use a coarser grit sandpaper (80) and follow it up with a finer grit (120+)
  2. Wipe off the dust with a slightly damp cloth and allow to dry
  3. Apply Wood Conditioner  with the large craft brush according to the directions on the label - I used Minwax 
  4. Once dry, you are ready to start staining. DO wear gloves because they don't call it 'stain' for nothing. I used Minwax stain in Dark Walnut. 
  5. You may use a paintbrush or apply with a rag, or both. If you are going for a cleaner look, I suggest the brush, but if you want to go rustic- use a rag and really rub it into the depressions. In all cases make sure you THINLY apply, do not glob it on. You can always go back over it. Tip: Start staining in the hard to-reach areas first and work your way out 
  6. Once you have achieved the desired color, allow to dry according to stain directions- usually about 6-8 hours should do it. But of course, the longer you wait, the better. 
  7. Due to the nature of wood, some areas may soak up stain faster, thus leaving an uneven, matte appearance where the rest of the wood is shiny- don't sweat it- all will be remedied by the poly. 
  8. I used Minwax oil-based polyurethane and as with the stain- apply a very thin layer all around and don't go back to try and retouch it before it's completely dry or else it will pull. I only needed one layer, but depending on where the refinished item will be placed/ what it is, you may want another coat. 
Hope that helps! Happy refinishing! 


  1. Great post! So I have a question about this project. I have made furniture from Ana White's site, stained and painted... LOVE Minwax conditioner, stains and poly! ...but I've never REFINISHED anything........ :)

    I'm dying to refinish our bedroom furniture (two nightstands, tall dresser, short wide dressser, king bed) but have been so nervous to tackle this project. It doesn't appear the insides of the drawers or dressers were ever stained at all. Since I'm wanting to go drastically darker (Minwax Red Mahogany)... should I do the insides too? They don't even appear to have poly on them. If I don't do the insides, how do I keep the stain from dripping and making streaks on the inside? I'm GUESSING you'll say just don't GLOP the stain on. LOL

    Curious on your thoughts! Thank you!

  2. Hey Girl- First of all, congrats on building your own stuff! Thats something that I've been meaning to tackle. Now, to the refinishing, Hm. So this is an age old debate. One that I go through often myself... It really comes down to your preference and what you want the overall look to be. In most cases, though, I tend to not spend time on the insides of the drawers.

    But, as you mentioned, you don't want it to look messy. My best friend in this scenario, if you don't want to do the insides, is painters tape. Tape off the perimeter of the drawer on the inside and stain away to your hearts content. Send me some pics! I'd love to see the before/after! And let me know if I can help out with anything else!


  3. Hi, I'm an event designer in Naples and just happened to come across your website on craigslist...because I am obsessed with this pottery barn desk/modular pieces and want to create a desk/buffet/bookcase that has the look and not the price tag!!! I know I want this piece of furniture to do alot!!! How funny! I am looking for something with good bones, but Naples doesn't have the best in the way of vintage furniture! Very cute blog, by the way, I have just recently launched mine, although I have been in business for 7 years....I will have to subscribe to your blog!
    Mine is detailzevents.com/blog
    All the best!! Great job!
    Karen Lopez


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