2 In Decor/ DIY

DIY Vintage Furniture Makeover

vintage furniture makeover before & after

Hello friends! After a short hiatus while I moved and unpacked (well mostly), I’m back! It’s been a busy few weeks moving from an apartment to our new house, and taking on the new responsibility of home ownership. We’ve already had an emergency faucet replacement situation, and had to buy our first set of appliances. Yay adulting! I’ve also been having fun picking out some new pieces of furniture to fill our bigger space, including vintage desks for our office loft.

If you follow me on Insta, then you saw this midcentury desk I picked up from Ideal Vintage at one of my favorite Portland area vintage stores Curiosities. It was cute on it’s own, but I was worried that our office would feel a little dark with a vintage library table (see below 👇🏻) I found at another local fav Le’ Stuff Antique Mall. So I painted it a mustard yellow to add a pop of color. I also distressed it and added oil rubbed bronze hardware to fit the aged look of the library table. I LOVE how it turned it, and now I’m sharing my how to for my vintage furniture makeover!


supplies to refinish furniture

The body of my midcentury desk was laminate, while the drawers and legs were mahogany. I got some tips from Vintage Revivals on how to paint laminate furniture, and added in a few of my own steps.

For this project I used:

  • A sander and 150 & 220 grit sandpaper
  • 2 paintbrushes & 3 rollers
  • Pack of rags
  • Tack cloth
  • Sherwin Williams HGTV Showcase interior paint
  • Glidden Gripper primer
  • A polycrylic sealer in a matte finish
  • Valspar antiquing glaze
  • Drill
  • Bronze knobs

1. Clean & Sand

sand furniture before painting

The first step was to sand and wipe down the desk, using 150 grit sandpaper. This was enough to remove the shiny finish from the laminate so that the primer and paint could stick to it, without completely stripping it. Don’t skip this step if your piece is laminate! After I wiped everything down with a tack cloth to remove all of the dust.

2. Prime & Sand Again

prime before painting furniture

Next I used a paint roller to apply one coat of my Glidden Gripper primer on the body and drawers. I also used one of my paintbrushes to paint the rounded legs and hard to reach places. It doesn’t matter if your primer isn’t even looking, it’s just there to help the paint grip onto the furniture. However, watch out for any heavy areas or streaks as those can show through the paint. Let the primer dry then sand and wipe down again. This helps you get an even finish. Again don’t skip the primer if you’re painting laminate! The paint needs this to stick to the piece.

4. Paint!

paint vintage furniture

Yay the fun part! I used a roller and brush to paint two layers of my Sherwin Williams color, and sanded in between with 220 grit sandpaper. The more sanding, the smoother the finish.

painted furniture

5. Apply Antique Wash

antique wash for distressing furniture

Ok real talk. I wasn’t originally planning on antiquing my already vintage desk. After my two coats of paint dried, I realized that my Sherwin Williams “Beach Bag” yellow was waaaaayyyyyyy too bright. 😳 After debating on repainting the desk in a darker color, I decided to try darkening it up first with Valspar antiquing glaze. And it totally worked!

applying antique wash

It was super easy to apply. I just painted on a generous amount of the glaze with a brush, pushing it up into the corners, let it sit for a minute, then wiped off the excess with a rag until I got a look I liked.

how to antique furniture

You can see what a difference the glaze made in darkening up the paint color.

distressing vintage furniture

6. Seal

sealer for painted furniture

After letting the glaze dry for a few hours, I painted on two coats of polycrylic clear finisher to seal and protect the paint. I chose a matte finish because I think it looks more vintage, but this sealer has just enough sheen to wipe down and clean easily.

7. Add Hardware

Time for the finishing touches! After letting the sealant dry for 24 hours, I drilled holes into each drawer and added these aged bronze knobs and drawer pull from Lowes.

Top it off with this antique looking French bistro chair from Cost Plus and voila! After a happy accident with the paint color, I couldn’t be happier with how this desk turned out. I’ve already added a few accessories to tie it in with the library table more, but I can’t wait to paint the walls and style this office even more. Stay tuned!

vintage office desks

Do you have a hand-me-down or vintage furniture piece you want to makeover? Tell me what you’re planning in the comments below!

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  • Reply
    December 25, 2017 at 12:10 am

    I love these vintage furniture makeover. That is some beautiful incredible work. I am a great fan of vintage furniture and I got some great ideas from your article. Thanks for sharing.

    • Reply
      December 25, 2017 at 8:06 am

      Thanks Amanda!

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