Mid Century Modern Two Toned Desk

When I found this desk, it was in pretty bad shape.  The desk had scratches, lots of stickers on it, stains, and blue gum imbedded in the grain (I know! who would do such a thing?!).  The desk also had huge gaudy plates covering previous holes from the original hardware.  But despite all of the issues, I knew they were only on the surface.  I couldn’t help but be attracted to it’s great lines, tapered legs, and solid frame. I’m usually a mid-century modern purist, but if there’s one thing I don’t like more than painted furniture is a bad patch job, so I thought that it would be OK to have a little fun with the restoration. 

I was initially inspired by West Elm’s Acorn desk, especially the two toned look with white drawers.  I was looking for similar hardware, but they were hard to find or expensive, so I settled on these heavy-weight vintage brass knobs I found on craigslist. 


  1. Clean with Murphy’s oil soap and #0000 steel wool/scotch brite.  Scrape off stickers and general gunk with a paint scraper and flathead screwdriver
  2. Remove drawers and hardware
  3. Sand everything down to raw wood (start with lower grit and work up to higher grit; 220), wipe down with tack cloth.
  4. Fill old cabinet holes with wood filler and sand smooth 200 grit or higher when dry
  5. Paint drawer fronts, and inside drawers with white oil paint (2 coats) with bristle brush
  6. Oil table with danish oil and wipe after 20 minutes. Let dry for a couple days.

    I like the look of natural wood, so I initially oiled it with danish oil.  However, when it dried, I thought that color was too golden to contrast enough with the white drawers, so I decided to give it a darker stain.  I probably should have sanded it again, but I didn’t want it to get too dark, so I just stained it on top of the oil.  The result was a beautiful, dark, but golden and shiny desk, which I love!
  7. Stain with dark walnut, wipe off excess. Let dry for a couple days.
  8. Paint the line between the false drawers black
  9. Seal with Polyurethane (water based, to prevent yellowing on the white drawers). Let dry for at least 8 hours.
  10. Measure, mark, and install new hardware. 

Rough Cost breakdown for the makeover (I had some of the items)

1.     Sandpaper: $10

2.     Respirator —

3.     Tarp –

4.     Rags —

5.     Gloves $5

6.     2 Bristle brushes: $4

7.     White paint: $10

8.     Dark Stain: $10

9.     Polyurethane: $10

10.   New Hardware: $5 (this would have cost me $20 if I didn’t find some on craigslist)

Total: $54

So for about $54 and a lot of elbow grease, I made an awesome one-of-a-kind desk!

View on Apartment Therapy here: http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/before-amp-after-sabrinas-from-damaged-to-daring-modern-desk-makeover-201624