Decor MAIN

Thrift Store Desk Makeover & the beginning of a Home Office

For a woman who spends a lot of time scouring thrift stores I should have my blogging license revoked as I have done exactly one – yes one – furniture makeover for my site since I started it.

There’s a simple reason for it. I hate about 90% of the furniture I come across at the thrift stores.

Oh yes I just wrote that.

Because what tends to be the trend of what one can find these days at thrift stores is all the old oak furniture with the curved lines. The china cabinets. The coffee tables with spiral legs and strange side floral motifs. Pieces that do really well painted in chalk paint, faux aged and put in a French Country estate style home afterwards.

My style however is so far removed from French Country that I am pretty sure my friends in Denmark would sense through osmosis if one of those items made it through the front doors of our home. And when I do come across something in a clean MCM meets Scandinavian style, over my dead body would I even go near it with a can of paint. In fact I’ll be showing you how our MCM credenza affected the purchase of our couch in the basement in an upcoming post. And no I did not paint it. As if.

But when I came across this little piece of metal, I was like now there is $14 I can spend towards our home office.

Thrift Store Metal Desk Before - northstory.ca

Yes. Yes we’re in the process of making a home office. Because the kids are getting bigger and having the computer in our living room and trying to do any work on it is a dark comedy reminiscent of the Stewie Griffin “Mom, Mommy, Mommy” clip.

As soon as I saw that desk I knew exactly what I wanted it to look like.

Don’t be fooled by the photo as I look at it and think “Hey it’s all Mad Men and perfect the way it is”. If it was in good condition I probably would have left it as is.

But the desk top was chipped, scratched and peeling. It smelled too. The left side of the desk was bent and breaking apart from the center. The handles were rotting inside as they were plastic. The black paint was chipping and covered in rust in spots. And it was filthy and covered in cobwebs.

Makeover? Challenge accepted.

Metal Desk Before - northstory.ca

Into the garage it went where it got taken apart, cleaned, given some TLC and the desk top went to recycling.

Four bottles of Rustoleum Ultra Cover 2x White Blossom in a Satin finish later…

Painting a metal desk - northstory.ca

It wound up like this.

Thrift Store Desk After - northstory.ca

The new desktop is an IKEA LINNAMON table top with new screws to hold it in place.

I know I am supposed to tell you that those leather straps are some amazing old belt I found and made leather desk handles out of. But the thrift store Gods laughed at me during this process and said “No old leather belts for you!” so I wound up ordering some from Etsy from a shop called cocosheaven.

They are held on with binding posts/Chicago screws and I am very happy with the quality of the leather.

DIY Leather Handles - northstory.ca

DIY Leather Handles on white desk - northstory.ca

The posts/screws (as they are called different things depending on where you find them) were a little loose for the depth of the leather with the desk, so we put some washers in between them on the inside to hold them in place.

Washer behind binding posts to hold desk handles in place - northstory.ca

During this time while the desk was getting its makeover, I got an email from the fine folks at Staples who did smile upon me and said “Would you like to collaborate on a project together?”

And I was like “Did you know that we’re working on finishing up a home office?” and they said “How can we help?”

So they sent us some stuff to help get this office underway.

Including this sexy little number, two of them in fact – the Monarch Cafe chair. That’s what this desk was missing. A sexy office chair. This. This is my kind of office chair. It’s matching chair will be going to the other corner desk in the room, which I will show in a future post.

White Metal Desk with Leather Handles - northstory.ca

Monarch Cafe Chair from Staples with a made over metal desk - northstory.ca

They also helped me organize the insane amount of card stock and craft paper I have with their Reversaflex Hanging File Folder frame and Coloured Hanging File Folders.

Inside of metal desk filing cabinet - northstory.ca

In the meantime we also got our first shelf up.

IKEA EKBY VALTER brackets - northstory.ca

And found a temporary home for the copper planters. May I just say that taking photos of reflective pots is quite challenging. I should have waved for you all!

Copper planters - northstory.ca

White desk with Leather Handles, Monarch Chair, Pine Shelves - Home Office in Progress - northstory.ca

I am warning you now. If you see a lot of this room in the future, it’s because those white walls need to get filled up with storage containers, calendars, a computer, art work and so on. I haven’t even cleaned up the other side of the room to show what’s going on over there. And there is a lot going on. Madness mostly.

But I love the desk. I love that it’s not in a landfill. And I thank Staples for helping me get this room on it’s way.

Thrift Store Desk Makeover - northstory

DIY - Leather Handles - northstory

35 Comments

  • Reply
    debranorton
    July 31, 2014 at 12:09 am

    loves great!! love the chair and the leather handles 🙂

    • Reply
      Alex
      July 31, 2014 at 8:20 am

      Thanks so much Debra!

  • Reply
    Tara
    July 31, 2014 at 2:08 am

    Oh my god, you’re so chic, Alex. I just love how true you are to your style. It’s so clean and white and Scandi and simple.

    What a great transformation. I’m going to be working on an office in about… oh…. a month or so… and I’m definitely using this desk transformation as inspiration.

    • Reply
      Alex
      July 31, 2014 at 8:18 am

      I know it’s not for everyone. The whole Scandinavian white paint look. And I would love to be able to do more projects that I see all around by bloggers but I know I’d never use them in our home.

      Now if I had a place to store them and redo them that’s another story. Maybe one day. I should put a little outdoor work shed on the wish list for a home.

  • Reply
    Moe a.k.a. @biggirlblue
    July 31, 2014 at 2:13 am

    I had the exact same desk for eight years. It was someone else’s before mine. This year I decided it’s wobblyness and side file had to go (wish I had thought of painting it when I got it because it was an awful green gold with silver legs). I replaced it with a larger red desk from IKEA, also linnamon I think, with white legs. I freecycled the old one. You did a wonderful job of refurbishing it.

    • Reply
      Alex
      July 31, 2014 at 8:20 am

      Small world! Yes it was very wobbly. The left side my husband had to straighten out as the metal was so broken that it was caving in.

      Don’t worry. I’m going to do a post about thrift store regrets. Things I didn’t take home. And man are there ever a lot of things that now I go why why why didn’t I buy that?

  • Reply
    fynesdesigns
    July 31, 2014 at 6:09 am

    WOWZERS, that was a great vision, looks fabulous!

    • Reply
      Alex
      July 31, 2014 at 8:20 am

      I think I need a white paint intervention.

  • Reply
    Midsommarflicka
    July 31, 2014 at 7:17 am

    I’m all over white furniture, so of course I love this makeover! And I fell in love with these leather handles. Maybe I shouldn’t have hoarded so many knobs that I need to use on the next furniture that comes into my home to justify the purchase? Maybe I should have bought leather? Too bad…

    • Reply
      Alex
      July 31, 2014 at 8:22 am

      You know what? I ordered purple knobs for a desk I never redid. I deleted the entry for the blog but maybe I need to rewrite that one and show what happens when you think you’re going to do a DIY and realize instead you have a bunch of stuff ordered for something you don’t even want in your home. You’re not alone. I’ve so been there.

      • Reply
        Midsommarflicka
        July 31, 2014 at 8:29 am

        That does make me feel a bit better with my “I’m sure I’ll need that one day” purchases 🙂

  • Reply
    Sarah Krouse
    July 31, 2014 at 7:53 am

    so impressed with what you did with that broken down piece of metal! It looks absolutely amazing. And I love those darling copper planters. Were they a vintage find or new?

    • Reply
      Alex
      July 31, 2014 at 8:15 am

      Those were a thrift store find as well. One was $1 and the other two were $2.99. That was a good thrift store day.

  • Reply
    Becki @ the uncommonlaw
    July 31, 2014 at 8:14 am

    What a great find! Amazing makeover too. Can’t wait to see the full room! 🙂

    • Reply
      Alex
      August 3, 2014 at 10:24 pm

      Thanks so much Becki!

  • Reply
    Becki @ the uncommonlaw
    July 31, 2014 at 8:14 am

    What a great find! Amazing makeover too. Can’t wait to see the full room! 🙂

  • Reply
    gemma@thesweetestdigs
    July 31, 2014 at 8:57 am

    Love it!! Great makeover. Can’t wait to watch the rest of the room come together.

    • Reply
      Alex
      August 3, 2014 at 10:25 pm

      Feel free to come help me decorate it. Honestly it’s crazy how long it takes to put a room together in real life.

  • Reply
    Sabrina S
    July 31, 2014 at 9:15 am

    Great start! Those handles are amazing! Love the style direction you’re going in, can’t wait to see your next move 🙂

    • Reply
      Alex
      August 3, 2014 at 10:26 pm

      Thank you Sabrina!

  • Reply
    Kristen S
    July 31, 2014 at 9:19 am

    Ohhhhh great start! Cant wait to see the rest of the room unfold!

    • Reply
      Alex
      August 3, 2014 at 10:28 pm

      You my friend, I am saving your talents for when I mess up the kitchen. Or the stairs. Or the floors. Yes the floors.

  • Reply
    Michelle
    July 31, 2014 at 10:09 am

    Wow, I would have never thought of replacing the desktop…I see these in second hand stores all the time….hmmm, might have to copy you. Great job!

    • Reply
      Alex
      August 3, 2014 at 10:31 pm

      Initially I thought about doing the desktop in wood but every time I matched it up it felt off somehow. I love metal and wood in crafts together but it took away from the desk because it’s not a big desk in size. Def pick one up next time you find one. I’ve left one too many of these in a bigger size behind already.

      • Reply
        Michelle
        August 9, 2014 at 11:41 am

        Might have to keep an eye out for this small size desk for son’s room….I’m picturing a paint job in orange or charcoal grey, or if we have to face the desk outwards, the back panel is big enough to paint a union jack on it 🙂

        • Reply
          Alex
          August 9, 2014 at 12:01 pm

          Oh that will look great! The smaller ones I’ve found harder to come by but I think it’s just our area. We have tons of the big office ones. And so much 80’s wood.

  • Reply
    cwcassoc
    July 31, 2014 at 10:58 am

    High five for the desk makeover! Nicely done.

    • Reply
      Alex
      August 3, 2014 at 10:32 pm

      Thanks so much!

  • Reply
    Jennifer @ Brave New Home
    July 31, 2014 at 7:25 pm

    Swoon! Those handles. Great find and great vision. I am not a fan of painting furniture whatsoever. I did it once just to have some blogger cred ; ]

    • Reply
      Alex
      August 3, 2014 at 10:35 pm

      The handles – I’ve to to tell you something funny. The week I finished this, AT did a feature which included using leather in home decor. And the consensus was that leather handles are “over”. I love them just as much as I love Swiss Crosses. They’re someone else’s mason jars and chevron.

  • Reply
    Weekend Links - The Crafted Life
    August 1, 2014 at 3:17 am

    […] – Such a lovely and easy desk makeover project. […]

  • Reply
    Laurie
    August 5, 2014 at 9:48 pm

    What a lovely makeover… I’ve been looking for a new desk for my office as well, but my quest has been unsuccessful so far (why are there no good thrift/vintage stores in the suburbs?). I feel like I’m probably being too fussy for a thrift store, but I work from home so I want it to be just right.

  • Reply
    Danielle
    August 13, 2014 at 12:24 am

    The “mom, mommy, mom” clip is my ringtone for when my son calls. 🙂 What can I say… when they stop doing that, you kinda miss it.

    PS. I love the desk, you talented woman!

  • Reply
    Rita Ott Ramstad
    August 13, 2014 at 11:58 am

    The photo of the brass planters is my favorite. 🙂 But the desk looks great. Handles are genius.

  • Reply
    Sarah Hepburn-Smith
    August 14, 2014 at 3:03 pm

    Looks fabulous!! So fresh!

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