DIY / Tutorials Furniture Home Decor Project Gallery Repurposed Thrifted upholstery

Antique Dressing Table Turned Desk

Oh, what sweet bliss it is to walk into a thrift store not knowing what you’ll find, and walk out with a piece of history at your side. My kids and I went to get some play clothes and I walked out with more than I came for. BIG SURPRISE, right? What you see below is a giddy me perched on top of an antique dressing table about to become a desk.

Larissa of Prodigal Pieces perched on an Antique Dressing Table |

Who would leave this behind with price tag of $10 and also had a 35% off coupon burning a hole in their pocket? Not ME! tee hee!

This poor old gal really had been given a rotten treatment.1920's Antique Dressing Table Found at Thrift Store Before Makeover by Larissa of Prodigal Pieces |

It looked as though she had been stuck in a basement or garage and been forgotten about. Her legs had slight signs of water damage, missing casters (all 8 of them), busted veneer, and then there’s the top. Oy!

Antique Dressing Table Top Before |


Also, it looked as though someone had taped on a center panel to “protect” it or something. At any rate, it’s a hot mess indeed. I know this is a dressing table because I’ve worked on many and this would have had a bench to go with it. Likewise, the mirror mount holes on the back are telling a story of what used to be. I wish I could see this antique dressing table in all its glory.

Damaged Antique Dressing Table Top Closeup |

*post sponsored by Zibra and includes affiliate links so you can find the products I love to use too. (see full disclosure)

Time to make her shine again! I couldn’t wait to see what was under that messed up finish. I share the complete makeover in a video below, so take a peek to see in a bit.


First order of business was to break out my sander. I was a mite cold out there, but having fun too! This was one of those moments when you can’t see your screen and you’re trying to take a process pic, only to realize you took a selfie. ahem.

Larissa of Prodigal Pieces Cold and Happy |

Let me just say, I had at that mess like nobody’s business and this is the outcome. {{fist pump action!}}

Sanded Dressing Table Top |

You can bet I did a happy dance! It’s not perfect as it still shows a little time-worn wear story. However, it’s a far cry from what it was before, wouldn’t you say?

I had so hoped to restore this piece to its antique dressing table, glory, but no such luck. I couldn’t find a mirror for the life of me, though I had just passed several up. However, I did end up finding a chair that had nearly identical turned legs. Yay!


So, instead of a dressing table, I decided to keep it as a desk. And, since I wanted to restore as much as possible, I dug into my stash of casters to find 8 lovelies. It pays to have a stash. ahem.

Stash of Antique Casters by Larissa of Prodigal Pieces |

I was even able to find some cool knob replacements as the one that were on it were nasty. This set came off of this antique desk that I did a few years ago. I love their embossed design and backplates too.

Antique Drawer Pulls |

Next, I used vinegar to clean up the base cabinet to prep it for the following steps. For the top, I applied a gel stain in Hickory using my 2″ Angled Zibra paint brush. These brushes I carry in my shop work great for stains, polys, paints, waxes, and so much more.

Staining Antique Desk Top with Zibra Paint Brush |

Also, I wanted to showcase those gorgeous legs. I refreshed them with the same stain I used on the top.

Staining Desk Legs with 2" Angled Zibra Paint Brush |


Once the stain cured, I added 3 coats of a matte poly using my stubby brush. Before each new layer was added I used my steel wool to knock down the lifted grain and promote adhesion.  Next, I used a tack cloth to wipe it clean so another coat of poly can be applied.

Applying Poly Topcoat to Desk Top |

Last, but not least, the cabinet got two fresh coats of Bleached Linen, as well as the chair. The best brush to tackle spindles and turnings by far is the round brush . I forgot to take a before picture, but you can see it in my video below.

Painting Turned Chair Legs with Zibra Round Brush |

My little helper was begging to try, so you know I had to say yes.

Toddler Helping Mama Paint |


While all the paint was curing, I set about to recover the seat and dress up the inside of the drawers. I wasn’t kidding when I said it pays to have a stash. Cindy, a wonderful follower of mine, sent me a whole stash of gorgeous fabrics and trimmings. I chose to use this “Made in Italy 100% linen fabric” for my chair. My heart kept leaping for joy because…I LOVE LINEN!

100% Linen Made in Italy Upholstery for Antique Desk Makeover by Larissa of Prodigal Pieces |

I just also happened to have a sample of a soft grayish lavender color that would be perfect for my drawers. I’m naming it Lavender Mist.

Once all the paint had cured, I applied a bit of brown wax to highlight those beautifully carved designs.

Are you ready to see my antique dressing table desk complete? I am!


Antique Dressing Table Turned Desk with a Little DIY elbow grease. Full video tutorial at Prodigal Pieces |

Antique Desk and Chair Set Refinished by Larissa of Prodigal Pieces |

Take a peek at my video tutorial of my DIY fun. I’d love to have you subscribe to my YouTube channel.Subscribe to Prodigal Pieces on YouTube for DIY video tutorials and a whole lotta fun |

Now I do believe this grand ol’ lady is shining with pride again. You would never know the dilapidated state she was once in.

Top of Antique Dressing Table Desk with Fresh New Finish by Larissa of Prodigal Pieces |

Antique Desk Made New with a Refinish by Larissa of Prodigal Pieces |

Open Drawer with Painted Sides and Paper Lining on Antique Desk Set |

I will say that finding that chair was an added bonus for sure. Wouldn’t you agree that it pairs beautifully?

Antique Desk Set Restore and Refinished by Larissa of Prodigal Pieces |

Chair with 100% Linen Upholstery for Antique Desk Set by Larissa of Prodigal Pieces |

The linen is full of soft tones and has that time-worn feel I was after.

Antique White Desk Set with Upholstered Chair | DIY Makeover by Larissa of Prodigal Pieces |


Vintage Bust Bookends for Antique Desk by Larissa of Prodigal Pieces |

My other favorite found treasures last week are this set of bust bookends. Aren’t they cute? I also found the copper jardinares on the desk at the same time. Talk about drooling over the patina. Wow!

Antique Desk Drawers with Time-Worn Style by Larissa of Prodigal Pieces |

My favorite part of the whole package is how the legs of the desk match the legs of the chair. Even my littlest pointed it out. So fun, isn’t it?

Open Book with Antique Eye Glasses |


It’s funny to me that all it took to make this antique dressing table new was vision. How often to we look right past something because of what is visible? Looking deeper and savoring is what life is all about. Those glasses are my grandmother’s pair that I cherish. I miss her blue eyes shining with wit and whimsy at me. How I wish I could go back in time and make time for so many things.

My goal in my blog is to encourage and inspire you to make the most of life in any form. If you want something…work for it. God will hear your heart.

Antique Desk with Upholstered Chair | Set refinished by Larissa of Prodigal Pieces |

Happily, this desk has been donated to a local ministry to aid people who are leaving the Amish order – part of my Finding Home program.
Shop Prodigal Pieces |


Time for some sweet fun for you. Zibra and I are all about inspiring you to DIY too. We’re offering this fantastic prize package of my favorite brushes.

4 Piece Detail Brush Kit by Zibra | Giveaway by Larissa of Prodigal Pieces |

Easy entry: Complete the widget below for as many entries as you like (daily even for more entries). Open to U.S. and Canada residents 18 years of age and older. Winner will be notified via email and will have 24 hours to claim their prize. Be sure to check your spam!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Do pin and share this antique dressing table transformation to inspire others too. We all just need vision.

A sad and dilapidated antique dressing table just needed some TLC. Come see how Larissa of Prodigal Pieces brought it back to life in her video tutorial | Head to #prodigalpieces #diy #furniture #home #homedecor #homedecorideas #video #antique

Up next, I’ll have an 80’s flashback series featuring these “heart” pieces I found while thrifting. Woot! See the first makeover HERE.

Vintage Thrift Store Heart Cut-Out Wooden Bins |

To get these DIY tips & tricks in your inbox, be sure to sign up for my newsletter. PLUS, you will get your FREE Furniture Buying Checklist and special discount to my shop. Until next time!

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More projects like my antique dressing table:

Oh my! This worn out looking Broyhill hutch desk has never looked so good. See how easy it can be to updated a dated piece with the help of Larissa at Prodigal Pieces | prodigalpieces.comFantastic! This cast-off mirror is married to this antique dresser for a lovely upcycled dresser set makeover by Larissa of Prodigal Pieces | See the details at

108 replies on “Antique Dressing Table Turned Desk”

Larissa i love this. im glad you rescued it from the thrift store. happy as well to see your little helper getting in volved/ Merry Christmas. ps we all know Christmas is about the ‘gift’ to us ; of Jesus birth. ( not the decorations- maybe next year you can decorate

Wow. You almost stole that one at that price and coupon. It is no surprise that she turned out so beautiful. Congratulations.

Wow! That little desk went from 0 to 100! I gotta say… I think you missed something when you said all it took was vision; it looked like it took a hearty dose of willingness to pour on the elbow grease, a chunk of time (we mom’s never have too much of that!)… and maybe a little paint and such. 😃 I guess it all starts with vision though! My dining room furniture could use some vision… and paint, brushes, and time too. The blue I tried early this year… well. let’s just say I had vision, but it wasn’t 20/20, haha! I think we’ll call this our primer coat and give it another go. Good job with your desk and chair!

The vanity is beautiful! I started using Zibra paintbrushes after seeing you use them on your Blog. I love them! The detail brushes make every job so much easier. Thanks for always sharing your awesome pieces and helpful techniques.

As usual Larissa, you have knocked it out of the ballpark! You are so talented! I wish I had all your vision and my gosh, how do you find those bargains? Great job! Happy holidays to you!

Beautifully done, perfect marriage of the chair and desk! The linen was a gorgeous crowning touch!
I would use the brushes to refinish a drop leaf table and chairs I picked up for a great price, but have seen a lot of love!!

I love the way you look at things. I’m into re-viving things as well. I love the style you give them. Thank you for what you do.

Thanks for this, Larissa. I have two antique dressing tables in my stash that have been calling me for years. I had tears in my eyes when I read your closing lines of encouragement. I have been trying to get me upcycle business off the ground for years. Every time I get a little momentum going, life drama sidetracks me for months. By the time I get caught up, another something happens. I want to share my God-given talents in a way that makes my heart sing. So hard to be patient and wait for His timing. 🙂 Your encouragement spoke directly to me. Thanks again.

Hi Larissa,
I was wondering how you were able to define the carved accents on the drawers after you applied the numerous coats of white paint ? Did you apply a wax to the drawer fronts or did you “dig” out the paint from the carved accents on the front ? I have a thrifted dresser that could be the sister to your dressing table and I want to revise it like you have done and I want the beautiful carved outlines on the fronts to show.
Thank you for sharing and your inspiration.

I did two coats of paint and never do it too thick as to hide the details. After painting, I just used the dark wax to accent the details. They are too pretty not to shine. 🙂

Love it when It all comes together! Beautiful makeover and perfect match with the chair.

I love how you don’t let “Mr. Snow Miser” slow you down! (I grew up in NW Penna – brrrr)

LARISSA, I read your posts almost every day and your ideas inspire me to try! Thank you! I love your ideas and your projects and your vision to turn trash to treasure!

Love the contrast to the dark top and the white (or nearly so) base of the desk. I’m looking to do that to a Cherry dining table and have concerns. I love the table as it is but I want a change. A new set of brushes would get me going on my way! Thanks for the interesting makeovers and great tutorials!

I love this paint/stain makeover and the price was right, also! I have learned so much from your blog. My next project is to paint a lingerie dresser. I’d love to try blending colors!

What a beautiful transformation! It’s a wonderful feeling when you can score a beauty like this. It turned out beautiful!

I love this! It turned out beautiful! I have some dining chairs I’ve been wanting to paint but they have a lot of spindles, these brushes would make easier work of it!

You have vision that most of us lack. Love your work and would enjoy trying out those brushes on my own “antiques” to give them new life. Happy holidays to you and yours.

My first time visiting your blog, can see that you really enjoy what you do…..LOVE YOUR MESSAGE! God does know what’s in our hearts, and always finds way for that to come out in our lives! God Bless!

You have perfected the farmhouse look! Congrats on all of the wonderful accomplishments! Just Beautiful! Happy Holliday’s to you!

O my, that’s a steal, good for you. I have so many projects to do, i don’t know which would be first. Thanks for the chance.

I would use them to refinish my mother’s buffet & China cabinet. She has been wanting my sister & I to redo them for awhile now.

Larissa, the desk is beautiful! Perfect inspiration for me – I found a similar one on the side of the road – a castoff! Just needs a bit of repair that shouldn’t be too difficult, and then I plan to paint it and use it myself as a desk (trying to get the computer out of the kitchen!). I am hoping to save the top enough to stain as you have done – really makes the details stand out so nicely. I love looking at your work – always such an inspiration to me. Thank you, and wishing you and your lovely family a blessed Christmas.

The chair really does go well with the desk! Feeling inspired now to finish the prep on a coffee table I’m working on and get painting!!

BEAUTIFUL!!! You have inspired me. I have my grandmother’s bedroom suit with a similar piece (with mirror) that I have been wanting to re-do and this would be perfect. A couple of questions though…What are the advantages/pros and cons to gel stain over other kinds? What determines when you use it? I’ve never used it. Also, can you share which poly you use please? Your work always leaves my jaw dropping! I’m always showing my husband and saying “Look what she has done this time” to which he usually responds “WOW!!!” LOL. Merry Christmas to you and your family.

What a treat to hear. Thank you, Kim. For me, the gel stains give a deeper, more solid stain. If I want more of the grain to show I go with a standard stain. Since this maple wasn’t quite so showy and had wear, I went with the gel. I have the link to the matte poly in my post. Feel free to email with more questions. 🙂

it turned out beautifully! And I love Zibra brushes as well My painting has stalled but once the holidays are over, I am sure I will get back to it. Thanks for the giveaway 🙂

I love the color you chose for that project. You have a natural talent for picking just the right color for all your projects and that’s why they turn out so beautifully. I have some bookshelves that need to be painted but always have a hard time deciding on the color, but you keep me inspired so thank you for that.

BEAUTIFUL!!! I have my grandmother’s bedroom suit with a very similar piece (including mirror). I’ve been wanting to do something with it but haven’t found anything I liked to copy. I’m a great copier but have zero imagination or creativity. LOL. I’ve found what I like now! Thank you. I have a few questions though…I’ve never used gel stain, what are the pros and cons of gel stain and what determines you using it on a piece over any other stain? Which poly did you use? And lastly, just curious, did you use the same color for the top as you did on the legs. You have inspired me to get busy. I LOVE IT. Merry Christmas to you and your family.

What a treasure you have! I’m glad to hear you’ve found inspiration. That’s what I’m all about. For me, the gel stains give a deeper, more solid stain. If I want more of the grain to show I go with a standard stain. Since this maple wasn’t quite so showy and had wear, I went with the gel. I have the link to the matte poly in my post. Feel free to email with more questions.

Larissa, Wow, what a amazing piece to find, but boy it was good that you had a coupon! You had your work cut out for you on this one. As usual, you found the perfect way to blend the two pieces together and that linen fabric is awesome. I really enjoyed your staging with your Grandmom’s glasses too.

My favorite pieces are the old, neglected pieces that are found tucked away somewhere…forgotten and unloved. Fix them up and clean them up, so someone once again says, “I want that!”. It’s my favorite part of doing this. The more neglected and abused, the better. I love what you did to this…it’s beautiful.

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