Vintage Desk Makeover by Teen Boy

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Last week while I was working on my curbside settee makeover, my oldest son had picked a new project for himself to work on as well. He recently reworked a little girls vanity and it sold quickly from my shop, and we were looking for another large piece for him when I spied this vintage desk on Craigslist.

A Craigslist find vintage desk is worn-out and needing a lift. A teenage boy brings it back to being an vintage beauty by Prodigal Pieces www.prodigalpieces.com #prodigalpieces

It had been for sale for a little while and I was keeping an eye on it for a potential project for myself. Since I had plenty to work on, I asked my son if he wanted to have a try at it. I contacted the owner and it turned out to be a neighbor two houses down. Small world, eh?

A Craigslist find vintage desk is worn-out and needing a lift. A teenage boy brings it back to being an vintage beauty by Prodigal Pieces www.prodigalpieces.com #prodigalpieces

She was so nice to let us come over and take a peek. I was a bit hesitant to let my son take on the desk because the top had a split in it where the boards had warped and lifted. I didn’t have much time to spare to help him out fixing it, but we decided to take it anyway. The sweet lady also gave me a handmade trunk she had sitting in her garage and you can see its makeover here.

After receiving this handmade trunk for free, all it needed was some hardware and industrial touches to give it some kick by Prodigal Pieces www.prodigalpieces.com #prodigalpieces

When we had started over to her house, we thought, “Eh, we’ll just walk over and carry it down the street.” At the last second I decided to jump in our truck and drive down instead. Boy am I glad we did! That thing is HEAVY!

With a little TLC, I knew he could make the desk look new again, so I gave minimal instruction and let him have at it, much like his other table. He knew to sand and make any necessary repairs, but this would be his first time refinishing a wood top.

A Craigslist find vintage desk is worn-out and needing a lift. A teenage boy brings it back to being an vintage beauty by Prodigal Pieces www.prodigalpieces.com #prodigalpieces

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He used my favorite orbital sander and started out with 80 grit paper, working up to get a nice fine finish. In case you’re wondering, we found that the top where it had been warped was missing a screw from underneath, so we replaced it to draw the top down, and sanded it smooth.

After getting it to the right state for refinishing, he used one of my favorite stains, Espresso by Minwax, to give it a nice rich color.

A Craigslist find vintage desk is worn-out and needing a lift. A teenage boy brings it back to being an vintage beauty by Prodigal Pieces www.prodigalpieces.com #prodigalpieces

Isn’t that gorgeous?! I used this same stain on my Art Deco dressing table makeover and love its deep color.

For the base, he decided to use one of my favorite paint colors, Antique White by Behr, that I’ve also used on this dressing table and this chair. It would be a wonderful contrast to that dark espresso color, and distressing would add character to the base.

A Craigslist find vintage desk is worn-out and needing a lift. A teenage boy brings it back to being an vintage beauty by Prodigal Pieces www.prodigalpieces.com #prodigalpieces

Once that was done, he used Modern Masters Satin Poly on the top and my handmade furniture wax for the cabinet to give it long-lasting protection.

We found a chair at Goodwill that would match the vintage desk style perfectly and forgot to take a before shot to show you. It originally had red and green plaid upholstery, but the wood was in fine condition and is why he choose to use the espresso stain to match.

Ready for the reveal? We are!

A Craigslist find vintage desk is worn-out and needing a lift. A teenage boy brings it back to being an vintage beauty by Prodigal Pieces www.prodigalpieces.com #prodigalpieces

What a handsome set this has turned out to be. I honestly couldn’t have done a better job myself. No bad for teenage boy, right?

A Craigslist find vintage desk is worn-out and needing a lift. A teenage boy brings it back to being an vintage beauty by Prodigal Pieces www.prodigalpieces.com #prodigalpieces

A Craigslist find vintage desk is worn-out and needing a lift. A teenage boy brings it back to being an vintage beauty by Prodigal Pieces www.prodigalpieces.com #prodigalpieces

The upholstery he choose and replaced himself is perfect for the color and contours of the chair.

A Craigslist find vintage desk is worn-out and needing a lift. A teenage boy brings it back to being an vintage beauty by Prodigal Pieces www.prodigalpieces.com #prodigalpieces

The gorgeous hand-carved details and turned spindles are stunning!

A Craigslist find vintage desk is worn-out and needing a lift. A teenage boy brings it back to being an vintage beauty by Prodigal Pieces www.prodigalpieces.com #prodigalpieces

The set has the antique look with a slight modern touch – a perfect mix and it sold quickly from my shop.

Shop Prodigal Pieces | prodigalpieces.com

A Craigslist find vintage desk is worn-out and needing a lift. A teenage boy brings it back to being an vintage beauty by Prodigal Pieces www.prodigalpieces.com #prodigalpieces

I’m so proud of him for taking this on and seeing it through till the finish. Helping my kids do something like this makes all the work worth it. I want them to have financial standing on their own, and seeing them succeed is priceless.

Pin and share his vintage desk makeover to inspire others to try projects too! ♥

A Craigslist find vintage desk is worn-out and needing a lift. A teenage boy brings it back to being an vintage beauty by Prodigal Pieces www.prodigalpieces.com #prodigalpiecesNext up, I have a fun sewing project for you – head HERE! Sign up for my newsletter via the sidebar or at the bottom of this post to get updates in your inbox.

How to make a Boo-Boo Bear Ice / Heat Pack for kids by Prodigal Pieces www.prodigalpieces.com #prodigalpieces
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More furniture makeovers for you like this vintage desk:

A $3 thrifted side of a vanity becomes a sweet shabby chic piece with wallpaper and The Graphics Fairy by Prodigal Pieces www.prodigalpieces.com #prodigalpiecesRustic Chic Finish by Prodigal Pieces - You can create this look with paint and stain www.prodigalpieces.com #prodigalpieces


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28 Comments

  • Sue Pagels

    He did a great job – turned out beautiful!

    December 28, 2015 at 7:10 am Reply
    • Larissa

      Thank you, Sue! 🙂

      December 29, 2015 at 6:09 am Reply
  • Kathryn

    Larissa – Your son did an amazing job on the desk and chair and I have no doubt it will sell very quickly in your store. I follow several bloggers but your site is the first I go to each day. I am blessed to have a house full of family antiques and while there are a few I would never paint, I have refinished many using chalk paint, an entire bedroom set which turned out beautiful. I have an old desk which will be my next project and I am going to complete it the way your son did. Keep up the great work, it inspires me and it is wonderful to see the projects your children complete.

    December 28, 2015 at 8:25 am Reply
    • Larissa

      Kudos to you for taking on furniture. It can be so rewarding and we’re happy to hear you like the way he refinished the desk, and is an inspiration. Thank you!

      December 29, 2015 at 6:08 am Reply
  • Carol Biehler

    The desk turned out beautiful. You have really inspired your son and it shows in his work.

    December 28, 2015 at 10:14 am Reply
    • Larissa

      That’s very sweet of you to say, Carol. Thank you from both of us!

      December 29, 2015 at 6:07 am Reply
  • Brenda

    This is beautiful great job!

    December 28, 2015 at 2:49 pm Reply
    • Larissa

      Thank you so much, Brenda!

      December 29, 2015 at 6:07 am Reply
  • Sherry Fram

    He did an awesome job on the desk & that chair is gorgeous! You’ve got to be so proud of him!! Following in mama’s footsteps!

    December 28, 2015 at 4:02 pm Reply
    • Larissa

      I am very much so! Thank you, Sherry, for stopping by and the support.

      December 29, 2015 at 6:07 am Reply
  • Suzanne

    He did a real problem job. He should get proud.

    December 28, 2015 at 4:36 pm Reply
    • Larissa

      Thank you, Suzanne! I am impressed with his abilities for sure. 🙂

      December 29, 2015 at 6:06 am Reply
  • Robyn

    I would be very proud too, well done, I hope he makes some good money from this to urge him forward as he obviously has your talent.
    Happy New Year from Australia.

    December 28, 2015 at 6:17 pm Reply
    • Larissa

      Thank you, Robyn. He is trying to save all that he earns for his future, which makes this mama proud. 🙂

      December 29, 2015 at 6:05 am Reply
  • Michele

    Oh Larissa, you must be so completely proud! I love when I see my children doing something that they learn from me, it makes me feel so grateful to see them develop talents of their own. What a beautiful makeover!!

    January 3, 2016 at 5:15 pm Reply
    • Larissa

      Thank you, Michele! It is such a blessing and the fact that he enjoys what I do makes it even better.

      January 4, 2016 at 10:43 am Reply
  • lisa

    your son did an amazing job here! How much sanding did he do because I refinished a desk recently (my first one) and had very similar markings on top and sanded it down and couldn’t get those out?

    March 27, 2016 at 5:35 am Reply
    • Larissa

      Thanks, Lisa! He sanded enough to remove the finish. Do you know what caused your markings? If chemical stains, those can be nearly impossible to remove and sometimes the only alternative is a very dark stain to conceal or paint.

      March 29, 2016 at 5:45 am Reply
  • Rosalie

    Thanks for saving great pieces of furniture.

    July 28, 2016 at 11:24 pm Reply
    • Larissa

      It is our pleasure. Thank you!

      July 29, 2016 at 5:33 am Reply
  • Jennifer

    Hi Larissa!

    I love the desk your son did and I’m looking to do the same with the same kind of desk. However, I’ve never ever done anything like this before so I’m not sure where to begin. Do I start by stripping the top and then sanding? Or can I just sand? For the base and drawers do I just sand or can I get away with not sanding and just priming and painting? The desk I have is exactly the same as the one in your photo and I want to use the same colors to refinish it ( espresso stain and antique white). Any pointers you can give, Id appreciate it. I really want to do a nice job. 🙂

    August 7, 2016 at 10:18 pm Reply
    • Larissa

      You can either strip or sand to get it down, just start with a low grit paper (like 80) and work your way up to 220. For the base, you want to give it tooth, so use a 150 and then paint on top. You may need a stain blocker like Kilz if it had a mahogany or cherry stain, so test to see before starting. I hope this helps! 🙂

      August 9, 2016 at 12:46 pm Reply
  • Bernadette

    Absolutely fantastic WOW…WOW…WOW!!!!

    December 29, 2016 at 1:19 pm Reply
    • Larissa

      How awesome to hear. He says, “Thanks!”

      December 30, 2016 at 5:55 am Reply
  • Lisa

    I have a similar desk and love the way your sons desk turned out. For the hardware did he paint the drawer pulls? Did I miss that in your description?

    February 7, 2017 at 10:14 pm Reply
    • Larissa

      Thank you, Lisa. He just cleaned them up and left them as is. 🙂

      February 8, 2017 at 5:10 am Reply
  • Samme

    That turned out really nice! I’m very impressed. I’m going to give my pre/teen kids a piece to refinish and get them off those screens their eyes are glued to! Lightbulb moment… ??

    July 2, 2017 at 2:40 pm Reply
    • Larissa

      Wahoo!! That’s awesome. haha… Thanks, Samme.

      July 3, 2017 at 1:03 pm Reply

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