In my Home Office Reno, part 4, I started off with two bookcases: a tall, 8-cubed unit in a satin maple finish, and a short, wide double shelf bookcase with an oak laminate finish that I spray painted an antique gold. Two finishes that no longer work in the space.
In a previous redesign, I painted the short bookcase (see that project here), but again, the outside paint no longer worked with the current design.
After a few tries with the taller bookcase (see that mess-up here!) I’ve finally got these two bookcases into the design. By purchasing another tall, 4-cubed bookcase, I now have a sort-of bookcase wall in my new home office!
Sand, sand, sand – but in the right way. Always sand wood and laminate pieces with finishes or old paint on them so the paint can adhere. And don’t try a harsh sandpaper (like 80 grit) and then a light sandpaper immediately afterward (like 220). You will gouge and destroy your piece that way.
Before spray painting, fully cover up all areas you don’t want the paint to go. This is especially true for your work area and areas on your piece. It took more time covering up the inside of this short bookcase than it did painting it, but it was worth it! The finished look needed no inside touch-ups where the white paint might have gone through.
Repainting is worth the effort. I love the way this new bookcase wall looks in the space. I was pretty bummed that I had wasted 2 cans of paint on a botched repaint and discouraged that I had to repaint my shorter bookcase after painting it just 2 years ago. But the extra spray paint and time and effort was worth it. I love this look!
Finally! the desk I dismantled and sanded in April 2020 is finally done 3 months later! If you’ve seen my IG, you know I did have to break my quarantine to go to a home improvement store (for, among other things, a new toilet seat. Toilet seat replacement in an upcoming post). So, of course while I was there, I had to purchase everything I hadn’t in months! So let the painting begin!
Painting a desk like this one is fairly straight forward once you have prepped your surface. This required:
Cleaning it out
Removing the top portion ( which required taking off the back part as well)
drilling and nailing some parts together that had come apart over the years
Removing the pulls (handles) and other hardware.
Filling in any holes with Plastic Wood filler (This desk is laminate.)
Dusting, sanding then wiping off sanding with a damp towel.
I put a piece of cardboard under the desk to protect the carpet and so I could paint all the way to the bottom. This desk doesn’t have legs per-se or even furniture risers, so for a clean finish I had to paint it all the way to the ground.
With furniture, always use at least a semi-gloss paint. It costs more, but it is more durable in the long run. There is also cabinet and furniture paint specifically for these jobs that can be tinted. Here I just used a regular water-based latex in semi gloss finish.
Installing the new pulls required me to drill more holes for screws since the pulls are a different size. Always measure if you don’t have a template, so you’ll know where to drill the holes. I did one wrong by just eyeballing and not measuring. Can you tell which one it was?
Sand lightly, even if it requires 2 or 3 passes. (This just needed a 220 grit paper to get the shine off.) Some of the areas on the desk were slightly gouged because I was aggressive with the sandpaper.
Be prepared for multiple coats. Here, even though my paint had primer in it, I probably should have also primed because we are going from a darker color to a lighter one. this means less actual paint coats. But I had just enough!
Cut away the paint before lifting it from the cardboard. Paint adheres. That is how it stays on stuff, unlike stain, which seeps into wood. So when I painted down to the end of the desk, some inevitably got on the cardboard. Which means, the cardboard is now stuck to the bottom of the desk at that point. Of course, I just ripped it up, which caused a messy bottom edge. Tip: Use a craft knife to cut a paint line and prevent the messy edge look.
Overall, I am excited to finish this paint project! It is a pivotal part of the home office renovation. Now on to next steps: hanging my new curtains, cleaning, arranging, and even some more painting. (My bookcase is getting another paint job!) And of course creating some creative accessories–like maybe a new clock?
Even though it doesn’t feel like winter here, I have been hibernating in a sense, mostly hunkered down writing my debut romance novel. I have been working on a couple of projects off and on. One is my coffee table up-cycle, and the other is a home office renovation I’ve been talking myself into for months, step- by-step.
And the latest has been to clean up, relocate, and maybe even up-cycle my main desk area. I mean look at it. It definitely needs an upgrade. Am I up to the task? I don’t know. I have started cleaning the desk up. Whether it can be relocated or up-cycled is for another day. Stay tuned…
This project that wasn’t supposed to happen just wouldn’t end.
I worked on this desktop for about 8 months on the weekends. Some weekends, it just sat in my garage, already gathering dust.
How it began
The real project (that I haven’t started yet) is a coffee table up-cycle using some wood from a broken former outdoor table.
However, after I painted a bookcase and an accent wall in my home office, I decided that instead of purchasing a smaller piece of plywood for the coffee table up-cycle, I would just buy a panel (4′ x 8′) for nearly the same price and create a desktop for my office and a sofa table out of the remnants. No problem, right? Yeah, wrong.
All the Problems
First, plywood panels are usually smaller than an inch (32/32″) thick . Your basic desktop is 2″ thick. I knew I was going to get about 3 cuts to stack on top of each other to make up the thickness (I measured!) The calculations are solid. But so is plywood. This is the heaviest desktop I have ever lifted. The wood was also bowed (even though the salesperson argued with me that it wasn’t. But then again, they all were–so there.) When I glued the pieces together, I had to shave off some of the bottom edge. Try doing that with a jigsaw. It’s nearly impossible.
My second idea was to trim the edges of the desktop with a basic 1’x 3′ board for a finished look. Again, the thinking here is sound. But the 1-bys were not. There was a gouge, knot, crack or broken sliver in every piece on the shelf. Even after sighting the boards, I still got one piece that was bowed so much it made it hard to glue and nail.
The third hiccup was the tools and workspace. I knew I needed sawhorses and a jigsaw (jigsaw for the coffee table project, but I could also use it here), because some of the wood needed to be cut (even before I realized the plywood mistake). But because of the budget, I could not get those until months later. I forgot to factor in additional clamps, and due to its size (48″ x 19.5″) the clamps would be expensive. I realized I would have to save up for those as well. To top it off, my cordless drill gave out on me, so I also had to buy a drill. This wood splits easily, so you have to drill before you drive a nail into it.
What I Did Well
I measured. And measured. And measured again. “Measure twice, cut once” is an old and very true adage. Because I measured, I got the exact right dimensions of the desktop. It fits perfectly over the file cabinet and in the space.
I picked a stain for the top that came out beautifully and matches the decor of the room and of the legs underneath. I love this stain!
I got the right nails for this piece. These are finishing nails. I had never used these before, and I’m glad I took the salesperson’s advice on those. They are almost imperceptible when they go into the wood. And because I was nailing trim pieces on (and one bowed one at that), I didn’t want to bring even more attention to it with nailheads.
This is a simple project if you have the workspace, know your materials, and have all the tools required to work on it. After all the issues had and money spent, I probably could have bought a sturdy desktop for less (especially considering this wasn’t the intended project in the first place). But then, I wouldn’t have had this experience, and it wouldn’t be unique and all mine.
*If you want a project list of materials, request it in the comments below.