When I found this old desk on our local yard sale site for $20, I had no idea what I was going to do with it, but knew I had to have it! It’s sat in my garage for well over a year. Then one day, my husband said “it’s time to get rid of some stuff in the garage so that we can pull a car in for Hallie (whom is our 16 year old, that is now driving). Living in the neighborhood that we do, they don’t let you have cars on the streets. We already had two cars parked outside on our garage pad, with a garage FULL of projects. With a third car for my daughter, we had nowhere to park another car except for inside the garage. I knew if I didn’t do something with it, that my hubs was going to ask me to get rid of it. That is what lit the flame under my toes to get me started.
I don’t have a lot of step-by-step photos, as I didn’t plan on blogging about this when doing the project. Since I get a lot of questions about the process and how I made this desk look the way it did in the end, I’m adding the steps with the before and after here.
I started off by sanding it with my hand sander, to smooth it out in preparation for painting. I thought it would take too long to get the stain removed, but when I started to sand it, the stain came off so easily! I decided to sand the whole thing to bring out the lighter wood color .
I used my hand sander to sand the entire desk! It took a while, but it was worth all the work to have this end result! I started sanding with 100 grit sandpaper to remove the stain and to keep from scratching the surface of the desk. After all of the stain was removed, I smoothed it out with 150 grit sandpaper, before I started the bleaching process. When I was finished sanding. I cleaned off the piece, using a damp lint free cloth and let the desk dry. It’s important to make sure all of the sanding dust is cleaned off, before moving to the next step.
If you notice, in the photo above, the desk is a little darker than in the photo in the girl’s room below. When I had finish sanding the desk, I decided to bleach the wood. I sprayed bleach concentrate on the wood (with a spray bottle) and sat it outside in the sun for a couple hours. I would go out every half hour during those two hours and reapply the bleach to the entire piece. It did lighten the wood a lot, but I felt like there was still a twinge of orange/yellow in the undertones of the wood color.
If you notice, in the photo above, the desk is a little darker than in the photo in the girl’s room below. When I had finish sanding the desk, I decided to bleach the wood. I sprayed bleach concentrate on the wood (with a spray bottle) and sat it outside in the sun for a couple hours. I would go out every half hour during those two hours and reapply the bleach to the entire piece. It did lighten the wood a lot, but I felt like there was still a twinge of orange/yellow in the undertones of the wood color. Make sure to empty and rinse out the spray bottle after the bleaching process is finished. If the bleach is left in the bottle for an extended period of time, it will corrode in the bottle and ruin the spray bottle.
I added these label holders to the front of the piece to give it more character. I’ve use these label holders so often on furniture pieces and they are super budget friendly! They are the same ones that I used on my diy nightstands in my bedroom.
I decided that I would rather not use the original hardware for the desk, therefore, I had to find hardware that was the exact size (since I was keeping the wood color and unable to fill holes). I found some antiqued gold hardware at my local hardware store that fit perfectly with the look that I was going for!
I decided that I wanted the wood color to be even lighter than it was after I had bleached it, but didn’t want to loose the “wood look” by applying too much of something to lighten it up. I had used liming wax in the past and it works wonders! It’s very stinky and requires wearing a mask and gloves. I took a little bit of the liming wax on a lint free cloth and wiped it on the entire desk, working it into each area before moving to the next. I would start on a small area and make sure that I had it blended in well enough before moving to the next. Sometimes I had to use a circular motion when applying it to get it into the grooves. When liming wax shows in the groves, it looks amazing! Just make sure not to get too much liming wax on a piece, as it can get to looking like the white is too thick on the wood color.
I have also used a mix of one part liming wax and 2 parts mineral spirits to make the liming wax look even lighter on the piece. I used that technique on my coffee table, below. There was always that twinge of “yellow undertone”, that I disliked, on the wood of this coffee table. The liming wax/mineral spirits solution took the “yellowy” look away. I’ve never loved this table more than I do now! I also used the same mineral spirits technique to the small round table under the clock. The mineral spirits scent goes away in less than 24 hours.
When we renovated our Associate Pastor’s daughter’s room, I decided to give the desk to them. We didn’t really have a place for it and they needed one for their space. You can see the “before and after” transformation of their room, here. If you haven’t seen it yet, you won’t believe the “before and after”. I love the way their room turned out!
It was meant to be! It fit perfectly in the space where we needed a desk. One of the little girls in this room requested a desk, so we made sure that was something that ended up in the room. She loved it!
I love that the desk can be used as a desk or as a normal drawers piece. It looks just as great, open or closed!
I had this little chair that I had used the same liming wax technique on, and it fits perfectly with the desk! The chair didn’t have much stain on it so I just just sanded the wood a little with 100 grit sandpaper, smoothed out the surface with the 150 grit sandpaper, cleaned off the dust, and then applied the liming wax. It was super easy and such a fast project!
I hope this helps answer the questions that I receive about bleaching and lime waxing furniture! It’s one of my favorite techniques to use on furniture and the outcome is always gorgeous!
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