I found this vintage french provincial desk at a yard sale quite a few months ago.  I just can’t help myself, whenever I see a piece of furniture at a yard sale, I have to rescue it. Especially if I know it’s a solid piece of furniture.

This desk was fairly dirty and had some surface mold on it. The original paint was scratched and dirty and quite yellow, but I thought it would look really nice with a coat of bright white milk paint. I’m going to show you how I transformed this yard sale find with white milk paint and other hardware store supplies.

French provincial desk makeover using general finishes milk paint snow white. French provincial furniture makeover


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Clean and sand

To begin with, I removed all the desk hardware and took out the drawers. Then I cleaned the desk with vinegar and water and let it dry. I lightly sanded all the surfaces with 220 grit sandpaper to make sure the paint had something to stick to. If the surface is really shiny, there is a greater chance the paint will flake off.

French provincial desk makeover using white milk paint

One coat of primer

My plan was to use general finishes white milk paint. Usually you don’t have to prime with this type of paint. However, in my experience it’s difficult to get good coverage with white paint, and I generally have to do at least three coats of paint. So for this one I decided to just start with primer knowing I’d have to do multiple coats of paint anyways. If you choose to paint your furniture with a darker color, you probably don’t need to prime first.

French provincial desk makeover using white milk paint

White milk paint for the desk

After the coat of primer dried I painted three coats of General Finishes Snow White milk paint.  This is still the same paint that I used for  this dresser makeover for the girls’ bedroom, and this curbside dresser makeover. It’s a water-based paint that self levels and dries to a very durable finish.

general finishes milk paint desk makeover

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I brushed the paint on with a regular paint brush, then smoothed out any brush strokes with a foam roller. In between each coat of paint I did a light sand using 220 grit sandpaper. This knocks off any imperfections or brush marks that may be visible.

French provincial desk

Seal the top

Once the paint was all dry, I applied several coats of Minwax Polycrylic just to the top using a paint brush. Since this is meant to be a high use surface, I didn’t want to risk getting scratched or dents in the paint. I also think the polycrylic gives the top a nice shiny contrast against the rest of the desk.

General finishes snow white milk paint

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Install the hardware

When I bought this dresser, one of the handles was missing. Rather than buy all new hardware for the desk, I was able to find an exact match on Etsy. I could have bought all new hardware, but I like to preserve the look of the vintage french provincial style. These handles are so pretty and I love to use them whenever possible.

French provincial dresser hardware

I did update the hardware with oil rubbed bronze spray paint, just to make sure they all had a consistent color.

General finishes milk paint french provincial desk makeover

White milk paint desk makeover

What do you think? I love how this one turned out. If you’re looking for a quick and easy way to update some furniture, milk paint is a great way to do it!

white french provincial desk makeover using general finishes snow white milk paint

French provincial desk makeover

Desk makeover using general finishes snow white milk paint

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French provincial desk makeover using general finishes milk paint snow white. French provincial furniture makeover

7 thoughts on “Desk Makeover Using White Milk Paint”

  1. Now I wonder how you managed to find the exact same hard ware for the dresser on etsy. I wouldn’t even know what word to use for the search. I really am glad you found it as I love the hardware. I visited a friends of mine recently who will retire and move into a much smaller home. She’ll gift me with lots of furniture in various states. Can’t wait to start working on them.

  2. What a gorgeous desk! I also love the hardware that you find on french provincial style pieces! Glad you used them. I’ve never used GF before but that’s such a pretty shade of white – it’s definitely on my to do list.

  3. You have done it again with another amazing transformation! I am a sucker for anything french provincial and white. This turned out beautiful!

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