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