Vintage Teacher’s Desk Makeover

Vintage Teacher's Desk Makeover - A $25 found at Goodwill desk gets a makeover with stain and some TLC. It's so pretty now!

It’s time for another round of Themed Furniture Makeover Day.  Once a month a group of blogging friends challenge each other to makeover a piece of furniture using a theme; this month’s theme is black.  For a long while I was stumped for a project for this theme and then I happened across a vintage teacher’s desk at Goodwill that I knew would be perfect for this makeover.

Teacher's Desk at Goodwill

This piece is huge and heavy.  Lucky for me, Mr. SP had driven his vintage Ranger to work and was able to drive out to Goodwill to pick up this piece.  Even luckier for me, two kind Liberty University boys drove up to Goodwill just as Mr. SP did and kindly helped him to load  this piece onto the truck.  That evening it took all of my muscle power to help him to unload it and carry it around our house to our basement.

We had weekend after weekend of rain in Virginia in September and October.  Finally we had a sunny weekend so that I could work on this desk.  It required a lot of sanding and we do not have a dust collection system in our workshop, so it had to be sanded outside.

Antique Teacher's Desk Before


The years had not been kind to this desk.  Luckily sanding and stain was all it needed to bring it back to life.

Antique Teacher's Desk Before - Side View

Since rainy weekends left me with little time to work on this project, Mr. SP helped me with the sanding.  We were able to complete most of the sanding with our palm sanders (Mr. SP was nice and let me use the good sander.) but you can see in the picture below that the palm sander won’t get into the corners because of its round sanding surface.  Mr. SP got out the detail sander and was able to make short work of sanding those hard to reach places.

How to Detail Sand

I stained the desk with my favorite stain, General Finishes in Brown Mahogany.  The stain was protected with a coat of satin top coat (also by General Finishes).  I am planning to do one more coat of top coat just to be sure that this piece is totally protected for many more years of use.

Vintage Teacher's Desk Makeover by


One feature that really caught my eye when I spotted this piece at Goodwill was the design of the handles.  After sanding the wood, I painted them with several coats of Black Tie paint by The Plaster Paint Company.  To protect the paint, I sealed it with a coat of liquid wax also by The Plaster Paint Company.Antique Teacher's Desk Makeover - Drawer Detail - Look at those pretty handles!

This desk has so much storage!  And guess what?  It’s going to be my new desk!  We are going to have to do some rearranging in our office to make this piece fit and I can’t wait!  I’ve never, even at school, had a large desk like this one.

Antique Teacher's Desk Makeover - Middle Drawer Detail


This drawer is a filing drawer.  I’m thrilled that I’ll have this to use and using it may allow me to eliminate my current small filing cabinet from our office.Antique Teacher's Desk Makeover with Stain - Filing Drawer Detail

The globe is old, definitely pre-WWII.  It was my grandmother’s and she let me have it years ago.  It’s real home in on Mr. SP’s desk.  The lamp is from Ikea.An antique teacher's desk found at Goodwill for $25 gets a makeover. What a difference some TLC makes!

The office chair that I paired with the desk was picked up at a neighbor’s yard sale for just $20.  Mr. SP and I put new wheels on it last summer and it has patiently been waiting to be used.  I think it looks great with this desk.

Goodwill found teacher's desk makeover by

I am so pleased with this makeover and I’m glad that I rescued this desk from Goodwill and gave it a makeover.  I plan to use it for many, many years to come.

Vintage Teacher's Desk Makeover - This found at Goodwill desk got a makeover with stain and a touch of paint on the desk handles.

Themed Furiture Makeover Day2

Now enjoy the makeovers that my friends completed this month.

Skimlinks Test


  1. What a sweet find! I have almost the exactly the same desk, just a little older and I LOVE IT! You did good giving that worn out thing new life, Paula. Enjoy!
    Larissa ~ Prodigal Pieces recently posted…Vintage Typography Acme Cedar ChestMy Profile

  2. This is a great desk. Love that you had a school piece for this makeover. I repurposed an old school door for mine. 🙂 You restored this desk beautifully.
    Lindsay Eidahl recently posted…Schoolhouse Door Makes Charming Hall Tree {Themed Furniture Makeover}My Profile

  3. Oh Paula, that is GORGEOUS!! I love the beautiful stain and the black handles, but I do not love the jealousy welling up inside me right now! 😉 Awesome job.
    Kimm at Reinvented recently posted…Thrift Store Painted Fabric & Frame ChairMy Profile

  4. What a total beauty you made that Paula! The wood is gorgeous now! Love the little touch of black, perfect! 🙂
    Nancy @ Artsy Chicks Rule recently posted…Easy Makeover with Spray Paint, Mod Podge & Wrapping PaperMy Profile

  5. Oh ya, that sweet vintage chair is perfect with your vintage desk Paula! I used to have a desk exactly like that so I know how heavy that sucker is. You guys did a beautiful job restoring this piece to its natural goodness.
    Marie from The Interior Frugalista recently posted…Black Map Table Makeover {Themed Furniture Makeover Day}My Profile

  6. Wow you really brought this handsome piece back to life! Although I know you will miss the workspace it provided in many of your recent projects (ha ha) I know you will enjoy it even more in your office! XO
    Christy@Confessions of a Serial Do-it-Yourselfer recently posted…Black & White Dressing TableMy Profile

  7. First of all, I am so glad you did not paint the desk black. I was a little scared when I first took a peek at it. It turned out amazing and the black pulls finished it off perfectly!
    Tami @ Curb Alert! recently posted…Black Distressed Endtable Makeover: Themed Furniture Makeover DayMy Profile

  8. This turned out so nice! I can see why you’re keeping it. The black handles look great with the pretty stain color.
    Amy | Canary Street Crafts recently posted…Tips For Using Dark WaxMy Profile

  9. This desk is gorgeous! I totally thought you put new hardware on there, I love the handles!!

  10. What a gorgeous makeover – those handles !!!
    Suzan recently posted…A FRIDAY CHAT ( about this & that )My Profile

  11. This looks so beautiful. I absolutely love the drawer pulls you chose.
    Jessica recently posted…Amazing Paleo Apple Crisp with Vanilla Caramel SauceMy Profile

  12. That turned out beautifully!
    Adelyn recently posted…Fall Festival at DaycareMy Profile

  13. Wow! You really did an amazing job with this gorgeous desk! I love the black handles.

  14. I love it! Where were you 26 years ago when I student taught and had a desk like this?!? Ha! That thing was considered vintage THEN and I remember that my pantyhose would get caught on that darn thing every. single. day. 🙂 You did a beautiful job restoring it.
    Mimi recently posted…As For Me and My HouseMy Profile

    • Thank you, Mimi! You and I did student teaching probably in the same year. My mom had a desk like this at the high school where she taught and I’ll bet that her panty hose got caught on it as well. I’ll ask her! 🙂


  15. Your desk looks amazing with a new stain job and black handles!

  16. Oh my gorgeousness! This is perfection, love it. I will b featuring this on my blog for Brag-Worthy Thursday thank you so much for sharing it!
    Gilly @ Colour Saturated Life recently posted…Farmhouse Style Kitchen CabinetMy Profile

  17. This came out stunning! I am so glad you decided to sand it down and stain it. You are so right too – those handles are great!! Can’t wait to see what it looks like in your office!
    Megan recently posted…My 6 Tips on Finding an ApartmentMy Profile

  18. Great job and really glad you didn’t paint over that gorgeous wood! thanks for sharing on craft schooling Sunday!
    creativejewishmom/sara recently posted…Welcome to Craft Schooling Sunday!My Profile

  19. Thsi turned out absolutely gorgeous! Our To grandma’s house we go link party starts over at our place tomorrow morning, would love to see you there!
    Grandmas House DIY recently posted…How to DIY a florescent light box cover out of an old windowMy Profile

  20. The desk is a beauty. It has such class and style and I love the chair you paired it with.

  21. What a gorgeous desk! You are so talented. Thank you for sharing at Share the Wealth Sunday – we hope to see you again soon!
    Morgan @ Morgan Manages Mommyhood recently posted…Comment on What I Ate Wednesday: Halloween 2016 by Ellen @ My Uncommon EverydayMy Profile

  22. You did a beautiful job on this! I love upcycled furniture and found an old wooden student desk at a consignment sale that I plan to sand and re-stain. I hope it turns out as nice as yours!

    • Sweet Pea says:

      Thank you so much, Shelley! I am thrilled with how it turned out and I know that I’ll enjoy it for years to come.

  23. Hello,

    Thank you for linking up at our Home Matters Party!

    The desk makeover came out great! You came out with a wonderful finished piece!

    Have a lovely evening,

    Randi 🙂


  24. Hi! I have almost this exact desk in my office and I’ve been trying to figure out a way to refinish it and this is perfect!

    How many coats of the stain did you put on it?

    • Sweet Pea says:

      Hello! I’m sitting at my desk as I type this! I think I only had to use one coat of stain on my desk. I also used a poly coat over the stain and it’s held up really well. Good luck with your project!

  25. I love the contrast of the handles against the stained desk – what a beautiful revival you gave this desk!

  26. We have one in storage that belonged first to my hubby’s parents, then us. Just LOVE it, but they take up so much room! It is definitely the focal point in a room, and yours is now totally worthy! Love everything about its refinished look! Kathy, Treasure.maker

  27. I just got this same desk and chair. Its covered in what I think is a black varnish. Stripping and sanding . what color stain did you use? The chair is gonna be a beast. Any pointers would be appreciated.

    • Good luck with your project! I was lucky and found my chair in ready to use shape. The desk needed a good sanding and after that I stained it with General Finishes stain in Brown Mahogany. The stain was protected with a coat of satin top coat (also by General Finishes). I love my desk but boy-oh-boy was it a beast to maneuver into our office. I would love to see a picture of yours when you finish it.


  28. Amanda McDaneld says:

    I have the exact same desk. I bought mine in Hawaii from a gentleman in the Navy. He told me it was an old naval desk. Im not really sure what era to stick it to. I was wondering if you had any info on the timeline they may have come from. I have seen desks close to it and the have said they are from the 40’s. Their handles have been rounded and not squared on the corners.

    • Sweet Pea says:

      How cool that you have an Navy desk! I don’t have information on my desk. I don’t know any history of this desk. I called it a teacher’s desk but it could have been used in an office.



  1. […] Teacher before I became a Mum) so for me this was very close to my heart! Well done to Paula from Sweet Pea for restoring this beautiful desk and to her hubby for lending a helping […]

  2. […] Vintage teachers desk makeover over at Virginia Sweet Pea […]

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