Last Updated on October 21, 2020 by Stacy Averette

Painting and drilling and gluing, Oh my! This week I finally finished a DIY framed cork board and painted a desk I bought at the thrift store recently. I seem to start lots of projects but it’s really fun to see them finished and in place.

Today I want to share a new workspace I created at our office.

Chalk Painted Desk {Before}

I love creating functional + beautiful spaces on a budget. (I wish someone would pay me to thrift and paint and redecorrange!) I have lots of ideas in my head and a stash of cool thrifted finds in my basement every room of my house!

When I get an idea in my head of how I want a space to look, I want it to look that way NOW! But the best, most beautiful spaces always seem to happen over time. That’s true in my home and my office. I’ve learned to make do with less-than-perfect spaces which often makes the perfect find even sweeter!

That was the case with my work area at our office. I’ve been using a cute little desk that was donated and I was very grateful to have it. I considered painting it but I knew it just wasn’t the style I wanted and paint wouldn’t change that.

And then I found it! A great desk for a great price at my local thrift store. The Ethan Allen desk is well made and a good size. Here’s how it looked when I brought it home:

The color wasn’t terrible but definitely not my style. I knew a coat of Glidden Country

White paint would make a big difference.

I’ve chalk painted lots of furniture and what I love most about chalk paint is how fast the paint dries! I also love the fact that sanding and priming aren’t necessary—usually. Recently, I chalk painted two pieces of furniture and the wood was so dark that it took at least four coats of chalk paint before I was satisfied. I wasn’t completely happy with the finished product but I was tired of painting and wanted to get the room set up so I called it “good”!

On this project, I decided to try something different.

  1. I knew that painting white over black would require many, many coats of chalk paint.
  2. As I prepped the piece to paint I discovered that the green paint was actually spraypaint. (Yes, I’ve spraypainted wooden furniture. But it doesn’t leave a smooth texture as I wanted.)

So I decided to prime the piece first – – – with Kilz Oil-based primer! Oil-based primer has a very strong odor but I hardly even noticed since I was painting outside. Also, it was 150 degrees on this August afternoon so it didn’t take long to dry.

Did you see my Facebook or Instagram post about being a tomboy who likes to wear skirts? Well, here you have it!

  • Yes, I’m painting in a skirt
  • Yes, I wear a slip.
  • No, I’m not sitting very “lady-like”.
  • Yes, I’m wearing shorts under my skirt. (I’m going to write a post about that. Seriously!)

Anyway. Back to the desk.

Two quick coats of primer + two coats of chalk paint + 2 coats of Minwax polycrylic and the job was done.

I love this product because it doesn’t ‘yellow’ like polyurethane and it dries in a snap!

DIY Corkboard

Old frames are one of my favorite things to buy at thrift stores and yard sales. I especially love the ones with lots of detail. They look really pretty when painted white.

I painted the frame using Rustoleum Heirloom White spray paint and cut a piece of cork to fit the frame. 

This project has been sitting in my craft room half-finished for months but I think the timing was perfect.

Make It Beautiful

The painted desk + the DIY corkboard + a few other thrifted finds came together to make a functional, beautiful workspace. I smile every time I walk into this room!

The desk drawers were dirty so I added a special touch.

There are lots of pretty drawer liners to choose from but I saw this roll of wrapping paper and loved it. I brushed on a light coat of Modge Podge to keep it in place.

The walls in our office are beautiful, freshly painted plaster and since plaster is less forgiving about nail holes than sheetrock, I decided to look for an alternative.

These 3M Command Strips are THE BEST! They’re velcro and hold like crazy. For the DIY Corkboard and other larger, heavier frames around the office I used the ones that have a 16lb capacity. I might need to buy these by the case!


In case you need a chalk paint recipe, here’s the one I use:

Thanks for stopping by today. I hope you’ve been inspired to create your own functional, beautiful space and please remember this:

“The key to creating a beautiful home isn’t knowing what you are doing; it’s taking a risk even if you don’t know what you are doing. There is no wrong way to create beauty.”
― Myquillyn Smith, The Nesting Place: It Doesn’t Have to Be Perfect to Be Beautiful

Here’s a pin to save for later:

2 thoughts on “Thrifted Desk Before and After”

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