Old Desk to Dining Table

This is one of my favourite transformations so far. Sure, it’s not very fancy and won’t blow your mind though I just adore the unpretentious lines and character-filled patina of this piece.
Here’s the table before, looking very lonely and feeling sorry for itself:

And now:

Originally a teacher’s desk, this old table was missing its drawer and had quite a heavily ‘distressed’ finish after years of service. I found it on eBay for $10 – score!

After an initial tidy up and light all over sand the drawer cavity was filled by gluing and caulking in a piece of scrap timber – much easier and faster than making a whole new drawer. Once dry, two drawer fronts (which I already had thanks to my junk hoarding!) were then glued and clamped over the timber infill to create faux drawers.
One coat of acrylic primer, two acrylic top coats, a light distress and then an acrylic seal coat followed by the addition of two turned timber knobs completes the look of the base.

The honey-toned timber top was badly worn and looked tired though I really wanted to retain its character so I needed to enhance and add depth to the patina. After a light sand, three score lines were added to give the appearance of old boards (you can read that tutorial here) then a diluted walnut stain was wiped on and allowed to seep into all the grooves, marks and gouges before being wiped off.

The stain helps mute the overall tone yet creates subtle variations which gives the timber a tactile appeal. Looking at beautiful old wood like this just makes you feel all warm and fuzzy!
The top was finished with two coats of danish oil. I can’t sing the praises of danish oil highly enough. It’s super easy to apply, provides a protective coating and gives a mellow lustre which is hard to achieve with regular sealers – love it!
Again, just cause I can, here are the before and afters:

  1. Kristine, I LOVE that table, and as a retired teacher, I love the fact that it was a teacher’s desk. What a transformation! Linda

  2. Wow that looks great! What a beautiful transformation!

  3. Hi Kristine, what a wonderful transformation! I love it! Great job!

  4. What a beautiful transformation. You have an excellent eye for finding something like this. I just love it after you finished. Thanks for sharing. Love your blog and I am a new follower. Hope you have a chance to come say hi.


  5. Kammy says:

    Super cute transformation – love it !

  6. That is one terrific transformation!! I love how you retained, yet added to the character of the piece while giving it a charming facelift. It is a wonderful and versatile piece. Great job!!

    Susan and Bentley

  7. Excellent upcycle, love it. You should enter it in our contest at peppertowne.com, the winner gets free advertising for a month.

  8. Jennie says:

    That table is just beautiful now! I’m going to have to keep my eye out for Danish oil! (Hubby has been making a ton of furniture lately, and I’m the lucky one who gets to finish it.)

  9. I’m just amazed how some can see the beauty hiding in an old piece of furniture and then be able to bring it out to where you can hardly believe what it looked like before. Nice job…

  10. I had to come see this because I read the tut. on scoring timber! I think im in LOVE! Makes me want to run out to the garage and do some wood working! THanks for sharing!

  11. Kristi says:

    Great job — love the transformation!!

  12. Pam says:

    I love the transformation! Great idea to score the lines in the top of the table. I also love the scale!

  13. Atticmag says:

    Great job! You “produced” a superb table that looks like a fine antique (which of course is what it is). Hope you’ll drop by and see our villa. — Jane F.

  14. You did a great job! It’s wonderful! Thanks for sharing.

  15. Joselyn says:

    Wow what a great makeover! Your other makeovers are beautiful as well. We have a lot in common when it comes to DIY. Stop by and visit sometime.

  16. You did a beautiful makeover on this $10.00 table! Thanks for coming to NTT…hope you had a good time!


  17. The table looks great! Good job!

  18. Shellee says:

    That is GORGEOUS!!

  19. You did an excellent job on the farmhouse table that is fabulous! I also appreciate the tips you on refinishing as well.

  20. It looks fabulous! What a big difference from the before picture. Great vision in taking that old piece and giving it a whole new look.

  21. You did a wonderful job on that table. The top is gorgeous!

  22. OK so not only are you a talented crafstwoman, you are great with a camera too! NICE! Love this post..What type of camera do you use?

  23. I love how you finished the top, so rich and warm.

  24. This is beautiful! NowI am on the lookout for an old teacher’s desk–I want a table like this, too! You did a great job!

  25. Angela says:

    Love your repurpose!

  26. Rita May says:

    I could never have imagined the table looking that beautiful!

  27. Amy says:

    Oh.my.goodness………I just passed up a desk just like this awhile back, and I had been wishing I hadn’t, and then I come across your post in a search and now I REALLY REALLY wish I wouldn’t have passed it up!!! Are you really using this as a dining/kitchen table? I was slightly worried it would be a bit thin, but oh I love it! I think I’ll stop now and go call the seller (great thing about living in a small town – you know who’s sale it was at, haha).

  28. Beautiful transformation. I love the blue color.

  29. Nice piece… the wood tones of the top are amazing!


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