Category Archives: Craigslist

Ugly Desk Makeover

Well hello!  My long absence is attributed to a week-long camping trip to our favorite spot 40 minutes away.  It might as well be 4 states away as it always feels like a different world.  The kiddos, hub and myself spent our days swimming, crafting, playing, bike riding and socializing with some amazing people.  We always meet the most wonderful people while camping and this time was no exception.  We returned Monday and I’ve been dragging the old rear end since.  Grocery shopping yesterday was quite the chore.

Before we took off, I snapped a few pictures of my most recent and fulfilling DIY.  Remember the post about my $20 craigslist desk?  It used to look like this

bringing beauty back to an old desk from craigslist



While the kids were in a week-long gymnastics camp a couple weeks ago I decided to tackle this guy and give him a makeover.  I will write my tutorial later this week, but in the meantime enjoy the after pics.

craigslist desk makeover


craigslist desk gets a major makeover


an ugly craigslist desk gets a makeover


choosing an ugly beat up desk from craigslist instead of buying new


Here is the BEFORE [dark, dark, dark]

an ugly desk gets a makeover


And the AFTER [much lighter and brighter]

how to makeover a craigslist desk


how to paint an ugly desk


how to makeover a craigslist desk


As hesitant as I was to paint a wood desk, I just couldn’t justify stripping, sanding then staining a desk that cost me $20.  Plus, I’ve seen a ton of these desks for sale on craigslist.  As it turned out, painting this desk and adding the maple veneer and edging took me 3 days.  It was so worth it though.

bringing beauty back to an old desk from craigslist


craigslist desk makeover


Want to know the most impressive part of this DIY?  The fact that I actually finished it and didn’t get distracted half way through!






out with the new and in with the old

There isn’t one day that goes by when I don’t read at least one blog post boasting about an incredible cragislist score!  Deep down I am envious and a bit frustrated that I rarely have luck finding an amazing piece of my own.  I know, such problems to have huh?  You see, the odds are pretty stacked against someone living in the San Diego area where millions of people are vying for the same deal.

I spend way too much time flipping through page after page of stuff on craigslist.  Sometimes with a purpose, but most of the time just for fun.  Most people read a book in bed at night but I’m in my comfort zone when I’m all snuggled in, HGTV is on and my fingers are happily flipping through people’s junk for sale online.

Three weeks ago I was sitting in bed with my laptop, the kids were sound asleep, the husband was working and I typed “desk” into the search box on craigslist.  A ton of IKEA showed up, some very ornate desks showed up [no thank you] and then…

effortlessly restore a beat up craigslist find

bringing life back to a beat up desk found on craigslist

an old beat up desk gets some new life

choosing not to strip furniture found on craigslist

[I fell in love with the Mid-Century Modern feel of this desk, especially the legs]

 I spotted this beauty!  I know most of you reading this are probably speechless and your jaws have hit the floor.  But for $20 I just couldn’t pass it up.  I’m a firm believer that when things click and fall into place effortlessly it was meant to be.  That was the case with this desk.  I have to admit when I showed up to take a look at it I was a bit surprised at its rough condition.  But you know you’re a DIY’er when you see something like this and think, “I can strip it, sand it and re stain it.  NO PROBLEM!”

After lugging this desk home on our trailer it sat in our garage for the next two weeks.  Reality had set in.  I would sneak off to the garage once the kids were asleep, gaze at it and wonder how in the hell I was going to make this desk pretty again without spending the next year sanding it and refinishing it.  I did a little online research and watched a few clips on YouTube and discovered most old, worn pieces of furniture simply need a good cleaning and several coats of furniture oil.

stress free cleaning up an old desk found on craigslist

[I'm 100% NOT endorsed by any of these manufacturers]

I grabbed the recommended supplies [I found this dark tinted Old English made for dark woods] and started by wiping and wiping and wiping down the desk with a slightly damp Magic Eraser.

beautifying an old beat up desk found on craigslist

I dumped out at least 5 bowls of brown water before I could consider it clean.  Nasty!

no painting old beat up furniture just using oil

After the cleaning was done, I wiped the entire desk down with the original Old English.  I used a microfiber rag saturated with the oil and rubbed with the grain, making sure it seeped into the scratches.  You can see the difference before the Old English and after in the above photo.

bringing new life to an old beat up desk using oil


bringing the life back to an old beat up desk


I gave the desk two coats of original Old English and two coats of the dark version.  I have to say, even though it’s still not in perfect mint condition it looks 100% better.

As for the handles, those proved to be very stubborn.  First I wanted to determine if they were solid brass or simply brass plated.  Want to know a quick tip for figuring that out?  Grab a magnet and hold it up to any object you think might be brass.  If it sticks, you have a brass plated piece.  If it does NOT stick, then you my friend have a solid brass piece.  Magnets will not stick to brass.  I was not so lucky and my magnet stuck.

After decades of neglect the brass plated handles were so tarnished, they were black.  The only way to remove the tarnish without stripping the plating away is by rubbing it with a microfiber cloth.  After three days of rubbing, I was fed up and with little to show for it.  For those purists reading, please do not read this:  I decided to spray paint them!   I figured they are not the REAL thing, nor do they hold monetary value.

when not to paint an old beat up piece found on craigslist

I think they turned out lovely.  I dabbed off small sections after I painted them so they wouldn’t look brand new.  Here is how all that cleaning, rubbing, buffing turned out…

deciding not to paint over an old desk from craigslist

It still is pretty rough looking in a few spots and maybe one day [aka year] I will get around to re staining it, but for now I think it looks just fine.  For an old, solid wood desk that is held together with dove tail joints [no nails or glue] I think it’s just lovely.  Oh, and did I mention it was $20?

using oil to beautify an old desk from craigslist

bringing beauty back to an old desk from craigslist

choosing an ugly beat up desk from craigslist instead of buying new

restoring beauty to an old desk using oil

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CRAIGSLIST Makeover: using chalk paint

We have a huge empty space in between our living room couches and my dream purchase would be something like this from Restoration Hardware to fill up the space:

RH table

These tables start at $995 on sale!  Not gonna happen in my world.  So my craigslist scouring began and I kept coming back to round oak clawfoot tables (I guess everyone is trying get rid of these as there are a TON for sale).  My husband thought I had completely lost my mind when I told him I was going to purchase one.  Honestly, I thought I had lost my mind too!

So I took the plunge and purchased one for $60.  The sweet woman I bought the table from threw in two chairs for free (more on those in a minute). 

I forgot to take a before shot, but this set is pretty much identical to what I purchased:


I might have mentioned this before, but I am pretty impatient when it comes to projects.  I am great at starting them, but finishing is another matter.  So, when I found out about chalk paint I was hooked!  You do NOT have to prime or sand your wood furniture beforehand.  You just slap it on, wax it, buff it and you’re done!

I bought a sample jar of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in French Linen from Perfectly Imperfect.  A 4 oz jar only costs $11.95 and I painted the entire table with it and still had some left over!


french linen

Source:  Perfectly Imperfect

You also need wax to permanently bond the paint to your piece of furniture so I picked up both the clear and dark waxes.  I wanted the dark wax to bring out the details and lines of my piece and to also add some character.








Once my paint and waxes arrived I have to admit I was a little nervous.  But, my motto is “it’s just paint!”  So I painted the entire piece and let it dry overnight.  Next I applied the clear wax, let it sit for about 1 1/2 hours then buffed it to a satin shine.  After that, I added the dark wax in places I wanted to add that “extra something.”  So after two days, this is how my table turned out:



Again, here is the BEFORE:


And the AFTER:


And just for fun, a side by side comparison of RH and mine:

RH table table2

I used chalk paint in Provence on the two free chairs I got and this is how those turned out:


















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