Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Antique Writing Desk Transformation: The Reveal!

I've talked up this project quite a bit in my last few posts, but I hope that you'll agree when I say that this "before and after" is a pretty cool one. This old writing desk cost me $15 and was pretty neat as it was. Just look at that beat up plank top!

But I had a vision for this piece, and over the past couple of weeks I've worked hard to make that vision a reality. Ready to see?

Here's that old desk now. No longer a desk, but a kitchen island!

The color isn't exactly what I was going for, but after 3 coats of 3 different paint colors I decided it was time to just settle. The heavy distressing and brown glaze help tone down the paint color and bring out the piece's character.

I found this heavy appliance handle at the local Habitat for Humanity Restore. It was tricky getting it on there, having to drill from the inside of the desk then cutting down the screws to be the exact right length... but it worked out in the end.

I added a piece of plywood underneath for some more storage. The baskets came from Michael's during their 50% off all baskets sale a few weeks ago. I think I might need to pick up another one.

Not much going on in back, but I'm still thinking of what I could add to make it more functional somehow. Hooks? Another towel rod? Chalkboard paint and little buckets of chalk?

Love that distressed look
Another little addition to the desk/island were these casters. It once had wheels so the metal inserts were already in the bottom of each leg. These helped me to add some height and also make it easy to reposition. The cups underneath keep it in place when I want it stationary.

Okay, here's where I have to come clean. My new island isn't completely finished yet. For instance, these two skinny drawers drive me nuts. They're so hard to pull out with no handles, so I'm considering doing something... this! What do you think? Maybe a fork on one and a spoon on the other?

I just hate to cover up those cool key holes. I'll have to think about it some more.
This overhang also needs a support underneath so we can use it for eating at.
I'm on the hunt for a couple of stools. Here are some that I adore:

Probably not going to luck out and find anything like the stools above at a thrift store or Craigslist, but a girl can dream. Instead I'll probably try and build a couple of simple wooden ones like this (only taller):

So that's it! Writing desk turned kitchen island. I have to say, I'm pretty pleased with how this turned out. I wasn't entirely sure I was going to be able to pull it off, but I think it's a keeper.

I'm linking this project to Miss Mustard Seed's party this week!


Raine and Sage said...

I LOVE IT!!!!!!!!!
You've excelled yourself. Excellent transformation!!

eve said...

awesome!! i am so impressed. what a great idea!
as i was reading about the drawers, i thought that if you didn't want to cover the keyholes, why not use keys for pulls? could you find antique keys that would work?
good luck with the stools!

Chelsea said...

instead of covering the key holes, what about finding antique or just old children's silverware? you could use two per drawer on the sides so not to cover the center. forks on one drawer, spoons on the other. you can find children's silverware on ebay or etsy or just antique malls or fleas. for just a dollar or two each.

B. Reddy said...

Use two spoons as handles or you'll end up catching your clothing on the tines of the fork... trust me... :)

Prairie Mama said...


I stopped by from M.M.S. I love what you did with this the color and I think the spoon and fork would add a touch of whimsey...On another note...I have a set of stools that you might like. They are from overstock you can see them here

I personally ordered these because I saw them in the sundance catalouge and fell in love but the price was a little out of reach. The ones from overstock aren't as rustic as I would like but they do the job style wise and are very sturdy. Highly recommended.
Great job on this and I can't wait to see how you finish her up.

Sommer said...

Wow! This is just BRILLIANT! It makes a wonderful island and I'm diggin the spoon accent. You are very talented! I'd love for you to link up to my VIP party today @

Carol said...

Love it and I really like the old skeleton key idea for the pulls.

Unknown said...

turned out beautiful. love the
color and the distressing

Kim @ A Brush of Whimsy said...

What a fab idea! I love the knobs you chose!

Kathy@ Gone North said...

Just Fabulous!! Great Transformation!!

agatha said...

I love the transformation, just beautiful..

Free Art Printables said...

It looks wonderful! great job! I love the color!

Nita Stacy said...

I love this as a kitchen island. I love the color. And metal stools would be perfect with it. Yes, a spoon and a fork as handles would be cute. I'm so jealous. If I had room for an island...I would totally do something like this. Great job!

Jared and Tara said...

o.k this project was so stinkin cool to begin with, but when i saw you featured on miss mustard seed i figured you deserved an extra high five! great job.

Twisted Sister said...

Completely lovely - perfect, perfect, perfect!!! And I love how the blue turned out - I hope it grows on you. The skeleton key pulls are a sweet idea! Okay, I have a big space in my kitchen that would love something like this, so I'm now on the lookout for an old wooden something to fill it with!

Gabby @ The Late, Young Family said...

That piece just took my breath away. Miss Mustard Seed definitely picked a good one to feature. The colors and distressing are perfect, and I love how you repurposed it. I've been looking at kitchen islands online (most expensive), and this gives me a whole new way of looking at it!

Life In My Nest said...

Beautiful job!! I agree that you should check out They have some metal bar stools very similar to one of your pictures -- and free shipping.

Curtains in My Tree said...

I love the color and turquoise it looks like to me.

How clever I just love seeing how you redid it


I like the keyholes in the skinny drawers also

Unknown said...

All I can say is WOW, WOW and WOW!

What a fabulous makeover in every way.

Love it all. Becoming a follower and can't wait to see more.


Patricia said...

It's beautiful! Love the color choice and the distressing is wonderful. The silverware pulls would look great :o)

Carrie @ Fine & Handy said...

Maryhelen told me about your blog and I LoVE. And yea that desk turned island, totally feature worthy (even on Miss Mustard). I will totally be following this blog. Pop over and see what I do at

Chef Todd Fisher said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ada in Coastal Cali said...

oops, hubby was signed in.

IT is so fabulous! I love the texture, the color totally turned out ( Im sure given some time from not staring at it you'll love it!!)
The spoon, seriously wonderful.
have you see the stools on industry-west website? They are just like the Sundance Catalog ones but so much less.
Anyways, love the piece & its inspiring!
~Ada in Coastal Cali

Wandering No More said...

Totally awesome project! Love your creativity -- been wanting a kitchen island for soooo long and now I see I could do this with a desk! Wonderful. Thanks for sharing.

At Rivercrest Cottage said...

this is a great piece. love the idea and will steal it I'm sure.

Sara said...

I love this!! What did you use to make the counter top?

Shell said...

wow! that was a creative twist. Don't know how I missed this post on MMS link up. Don't know if you've solved your hardware dilemma but here in Germany they sell silverware sets that have these itty spoons & forks in them I think they're for desserts or coffee (the spoons) but I'm not sure I let my 4yr old use them. But I really came to tell you that world market has some of the cargo stools you were looking for they're a lil pricey for me but a sale or coupons might make them worth it to you.

Shell said...

Haha ok just found another set much cheaper on I swear I'm looking for a bench & keep coming across these stools lol