project renew

My hometown friends think of country living in the once-rural Sacramento area as nothing out-of-the-ordinary. My city friends think of the five little acres I grew up on five miles from town as a full-blown “farm.” Either way, my childhood home was a place of discovery, play and lots and lots of working with my hands.

child desk beforePerhaps this is why I have always loved a good fixer-upper project – or in modern-day-lingo: renewing. From side tables to lamps, reupholstering to remodeling – I’ve rarely turned down a diamond-in-the-rough. But since the introduction of “Little STRUCTUREbags,” these projects have been rare. Alas, however, behold the latest Guyader renewal: “Project Child’s Desk.”

This little desk was a neighbor’s project waiting to happen. Her boys – now solidly in elementary school – are all but giants compared to the desk, and when she offered it to me for the little one  – I jumped at the chance.

The electric sander emerged the day after the desk came home. Our Makita version has served us well for more than five years. It will run you about $55 today from a major hardware store. In all, it took about 90 minutes to sand both the desk and the chair – including the much needed hand sanding. I chose to sand off and even up the old paint rather than strip it. Since I was painting the chair it was fastest and easiest.electric sander

A past desk owner had plugged the charming inkwell hole, but we made quick work of renewing that vintage charm with our drill and hole saw.

drill and plug saw

In an attempt to keep project costs low, I selected stain and polyurethane already in our pantry of hardware supplies. The paint for the body and fresh foam brushes still ran about $25. Now the real work – aka time commitment - began.


Extra sanding prepared the surfaces to be stained, and I applied three coats of stain to the desk’s horizontal surfaces.

After several layers of wood filler, the chair got its paint – all five coats of it. With a toddler in the mix and four hours of dry time between, this is where the project timeline really stretched out. I lightly sanded between coats and quickly learned that several, thin coats are always better than a few, thick coats (think "runs and globs").

Finally, I painted the legs and body of the desk. This took only three coats. Alas, the polyurethane was applied, allowed to dry, sanded the finish with 320 grit and reapplied.

refinished desk 

After two week of prepping, painting and not sweating the little imperfections, “Little STRUCTUREbags” will awake from her nap to find this waiting for her!

child's desk complete installed

All told, this project took about $25 and eight hours of work over two weeks of time. We love it in our living room, which is styled with dark-finish wood and these aqua throw pillows from STRUCTUREbags.

What do you think? Like, share, tweet or comment. I’d love to here what your spin would be or your latest renewal project.

Happy Earth Month!