School Desk Transformation: Making a Mini Bar

Hello West Main Followers!

Another Monday down and another DIY project in the books.  I shared a finished view of this super easy DIY on Instagram and the response was so positive I decided I would share the full tutorial.

This seriously might be one of the easiest DIYs I’ve completed, with the most dramatic results.  It’s hard to believe that a little spray paint and some creative staging can completely transform a piece of furniture!

Around 6 months ago I picked up two of these old school desks from Goodwill.  In today’s post I am sharing how I transformed this black school desk into a mini bar.  For the record, the white desk is still undergoing transformation…stay tuned).

For those of you in small homes or apartments, this desk is the perfect size for all the bar essentials, without taking up much floor space.  The kitchen in our home isn’t large, so I plan to use this mini bar in our living area.  It will be a great conversation starter and place for guests to congregate outside of our cooking/kitchen area.


Before we dive into the steps, below is your materials list.  It is the shortest materials list ever!  If you do any DIY or crafting at all, you may already have a few of these on hand!

School Desk Transformation Materials List:

  • 1 Can Rust Oleum Spray Paint Primer (not pictured)
  • 1 Can Rust Oleum Metallic Finish Spray Paint (Color: Bright Coat Copper)
  • 1 Can Gloss White Spray Paint (Any brand is fine, I had this mini can left from a previous project)
  • Minwax Wipe-On Poly Sealer (Finish: Clear Satin)
  • 1 Small sponge (these can be found at Home Depot in the paint & stain section)
  • Small size Phillips Head Screwdriver


Step 1: Flip the desk onto it’s top so that you can see where the desk top is screwed onto the base.DeskBottom

Step 2:  Unscrew all the screws around the edge which hold the desk top onto the base.  Be sure to put the screws in a safe place, as they will be used to re-attach the top when the desk is finished.DeskScrews

Step 3: Flip the desk back over onto it’s legs.  Be sure to wipe off any dirt or debris with a damp cloth.  Once the desks are dry, it is time to prime!  I used only one coat of primer, as you can see it doesn’t cover completely which is OK.  The primer is just a base that allows the metallic paint to go on smoother.DesksPrimed

Step 4:  Once the top side of the desk base is dry, flip the desk over and prime the bottom side of the desk base.  One coat is plenty, and I typically allow the primer coat to dry at least 12 hours.DesksBottomPrimed

Step 5: Time for color!  Using your metallic finish paint, spray a light coat onto the desk base and allow to dry fully.  I used two coats to be sure I hit all nooks and crannies.

Remember you will have to allow the top to fully dry and then flip the desk over and paint the under side.DeskCopper

How pretty is that copper metallic finish?!  As a side note, this desk base is plastic.  The metallic finish paint works just as well on plastic as it does on metal items.DeskInnerCopper

Step 6: This can be done why you are waiting for the desk base to dry.  Start by  spray painting the desk top with the gloss white spray paint.  I did 4 coats, as I wanted to be as bright and glossy as possible.  **BE SURE TO ALLOW PAINT TO DRY BETWEEN EACH COAT** . I know, I’m super impatient too, but take your time on this step.  It will give you a much cleaner, smoother, glossier finish to the desk top!

Step 7: Once the desk top is dry, it is time to add a poly sealer.  This will keep the top shiny and bright throughout it’s use.  Soak your small sponge with the poly sealer and wipe lightly onto the desktop.  Use light pressure, and light coats.  Don’t worry if it looks streaky, it will dry even and clear.  Be sure to use at least two coats of sealer.

*I only painted the top side of the desk top.  It seemed silly to paint the inside if it won’t ever be seen.  But feel free to paint both sides if you feel like it!*


Step 8: Okay, so I got a little excited at this point and completely forgot to snap a picture.  I told you, I can be slightly impatient.  Place a clean blanket or dropcloth on the floor of your work area.  The white side of your desk top will go down on the blanket.  Bring the desk base over and set onto the desk top, lining up all your screw holes.

Grab those original screws and screw each one back in place, along the edge to secure the desk top.

Step 9: Load up your new mini bar with all the necessities and it’s time to party!  The storage portion of the desk is an excellent way to store wine, as it holds around 7-8 bottles.

The top of the desk has wine chiller for the white wine fans.  I choose to pour any liquors, like bourbon or vodka, into fun glass decanters.  They make for a much prettier presentation!DeskFinished

So easy right?!  This is a great project for you beginner DIYers, and those of you looking for small space solutions.

I do have one more school desk in progress- any suggestions or requests on how to transform it?  Share your ideas in the comments below!



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