We furniture flippers are often drawn to a specific style of furniture when it comes to searching out that next great makeover project. Some love a good dining chair that is easy to re-upholster. Others prefer quick and easy paint jobs on kitchen tables, or mid-century modern bar carts. For me, the one item I can never pass up is the old school desk. You remember these from your elementary school days right?
These old school desks seem to be a dime a dozen here in Ohio, and often cost around $10 or less. Despite my hubby’s continual pleas for no more table projects, I just can’t resist lugging these home when I find them in the thrift store!
On this particular trip to the thrift, I was looking for a bar cart, not a school desk. Our kitchen is seriously lacking when it comes to space for entertaining, and with a party planned for the upcoming weekend, I needed drink space ASAP. Why is it that when you go to the thrift store with a specific item in mind you can never find it?? With no bar carts in sight, and a mission to complete this project before the weekend, I decided to improvise.
Wouldn’t you know there sat a school desk for $8. No cracks or chips on the top, and no wobbly legs. Also- I was pretty sure that the storage space, that long and skinny opening where pencils and notes forever disappeared, would be the perfect size for storing a standard bottle of wine.
Armed with my desk and a couple cans of spray paint, I headed home to makeover this sad looking school desk into a modern mini bar, perfect for a party. The lengthiest portion of this project is waiting for the paint to dry!
Scroll on down for a list of supplies and easy steps to making over your own school desk!
How to makeover a school desk into a mini bar:
Step 1: Flip the desk onto it’s top so that you can see where the desk top is screwed onto the base.
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.
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 desk is 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.
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 coat of primer to dry at least 12 hours.
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: be sure to hit all those nooks and crannies around the legs, and in the corners.
Remember you will have to allow the top to fully dry and then flip the desk over to paint the under side.
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.
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; I wanted it 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 your desk top a much smoother, glossier finish!
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.
Step 8: Okay, so I got a little excited at this point and completely forgot to snap a picture. What can I say, I get slightly impatient when I near the end of a project. Place a clean blanket or drop cloth 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!
My instincts were right- the storage portion of this little desk is the perfect size for storing wine. It easily stores 6-7 bottles, although in this house of winos, its rare we ever have that much wine on hand. Most of those bottles you see pictured were empties I rounded up for a photo!
Affiliate links to purchase supplies: (Please note there is no extra charge or fee for shopping via affiliate links. I add these links as an easy way to source supplies should you decide to create this project on your own. By purchasing through my affiliate links I may receive a small commission which is used to create and maintain the content of this site).