Monday, June 28, 2010

On Losing a Parking Space...and Gaining a Desk

Just over a month ago I finally finished all the projects I had going on in the garage. Everything was sanded, painted, and put neatly away. The tools were hung, the strollers stacked, and the garbage can was precisely positioned in its proper place. Even the floor was swept clean. I pulled the van in and was able to park in the garage for the first time in…I have no idea how long. This blissful state lasted less than 24 hours. I woke up the next morning to take the dog on a walk, and I spotted something. There on the side of the road was a desk. This desk was shabby. In fact, she was abused. But she had nice lines and seven drawers. And she had something else going for her: a sign saying “Free if you take it away.” You hear about this happening all the time on HGTV. “What, this complete wicker dining set? It was free on the side of the road.” But that only happens in ritzy neighborhoods. Anything that’s ever been put to the side of the road as trash in my area is just that: garbage. But not this desk! It had potential! I ran home immediately (poor Lando’s walk was cut very short) and forced Aaron to come with me in the van to pick it up. And so I lost my parking space. Again.

Here’s my diamond-in-the-rough:


Nice orangey wood color. Brass knobs. The desk top is warped, so it wasn’t sitting flush. (I couldn't actually fix this problem, but it's not noticeable at all anymore.)


Yikes! Faux leather top has been gouged to reveal a lovely cardboard underneath. (As you can see, this was taken mid-sanding. I almost forgot before pictures!)


This was the most difficult problem. An entire piece of molding was missing from the desk drawer. Tricky.

And now, here’s my Cinderella desk, transformed from firewood into a new sewing desk for yours truly:


I painted it Decorator’s White by Benjamin Moore (already had it, the primer and the polycrylic lying around the garage). This was made much easier thanks to my friend’s paint sprayer. Loved using it, but there were a few drawbacks:

1. BM paint is THICK. This would occasionally cause clogs, which would leave a lovely spurt all over my fresh paint job. Next time I would either water the paint down or use a thinner paint like Olympic. But I was trying to redo this as cheaply as possible, so I didn’t want to buy different paint.

2. You have to have a large space to work in because there is a lot of overspray. This meant that our driveway was covered in desk parts and tarps for an entire day. Not only were we not parking in the garage, but we were parking in the street.

3. It was difficult to get inside the deep file drawers with the sprayer. I had to do quite a bit of touch up by hand on these.

4. The sprayer is a pain in the rear to clean. I spent at least an hour trying to get the paint out of every crevice. I probably wouldn’t have been as thorough if it were mine, but I wanted to return it in pristine condition.

But it saved me a LOT of time, even with the excessive cleaning. So if you paint a lot of furniture, I’d looking into investing in one of these small sprayers. Or borrow your friend’s.


My original idea was to replace all the hardware, but when I got home and started looking at it, I actually really liked the design of the handles. They’re quite unique, and the slightly floral design gives it a feminine look. So I found a brushed nickel spray paint and just painted them. I don’t know how long it will actually last, but $6 for spray paint is a lot cheaper than new hardware. So I’ll just spray them down every once in a while if they start needing it. I love how they turned out.


The missing molding took some hunting to solve, but eventually I got a piece of trim at Lowes that was close enough. It took quite a bit of sanding and a LOT of wood filler to get it looking decent, but now that it’s painted, you can hardly tell.

And here’s my favorite part:



This wrapping paper was on sale at Hallmark for $2 a roll (my mom and I went to about 4 stores looking for just the right paper). Not only is it the perfect color, but it’s adhesive on the back! It made positioning this so incredibly easy. And for now, the drawer liners only have double-sided tape on the corners. I’ll break out the big guns if I need to keep it in place, but for now, I’d like to keep it as non-permanent as possible.

I called around for quotes on the glass top, and was able to get this one with the seamed edges for only $50. I love the polished look it gives the desk.

So total breakdown:

Desk: free

Primer: free

Paint: free

Polycrylic: free

Spray paint: $6

Wrapping paper: $2

Molding: $5

Glass top: $50

Grand total: $63

A “brand new” Pottery Barn-esque sewing desk for only $63! A cute new lamp and an organizing system are on my wish list, but they’ll have to wait. I wish I could celebrate by parking my car in the garage tonight, but other projects have slowly worked their way out there…


JorgenMan said...

You should have your own TV show. DIY design projects, xeriscaping, gardening, scrapbooking; you'd have plenty of material. HEY! We should record videos of you explaining how to do stuff, and put it online and make lots of money. Have your people call my people.

Jen Kesler said...

Chels! The desk is gorgeous. You did a fabulous job!!

Frances said...

Very nice! I wish I could treasure on the side of the road. How did you find the time to finish it. It looks great!

Laura said...

Love it! It's one I'd be willing to purchase for my own sewing machine (once we had room for it, of course). I'm impressed with your mad skills. Can't wait to see what other projects you've been working on in the garage!