I got this vintage desk with missing drawers last fall. A local reader had some bedroom furniture she needed to get rid of. When I arrived, this sad little desk was at the road just waiting for some TLC. I haven't tackled the bedroom furniture yet.
I have worked on dressers and chest of drawers with missing drawers. But I don't remember ever working a a desk with missing drawers. What would you have done with it? I considered taking it apart and making two small nightstands. Or, I could stack it like I did with my Repurposed Desk into Chest. However, it really is a cute desk, so it shall remain in it's original state.
Didn't it turn out beautifully? Who knew a vintage desk with missing drawers could be so useful?
Let's see how it all came together.
How to Deal with Missing Drawers
The first order of business was to remove the drawer slides of the three missing drawers. I was lucky enough to find a scrap piece of thin plywood to make the two smaller shelves. Those pieces would be simple rectangles, easy to cut on the tablesaw.
For the middle missing drawer, the shelf needed to be notched. After cutting it to size, I sort of held it in place and drew the area that needed to be notched. This was an easy job for my Ryobi jigsaw.
In order to add a shelf where the missing drawer had been, I cut it to size, then slid it in place where the drawer slide had been. Do you see the notch in the back of the desk?
The center drawer was a little different. It had a slot all the way across the back. By notching the board, it fit perfectly into that slot. None of the shelves will hold bricks or anything extremely heavy, but the are very sturdy.
You may notice I did a 45° angle. I felt like that gave it a cleaner edge on the front.
Make Repairs on Vintage Desk with Missing Drawers
On the bottom left drawer, the slide was chewed up. I used one of the top slides that I removed to replace the bad one. This will allow the drawer to flow much easier.
The top of the desk was pretty banged up, as well as showing some paint spatters. Using the orbital sander, I made it look a lot better. Did you notice the bottom (front) of the desk?
I used the jigsaw to remove the left and right edges that extend beyond the bottom of the desk. Why? The kneehole of the desk is fairly small, and I was having a hard time finding a chair that would slide under the desk.
Time to Paint
With all the modifications finished, it was time to prep the vintage desk for paint. I used HTP Deglosser to clean and remove the shine in order for the project to take paint.
Have you noticed how I've been moving the desk around? Two small dollies enable me to move this around all by myself. If you look closely, you will see a butter tub on top of the desk. I used that instead of a tray . . .
. . . with this small foam roller. The color I used is All In One Paint Weathervane. I thought it would be pretty, but it turned out far better than I expected. They describe it as a charcoal, so not a true black.
After two light coats of paint, I "sanded" the top lightly with some brown craft paper. It helps to get a really, really smooth final coat. You will notice the missing drawer shelves aren't in place yet. I painted both sides of them before securing them in the desk.
Tools for Perfect Painting
In addition to the foam roller, these are the tools I used for getting into the nooks and crannies where the roller wouldn't reach.
Not shown: I did lay the desk down on a table in order to paint the areas where the missing drawers were. For that I used the small (oh so soft) brush. The detail brushes were used in very small spaces.
After painting that area (missing drawers) I used my nail gun to secure the new shelves.
Decorative Paint Roller
So, something I've never done before--embellish the side of the drawers. I've seen stenciled drawers and decoupage drawer sides. But I reached for this awesome Chrysanthemum Roller. I used it once before on a drawer front jewelry holder. I really, really wanted to do a pop of hidden color, but I'll be selling this vintage desk at my booth. So, for that reason I stayed neutral.
Apply Paint to Parchment Paper
Because I wasn't using a lot of paint, I spread some of the Weathervane onto a piece of parchment paper. You will want to spread it pretty thin, so only the raised places of the decorative roller take on paint. The parchment paper really worked perfectly.
Some people call these peek a boo drawers. Can you believe, out of all the projects I've done, I have never embellished drawer sides EVER? On the double drawers, I had to roll the area twice. NOTE: you will need to re-load your roller each time you use it.
Spray Paint Vintage Desk Hardware
After cleaning the hardware really well with Krud Kutter, and allowing it to dry in the sun, I used a flat black spray paint. There were three missing drawers, I feel very fortunate that all the hardware was there for the remaining drawers.
I love the color (Weathervane) so much that I just ordered another quart!
So, the small vintage desk with missing drawers needed a chair . . . .
. . . I actually took one from MY kitchen. I had bought two thrift store chairs, but wasn't thrilled with their "fit".
Apparently, at one time, this chair belonged to Betty! I used a paint sprayer to paint this chair white several years ago. You know I'm always telling you to paint the underside of projects. Well, I guess when it's MY project, I don't follow my own advice. The raw wood was definitely easier to paint than painting over the white paint.
All in all, I painted both the vintage desk and the chair about 2.5 coats each. The ugly first coat is just to get some paint on. The second coat is for coverage, the ½ final coal is a touchup coat, covering any places that might be too thin. I used nearly an entire quart for this project, which will need to increase the price when I re-home it.
Let's take a look at a few more pictures. Why? Because I took about 20-25!
Do you LOVE the color as much as I do? Those three cubbies can be used in so many ways, especially if someone were to use this in their kitchen as a bill paying station, or a homework station for the kids.
Sharing with Donna @Funky Junk Interiors
Gail Wilson is the author and mastermind behind My Repurposed Life. She is obsessed with finding potential in unexpected places and believes that with a little hard work and imagination, any old thing can be made useful again, including herself!
Gail reinvented herself during a midlife crisis and has found purpose again. She hopes you will find new ideas for old things and pick up a few tools along the way.