Thursday, October 25, 2012

DIY 1-2-3: A Vintage, Whimsical, Modern, (and Unexpected) Child's Desk Makeover for Under $200

My 6-year old daughter had been asking for a desk for months-- maybe even a year-- but I wasn't feeling inspired.  I was about to call it quits and grab something from Ikea when I stumbled upon an old, sturdy, oak desk at an estate sale for $25.  I knew right away that it was "the one" but I wasn't sure what I was going to do to it.

Then my friend Kelly, who is a fabulous artist, suggested I use some of her leftover Donald Kaufman paint-- a deep, dark, plum color.  I knew my 6-year old wouldn't go for it so I just told her I was painting it purple.  Little did I know what was in store...

I took my time. First I used my orbital sander to sand out the sticky varnish.  Then I primed it with Stix primer-- my favorite. Next I patched it with wood filler and sanded it again.  More patch priming over the sanded bits and then... more wood filler, etc., etc., etc.  I met a lot of neighbors walking by as I spent days working on the desk in the driveway.  When I take shortcuts on prep work I always regret it.  I just kept sanding and patching and priming until the entire thing looked smoothe. (I also kept reminding myself, "Pay now or pay later.")   It took a lot longer than I expected but it was worth it in the end.

This is kind of what the before looked like, although this is not the exact desk I bought.  I always forget to take a before photo

Then I started applying the paint-- DKC 66.  What a gorgeous color. Interestingly, Donald Kaufman doesn't name their paint colors, fearing that the names themselves will create bias.  That's so true!   

Here's DKC 66 in a room.  Doesn't exactly feel 6-year old girlish but I knew it was right.

Pinned Image
DD Allen Photo: Peter Margonelli

 As I applied the color I was so entranced by it, I had to do more research on Donald Kaufman.  I learned that he and his wife and partner, Taffy Dahl, have spent years studying color, light and space. They bring the outdoors inside with their luminous paints and are true artists. 


How did he get started?

[Donald Kaufman] started out as a fine artist. [He] was teaching art at the University of California in Berkeley and painting houses on the side. [He] realized that commercial paint needed some help. "I could tint it the same way that an artist tints colors to create more luminosity. All our paints have a full spectrum of pigments."  Elle Decor

Donald Kaufman paints offer more depth and luminosity than standard paints and differs from commercial paint in three ways: they have as many as 14 pigments, in each color, the pigments are more transparent than most commercial paints, and they never include oxides which diminishes paints ability to reflect light. 

As I watched the color dry on my daughter's desk I felt so happy.  It was the absolute perfect color-- a rich, dark plum-- and I could hardly stand to wait for the paint to dry before lugging it up to her room.

While waiting for the coats to dry in the garage I ran to the fabric store, Sal Beressi, and picked up this fun fabric to recover the old stool I bought at the same estate sale and painted black.

I also scored this fun lamp too and purchased a too short, hot pink shade to create an Alice in Wonderland vibe, in case my daughter felt the dark plum was too serious.

But the real prize, for me at least (and let's face it, most of this is for me), was this painting I stumbled upon at Scrap for $5. 


And here it is!  Such a fun diversion from the typical white or pink children's desk, espcially since the lamp, seat, and rug cost less than buying a desk at Ikea--  not withstanding the labor of love. 
Total Project Cost:  $165
Estate Sale Desk:  $25
Estate Sale Lamp:  $20
Lamp Shade from Lamps Plus:  $30
One Yard of Fabric from Sal Beressi:  $30
Pier 1 Imports Rug:  $15
 Estate Sale Stool:  $15
New Foam Cushion for Stool:  $15
Painting:  $5
Hand-me-Down Paints:  $0
Value of having a unique piece inspired by a friend:  Priceless


1 comment:

  1. I love the color of the desk! I wish I painted my daughter's desk that color. Nice job Jenna!