diy projects: Enamel Desk Makeover

I picked up a cool vintage desk a couple months ago for $20, really liked the shape, and decided I could easily make it look better with a fresh coat of paint. It needed some serious TLC. Here we are two months later (I procrastinated per usual), and I’m finally sharing the makeover and tutorial. This time around, I painted the furniture with enamel. I typically use lacquer or gloss paint, but wanted to take a stab at enamel because of it’s durability. This desk will live in one of our guest bedrooms and I wanted it to hold up to the wear and tear with friends & family coming and going. Click through to see what it looked like and how it changed throughout the process…


Step 1 // Remove hardware. I began by removing the hardware with a flathead screwdriver.

Step 2 // Sand furniture. Next, I roughly sanded the entire desk with a sanding block. This doesn’t have to be a super amazing sanding job… just enough to rough up the surface.

Step 3 // Wipe and clean. Then I cleaned the entire piece with water and paper towels, removing all dust and debris from sanding.

Step 4 // Prep for painting. Prepping the area is pretty important. I like to put down a drop cloth and prop furniture up onto scrap pieces of wood. It makes it so much easier to get the low areas and legs.

Step 5 // Apply paint. Now it’s time to paint! It doesn’t get easier than this spray enamel. I got mine from Sherwin-Williams and it was on sale for $5. Shake it well and apply in very THIN layers. I did about 5-6 coats. Keep it light and consistent.

Step 6 // Repeat paint application. Repeat the painting process and continue layering, allowing the enamel to dry in between each coat. Don’t rush the process… thin layers works best.

Step 7 // Wipe smooth and remove enamel dust. After the last coat of enamel dried, the piece was covered in a dust-like coating. I used a dry, clean towel to wipe the dust, until the piece looked shiny and clean.

Step 8 // Install hardware. Next, I screwed the hardware back onto each drawer.

Step 9 // Add drawer liners. Lastly, I added drawer liners because the drawers on my desk were in pretty rough shape. I scrubbed them, but they just wouldn’t come clean and they looked pretty yellowed and gross- especially against the bright white enamel.

This was the drawer liner I used. It has an adhesive back and grid on the backing, so it only took a minute to install- it was incredibly easy! To give you an idea of what my drawers looked like before I applied the liner, check out the image below…

Pretty icky, right? The cork covered everything up and added a nice textural clean look.

That’s it! The entire project took me a couple hours (including drying time), and it was well worth the effort. It looks like a completely different desk. I’m seriously digging the shape. It has an Asian-inspired feel to it.

I actually debated setting this up in our master bedroom, but we don’t have a lot of excess space thanks to door placement. I guess I’ll have to sneak into the guest room and use this cute little spot from time-to-time.

What do you think? Do you like the new look? Have you ever used enamel- or do you prefer paint or lacquer? I’ll definitely use enamel again in the future! Would you be interested in more furniture makeovers? I have a garage full of vintage pieces that are begging for some love. Ha! Maybe it would be good motivation. Emmett is urging me to do something with them or get rid of things.

get the look…


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