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Restored furniture: Vintage School Desk

EORschool_desk_wipRemember playing school at home with a desk like this – with the seat attached and the desktop that you held open with your head while digging through the inside looking for your puffy sticker collection? I do.

So when I rescued this from the curb a couple weeks ago, I hurled it into my minivan. When I got it home and saw that the underside of the desktop was covered in Han Solo stickers, and a few Jem (who is truly outrageous) stickers, I had another wave of nostalgia.


With a rush of childhood happiness, I had to restore this vintage schoolhouse desk to its lush glory. Of course I couldn’t paint it that awful, boring tan color, though. I had to go with a bright pop of color!

To make my life easier, I removed the top, wood pieces and sanded them down – top and bottom. Bye, bye, Han.

EORschooldesk_top EORschooldesk_paint_c

I didn’t stain the top, because stain likes to find fine lines like those carved by bored kids. Even though I sanded this smooth to the touch, the faint trace of “Emily” could get revealed by wood stain. Therefore I opted to finish it with a coat of clear wood finish.


I’m Cristin Frank (AKA Eve). I love all things frugal and crafty. My mindset is always on upcycling, repurposing, reducing waste and saving money – and Eve of Reduction is my roadmap. You might also want to check out my book, "Living Simple, Free & Happy."

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7 Responses to Restored furniture: Vintage School Desk

  1. Kaitlyn March 14, 2015 at 12:02 am #

    I have the same desk! I’m currently trying to refinish the top. What wood finish did you use? Thanks in advance!

    • Eve March 14, 2015 at 10:33 am #

      Hi Kaitlyn, I used Golden Pecan stain. Good luck with your project!!

  2. Pam Hall March 22, 2015 at 12:31 pm #

    I am redoing an old school desk too. I will be powder coating it. I am concerned about removing the rivets so that I can take the wood off the seat. Did you remove the rivets and replace them? If so ho did you go about it?

    • Eve March 22, 2015 at 3:00 pm #

      Hi Pam, I didn’t remove the rivets on the seat. It was in pretty good condition as is. Powder coating – interesting!!

  3. Marleni April 20, 2015 at 7:32 pm #

    Hi! I am doing this project too! How did you get rust off and did you use spray paint and primer? Do you know how to adjust height?


  1. Eve of Reduction Round-Up: DIY Back to School Supply Projects - Eve of Reduction - October 2, 2013

    […] happens. As dreadful as it may be. Kids will need a proper place to get it done. Check out this classic school desk makeover for some back to school […]

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