10 Tips for Painting a Rolltop Desk

There is something so rewarding about taking an old and unexciting piece of furniture and giving it a completely new look! I love painting furniture, and our most recent project was this rolltop desk we were given. It has always lived in our office and while I didn’t love the finish, I LOVE all the little cubbies and drawers. It gives the illusion of organization at least. In our efforts to baby proof, we moved my craft table to the office, and now the desk is in our living room. Now that the desk is more visible, it really needed to be updated. So, instead of giving you the blow-by-blow, I thought these 10 tips would really cover the important points and convince you that anyone can do it!

BEFORE:
Rolltop Desk Before Picture closed

AFTER:
Rolltop Desk FINAL closed

1. Use chalk paint.
Chalk paint rocks! You don’t have to spend hours prepping the surface, and it comes out with a great matte finish. There are a lot of great brands out there, but there is a local place that sells Shabby Paint and their colors are great. For this project I used Snow White, Licorice, and Sheer Vax to finish it.

2. Use spray paint.
Because I wanted to give the desk a distressed look with some “layers,” I used black spray paint (satin finish) on all the edges and corners of the desk before painting it all white with the chalk paint. So when I distressed the desk, you can see some great added dimension with the black layer. It really adds to the overall look in a big way.
Rolltop Desk Spray paint edges

In addition, I used black on the cubbies inside the desk. There really wasn’t a good way to get a paint brush into those tight areas. Just using a bit of spray paint made my life way WAY easier!
Rolltop Desk cubbies

3. Take time to disassemble the desk.
It might seem like a bit of a pain, but you will save yourself quite a headache if you at least take off the top of the desk, and remove the rolltop. You will be even more pleased with your result if you take the time to do this step. Make notes to yourself as you take it apart to make re-assembly go smoothly.

4. Consider a two-toned look.
I really like the way this turned out. I decided I wanted the horizontal surfaces to be black. It adds interest and makes the finished desk unique. I love the contrast of black and white, but lots of other color combos would be cool. Maybe Vogue and Garfield Grey, Emily Ann and Lillian Grey, Paper Doll and Alamo White…

Rolltop Desk After 1

5. Paint the sides and inside of the drawers.
In keeping with the two-toned look. We painted the inside of the drawers black. This feels so good when you open the drawers and see a nice completely finished piece. Another fun idea, especially if you are going with one color on the desk, would be to paint the insides and sides of the drawer with a fun pop of color. This extra step is worth it! BTW, we used spray paint on this step too.

Rolltop Desk side angle of drawers  Rolltop Desk side angle of little drawers

6. Dry brush the rolltop piece.
Every project inevitably has a lesson you learn the hard way. The good news is that you can learn from our mistake. I’m going to reiterate step 3, take the rolltop out and lay it flat. You then want to carefully dry brush this piece. It will take extra time, but you don’t want the paint to puddle between the slats. Otherwise you will end up with cracked paint you won’t be happy with. Take your time, it might take an extra coat or two.

7. Buy new hardware.
This desk had wooden pulls that just didn’t excite me so we decided to update the majority of the hardware. New hardware doesn’t have to be expensive (we paid like $1.79 per pull) but it can make a big difference!

Original pulls     Update hardware

8. Spray paint existing hardware.
While I didn’t love the wooden pulls, I do love the plate on the front of the rolltop as well as on the plates on outside of the little drawers. I just decided to get ride of the gold and spray paint them black. Looks super cool!

Rolltop Desk spray paint existing hardware

9. Have fun distressing.
You work so hard to carefully paint the piece, then you spend time destroying the perfection. I oddly love this step, go figure. It actually lets you off the hook, and you can embrace any areas you felt like were “mistakes.” We can celebrate the imperfections now! I use 60 or 80 grit sandpaper on a sanding block and go to town. Concentrate on corners and edges that would normally experience wear and tear. I also like to use it as an opportunity to highlight interesting details in the piece. I just try to maintain some distressing consistency as I go along, comparing to previous sections as I go.

Rolltop Desk front desk drawer details   Rolltop Desk front drawer details

10. Print fun tags.
Just a final touch. I picked a vintage looking (and FREE) font and had fun printing out labels for the fun little drawers. I love this finishing touch!

Rolltop Desk drawers closeup   

Feels like a brand new desk!
Rolltop Desk FINAL open     10 Tips for Painting a Rolltop Desk DIY1
–h

DIY Reclaimed Wood/Barn Door Baby Gate

I’m not sure how it happened. One day Kyrie was scoot/rolling, then literally the next day, she started crawling. Oh-no! We probably should have started baby proofing months ago, but now is good too, right?!?

So we have been rearranging furniture, moving things around, but the real problem is the stairs. And yes, she has discovered them and seems to look at them as some sort of challenge. She has a rather determined personality (that doesn’t sound familiar at all), so we need a baby gate, like yesterday.

Baby on Stairs

So funny story, I thought we should run out to Target a buy a baby gate right away. But Ryan suggested we build our own gate instead. Hey, shouldn’t I have been the one to suggest that? 🙂 He did some searching online and found some ideas we liked and came up with the plan…

Barn Door Baby Gate Plan

Part I – Construction

Materials/Tools:
Reclaimed Wood (from a deconstructed pallet)
Wood Screws (1 1/4″)
Orbital Sander
Measuring Tape
Square
Circular Saw or Miter Saw

How to (Ryan):

1. I started by cutting out the pieces:

  • 2 outer frame side pieces: 30″ long, 5 1/2″ wide
  • 2 0uter frame top pieces: 23 1/2″ long, 5 1/2″ wide
  • 9 back pieces: 30″ long (various widths due to the wood available)
  • 1 long “X” piece: 30 1/4″ long, 5 1/2″ wide, cut to a “V” on each end. I put this piece over the outer frame, and used the square tool to help mark and determine where to cut.
  • 2 short “X” pieces: 12: long, 5 1/2″ wide, again cut to a “V” on one end. See above.Reclaimed Pallet Wood

2. Sand like crazy. Because this is a baby gate, we went for an extremely smooth finish. Started with 80 grit and finished with 180 grit. I spent a lot of time getting each piece perfectly smooth as the goal of this door is safety. Look at the difference…

Barn Door baby gate construction

3. In order to keep the screws hidden, I assembled it essentially from the back forward. So the outer frame side piece was screwed to a back piece (from the back side). Then I grabbed another back piece, snugged the two back pieces up, and screwed into the outer side piece. Then I lined up the outer frame top and bottom pieces, and screwed them to the back pieces. Then continued with the back pieces all the way across, finishing with the other outer frame front piece.

Barn Door Baby Gate Construction

4. Next I flipped over the door and fitted the “X”. Again, screwed it in from the back.

Barn Door baby gate construction (4) Barn Door baby gate construction (3)

Note: I pre-drilled all the holes before putting the screws in to prevent the wood from splitting.

Part II – Painting

Materials/Tools:
Jewel Shabby Paint (chalk paint)
Hazelnut reVax Shabby Paint
Black Matte Spray Paint
Paint Brush
Sandpaper (60 grit)
Sponge

How to:
Like every other DIYer out there, I have discovered and love chalk paint. You don’t have to sand or prime your project, and it gives this great matte finish. It looks great!

Shabby Paint Jewel and Hazelnut reVax

1. I decided I wanted an extra layer of black paint under the Jewel color to add some dimension when I distressed it. So I started by spray painting the entire piece black. I really didn’t worry about great coverage except on the edges and corners. But I did use an entire can of spray paint.
Barn Door Baby Gate black spray paint

2. After letting it dry I painted my first coat of Jewel Shabby Paint, let dry and added a second coat. The chalk paint really goes far. I used about 5 ounces of paint total. Flipped the door over and did the same on the back (2 coats). Pretty!

Barn Door Baby Gate Jewel Chalk Paint

3. Now is the part I love/hate. I took out the sandpaper and started distressing the door. After the beautiful coat of paint, it always makes me a little sad at first, but I love the look after it is all done. I paid special attention to the areas of the door that would normally experience wear and tear — corners, edges, etc. There is no real science to it, you just sand areas until you like the way it looks. You’ll notice some areas the black paint shows through, and others I sanded down to the wood, again, all personal taste.

Barn Door Baby Gate Distress Jewel Shabby Paint  Barn Door Baby Gate Back Distressed

4. The final touch is the product they call reVax, I applied it as recommended with a damp sponge. It is a great topcoat for durability, and in this case, I used it to deepen the color and add to the distressed look of the piece. Seriously, the Hazelnut reVax was like magic, I was so excited to see it go on, it gave the Jewel a more greenish color which is exactly what I wanted. I la la LOVE this color combo!!

Barn Door Baby Gate back distressed with Hazelnut reVax  Barn Door Baby Gate Distressed with Shabby Paint Hazelnut reVax

Part III – Installation/Finishing

Materials/Tools:
Hinges
Barrel Bolt
More wood screws
2 Trim pieces (30 3/4″ x 1 1/2″ x 5/8″)
Antique glass doorknob

How to:
1. Almost there! We started by cutting our two trim pieces, which will be mounted to the wall on either side and the door will connect to. On the top, cut a 45 degree angle (this just makes it look a little more finished). Then we painted them to match our wall color.

Trim Piece Barn Door Baby Gate

2. Attach the hinges to the gate and hinges to the first trim piece (prior to installing them on the wall). Remove the pins from the hinges so that the trim piece can be attached to the wall without the weight of the gate. Once the trim piece was secured to the wall (we were sure to find a stud and used 2 1/4″ screws), we lined up the hinges on the gate and reinserted the pins.
Barn Door Baby gate hardware
Note: The screws pictured here were used to attach the doorknob.

3. Next, we attached the second trim piece to the other side of the wall (again 2 1/4″ screws into a stud).

4. Attach the barrel bolt approximately 1″ from the top of the door (on the back), then extend the barrel and mark the spot to drill into the trim. Drill and done.

5. Attach the glass door knob (I spray painted the plate of the antique doorknob black).

And…done! Phew!

Barn Door Baby Gate DIY

–h & r