Furniture Renovation Thrifty Ideas

The New Office or Metal Desk Makeover (part 2)

Paint Metal Desk Blue

Just to prepare everyone, this is a before and after type post.  And as with all the best such posts, the before is none to pretty.  If is was pretty, why would I change it.  But I can’t start with the before.  It’s just too painful.  So here is a sneak peek of the after of the new home office/side of the family room.

Blue Metal Desk After

You might remember the prison issue, metal desk from my first Metal Desk Makeover post.  This desk used to live in my parent’s basement, but I thought it would have looked nice in a prison warden’s office with overhead fluorescent lights.

Metal Desk Makeover – Before

Original metal deskSee what I mean!

But I needed a desk.  Particularly one with storage for all those random office-y things that can accumulate, and one big enough to accommodate my computer.  See I’m not a dainty computer type.   Unless you were totally focused on the desk, you might have noticed Herman, my new, super fast, tons of memory, ooh so pretty ‘puter.  And until today, this is where Herman has been living.

Office beforeOh the shame!

Tangled wires and cords, no storage, random folding chair, sloppily hung wall art, piles of software, papers and office supplies.  You see why I jumped at the chance to get a real desk.  It just needed some TLC first.  Thus the new paint job as seen before.

Metal Desk Makeover – Getting There

Unfinished Blue Desk

Well after it’s new paint job it sat in the garage for a few weeks because as “dainty” as it looks, it took four people to get it in the house and upstairs.  My sweet hubby, sister Paula, her kind husband who has moved more than his fair share of my furniture, and myself.  And I think the Renovation Whisperer jumped in there somewhere too.  Beast is an understatement when it comes to this desk.   When we were done I had to promise my sports addict we would never move again…ever!

Now my sweet Herman has a pretty desk to sit on, and I have drawers to hide all the papers, disks, binders and  pens.   Here it is one more time.

Metal Desk Makeover – Finally!

Blue Metal Desk Makeover - AfterAnd instead of the metal folding chair, I snagged my newly reupholstered, good will chair I talked about here.  I think the black matches Herman nicely.


I’m linking to:

Miss Mustard Seed, The Shabby Nest , My Romantic Home , Remodelaholic , Finding Fabulous , French Country Cottage , Chic on a Shoestring Decorating , A Little Knick Knack , Fingerprints on the Fridge , Be Different…Act Normal , Funky Junk Interiors , Saturday Soiree at A Little Lovely, Passion for Paint at Mural Maker & More , Making the World Cuter , Made By You Mondays at Skip to My LouBetween Naps on the Porch , The DIY Show Off, Tools Are For Women Too , First a Dream: The RE-Party , The House In the Roses , Keeping it Simple ,Sugar Bee Craft Edition: Take a Look Tuesday , The Gypsy’s CornerToday’s Creative BlogDomestically Speaking: Power of Paint , Nifty Thrifty Tuesday @ Coastal Charm , House of Grace: Twice Owned Tuesday , Saturday Mornings , Santa’s Gift Shoppe , Sew Chatty , Blue Cricket Design , Creations by Kara , We are THAT Family , Someday Crafts , Beyond the Picket Fence , Primitive & Proper , The Shabby Chic Cottage , House of Hepworths “HoH” , Life as Lori , Brambleberry Cottage ,


  • That desk looks great and I love it with the chair. Now I am thinking we need to do something with the filing cabinet. Oh the projects are endless.

  • Well Done April! Love the blue and the black, I think you need to repaint the metal filing cabinet to match your new look- so you had better get your movers back to take it downstairs for a paint job LOL!

  • April,
    this desk is LOVELY!!! Did you spray it? It looks like it has such a smooth finish. I am in the midst of spraying and decoupaging old tin trays and having a heck of a time!
    the chair is perfect!

  • I have one of these and I painted it gloss black and red, really! I’m almost ready to redo it again, it’s built like a World War II tank and still perfectly serviceable. Love the blue color you used!

    • Hey my name is Johanny. I’m getting ready to buy a tanker desk and am hoping to paint it but have never done anything like this. I really want it to look good so am trying to learn as much as possible about the process. If you have a sec could you e-mail me to discuss the process you used!
      Thank you!

      My e-mail is

      • Johanny
        Thanks for the compliment. Honestly it has been so long since I did this project that the details are a little fuzzy. I believe I gave it a good washing, then sanded the formica top to give it more of a tooth. Then I sprayed the whole thing with primer. When that was dry I sprayed it with 2-3 coats of the blue color I picked out. Last of all I used a clear spray coat to make it more durable. If I wanted to do it over again though, I would use a true polyurethane to finish the piece. I was in a hurry at the time, but my six kids have successfully chipped the finish in a few places. They’re really good at that.
        Hope this helps.

  • That’s a fabulous make over. When my kids were small we had metal military issue beds that had the drawers underneath. They were battleship gray and my sons would have been destroyed if I ever painted them. We also ended up with a desk to match and it stayed the same to. They are in their 40’s and still reminisce about their furniture.

  • Very nice! We actually have a similar desk. it’s painted in that exact beige! However, I think a different/brighter color like your blue would be better for ours. I’ll see if I can talk hubby into it. 😉

  • You had me at the color blue but the referance to a prison desk sealed the deal! You crack me up! Love the makeover….going to go look for a prison desk of my own now. Thanks!

  • *Hi, I’d love to hear how this is holding up. Any scratches on it at all? I’ve got a bunch of metal furniture from moving offices a while back. I’d love to use it – but you’re right, it all looks like it’s from a prison. I didn’t think it would be possible to spray paint metal though. So I’d love to hear how it holds up. Thanks, and I love the color by the way!

    • Hi Hayley,
      Thanks for asking about the desk. I’m sitting at it right now and I
      see a few scratches but nothing major. I’m actually quite happy with
      how it is holding up so far, especially since I have five young kids.
      One of them has chipped off a few little flecks on the top of the desk
      near the keyboard, but the top is a laminate. I can’t help but think
      I should have sanded the top more. It was definitely an experiment,
      but so far I’m still happy.
      Thanks for stopping by.

  • Hi April,

    I stumbled upon your page when i searching for ideas about my home office and I have to say that your desk is amazing. And I’m totally going to steal your idea! :) I never would have though to paint an old metal desk. And now I can’t picture anything else I want me in office. What kind of paint did you end up using? Did you put any kind of seal over the paint? Any advice would be great! Thanks so much!!

    • Imitation is the best sort of flattery. Thanks.
      I am pretty sure I used Rust-oleum Painter’s Touch White Primer followed by Rust-oleum Painter’s Touch Ultra Cover 2X spray paint. Then finally I finished off with a clear coat of something. It may have just been another Painter’s Touch clear coat, or it may have been a polyurethane. I’ll have to see if I still have the can out in the garage. Whatever I used, I wish I had used something a little stronger. It is wearing well, but with five kids, I should have put on at least another coat or two.

  • I doubt the fan would have the strength to effectively move the heat. A ceiling fan or oscillating fan may be more practical.

  • That turned out beautiful. I love the blue. I just found a giant metal desk (even bigger than yours) at goodwill for $24.99 and I’ve been scouring blogland to figure out how to paint it. Thanks you so much for the help. :)

  • Did you do anything additional to the top, or did you just paint it along with the rest of the desk. If so, how has the paint held up?

  • I have used Bar or boat deck finish it holds up better than polyurethine. Much harder finish. I have a large metal desk I am going to put underlayment on the entire desk hope it turns out as great as yours did.Thank You for sharing.Oh by the way I bought my metal desk for $5.00 at a grage sale So can afford to play a little with the finish.

    • Sounds like you made a good deal at that garage sale. Best wishes on your desk project. We’d love to know how it turns out.
      Thanks for sharing.

  • Hi! This is gorgeous! I have the exact desk and im racking my brain as to the best way to paint it. Id like to redo it in a fun color as well. My biggest question is, did you use latex or oil based paint?

    • Thanks for asking Lauren. I actually just used spray paint. It took several cans, and I did it in a few thin coats to keep the paint from dripping. It was fast and easy. Good luck with your desk.

  • April,
    Thanks for posting this! I am a teacher and (with permission) just painted my desk at school similar to yours. So excited to have a warmer, more inviting classroom!!

  • Was it difficult to remove the handles? Your desk project is exactly what I want to do with my UGLY green metal desk at work. I don’t want to get in over my head, though.