How to Upgrade an Old Desk

Give New Life to an Old Desk with Paint and New Drawers!

When I gave my daughter’s room a makeover, I also built a new desk for her and I just couldn’t part with the old desk! We got it when we took a trip to the landfill. She loved this desk and was always so excited to show it to visitors to our home! I gave the desk a fresh coat of paint and new knobs. Fast forward a few years and the paint was scraped off in a lot of places plus the drawers were in pretty rough shape but it always reminded me of that little girl…

I decided I could upgrade the old desk and fix it up for me to use as a craft desk!

Adding New Drawer Spacers for the Slides

I started by removing the drawers. The drawers rested on wooden runners and I removed those as well. I added pieces of scrap lumber to the inside in order to attach drawer slides (<– affiliate link!)  for the new drawer boxes I planned on building.

upgrade an old desk removing the paint

upgrade an old desk drawer runners

upgrade an old desk install spacers

Stripping the Old Paint and Prepping it for New Paint

I stripped the paint off of the top and sanded the rest of the desk. I primed everything and let it dry.

upgrade an old desk primer


I spray painted the desk using Rust-Oleum’s 2x Ultra Cover in Aubergine – the most luscious shade of purple-y goodness!! (I used two cans.)

upgrade an old desk paint

Building the New Drawer Boxes

The drawer boxes were basically destroyed so I built new ones using Purebond plywood. I installed the drawer slide hardware then removed the drawer fronts from the old drawer boxes and attached them to the new drawer boxes.

upgrade an old desk new drawer boxes


Altering the Drawer Hardware to Fit

I found hardware that was very similar to the original hardware. (There was only one handle and a couple of knobs originally when we got the desk.) The only problem was that the screws for the knobs were not long enough. Did you know that #8-32 machine screws are the same screws used for drawer knobs and handles? If longer ones are needed, check the machine screws at the hardware store! I still couldn’t find machine screws long enough so I purchased a piece of 12″ #8-32 threaded rod and cut it with a hacksaw to suit my needs. I used a washer and a nut on the backside. Worked like a charm!

upgrade an old desk drawer hardware


The Finished Project

Here she is… Wow, I think it turned out beautifully! So did my daughter – she’s already asked for it back. (No way, kiddo, its mine!!)

upgrade an old desk finished project

upgrade an old desk

Have questions or tips about how to upgrade an old desk? Leave comments below!

Originally posted 2012-09-13 08:00:19.