Our Latest Campaign


While most Americans spent their Fourth of July swimming, grilling, watching fireworks, and relaxing, we took on our latest project.  We just wouldn’t feel like our normal, American selves otherwise!

Our office has been lacking storage for awhile.  I was a big fan of sawhorse tables a year ago and snatched one up on sale at IKEA.  I later realized it offered nothing in terms of storage and was not the best solution for housing our computer and its mess of cords.

Get ready to see the terrifying before shot of our office.  Ready?

What a mess.

Something had to be done and I knew it would all start with a new desk.

So, I’ve begun to feel a little political lately.  And, no, not because Washington’s gearing up for the next election, but because of my new furniture obsession: campaign desks.

There’s been a recent resurgence in these glories from the past.  I’ve seen a lot of these desks painted in bright colors, which is just the thing to juxtapose the shiny metal hardware, classic to this desk.

Sources from left to right: 1) Modernhaus, 2) Dayka Robinson Designs, 3) Centsational Girl

Yes, this would be the solution.  I descended upon CraigsList and soon found this beaut for $50.

I brought her home to Chris’ immediate disgust.  In his mind, I wasted $50 for someone else’s garbage.  He couldn’t see past the outdated wood, tarnished brass, and a bottom that wasn’t quite adhered all the way.

So, it wasn’t perfect but I knew it was just the diamond in the rough that our office needed.

Now the question was what color to paint it.  At first, I thought white.  Then black.  Then kelly green.

We ended up going with a gray-blue color, after Chris and I spent 30 minutes in the aisle of Home Depot debating green vs blue (he won that round).

We bought 2 cans of Rust-oleum’s Primer and 3 cans of Rust-oleum’s Satin Slate Blue spray paint and set to work.

We’ve walked through how to spray paint furniture before but thought we’d break it down into 8 easy steps for you all (note: steps 6-8 are simply to stress the necessity of several coats- we used three).

Materials Needed:

  • Sander
  • Sanding Block (to use in tight corners that the sander can’t reach)
  • Damp Rag
  • Vacuum or Shop Vac (optional but helpful to clean dust from tight spots after sanding)
  • Primer
  • Spray Paint
  • Mask (important to wear for spraying safety!)


Julie has come home with some pretty odd items in the past, but this was the first time she ever showed up with something that may have been better-off used as an anchor. After all, it weighed close to a full ton and had clearly already been submerged at least once. The worst part is that she was convinced $50 was a good deal, while I was convinced she had just wasted $50.

After arguing for awhile, I decided to just give up, which apparently included giving up my entire 4th of July, too. I was sentenced to a day of spray-painting, and I hate spray-painting.

The first order of business was to repair the wood. I very seriously think this desk may have been in a flood at some point, as the bottom trim has some pretty nasty water damage. The wood/particleboard was warped and half the trim was falling off, and it looked terrible.

First, I had to remove all the trim and sand/chisel the swollen wood off so that the trim could sit flush again.

Next, I had to reattach the trim. I used wood glue to ensure a nice, tight bond between the desk and the trim.

Finally, I drove a few finishing nails in and patched the holes.

After priming and painting one coat, I let the paint dry for a few hours. Before laying down another coat, I sanded out all the rough spots, drips, and bubbles:

Lather, rinse, repeat.

I eventually sprayed three coats, and now I can’t feel my right index finger. Since we don’t like to worry about furniture much, I brushed one coat of urethane on the top to waterproof it and to help keep wear and tear to a minimum.

This desk made me give up my day off, but it also allowed me to have a desk that I didn’t have to trip over to get to the patio. And Julie has another piece of furniture to put on Pinterest.

After (hers… if you couldn’t guess).

And every drawer deserves cute liner.  I’m not sure where all the awesome shelf paper has gone but there is definitely a slim market nowadays.  After being let down by Target and Container Store, I finally found the perfect option at Home Depot of all places.  It’s called Talisman Gray by Con-Tact Grip Prints.

I have to say, I’m pretty happy how the blue turned out, even though I was convinced I would only be happy with kelly green.  Just don’t tell Chris he was right.  I’ll never hear the end of it.

Stay tuned for our adventure into the world of polishing brass.  It was quite the disaster adventure.



Filed under Before & After, Office

37 responses to “Our Latest Campaign

  1. Nice job and you picked a great color – classic yet modern at the same time.

  2. This is amazing! What a fantastic way to make a signature piece that looks expensive but isn’t! Fantastic colour too! I love the contrast of the pastel blue againt the masculine shape of this desk!

    • DO or DIY

      Thank you! It was an amazing find, we really lucked out! I found a very similar, unpainted campaign desk being sold for $295! Yikes!


  3. GaGa & Pop

    Great look! I love the desk!

  4. JC Allen

    Good instruction video…I commend you both. One item I will address with you is to show responsibility for “safe” instructions. Without going into the medical aspect of spray paint(ing)…please use a mask. Also, HomeDepot sells a pistol grip gaget in the Paint Dept that is good for saving sore fingers. It mounts right on top of your spray can. Have a Blessed Day,
    JC Allen, Plano, TX

    • DO or DIY

      That is such a good point, JC! Thanks for bringing up the safety of spraying. I went ahead and added that tip about wearing a mask- such an important item to remember!

      We saw the spray paint can grip at Home Depot but Chris saw that it didn’t have great reviews online so we opted not to buy it. If you’ve used one before and would recommend it worth buying, let us know! We’re definitely interested in ways to ease the finger pain from spraying!

      Thanks for stopping by!

      • JC Allen

        The reason the finger grip for spray paint missed good reviews… Many of the people did not follow the directions (must of thought it was easy to attach). Most of them did not clean it properly. A few had purchased some that had been tested in the store isles, hastely wiped and left for the old paint to dry. Try purchasing it and give it a trail run…if it doesn’t work to your satisfaction, HomeDepot ALWAYS will give you back your money (save the receipt).

      • DO or DIY

        Will do. Thanks JC! That’s definitely good to know… and will hopefully save Chris’ finger next time!


  5. The desk turned out great! Good job!!

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  7. I just wanted to chime in on the spray paint can grip: I have recently become totally obsessed with spray painting things (furniture and home decor, not like walls and overpasses) and that attachment is really a good thing. SO much more comfortable than that stupid tab on the can. I think I got the Rustoleum one and have used it multiple times with no problems! Also, your blog is great!

    • DO or DIY

      I feel you on spray painting everything… if you looked in my garage, you’d think I was hoarding cans in every color! Thanks for the tip! We’re definitely going to invest in a spray paint grip for our next project. Chris’ hand will be sure to thank us!


  8. anna

    I use wallpaper (from the clearance rack) as shelf liner.

  9. I am totally new to this. What grit sandpaper did you use?

    • DO or DIY

      Great question, Christi. We used 120 grit sandpaper when we first sanded down the desk as it’s a little coarser. Between coats, however, we used 220 grit, which is finer and thus leaves a smoother finish.


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  11. Beautiful! Isn’t it funny how our husbands just don’t have the same “vision” 😉 and I’d say $50 was a great deal!

  12. Sharmaine

    Hi everyone I’m about to get obsessed w spray painting I’m just gathering all my tips and tricks and confidence from u all. However I have one question. Out of all the info I’ve seen on spray painting furniture I see everyone using the cans.. Isn’t it easier to use the handheld sprayer from Wagner or the commercial one for walls. I’m just wondering is there a reason why everyone is buying so many cans when u can use paint sprayers. Please let me know.thanks!

    • DO or DIY

      Great question, Sharmaine. Spray paint’s great for both small projects (when you don’t need to buy a ton of paint in a particular color) and for lazy painters such as myself who hate prep and clean-up and just want a quick and easy makeover. They make so many great colors in spray paint now so it’s hard to resist going the spray paint route for these smaller projects . For larger furniture or big areas such as doors, cabinets, etc. that we end up spraying a more common color such as black or white, we tend to use our Wagner paint sprayer.


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  15. Ann Gallaher

    Hi, I love this blog! I have a desk I need to refinish that was built in 1955 and I like the color as I am going with grays in my condo. May switch out the old hardware to wood knobs to give it a modern look. Thanks for all the great tips!

  16. A fantastic piece of furniture, thanks for sharing. Amazing job you’ve done. I’m in the selection stage for colours, I’m going to use Painters Touch as I see from your article, they have some great colours, I was wondering if you’ve used their ‘dark grey’? or ‘sun yellow’?

    It’ll be for the interior and exterior of an open cube coffee table.
    Thanks! Claire

    • DO or DIY

      I’ve used the light yellow color before on a flower pot and really liked how it turned out. I’ve never used their dark gray before. Whatever you end up painting, just be sure to prime first! I was lazy and skipped priming the flower pot I painted and it ended up chipping after several months of being outside. If I had primed first, I think it would’ve stood up quite a bit better.


  17. Ann

    I have sprayed the drawer fronts of a chest, but not the chest yet. I did not use a primer, unfortunately, and the coverage is splotchy. Do you think I could just lightly sand the drawers and then prime the whole piece before painting again? Thought this was gonna be so easy, as I have painted zillions of things with no problems, but there’s always a first time for every thing, I guess! Thanks for your suggestions!

    • DO or DIY

      Yes, I would definitely recommend priming. When we first started painting, I redid our bathroom cabinets and was got lazy and didn’t sand and prime first. While I didn’t have any issues with coverage, two years later, the paint has peeled in several places and now I need to redo them all. Very frustrating! I wish I would’ve taken the time to prep properly. Furniture is the same way- definitely don’t skip those steps if you want the finish to last awhile. Good luck with the project!

      – Julie

  18. How long did this take you? Was it all done in one day? I plan to do this to a desk of mine this week and was curious! Thanks so much for the tutorial, I’m also totally planning on using the same color, it’s gorgeous!

    • DO or DIY

      You can definitely pull it off in a weekend. Sand, prep and paint one day. Wait a few hours to do final coats. Do any distressing then seal the top with polyurethane on the second day. Let that dry another 24 hours before setting anything on it.


  19. sara

    Amazing.I have also a table like this but it has embroidery touch of wood.

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  21. Yolanda

    You guys did an awesome job! Looks great 🙂

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