Give the Gift of Painted Furniture

I’m really awful about buying gifts for people for holidays. It seems so superficial, doesn’t it? You know, just buying some random gift to satisfy your holiday quota?

That’s just not me.

(I prefer to make things for people, like that DIY craft pack that I made for my friend’s 40th birthday).

So when my mom asked me to skip work and drive to my hometown to spend a Mother-Daughter day painting this desk with her, as her Mother’s Day gift, I knew it was the perfect heart-felt gift that I could give her!

Give the Gift of Painted Furniture

I had picked up this desk last year at the thrift store for a mere $28! I had offered to give it to my mom, and of course, she wanted it (because it’s such good quality). I had offered to paint it for her a while ago, but she thought she liked it “as is.” (And let me tell you, this baby is HEAVY! They just don’t make affordable furniture like this anymore. Thank GOD for thrift stores, right??) 🙂


Thrift store desk only $28!

But she had a change of heart recently and wanted to paint it white. So off I went, for a Mother’s Day “girls day”!

After a day of chatting…..eating pizza……and enjoying a quiet day without kids, this is what we pulled off:



Thrift Diving thrift store desk makeover

We painted it in Annie Sloan Chalk Paint “Old White”, with a light distressing around the edges, and two coats of Annie Sloan clear wax.

It was such a dramatic makeover that my mom kept “Ooohing” and “Ahhing” over the desk. And rightly so. It looks so rich and beautiful now! And what she most wanted was for her “office area” of her living room to be brightened up a bit. Now that the desk is white, it’s definitely a happier corner!

It’s funny how you never know how DRAB something was until you paint it! 🙂 It’s such a huge difference for her corner!

Thrift Diving thrift store desk

You may be wondering about the top of this desk. It’s the existing leather panels that came on the desk! I also thought they would look better painted, but once I saw the “AFTER” of this desk when we were done, I really appreciated the worn, dirty leather on top. It gave the piece some genuine aged character. We decided to keep them instead of painting them.



Give the Gift of Teaching

My mom and I don’t get a lot of quality time together. I’ve got 3 rowdy boys (ages 6, 3, and 1.5 years) and when we go to visit her about once per month on a Saturday, her house becomes a zoo, with my sons acting like a munch of wild monkeys. Hubby works weekends, so it’s usually me trying to herd cats care for the kids by myself. 😉

And I only get to see my mom about once every 3 weeks or so.

So to get this chance to share with her my love of painting furniture, and show her how I make things pretty again, was a great gift to give her!

Thrift Diving thrift store desk


The “Slacker” Way to Paint Drawers

While we were painting, I looked over and gasped when I saw my mom doing THIS:

PAINTING the drawers WITHOUT removing the contents! HAHAHAHA


I think this picture should be captioned: “The Lazy, Novice Way to Paint Drawers.”

Too funny!!

Ain’t nobody got TIME to be removin’ stuff, now! 😉

Repairing Broken Parts

Okay, so there were some issues with this desk, but we worked around it:

1. It’s missing one of the handles.

We only have 8 of the 9 handles. Did you already notice? 😉 When I look at my original photo of this desk, when I first brought it home from the thrift store, I had it. But now…?? Who in the world knows! Somethow, I think I lost it in the transport to Mom’s house.

But….um, who cares? We’ll just put that drawer to the far right of the desk and hope that no one will notice 🙂 No one really comes to visit, anyhow. It’s not even that noticeable. And I surely don’t strive for perfection!

EDITED TO ADD: Readers in the comments area recommended removing the center drawer handle and using that for the missing one. Then, find a cool mis-matchy one to go on the middle drawer! Love that idea!


2. The front edge was badly chipped.

I used a bit of Gorilla Glue (best stuff EVER) to glue down the piece of wood that was coming up.

Thrift Diving thrift store desk

Then I used Elmer’s Carpenter’s Wood Filler and tried to even out the unevenness (sorry I didn’t get more details pics of filling these problem areas!)

Thrift Diving thrift store desk

After a bit of filling in the chipped area and sanding to even it out, I painted that area, lightly distressed the edges, and applied 2 coats of clear wax. Hardly noticeable now!


3. The furniture hardware needed some Rub ‘n Buff.

Definitely not a problem. If you haven’t tried Rub ‘n Buff, get your hands on this stuff immediately! (Click here to buy Rub ‘n Buff from Amazon). Although the hardware was beautifully shaped, they were tarnished. Rub ‘n Buff totally covers nasty old tarnished handles that have great shapes and designs but just needs an updated finish. I find it easier to use (and less mess!) than spray paint. Just rub it on, buff it out for shine, and you’re done! It comes in an array of colors, and I’m thinking about getting the whole set of Rub ‘n Buff, which is only about $30. Pretty affordable!





Rub ‘n Buff is one of my top 15 DIY “must have” tools and supplies!


I’ve used it in several projects, like my green and gold “Agenda” desk and some other cheap DIY gifts that have made for people.  I love that stuff!!!

Mom had never even heard of Rub ‘n Buff before, so I put her to work trying it out. She couldn’t believe how it totally changed the hardware!


A dramatic “before” and “after” when you see them side by side, huh?!



Here’s another look at the BEFORE and AFTER:

Thrift Diving thrift store desk

Thrift Diving mother's day desk

Final Cost

Considering that I had all the materials I used already and that I didn’t have to buy anything separate, this desk project cost me nothing, really! So, for $28 (the cost of the desk initially), my mom’s got a fabulous, beautiful, sturdy desk for her office corner, and she and I had a chance to bond! 🙂 SCORE!

More Gifts to Consider

Why don’t you consider doing something awesome for your mom? It doesn’t have to cost money. Just spending an afternoon with her, doing something that she will appreciate, and being able to chat and bond, is more valuable than anything you can pick up from Target 🙂 Just sayin’……

Here’s a couple other ideas of things that I think Moms would really love:

1. Knit her something.

2. Give her DIY coupons for things she can redeem any time (e.g. a “mother/daughter day,” making her dinner, teaching her a new skill, etc.)

3. Frame a pic of you and her together. (Get the frame from the thrift store, of course….)

4. Write a letter of thanks and appreciation. Use pretty paper!

5. Write a poem. Here’s the poem I wrote my mom one Mother’s Day, called “Thank You.”

6. Record a video telling her how much she means to you. Put it on a CD she can keep forever.

7. DIY craft pack with some of her favorite things (okay, so many you’ll have to go to Target, after all. LOL)

I Love You, Mommykins! 😉

My mother and me

What are some great DIY gift ideas do you have for your mom or other special people in your world?  



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Hey there, I'm Serena, a 38-year-old working mom of 3 young boys who can't get enough DIY! If you actually made it to the bottom of this post to read this, it means you're really enjoy my blog. That means SO much. If I can inspire just one person through my passion and energy for DIY, then I'm fulfilling my life's purpose. Thanks for joining me, and I hope you'll subscribe so we can keep in touch! ~Serena

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Sites That Link to this Post

  1. 5 Ways To Use Rub n' Buff - Thrift Diving Blog : Thrift Diving Blog | August 3, 2015
  2. Vintage Furniture GALORE! | | October 10, 2013
  1. Debbie Bourne says:

    I’ve never heard of the Rub and Buff. What color do you recommend having as a “staple”?

    • Hi, Debbie! I would definitely recommend the golds! They have a few shades of them, so I’d get a couple and keep those on hands. You never know when you want to update hardware with it, or any number of things!

  2. Blondie says:

    That is an amazing transformation. Great job!

  3. Eliesa says:

    I just saw that exact desk yesterday at the thrift store for $199! Great score! And it is beautiful now 🙂

  4. DeAnn says:

    I love it!!!
    I have recently “acquired” some small pieces of used furniture, as well!
    A small phone desk, a foyer table, and an end table….each are stained pieces.
    I plan on base painting them white and doing some whimsical painting on each one.
    My question to you is, if the pieces do not have varnish or similar finish on them, do I need to sand them, or can I TSP them and use a good primer on them first?
    (I LOATH sanding) LOL

  5. Iain says:

    Holy cow that is exactly the type of desk my gf would love.

    It seems like it would be just the right type of desk that she could use for her sewing.

    Awesome job

  6. Diane says:

    Such a cute blog, I love it and being a lady of little patience myself bravo to Mom for painting the full drawer. hahaha
    Honey Stop The Car Vintage

  7. Mary says:

    Such a great gift for you mom. She will appreciate that more than flowers! Great job and tips, as usual!

    • Thanks, Mary! Yeah…flowers die. LOL. And I know for myself, I HATE throwing away something that people give me, even dead flowers! Thrift store furniture lasts FOREVER! lol

  8. Denise says:

    What a beautiful Mothers Day Gift! The desk and most importantly the quality time spent together!

    • Hey there, Denise! Thank you so much! Yeah, she and I haven’t had much time to spend together alone since I started having all my babies. So, when we get quality time, it’s much appreciated! The best part is that every time she looks at the desk, she’ll remember that day 🙂 Thanks for your comment!

  9. Love it – I didn’t even notice the handle til you mentioned it – lol
    Do love rub n buff – definitely less fiddly than spraying and much cheaper than new hardware!

    • HA! Then I guess I shouldn’t have mentioned it! Lorna, from my FB page, recommended taking the middle drawer’s handle and replacing the missing one, and then getting a decorative one for the middle drawer! GREAT suggetion! I’m going to get one to take with me when I drive back to my mom’s. She’ll be so pleased! 🙂 Thanks, Tracey!

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