Frog Green School Desk Turned Napoleonic Prince

OK, I'm laughing at my title.  However it's the truth!!  A few months back while perusing the local Goodwill I came across a school desk and chair.  I instantly fell in love with the bones of the pieces, but definitely not the color.  They were painted in a bright frog green semi-gloss paint.  The paint hadn't been put on in the most careful manner so there were drips and globs and it was a mess.  It sat in my "I will get to it pile" for a very long time.  The hubby loved the chair because it was nice and solid and he could sit on it and chat with me or watch Hunter play with his friends from the garage.  He was a bit sad when I told him I was refurbishing it for someone.

I got an email from a nice woman asking if I had any desks that I could redo for her 5 year old Son.  I was thrilled when she liked the frog green desk because it meant I could put it on my 'has to get done ASAP' list!  We exchanged a few emails back and forth and determined what Icould do to the desk to make it right for her Son and his room.  We decided on Annie Sloan Napoleonic Blue with dark wax and the top stained dark.  I couldn't wait to get started, but unfortunately I had several projects in front of the desk so it had to wait a few weeks.

Last week it was finally time to get working on the desk.  I couldn't wait to get rid of that green paint and give this desk the personality and character is deserved.

Here's the desk before.

This is exactly what the chair looked like when I brought it home.  My blurry iPhone picture doesn't show the details as well as I'd like.

The desk was all green including the top, but the day I got it home I decided to sand the top down and see what was underneath.  What was underneath was more paint and it was caked on.  I knew at some point this one would need to be stripped.

Once I got started working on the desk I realized it could all be disassembled.  This was great news, but at the same time I was nervous.  I'm great with taking things apart and not so great with putting them back together.  I made sure I paid good attention as I took it apart :-)

The top came off the frame and the shelf came off in two pieces.  This made a tricky job a lot easier.  I had wondered how I would paint inside the shelf and get the underneath of the top.  Perfect solution!!

I stripped the top twice and then sanded it down, but no matter how much I sanded there was paint and wood fill embedded in this desk.  I was going for the old desk look so I just went with it.

I painted the frame, the shelf and the chair in two coats of Napoleonic blue and topped them with a coat of clear and dark wax.  The top of the desk I stained with Kona and Dark Walnut.  I gave the desk top 5 coats of stain hoping it would get darker, but it wouldn't go any darker no matter what I did.  I then topped it with 3 coats of dark wax, letting it dry in between coats.

I didn't get a lot progress shots while I was working on the desk.  I was working on a dresser and a table at the same time so I was going back and forth between all three.  There was too much going on to get lots of pictures.

When all the paint and wax was on the desk and chair I realized they needed something else.  I gave them a light distressing to bring out the character and show the age.  The piece looked flat without this step.  The funny part about this is the froggy green paint showed through a bit, but with the dark wax on top it looked fantastic!  It was almost like I meant to have that color on there.

Here you can see the shelf and how it came apart in 2 pieces.  They're still drying in this picture.

This is the chair (still drying on the seat) and how it looked after 2 coats of paint.  It just didn't have the character I was hoping for at this point.  It looked flat and boring.

Frame of the desk with 2 coats of paint and clear wax.  

This is with some light distressing by hand with some sand paper and no dark wax.

There's that froggy green, but now it doesn't look so bad.  This is before the dark wax which made it all come together!

Here it is all done and dressed up for some pictures and YES I got it all put back together!  YIPPEE FOR ME!!  

I think it looks fantastic now.  No more froggy green desk with drippy semi-gloss paint.  Now this desk has personality, character and is perfect for a little boy.

Sometimes a piece just needs some distressing to make it look it's age.  This was one of those pieces.  I love how the froggy green is popping out, but is toned down and aged with the dark wax.  Napoleonic Blue with dark wax is one of my favorite combinations.  The depth of the color is breathtaking!  

Here's the top that was covered in froggy green paint and many more layers of paint in different colors.  It's now stained and waxed and it looks amazing.

The chair that was looking so boring just painted blue, now has some distressing and dark wax and now looks perfect!    The shapes and details pop now.

I wanted the chair to look like it had been well-loved and moved around a lot.  Now the other layers of paint and some wood show through which definitely make it look like a well-loved chair  

Love this chair now!

Here's the happy little boy with his new desk.  For me this makes it all worthwhile!  The smile on his face and knowing he will be enjoying this desk for many years to come are the best reward!

I love what I do and the people I meet along the way.  Knowing something I worked hard on and put my heart and soul into is well-loved by it's new owners makes me smile from ear to ear! 

This was a great transformation.  I love seeing a piece of furniture in it's 'ugly' state and being able to see past the ugliness to what it could be.  It's truly my passion and it's what I dream about at night.  When I go to bed I can't wait to wake up in the morning and get started on the next piece and see how it transforms.

I'm working on another post for next week.  It's another great dresser transformation, but this time it's a 60's wood dresser with incredible lines.  It turned out just the way I had envisioned and I can't wait to show you how beautiful it is now.  

Thank you for reading and have a wonderful week!



Primitive and Proper


  1. aaah, much better! and i love the hints of green still showing through!

  2. what a great lil desk! when you purchase items that you are going to redo and sell, how do you determine what is the highest you will pay for the piece and then what you will charge for it once done?

  3. So much better than the before. Really like what ya did with it!

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