Vintage Gas Station Map Desk

One of the many benefits giving old furniture new life, is my friends and readers are always on the lookout for great deals for me.  A lot of times when people have furniture they no longer have a use for they will ask me if I am interested in taking them.  This almost always ends up with me taking the furniture off their hands. This happened again a few weeks ago when my sweet friend, Charlene, sent me a picture of a cute little desk she was no longer using.  She offered it to me for free and I jumped at the chance!  How could I possibly say no?!

Here's the the desk before.

I instantly fell in love with this desk.  I thought it was a genius idea to have shelves on the side and only one drawer.  I'm the kind of person who likes to see that I have because if I don't see doesn't exist! Whoever designed this desk must have the same challenge!

I had recently sold a lot of my refinished furniture pieces, some of which were in our home.  One piece I sold was a desk I had painted last summer for my Son, Hunter (Hunter's Desk).  I loved this desk, but I found he never used it.  Instead of using the desk for working or playing on he would put the toys I asked him to put away on top of the desk.  This wasn't working for me or for him so I decided it was time to part with the map desk.  The new-to-me desk was just sitting in the garage waiting for a new home and that home was soon to be in Hunter's play room.  

When Hunter and I started talking about the desk project and what he envisioned it looking like,  he said he wanted a Union Jack painted on top.  However, I had painted an old school desk for him last year with a union jack on the desk top (Union Jack Desk).   The Union Jack desk is in his bedroom and really he doesn't use that one either (hmmm this seems to be a theme here!)   I don't like to do the same thing over and over so I figured it was time to try something new instead of another Union Jack.   I asked Hunter what his second choice was be and he said "A 13 star US flag, you know like Betsy Ross made."  OK I won't lie, I knew the flag, but had to look it up on the net to refresh my memory.   After which,  I agreed that it was a great idea....that was until I started trying to plan out the stripes and stars on the desk top.  I worked for about an hour trying to figure out the math, then asked him for his third choice. ( I'm creative AND naturally blond....math has never been my strong suit! )  Between the two of us we came up with a new plan and I got started painting.

I used Chalk Paint® by Annie Sloan in Napoleonic Blue, Old White and Emperor's Silk.  I have to point out something here....Napoleonic Blue is one of the most amazing colors.  With Annie Sloan soft dark wax, the color is so deep and varied.  It has and always will be, one of my favorite Annie Sloan colors.  I painted the whole desk in two coats of Napoleonic Blue.  After I was done I stepped back and had a look.  The desk looked a lot better, but I wanted the shelves to stand out a bit more.    

Hunter loves anything to do with cars, but he also shares my love for maps and globes.  I had purchased some vintage gas station maps from an estate sale last year and thought this might be a perfect chance to use them.  I decoupaged the maps onto the shelves and inside the drawer with Mod Podge.  I thought it was going to be a lot harder than it actually was.  They went on and stayed put without bubbling!  I topped each decoupaged shelf with two coats of Mod Podge for protection.  After the maps were on, I waxed the entire desk, including the map covered shelves,  in a mixture of Annie Sloan soft wax in clear and dark.  

Next came the tricky part!  Hunter and I had decided to paint a red H in the center of an off white circle in the middle of the desk top.  The idea was inspired by the vintage map I used on the shelves,  a Gulf gas station map.  The logo for Gulf on the old map is an orange, and white circle with Gulf written in blue.  To get this all done without it looking like a 2 year old painted it, I took a large circular platter I had in the kitchen and traced around it in pencil.  Then I used the Old White paint and a small artist's brush to paint the outline of the circle.  For the inside of the circle I used a small paint brush and 3 coats of paint.  It wasn't hard, but it did take some time and some patience.  To speed up the process I used a heat gun to dry the paint and to give it a bit of a cracked and aged finish.  It worked great!  

For the H I used a craft store letter I had lying around and traced the shape in the middle of the circle.  This time I used Emperor's Silk paint and an artists brush to fill in the letter.  Again this wasn't difficult, but did require some patience and a steady hand.  I painted 3 coats and in-between each coat I again used the heat gun to dry the paint and give it some character.  Once all the paint was dry I finished it off with a bit 500 grit sand paper to even the finish out.  Then applied the same mixture of clear and dark waxes.

Changing the drawer hardware was the last step.  I replaced the old hardware with some library drawer pulls I had purchased at Target on clearance.  The nickel library pulls were the perfect finishing touch.   

Here's the finished desk all dressed up for some pictures out by the tree.

I'm really happy with how it turned out.  It's just right for an almost 8 year old boy.  I think it's something that will grow with him over the years.

I like how the desk only has one drawer.  I know Hunter, and when he's in a hurry to clean up he will shove anything he can into a drawer.  Hmmmm....wonder where he learned that?!  

The colors in the vintage gas station maps work perfectly with the paint colors.  

In case you were wondering, the map in the drawer is an old Esso Map of New Jersey.  The map on the shelves is a Gulf gas station map of Pennsylvania.  I think it's funny how large and cumbersome maps used to be!  I can still remember my parents on our cross country trip from LA to NY trying to navigate our VW Beetle with two kids....all while trying to find their way using a map very similar to these.

The drawer hardware definitely pulls it all together.  It goes great with the vintage gas station look I wanted.

 A lot of the depth in the color and texture of the paint gets lost in pictures.  This picture gives you an idea of the crackling and depth of the paint once the wax is added on top.  It has the look of old cracked and aged porcelain like vintage gas station signs.  

One day soon I hope to take some updated pictures of Hunter's play room.  I've made a lot of changes in that room since.  The desk looks great in the play room with the vintage license plates and stop sign I've added since last year.  This weekend at the Country Living Fair in NY,  I was lucky enough to find a vintage gas station number.  It's one of the old numbers they used for the gas prices.  I still remember driving by seeing a guy up on a ladder changing the price!    I also found a booth at the Country Living Fair that sold custom vintage license plate signs.  The company is called Ginger Blue Decor.  I thought this was a great idea!  I had the VERY patient guys working at the booth help me make a custom sign with Hunter's name.  When I gave it to Hunter he loved it!  What kid doesn't like something cool with their name on it?

I'm happy my little guy has a new desk made just for him.  The best part about being able to redo furniture is being able to make something unique and special for someone.  This time I was lucky enough to do this for my one and only little man.  The desk reflects who he is and what he enjoys.  When we moved the desk into his play room last night, Hunter's reaction was priceless.  He walked over to the desk, then turned around with a huge smile on his face, gave me a big hug and said, "I love my new Desk Mommy...Thank you."  Yep!  My heart melted, I choked up and my eyes filled with tears. I love that kid.....

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog.   I was overwhelmed by the support and response I received about my last post where I shared about some of my flaws.  It was wonderful to know I wasn't alone.  I have the best readers out there in blogland!  

Much love,


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  1. Wow so much of your passion really shows in this piece! Linda

  2. You rocked this desk redo!! What a cool desk, love it :)

    xo, Tanya

  3. What a gorgeous desk. You are awesome!

  4. That is really amazing! Love it...the number, the color, the map! You do great work!!!
    Stacey of Embracing Change

  5. Melody- That is one of the best makeovers of an old desk I have seen. It is just great. You did a wonderful job- xo Diana

  6. I love it! I am obsessed with maps and read them in my spare time! LOL.!
    I am going to try to decoupage maps on a bookcase I have. ( I wish I had the maps I threw out over the years!)
    Wonderful job!

  7. You did an amazing job on that desk! The maps and the colors looks gorgeous!

  8. Looks great, love the colour and the maps are perfect.