Home ProjectsInterior Office Makeover

Office Makeover

by Amber

When we moved into our new house I said, “I’m updating the most used rooms in this house first.”  That would be because I did the complete opposite in our first house, silly mistake.  I didn’t get to enjoy our beautiful finished house before we moved.  Taking my own advise, I painted our master bath first… check! Next on the to-do list, was the office.  The office was; take a wild guess, yellow.  Incase you missed our “house tour,” and haven’t seen our yellow walls throughout our whole house check out our progress in the conversion from “ew” to “ahh” here.

When I thought about how this room would function, I looked back at some of the challenges we had from the office in our first house.  For example, we had built in’s with a shared desk and while it looked awesome, it was not the best option for our family; too much stuff… not enough space.  So in this house we decided we both needed our own desks because my husband always has papers to grade, and I like to keep every paper I receive for some reason; so the office remodel started.

Ya’ll, I seriously love this space. Daniel and I use the office so much and it functions really well for us!

Wait … lets go back to the beginning!  The photo below was taken a few weeks after we moved in.  It was basically a blank slate, with yellow walls and a flag (the third in our house).  We had one desk that we had to share for a while. By “share” I really mean that I took it over, and then apologized to my sweet husband.  I felt bad so I immediately starting looking for a desk of my own and bought some paint samples for the walls.


So what have we done in this room so far:

  • Purchased 2 desks from craigslist
  • Painted and stained my desk
  • Painted the walls
  • Hung curtains, art, flag, and awards
  • Built mini bookshelf
  • Purchased lamps and desk chair
  • Finished decor


Step one: Purchase desks.  Don’t be scared of Craigslist.  However, if you are, then don’t be afraid of other things that are similar to Craigslist such as Facebook Marketplace, apps like OfferUp, or Facebook groups in your area like Charlotte, NC Online Yard Sales, which has 65,000+ members.  These are all great ways to find furniture or other home items for much cheaper than buying something new.  We purchased both desks from Craigslist.  Daniel’s desk (image below) was $25.  My desk was purchased separately for $40 which you will see later in the post.  Daniel’s desk has more storage and character but mine has faux drawers on the left hiding a shelf storage area that better suited my needs.  How can you beat that for solid wood furniture?

Daniel’s desk got a good cleaning and it was done.  He really likes the worn and distressed look, so I was of course the complicated one from this point on.  This is my desk before we started the sanding process.  Please don’t judge the horrible picture, our garage was completely packed with stuff from our recent move.

Step two: refinish/ paint the desk.  These are the supplies that I used:

  • CitriStrip stripping gel
  • Rubber gloves
  • Old paint brush
  • Paint scrapper
  • Metal container
  • Sandpaper
  • Orbital sander
  • Briwax in tudor brown
  • Soft cloth (undershirt in our case)
  • Zinsser cover stain primer
  • Valspar white paint
  • Foam roller and brush

Stripping and sanding the top.  We used CitriStrip stripping gel from Lowe’s to get off the thick existing poly.  We like this product because it is a thick gel and we didn’t have to worry as much about it splashing on us or anything in the garage.  Before getting started we made sure to put on rubber gloves, this is a must.   I would recommend reading and following the instructions on the packaging.  However, we started by pouring a little bit of gel onto the top of the desk and used an old paint brush to spread it evenly across the entire top and sides that we intended to stain.  We made sure that it was pretty thick and even when doing this step.  We then waited 30 minutes and started scrapping.  We used a paint scrapper to remove as much of the stripper/ poly as we could.  With every scrap, we put the gross colored residue into a metal bucket.  After removing as much as we could and allowing the top to dry completely overnight, we started sanding.  This step took what felt like forever!  My wonderful husband did most of it, shout out to him!!

Staining the top.  After it was all sanded, smooth, and pretty, we cleaned it.  Using a barely damp cloth to wipe off all the dust, multiple times, the desk was clean and ready to be stained.  We used Briwax in tudor brown to stain only the top.  We applied multiple coats with a soft cloth, aka, an old undershirt.  Briwax, is what it sounds like, a wax, so make sure that you go easy when applying.  You want to get a small amount on the cloth and work it over the entire surface slowly.  We applied the wax in the direction of the wood grain.  When the wax started to appear really dull we applied a little more to the cloth and kept going.  It took multiple thin coats to get the look we wanted and the stain to be consistent overall.  We allowed the desk to dry for 48 hours before moving it upstairs to be painted.

Painting the base.  We used Zinsser cover stain primer and Valspar signature satin interior paint, straight from the can to paint the base white.  After reading a ton of stuff online, I decided to use a foam roller with both the primer and the paint.  I also used a foam paint brush to get in the corners and hard to reach places.  If I could do it all over again, I would have used furniture paint, which Haylie will be posting about using very soon.  I was nervous about it and the lady in Lowe’s talked me out of it.  Lesson learned.  Next, I removed all the drawers and the top before starting.  I painted a thin coat of primer over the entire desk and all of the drawer fronts.  I realized very quickly that this was going to take a few more coats, I applied three coats of primer total to all the drawers and desk.  Taking the extra time for this step allowed me to apply a single layer of the Valspar signature white and have complete coverage.  Ta Da!  This was the desk as soon as I finished it.

Overall I am very happy with the way it turned out.  I still need to stain the typewriter shelf but I keep forgetting to be honest.  I can see a little bit of texture from the foam roller when I get close to it but to be honest I don’t notice it enough to sand it down and paint again.  You can see in the photo below what I am referring to.  Lesson learned, next time I will be purchasing furniture paint.


After my desk was painted and both desks were in the room (easier said than done), I painted the walls Salt Glaze.  I used Valspar interior paint, in an eggshell finish.  Flat paint helps to hind any imperfections in your wall, but doesn’t clean very well.  We have a very large dog who leaves marks or dirt on everything. It is much easier for us to use a finish that we can clean.  Another room in the house is no longer yellow! I did a happy dance when this was finished.


Now the fun part!  I hung neutral curtains and a simple curtain rod.  I had all the frames from our previous home that I was able to reuse.  I’ve placed some random scrapbook paper in them for now until I have time to make items to go in each frame.  I also plan to paint the black one…. again, that finding time thing.

I purchased the flag over my husband’s desk at the Brookland Flea (an awesome market) in New York a while ago, and added a simple frame around it.  I was told this was an old Navy flag but if anyone could give us more information on this, that would be amazing!

While beginning to unpack we noticed that we didn’t have enough space for my husband’s books.  He looked around online and decided to build two book shelves out of old wood we had in the garage.  Very simple, easy project that works nicely in this space.  Hopefully more to come on this project soon.

We hung his awards above the closet and a framed quote at the door.

Lastly, we added some very important finishing details.  I purchased a desk chair and lamp for my desk.  We were gifted Daniel’s desk chair and we purchased a lamp for him.  We were also gifted the cute little desk above, Daniel’s dad actually used that desk when he was a little kid.  I’m a sucker for antiques, especially anything related to our family.  Finally, I added a few photos and plants (I can’t help that I am becoming more and more obsessed with house plants the older I get), and ta da!  We have a 90% finished office that we love and is very functional for both of us!




We still want to do the following things before we feel like this room will be 100% finished:

  • Purchase a file cabinet and refile/ organize all our paperwork
  • Reorganize/ clean out closet and desk (my least favorite thing to do ever)
  • Finish the typewriter shelf for my desk

When we sold our first house we realized we kept everything we ever had/did on that house, by we, I mean I kept everything.  Most of that is no longer needed, but we need to actually go through all of it and keep what’s important.  That’s it for now!


Cole May 22, 2017 - 10:14 am

I love Daniels desk. It really “syncs” to his American History teacher persona. I feel like he should be using it to sign declarations and laws.

Amber May 22, 2017 - 9:22 pm

Thanks, you know him so well. A guy can dream right?


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