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Turn an Old Desk into a Childs’ Art Station (tutorial)!!

Happy Wednesday everyone! I recently made over this vintage school desk for my daughter and I thought all of you DIYers over here at Tatertots & Jello would love it! Now let me show you how I turned this old and rusty desk into my daughter’s favorite place to color!
I was at a trade show about six months ago and found this cute vintage desk. I had hopes and dreams of fixing it up for Malea but as the months went by I was beginning to think that I’d never have time to get to it. However when I started my office makeover a few weeks ago I decided the desk would make a fun addition to my office. It’s the perfect size for Malea and it would be a great spot for her to sit and color while I work.Here’s how it started out…

It was very rusty! I was covered in orange dust when I got done sanding it down.

After sanding the majority of the rust off, I taped off all the wood.

I decided on this pretty Rustoleum color because what 3 year old princess doesn’t love purple!?


After the paint dried I sanded and re-stained the wood a darker color.
I also added her name to the chair just for fun. :)
I knew I wanted to do something fun with the desktop too, I considered chalkboard paint, but then I decided to go with a dry erase desktop. I thought it would be fun for her to get to write, and color, right on her desk!
Now that the chair is done it sits happily in my office.
I also grabbed these baskets from the Target $ bins, to organize her crayons, pens, etc. They are handy because she can pull them out and put them back all by herself!
Practicing writing her name… I love how proud of herself she is!
Thank you for letting me hang here with you today! I’m off to go color on the desk with my daughter some more…

Anna!! What a great project. I bet your daughter gets so much use out of that desk!!

If you haven’t been over to Ask Anna – you need to check it out. Anna has fabulous ideas, like:

How to Clean Linoleum Floors

How to Remove Grease Splatters

Tips for a Stress Free Move & Packing Check List

Be sure to check out Ask Anna for great cleaning tips and more!!!


Have a great day!!


  1. This is adorable. How did you do the dry erase?

  2. I am a teacher and have been wanting one of these. I finally found one identical to your before pic. I hope my after looks as fab as Malea’s! Thanks for a point in the right direction. Can’t wait to get started!

    • Erin Draft says:

      I finished! Did the same color, but did a blackboard top. Thanks so much for the advice. It was my first DIY. So proud of me!! :-)

      • Erin,
        Would you mind giving me the dimensions of the desktop? I have one I’d like to refinish but it has no desktop.

  3. I have a desk like this but it’s missing the desktop. Could you give me the demensions on the desktop? I’m feeling inspired to do something with ours.

  4. Maureen says:

    This is fantastic! I have the identical desk for my wee one. I love your idea of using the dry-erase desk top!

  5. We just redid my husbands old desk! Love your desk! It looks great!

  6. LOVE this idea! I just came across a school chair table like this in my local vintage store…too bad i didn’t purchase! Now, I regret it :( This is too adorable and the dry eraser idea is a genius! Malea must love sitting on this table set! How much time did it require to do this project?

  7. I used to have these type of desks for my three girls who are now 22, 17 and 14. My Dad was always able to find them here and there. Now that I am almost a Grandma they are kinda hard to find. I am really feeling my age, it seems what was “old” is now “new” again. I hope your princess enjoys this as much as my own did. And I am on the hunt for another desk cause my next princess is gonna be here in November!

  8. Michelle says:

    What a great idea! I have a very similar desk sitting in my basement, I really need to clean it up for my son.

  9. What a darling desk. Your daughter is the luckiest girl in the world for having a Mom like you. I have a similar desk. I will be doing the same thing. thanks

  10. I am so loving this idea!! Especially turning the top into a dry erase board. Brilliant!

    • Thank you. I was actually pretty impressed with myself when I had the idea. :) I’m not usually that creative so I was excited about it!


  11. Love this! I was randomly “Pinteresting” and clicking away at different blog sites. This link showed up on the right side of the blog before which is AMAZING and PERFECT timing! My father just brought over 2 “antique” desks for my girls yesterday and they are needing a little restoration. I was a little unsure as to how to go about it at first…I had not considered a dry erase top, but was thinking the chalkboard top just as you had mentioned. Anyhow, enough rambling. Thanks so much, this is going to be super helpful! :)

  12. What a cute desk! She looks so happy with it! I love the purple; so fun for a little girl.

  13. Oh my gosh, great idea! I’m going to have to start hunting for 3! My kids are going to flip! Thanks for sharing.

  14. Heather Morrison says:

    I have one just like this! I cant wait to redo it!! What kind of sandpaper did you use?

    • I used the really gritty stuff at first because the desk was COVERED in rust. Then I used some super fine sandpaper to smooth everything out after the rust was gone. I lightly sanded the wood too before I stained it.


  15. How did you do the dry-erase top? We have a vintage school desk sitting in our playroom awaiting DIY treatment!!

  16. Great Job as usual! Love the dry erase top idea. I bet she loves it! Thanks for posting.