Flea Market Painted Desk

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Retro Painted Desk Makeover

When I saw this old fashioned metal school desk at the flea market, I knew it would make for an amazing makeover.

Retro metal desk makeover

Martha’s current desk was a sweet little wooden desk from the flea market we made over a few years ago. We didn’t have much space in her old bedroom for a desk, but in her new room… she wanted a slightly larger desk. When I saw this vintage metal school desk, I grabbed it for $20. It doesn’t have a ton of storage, but it was the right price and will be the perfect size for the wall next to her bed.

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desk area before

retro metal school desk

Step 1. Scrub the desk

I used steel wool to scratch up the metal on the legs, shelves and back of the desk. There was some rust on the inside of the shelves, so I made sure to remove that as best I could as well.

scrub the desk with steel wool

Step 2. Clean

Using a damp rag, we wiped down the desk making sure to remove all the dust and debris.

clean the desk

Step 3. Tape off

We decided to leave the top of the desk untouched. I love the original surface and also figured that the top would be the most likely to scratch and chip so why take the risk. I taped off the top of the desk with Frogtape and newspaper and then taped up the feet.

tape off the top and feet of the desk

Step 4. Spray Paint

I’m using Plutonium Aloha and was so impressed by the coverage. I tried to spray inside the drawers as best I could and overall the new and improved desk looks amazing! I’m an ambassador for Plutonium and ha’ve been using their spray paint for the last few months and have been wildly impressed with the coverage, lack of overspray, dry time and general ease of use. The cost per can is higher, but… this desk only used 1/2 a can so each can goes a long way. Use code CHARLOTTESHOUSE for 40% off over at Plutonium.

spray paint the desk

spray painting the desk

Martha loves having a better work space in her room. So far, I haven’t seen her sit down to do any actual work, but she loves arranging her notebooks and projects on her new desk. It fits that little area perfectly and, for $20, I’m going to consider this one a big old victory.

painted blue desk in kids room

detail of desk items blue painted desk in girls room

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spray painted desk


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  1. Do You test for leaD paint on the furniture you refinish? We’Ve had professional tests done on Wall paint before doing major renovaTions on our house but it’s pricey. i was today years old when i found out that you can buy simple, cheap home kits at plaCes lke home depot. I’D love to know How accurate they are.

    1. Hi Lise! Yes! I do. For something like this I didn’t because I’m not sure this type of metal paint is lead… In my experience those lead kits are pretty accurate! When in doubt… wear a mask, go easy on the sanding, and place a disposable tarp over your work area to contain any dust!

  2. I FOUnd this exact desk at a goOdwill. Im currently refinIshing it for mY classroom. Do you know any history about the Desk? Just curious to learn more about this Amazing Desk!