Old Desk Makeover: Turquoise Whitewash Finish

I am so excited to finally be done with this piece and to share it with the world!

(Actual photo in that pretty gold frame coming soon…)Turquoise Chalk Paint Desk

When we first moved into our apartment and I began my thrifting adventures, I found this old desk for $19.99. There was nothing special about it but the cheap price tag, and I could immediately picture it made over and sitting in my room as a vanity table/desk. After mulling over the idea for a night, I went back, hoping it would still be there, and it was! So home with me it came!

Desk Before 1

When I first brought it home it sat in my bedroom for a couple weeks while I finished up my painted coffee table. Then it sat for a bit longer as I tried to think of what I wanted to do with it. The last time I went home for a visit, I did some shopping with my Nana, and while we were in JoAnn Fabrics I told her about my new chalk paint obsession. We wandered over to the craft paint area and found some very reasonably-priced chalk paints.

I still didn’t know what color or style I wanted to go with on the desk, but I said I was thinking something a little bolder, rather than a plain white or grey.I ended up choosing a nice turquoise chalk paint called Cascade from FolkArt Home DΓ©cor.

The desk still sat for about a week, awaiting its fate. I thought and thought (and even dreamt) about how I wanted it to look, looked at tons of photos on Pinterest, and read a lot of blog posts and tutorials on painting. By the way, yesterday I finally created a whole Pinterest board dedicated solely to painted furniture because my home dΓ©cor board was becoming full of chalk paint pins.

I finally decided to just go for it, with a vague image in my mind of how I wanted it to look. Justin helped me remove the hardware from the drawers (not that I can’t do it myself, but he wanted to participate after seeing how cool the coffee table turned out ;)). We originally removed this panel from the front of the top drawer because I wanted all the drawers to be the same, but when we took it off, we realized it had been attached with a bunch of weird staples, so there were about 20 prongs sticking out the front. I let it sit for a day or two while I painted the other drawers and tried to figure out how to pull those staples out. Eventually I just popped the panel back on and decided to keep it as is!

Desk Before 4We painted the whole piece, drawers and all, using a 2-inch flat brush and a 1.5-inch tapered brush on the drawers and trim. Here it is after the first coat.

First coatThe next day, I painted a second coat on the whole thing. Once that dried, I went back over in just a few spots that still looked a little bare and painted a bit more. So the whole thing took about 2 and a quarter coats — not even one full bottle of paint! I had bought two, which means I know have a second bottle in the same color that I’m either going to trade in for a new color, or possibly use on our new (to us) dresser.

After letting the paint dry for a full day, I went back the next morning with the idea to whitewash the whole thing, because the turquoise was pretty in-your-face. I looked up a bunch of photos of whitewashed turquoise furniture, to see if it would look good, and read a lot about different techniques for making a wash using chalk paint. In the end, I ended up pouring a small amount of white paint into an old plastic container, and mixing in some water. I probably used a ratio of about two parts water to one part chalk paint, but I really just estimated, adding water until it had a really watery consistency, like an egg wash.

Using my 2-inch brush, I went over the whole thing, section by section, with the wash. To do this, I dipped the brush into the wash, let the excess drip off, then brushed it over a small section using long, even strokes. I then took a clean cloth and wiped over it using the same long strokes, so that just a really thin coat remained. I did this over the whole piece and really loved how it was starting to look.

After WhitewashThe whitewash really toned down the turquoise and gave it a nice, almost beachy look.

Once the wash was all dry, it looked a bit streaky and “chalky” so I went over the streaky spots with a fine sandpaper just to try to even them out. I also distressed it ever-so-slightly using sandpaper (fine and coarse in some spots).

Turquoise whitewash desk 


When I was happy with the overall look, I waxed the whole thing with clear wax. This time, I used a cloth to apply the wax rather than a brush, and I really liked using a cloth because I felt like I could actually feel the wax that I was applying.

Somewhere in the middle of all of this, I purchased some new handles for the drawers. I had been debating about what kind of hardware I wanted to buy. I didn’t know if I wanted old/rustic or gold or new/modern or glass… Really I had no idea.  Even after it was all painted I still didn’t know the exact look I was going for. But once I got to the store, these ones jumped right out at me. I then went on a hunt to find screws small enough for the tiny holes, because apparently Hobby Lobby only sells drawer knobs and pulls without hardware to install them.

Turquoise chalk paint deskThe next morning I applied a second coat of wax. Then I waited a full 24 hours for it to dry and then installed the hardware. The screws I had found were a really bright brass color, so I dabbed some brown acrylic paint (“raw umber” to be exact) onto them after I had put them in — it turned out perfect! You can’t even tell, can you?


Finally, I buffed the whole thing until it had a nice sheen. I really love how the wax makes it look so “finished” and nice.

And here is the finished piece!

IMG_3468Dani likes it too.

Dani in front of deskThings I learned from this project:

Paint all the drawers at once: painting the rest of the piece before that top drawer made my whole process go a lot less smoothly than it would have if I had just painted all the drawers at once.

You can make a wash by adding water to any color chalk paint! And there are many techniques to washing and tons of tips and suggestions out there if you just Google it.

You can always start over: that pesky panel on the top drawer turned out to be a huge pain. I think because of the shape of it, I just had a really hard time getting an even finish on the paint. Then when I applied the wash, it was even worse. I ended up sanding it down quite a bit and repainting and rewashing the whole drawer. I’m still not completely happy with it — I think it looks slightly different from the rest of the piece. Maybe I’ll go back and add more whitewash to the front eventually.

What do you think? This project turned out to be VERY rewarding. I can’t stop looking at it.

And just as a reminder that you can turn anything into something beautiful with some paint, new hardware, and a little love, here is a before and after:

Turquoise chalk paint desk before and after

Want to try this out yourself? Pin this for easy reference!

Turquoise whitewash desk tutorial

11 thoughts on “Old Desk Makeover: Turquoise Whitewash Finish”

    • Thank you!! I used Martha Stewart brand wax, but really only because that’s what I happened to pick up! I’ve read a lot of posts talking about using Minwax, and I love the Folk Art brand paint so I think I may try their wax next. You just apply the wax according to the instructions, and then buff it with a clean, lint-free cloth. I love there beautiful sheen the wax gives. The only down side is that you do need to reapply wax periodically. I haven’t re-waxed this desk yet, but I can tell it’s starting to need it. Thanks for stopping by!

  • Did you use white chalk paint or what type of white paint did you use to make the whitewash? I have a mirror that I want to refinish. I just painted the bedroom set in Swiss Coffee and this will compliment my coastal room well.

    • Hi Jenny! Did you end up finishing the mirror? I used white chalk paint and watered it down to a really watery consistency to make the whitewash. I brushed it on and then wiped it off right away with a clean cloth. I’d love to see how your mirror turned out!

  • Hi
    I love it! Was it Annie Sloane Provence Chalk Paint. I’d like to do his in our Fl. apt. Can I do it on a metal dining table and whitewash as well? Thank you

    • Thank you, Paula! I actually have never used Annie Sloan paint. The chalk paint I typically use is FolkArt Home DΓ©cor chalk paint – this color was Cascade. I love this paint – it’s very affordable and you can get it right at Joann Fabrics or other craft stores. I’m sure this would be successful on a metal table, too – you could do a base coat or two and then go back and do a white wash over the top. Let me know how it turns out!

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