Monday, August 2, 2010

The tale of three desks

Hello all! Hope you had a fabulous weekend!

This is a long, long, LONG, slightly annoying tale (for me anyway), of finding a desk I love into our den. I started the redo of this room a few months ago, but then the kitchen, foyer, family room, dining room and bed making kind of got in the way, so I didn’t work on it for quite a while.  ;)

We’ve always had a Bombay Company corner desk in the room:

Nice sippy. ;)

But with the addition of a laptop, the tall corner desk with the pullout for the keyboard wasn’t working anymore – it was WAY too tall. And, I was tired of staring into a corner when I did work at that desk. (I’m usually on the couch, but whatev.)

So, we took that one downstairs for hubby to use, and switched out his desk for upstairs:


This baby was a $20 Goodwill find, and when I found it, it was a NEON green. (Not kidding. You’ll see in a minute.) I painted it, added new knobs, and we’ve used it in various spots over the years.

Because I was trying to spend very little money on this room’s redo, I had a new vision for the desk and forged on with my changes.

I worked for HOURS taking the paint (my two coats of black, and the previous owner’s crazy neon paint) off the top of the desk:

YIKES. Told ya! I got the top down to bare wood, finally…and then started my next phase. I had a beautiful white desk in mind, with a dark, luscious stain on top. Because the desk was unfinished on the back, I figured I could cover it and wrap the three sides with something and then paint it:

I used plywood first, to even out everything on the back, then installed beadboard panels around the back and the sides. I got baseboard molding to finish off the bottom. Then I primed it…and it sat.

And sat.

For days.


MONTHS now.  :)

I know pretty quickly when something isn’t workin’ for me, and when I’m not digging it, I basically ignore it. Sometimes a new vision will come to me to fix it. Sometimes I realize it’s just an absolute train wreck.

This one was a train wreck:

Nothing was looking how I had in my noggin. I didn’t even paint the front of the desk:

That is a hot. mess. Smokin’ hot.

So…I’ve been searching Craigslist for my next vision – a table instead of a desk. Because of another change in here, I don’t need desk storage anymore. (More on that soon.) So the idea of a table was really growing on me.

It would be open, light, and would show off the molding treatment I have planned for the room. It would have much more surface space, (unlike the current desk), and it would just be pretty darn it! :)

In my head was a curvy table top, beautiful legs and it had to be just the right size – not too small, not too big.

Translation:  next to impossible to find.

Till this weekend.

You know how when you are looking for a job, people always say “It’s all in who you know?” Well, this weekend I found that to be true in decor as well. ;)

A friend, and her friend (who is my friend), and her friend’s friend (HUH? Stay with me peeps!) had a garage sale this weekend. My friend came over for a visit and showed me the great stuff she had bought from the third friend involved with sale.

I was drooooooling.

Then, she was telling me what was left. One item was a medium-sized table.

Ears perk up.

It was all pretty and curvy on top.

Shut up.

It had spindly legs and looked vintage.

Um. Hello? That is the one in my head!

Best part? It was only $15.

Shut. the front. door.

So after some late night texting to friend number two, I got some pictures of said table, then went over to look at it today, fell in love, came home and took some measurements (height, length, width were all PERFECT), and immediately texted her again and said SOLD!!!:


And in really, really bad shape. :) The third friend who sold it had painted it and kept it outside. You can see the brown paint on the picture above. (It’s literally falling right off, and there’s very little left.)

But there’s a few issues. The wood has patinated to a beautiful grey color, but it’s also got some mold growing it as well:

I should stop here and mention that mold fareeeeeks me out. So until it’s addressed, it’s staying in the garage. BUT, there’s only two spots, and my Dad told me some bleach should take them right off.

I did some research online, and found that the fear most (that would be ME) have of mold it largely exaggerated – most molds aren’t a danger to most people. But I’m not messing with this stuff. It looks like black mold, which sounds like is fairly harmless. I found instructions on how to remove it, so I’ll let you know how that goes.

The other issue is the wood itself – obviously being out in the elements has not done it any favors. I’m so afraid that I’ll go to sand it and it will start falling apart.

Part of me wants to clean the mold off, scrape off the paint, then just poly over the whole thing and save that beautiful grey.

The third issue is that the legs don’t match the orientation of the table:

The wide part of the table is the short opening of the legs, the shorter width of the table is where the legs are further apart. Does that make sense? The table has two leaves that fold down, and the previous owners reinforced it underneath with wood, so the leaves don’t go down anymore. But that makes the legs and table not match in their direction.

I need the width on both to match up so I have room to put my desk chair. So I’ll basically have to take the legs off, then turn them and reattach the long way. It shouldn’t be hard to do.

Argh! I said it out loud!! That’s the kiss of death! ;)

After all that, I think I’ll have a perfectly lovely (and safe) desk. Swooon!

So…anyone out there know anything about removing mold from wood? Am I right about the black mold? I read to make a mixture of detergent, water and bleach and clean it with a brush. (Wet it first, wear a mask and eye protection as well.)

Here’s to hoping the third time is a charm!! Wish me luck. I think I may need it.

P.S. Please join me at the August Before and After party tomorrow night!

P.P.S. Anyone want a beadboard desk? Partially complete? (Crickets.) No?


  1. Musical desks for sure. I love the table. I can't wait to see what you end up with. Some rooms and spaces just seem to be hard. Hugs, Marty

  2. Doesn't it stink when our visions don't turn out the way we hoped? :s I do like the new table, mold and all. Well, maybe not the mold part. Laughed so hard at "shut. the. front. door." Love ya! :)

  3. If I could yell "Amen" at ya, I would. I went through the SAME tedious search for a desk and finally purchased a dining room table on Craigslist. Inexpensive? Check. Curvy top and legs? Check. Check. Needs work? Check. mold. Good luck with ALL that! :-}

  4. lol!!! You are cracking me up! Im pretty sure the bleach thing will work with the mold. And I do like the idea poly-ing it and keeping with the gray patina. Have you seen some of the weathered gray furniture from Restoration Hardware? its very "chic" . I bet you could totally achieve that look.
    What a great find!!!!

  5. I just bought a table today from a flea market that has mold on it... ive got to figure out how to clean it.. so ill let you know what i find out and IF it works. cant wait to see your finished product.. and maybe i'll share mine.. if it turns out as good as yours.

  6. Hope this desk is nice to you, you deserve it! I have had a fair share of stress with my desk hunt also, until I read your blog post awhile back about searching classified places like Craigslist for furniture. So, thanks to you Sarah, I am now sitting at a Pottery Barn desk and chair I bought for a flippin steal from the classifieds ($375.00 for the Bedford desk AND swivel desk chair!) Yea! Love Love LOVE the classifieds now! I know you will have a happy ending too- can't wait to see it! :)

  7. Ohhh, I would totally buy that desk off you with the beadboard... I have been looking for one that style and I was just in Indy like 2 weeks ago. Argh... I wonder how much it would cost to ship it?? More than the desk is worth probably... Booo.

    Anyway, good luck with the moldy table, I'm sure it will turn out awesome and can't wait to see it! :)

  8. Mold can usually be cleaned off raw wood with a light solution of bleach and water, applied with a scrub brush. If this doesn't take care of it or if the mold has penetrated the wood deeply, you may need a commercial mold remover from your hardware store. But try the bleach solution's cheaper and not nearly as caustic! I spent last year removing and replacing mold damaged studs in our kitchen walls and was surprised at how well bleach removed almost all signs of damage!
    Good luck!

  9. It's always fun to see your new creative ideas and what treasures they turn into!

  10. I admire your vision. I am sure the third time IS the charm and this will be a beautiful photo to post here shortly.

  11. All you have to do to get rid of the mold is mix up 1 part bleach/9 parts warm water in a bucket. Scrub the top (the whole top, or it'll look funky with just a couple of scrubbed spots) and let it dry ... DONE!

    Since you're going to be removing the base of the table anyway, the top will be WAY easier to work on once it's separated from its legs. You can turn it and flip it anyway you need to, then reattach it when you're ready. What you're planning isn't too hard ... you can do it!!

    Looking forward to the progress.

  12. That table was an amazing find!

    You've got some good decorating karma.

    I'll take the beadboard desk. Looks like the perfect kitchen island to me. Put that sucker on Craigslist!

  13. I want to beadboard everything now. Not that I have, you know, too many projects not enough time!

    Right now? Looking for a table to turn into a craft table for my 3 kids! I'm excited! :)

  14. I think finding a good "desk" is one of the hardest things to find. I am sooo picky about what I like in a workspace that I haven't really found a good solution yet. Mainly I just sit on the couch with the laptop! I think you have a winner there!

  15. Great desk! My husband owns a company that does mold remediation. He said you need to sand down the top layer to get rid of the mold. Mold roots itself down about the thickness of a sheet of paper so about 1/8 of an inch. He said to take it out into your driveway to do it. Bleach does not kill mold on wood. It usually just removes some of the coloring. Good luck!

  16. I've been "blessed" with black mould before and I've just used straight full strength bleach. Will a sealer work to keep it from coming back?
    Can't wait to see the transformation.

  17. I wish I had some pics to show you. Here's an idea for a desk... I got an old round kitchen type table with a big chunky base at a garage sale. I have bought several over the years and have repurposed them...(husband rolls eyes when I pull in the drive with yet another table) I had an idea to saw this round table right down the middle (including chunky base) and then butt have of it up against the wall. This is now my computer desk. LOOKS GREAT after I painted it black and distress sanded it to discover yellow and red paint. I have cut other size and shaped tables in half to use as night stands etc.

  18. Black mold is the most common mold out there and actually can make you sick. I hate to be the bearer of bad news buuuuut mold can NOT be killed with bleach, it actually will only clean the surface. If there is surface mold on something there will be mold inside where you can't see and clean it =( There is no real way to fix that but you may can put a thick sealer on it and that may work. I just know for sure that bleach will only clean the surface mold, and that bleach does NOT kill it. But....mold and all the table is still BEE-YOO-TI-FULL!!!!

  19. My first choice for a desk would be a table. I always have so much stuff that desks just aren't a sufficient size for off of it.


  20. Yikes! You have given yourself quite a challenge there. But you are definitely up to it! I can't wait to see how it turns out. Good luck!

  21. Fantastic Find!!! I've been looking for a similar beauty to replace my partical board, veneered beast in my office (insert gag here). Love it, and can't wait to see it in place!

  22. Most hardware stores and paint stores sell TSP which can be made into a solution with bleach that will kill mold in wood. It also works really well to clean wood when mixed with just water, but I don't know if that is as effective on mold or not. I've had great luck with it on my porch and deck!

  23. Can't wait to see how it all turns out, lol!


  24. I've heard that bleach doesn't get rid of mold, it just removes the look of it. We recently had mold in our bathroom and my hubby had to cut out some drywall, so I was doing some research on it. apparently where bleach won't actually kill it, vinegar will! Just put some vinegar in a spray bottle and spray it down. I just sprayed everything down and let the vinegar dry... it was pretty cool, the mold just dissolved from the places we couldn't just remove it! So maybe give vinegar a try? It's easier on you to use than bleach anyways. You could even vinegar it and then bleach it to if you want to be double sure you got everything...

  25. Good luck with the table! I would love to see more pics of how you decorate your office (or will after you finish the table) - I recently starting working from home, and I need some thrifty decor ideas to make my home office a little more loverly!

  26. You have the most gorgeous home makeovers!! I love reading you blog and getting inspiration :) I think the candleholder project is next on my to-do list!

  27. I hate when you put all the effort into a project that doesn't turn out how you want it to. I am in the middle of working on a desk as well, though I can't decide if I want it black or white. Cheap Like a Birdie

  28. I can't wait to see what you do with that table. I am the same way you are, when I get bored with a project,it's practicaly dead to me.

  29. Can't wait to see the finished table! I too heard that bleach just "whitens" the mold so it "appears" it has gone away. Haven't tried the vinegar trick yet.

  30. hahahaha! what happened to the term "science project"?.....although "hot mess" aptly describes that green desk!
    All I know about mold is GET RID OF IT!
    If you decide to paint it use a good primer most will seal any mold left in the wood.
    Have fun girl! You make me laugh

  31. You do realize that bleach will change the color of the wood wherever it's applied, right? It will, well, bleach it!

    Gail D.

  32. How about if you use the table top as a pattern and draw a new table top on a new piece of wood? Since you are removing the legs anyway.....just reattach to the new piece of have a jigsaw cut a new top girl!

  33. OMG! I have that exact same table! I sanded ours down from a dark stain, and also had to reinforce the drop leaf ends. Good luck with the legs. I can't imagine that turning the skirt 90 degrees and permanently affixing them would be too difficult. You could also build a new skirt if necessary.

    On the mold, no need to freak. You can just spray with a little clorox clean up (has bleach in it). Wipe it off and let it dry really good. Then either seal with primer or a polyurethane.

    Can't wait to see your transformation!


  34. I so needed to hear that I'm not the only one out there that has the issue of projects just not turning out to be like the picture in your head. I've been working on re-doing our m-bedroom (shabby chic...umm I think??) least that's what I wanted, but it's just not matching that lovely image in my head. Sigghhh...hence why we've been digging for clothes from the laundry baskets while the dresser waits for a miracle.

  35. 2 more thoughts: Your sippy cup reminded me of this:

    And this:


  36. Ok, first I have to say -- this is only like my second comment here as I'm fairly new to your site, but I LOVE your sense of style!! I wish my house looked as good as yours! LOL :)

    Second, I'm in the Indy area... seriously, how much do you want for the old desk? I've been stalking -- er, browsing -- Craigslist and just haven't found "the one." I'm not even sure what I'm looking for! :)

  37. Just a FYI, while cruising my area Craigslist, I found someone who had a table similar to yours, without the planks on top. It is located at an antique store for $135. See what a great deal you got?!? I know you had to have some work done to it, but the story would still be the same with this one. Great for you!


I LOVE your comments, thank you! (I read every single one.)

If you have a specific question I will do my best to answer you back here! Be sure to check out the FAQs tab at the top of the site and my Projects page for paint colors and DIY projects as well.

THANKS so much for reading!