Vintage Metal Classroom Desk Painted Aqua | The Interior Frugalista: Vintage Metal Classroom Desk Painted Aqua

Vintage Metal Classroom Desk Painted Aqua

Today I'm sharing a furniture makeover that took me right back to St. Vladimir Elementary School in the 1960's. I think I spent the first two years of school hiding under my bed each morning because all I wanted to do was stay home with Mom and help her cook and clean. Anybody who knows me is probably having a good belly laugh after reading that last sentence because my least favorite thing to do in life is to cook and clean.

Needless to say, while giving this vintage metal classroom desk a makeover, my mind was flooded with bittersweet memories. If only this desk could talk, judging by all the crayon and etched markings on the wood top. I'm not going to lie, I searched for my initials amongst the others. Wouldn't that have been a fabulous full circle moment!

Vintage Metal Classroom Desk

Today is one of my favorite days of the month because it's Furniture Fixer Upper Day where myself and five talented furniture upcycling friends come together to breath new life into six pieces of furniture. Links to all the makeovers are included at the bottom of this post.

For last month's challenge, I repurposed a Bombay TV Cabinet into a Hollywood Regency Bar. But this month it's all about a vintage metal school desk complete with inkwell. I remember using the inkwell for garbage or as a spitball target on adjacent desks.

More about that spitball target inkwell further down in this post.

Vintage Classroom Desk with chalkboard top

Vintage Metal Classroom Desk Painted Aqua


Let's take a look at the school desk before the makeover...

Vintage Metal Classroom Desk Before

I have to admit this was one of those furniture makeovers where I was flying by the seat of my pants. I was certain about only one thing, that it had to have a turquoise base. The rest evolved as I went along.

Vintage Classroom Desk Makeover

I've included a Materials List towards the bottom of this post. It contains affiliate links for your convenience so you can see what products I used or recommend to make this project. What that means is that if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, I may receive a small portion of any sales at no additional cost to you, which supports the costs of running this site. See my full disclosure policy.


So here's what I did...

Cleaned the base and sanded the wood

The base was in fairly decent shape and just needed a good clean and little sanding in spots. The desktop, on the other hand, needed to be sanded down to the raw wood to remove all the crayon and etched marks from years gone by. The slats had a bunch of stickers on them and the seat was worn from all those little butts squirming around.

Vintage Classroom Desk Sanded Wood

Painted the base

The first thing that happened was the base of the desk got three coats of Aqua Rustoleum Painter's Touch Satin spray paint followed by a protective clear coat.

Vintage Metal Classroom Desk spray painted Aqua

Stained the wood

The sanded wood was treated with Minwax Prestain Wood Conditioner before being stained with Minwax Wood Finish in the color Provincial. The conditioner penetrates the wood to get a uniform stain color.

Vintage Classroom Desk Prepped for Stain

 Or so I thought...

Vintage Classroom Desk Botched Stain

Yikes, I had two options; a) sand the pieces back to the natural wood again OR b) cover the blotchy wood. I chose the second option.

Created a chalkboard

At this point, I had no clue how I could make that blotchy stain look better and this is the point in the makeover where I was flying by the seat of my pants.

I decided to section off a portion of the top and create a chalkboard, reminiscent of an old slate used in classrooms back in the day.

Vintage Classroom Desk Taped for chalkboard

I painted the chalkboard using a 4-inch foam roller and Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in the color Graphite. I much prefer using chalk paint over chalkboard paint because of the quick drying time between coats.

Vintage Classroom Desk Painted Chalkboard

Tip: Any flat paint can be used to make a chalkboard.


Whitewashed the stain

Unfortunately, the chalkboard didn't conceal the blotchy stain and so I covered the chalkboard with paper and applied a wash of white over the stain using Dixie Belle Whitewash Glaze and an inexpensive chip brush.

Vintage Classroom Desk Whitewashed

I dipped the brush into some water first and then into the glaze and spread a thin layer over the stain, wiping the excess with a clean rag. Much happier with how it looked, now the chalkboard felt like it was missing something.

Added Grain Sack Stripes

I framed the chalkboard using a grain sack stripe stencil and turquoise acrylic craft paint, pouncing the paint on lightly.

Vintage Classroom Desk Stenciled Grain Sack Stripes

Vintage Classroom Desk With Aqua Stripes

I added some stripes to the center of the wooden seat as well.

Vintage Classroom Desk Aqua Striped Seat

Turned the inkwell into a pencil holder

Turning the inkwell into something useful, I created a pencil holder by recycling a tomato paste can. Using E6000 glue, I attached three L brackets around the lip of the can and let it cure overnight.

Vintage Classroom Desk DIY Pen Holder

The tin can was spray painted with the same Aqua used on the base and attached to the underside of the desktop with small screws.

Vintage Classroom Desk DIY Undermount Pen Holder

Vintage Classroom Desk DIY Inkwell Pen Holder

At the last minute, I decided to paint the ridge used for sticks of chalk or pencils with the same turquoise craft paint used on the stripes.

Vintage Classroom Desk Aqua Pencil Ridge

I have to say, despite tweaking this desk as I went along, I'm quite pleased with the results.

Aqua Vintage Metal Classroom Desk

As promised here is the Materials list for the products used to transform this Vintage Metal Classroom Desk.

Materials List

Satin Aqua Rustoleum Painter's Touch Spray Paint
Clear Top Coat Rustoleum Spray
Prestain Wood Conditioner Minwax
Provincial Minwax Wood Finish
Whitewash Glaze Dixie Belle Paint Co.
Graphite Annie Sloan Chalk Paint
Turquoise Acrylic Craft Paint
Grain Sack Stripe Stencil (not an affiliate link)
Painter's Tape
E6000 Glue
1-inch L Brackets
Empty Tomato Paste Can

Items without links on the list can be found in The Interior Frugalista SHOP on Amazon.


I quite enjoy giving children's furniture a new life. I went all diva on a wooden Vintage Student Desk transformation. I also gave a mismatched Vintage Children's Table & Chair Set a fun chalkboard makeover. Wish I hadn't sold that one because my three-year-old grandson would love it right about now.

Have I inspired you to consider giving an old classroom desk a fresh new look? You don't come across these desks often but how fun would they be in a child's playroom. I see lots of "playing teacher" with one of these!
Vintage Metal Classroom Desk Painted Aqua

Now let's take a look at how my talented friend's in the Furniture Fixer Uppers group transformed these furniture pieces...

Before Furniture Fixer Upper Challenge May 2018
Press the links below to see the after photos and makeover tutorials...

I share my projects at these fabulous link parties.



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