From Boarding House Writing Desk To French Farmhouse Table

Hi friends, as you know I've been undergoing a few room makeovers around the house. This next room presents a challenge as we're converting a small bedroom into a multi-function home office, craft room, and sewing room. The challenge is having multi-purpose work stations plus a worktable within a small footprint without looking and feeling cramped. I found a perfect solution for a worktable and it was right under our noses. Collecting dust in the basement was a small writing desk with a handy drawer and with some modifications, it was the perfect candidate for a French Farmhouse Table makeover.

Distressed Farmhouse Wooden Desk Upcycle

Boarding House Writing Desk To French Farmhouse Table

For the workstations, we built a custom floating desk and the inspiration for the finish on this wooden desk was that it had to match the custom unit. Why? Because the worktable will be used by both work stations and stand between the two custom desks. The legs have felt furniture pads so the table can slide anywhere in the room as needed.

I've staged the photos for this post as a small desk but you'll see it in action as a worktable in the room makeover reveal next week. In the meantime, the focus of this post is to share the transformation of this little wooden desk.

This is what it looked like before after I had given it a layered paint finish many years ago.

Small Wooden Writing Desk Before

I still love the finish but sadly it doesn't work in this room. The desk was in rough shape when I bought it decades ago from a local antique dealer who got it from an old boarding house. It had cigarette burns, words carved into the wood, and the bottom of the drawer had what looked like dried up leaked battery acid (that's the story I told myself anyway).

The top of the table was a little too small to use as a functional worktable plus the wood had cracked down the center, making it a perfect candidate for a new larger top.

Small Wooden Writing Table Before Makeover

Here's what the table looks like now...

French Farmhouse Table Makeover For Multi-Purpose Room

Big difference, right?

The farmhouse apothecary stool I paired with it has sentimental value and you can see that makeover here in my Mom's Stool Got A Makeover post.

The base of the table is painted with pure white latex paint and distressed with farmhouse charm. Even though the custom desks do not have a distressed finish, because this little table is a focal point in the room, it works.

The brand new wood top is stained with a weathered grey finish that matches the top of the custom desk.

Weathered Grey White Farmhouse Table

This post contains affiliate links so you can see what products I used or recommend for this project. As an Amazon Associate, I earn a small commission from qualifying purchases at no extra cost to you.

I've had this antique clock face cabinet knob in my stash for a few years, leftover from my sister's Oak Media Cabinet Makeover. I knew the perfect piece of furniture would eventually come along to use it on.

White Farmhouse Writing Desk Makeover

Instead of lining the drawer with paper or fabric, like I usually do, I painted it with Mined Coal (PPU 18-18) Premium Plus Ultra latex paint.

Farmhouse Desk Upcycle With Painted Drawer

While this French Farmhouse Table works perfectly as a small desk, I can't wait to show you what it looks like as a worktable in my home office instead.

Upcycled Farmhouse Office Work Table

The Farmhouse Table Makeover Scoop

Prep and painting the farmhouse table base

Once the top of the desk was removed, instead of sanding to give the paint some bite, I primed the base with one coat of white primer. To keep the table unified with the custom desk, I used the same ultra-white latex paint. This served as a reminder of why I dislike painting furniture with latex paint!

It required four coats of paint to get decent coverage and I wasn't happy with the finish at all compared to only a couple of thin layers of chalk paint. Chalk type paint is my jam! It requires fewer coats, has a quicker dry time, dries to a lovely matte finish, it's easier to distress...yadda yadda. In hindsight, I wish I had added calcium carbonate to the latex paint to turn into DIY chalk paint. I was much happier with the finish when I took my mouse sander to it and distressed the finish.

Building a new tabletop

Mr. Frugalista built a larger 3' x 2' wood top with an offcut of 3/4-inch aspen plywood from Home Depot. The sides of the table were trimmed with simple 3/4-inch hemlock screen molding mitered at the corners to finish the edges. It was attached with wood glue and 3/4-inch nails, countersunk and filled. The new top is attached to the base from the underside with the original screws from the old top.

French Farmhouse Table With New Wood Top

Staining the new tabletop

Once the top was installed, I sanded the wood smooth starting with 150 grit sandpaper followed by 220 grit. After removing all the dust particles I applied a coat of waterbased pre-stain wood conditioner with a brush.

Next, I stained the top with White Magic gel stain applied with a microfiber detailing applicator. Once that was dry I applied a thin coat of Up In Smoke gel stain, giving it a grey weathered finish.

The following day I protected the stained top with two coats of my favorite satin clear coat applied with a sponge applicator.

The new Farmhouse worktable not only looks great in my home office/craft room/sewing room, but I've been using it for a couple of weeks now and couldn't be happier with the extra workspace.

White and Grey French Farmhouse Table Makeover

Here are some other Farmhouse Furniture Ideas that I thought you might like. If you have any questions about this small writing desk makeover, please leave them in the comment section below or the Contact Me tab at the top. I love hearing from you!

If you enjoyed this farmhouse furniture makeover, I'd be so thankful if you shared it with a friend and pinned it to your Farmhouse Furniture or Upcycled Desks board on Pinterest.

Upcycled French Farmhouse Table Before and After

I share my projects at these inspiring link parties.



  1. I love the new look for the table, Marie. It's definitely got a lovely farmhouse look to it now.

    1. Thank you so much, Beverly! I'm so thrilled to have this handy worktable in my office and it's been put to good use every day so far.

  2. It turned out beautiful! How adorable is the clock face knob! ❤️❤️ I love the weathered gray stained top.

    1. Thanks so much, Christina! This little table has been such a gem in my office and is being put to good use every day.

  3. Every now and again I see a makeover and go "Why the fudge didn't I think of that". This my friend is one of them. I could kick my ass for swopping out an adorable old table with the cutest little legs ever for something that was a little bigger. I'm such an idiot. THIS is what I should have done. Ughittty!!!!

    1. Well we can thank the thrift store closures for this one, Michelle and forcing me to shop our home. It's amazing what we can find in the bowels of our basement and shed. I had completely forgotten we had this little table because it was buried way in the back of our storage room. Found a dresser I'd forgotten about too. (No we're not hoarders but one would think so for the stuff I keep finding).

  4. Very nice! And your Mom's stool is a nice compliment to the little vignette!! Always love getting your e-mails!!

    1. Thank you so much, Karolyn, I'm very grateful for your support of my work! xo

  5. What a nice new top on your table, Mr Frugalista did well. I can tell your like me and always busy busy Marie. I love this old vintage table, and I know I sound old, but they just don't make new things with this pretty details. Love it.

    1. Yup, I always have at least one (okay more like 3-4) projects on the go at all times. I have two speeds; sleep and full throttle. LOL This little table has been a workhorse in my home office since it was refinished and I absolutely love having the extra work surface available.

  6. You saved it and then rocked the makeover. Sweet!

    1. Thanks a bunch, Larissa! This little table has become a workhorse in the room. So happy to have this sweet table in my office. Happy Mother's Day this weekend. xo

  7. Your whole little set up in the picture is so pretty! I would love to bring everything over to my house lol :) You did an amazing job on this makeover.

    1. Thank you so much, Cynthia, you made my day! I sure love having this little table in my office - so handy dandy 😊

  8. I always enjoy your furniture makeovers, Marie! Thanks for sharing at TFT. I am happy to feature you this week:

    1. Thank you so much, Amber, I was thrilled to see the table featured this morning! xo


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