Milk Painted Antique Desk Roundup

Mar 18, 2021 | Antiques, General Finishes, Miss Mustard Seeds Milk Paint | 3 comments

So many of us are currently learning and/or working from home at the moment. Just because your desk is your primary work space, it doesn’t have to be boring! Consider how beautiful and functional an antique desk can be!

Let’s take a look at some of the antique desks I’ve refinished in the past, and hopefully you’ll be inspired to either makeover your desk or grab an antique one for your home!

Kneehole Style Desks

A kneehole style desk is exactly what it sounds like! It’s a desk with a hole in the middle for your knees. Pretty simple, huh?

Shutter gray kneehole style desk using Miss Mustard Seed's Milk Paint
Serpentine Desk in Shutter Gray

Sometimes, they have drawers on both sides.

Antique desk in Grain Sack by Miss Mustard Seed's Milk Paint, Eight Hundred Furniture
Antique Desk in Grain Sack

Other times, there are drawers on just one side.

Antique Victorian Writig Desk by Eight Hundred Furniture in Farmhouse White Milk Paint
Victorian Writing Desk in Farmhouse White

This Queen Anne style desk has drawers on both sides, but they don’t go all the way to the floor.

Queen Anne Desk in Farmhouse White Trophy mix by Eight Hundred Furniture
Queen Anne Desk in mix of Farmhouse White and Trophy

These desks are great to split into nightstands too! I’ve got a whole blog post explaining how to do that here. For this post, let’s stick to using desks as desks!

Leaving Some Wood Behind

You know how much I like to combine wood and paint! I think it’s the best of both worlds. When you find desks that have amazing solid wood tops, or beautiful wood veneer on the drawers, consider refinishing those surfaces rather than painting them.

Vintage desk in Marzipan and Arm-R-Seal
Marzipan Desk

The wood veneer on this desk was so pretty just the way it was. A gentle hand sanding and some Arm-R-Seal was all it took to bring it back to life.

Drawers on vintage desk in Marzipan milk paint
Wood Veneer on Vintage Desk in Marzipan Milk Paint

This incredible antique desk was designed to house a typewriter in the middle.

Antique typewriter desk in General Finishes Lamp Black Milk Paint with Arm-R-Seal on top
Antique Typewriter Desk in Lamp Black

The mechanism in the middle that held the typewriter didn’t function anymore, so I had it retrofitted to be a traditional kneehole style desk. There are little trays that pull out from each side.

Mahogany pull out writing surface on typewriter desk
Antique Typewriter Desk in Lamp Black

The secretary or receptionist that would have worked here used these for note taking and holding manuals.

In the process of removing the typewriter mechanism, the top was damaged. I had a new walnut top installed and refinished it using General Finishes Arm-R-Seal. The natural color of the walnut was too pretty to cover with stain.

Walnut top of typewriter desk sealed in Arm R Seal Semi Gloss by General Finishes
Antique Typewriter Desk in Lamp Black

The shape of this vintage desk had me at, “hello”!

Nutmeg Gel Stain. Lamp Black Milk Paint, General Finishes, High Performance Topcoat, Eight Hundred Furniture, Federal Style, Hepplewhite Handles, Eight Hundred Furniture
Curved Vintage Kneehole Desk in Lamp Black Milk Paint

The wood veneer on the top and drawers was in really good condition.

I gently sanded the original finish away and added a fresh new coat of Nutmeg Gel Stain by General Finishes.

Wider corner shot of lamp black desk with nutmeg gel stain by General Finishes, eight hundred furniture
Curved Vintage Kneehole Desk in Lamp Black Milk Paint

Spinet Desks

Spinet desks are the most fascinating pieces of furniture, in my opinion. A “spinet” is a musical instrument similar to a harpsichord. Desks in this style have a shape that’s similar to a spinet, and some of they were even repurposed spinets themselves!

Spinet desk in general finishes perfect gray milk paint
Spinet Desk in Perfect Gray by General Finishes

Spinet desks are characterized by a lift-up top, a pull out writing surface, long slender legs and a boxy shape.

They are incredibly functional pieces if space is a premium in your home. They offer lots of cubby storage and are great for laptops.

Spinet desk in flow blue and artissimo milk paint by miss mustard seed sealed in hemp oil with reupholstered chair in antique mattress ticking by eight hundred furniture
Flow Blue Spinet Desk

You could even put a computer monitor on the flip-up top and keep your keyboard down below.

Farm Table Desks

This style of desk is one that I personally use in my own home office. I love taking simple farm tables and turning them into desks and workspaces.

My desk was finished in Mora by Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint.

White Wax, Mora, Furniture Wax, Miss Mustard Seed's Milk Paint, Farm Table, Desk, Antique Desk, Eight Hundred Furniture, Hemp Oil, Whitewashed
Mora Desk

I have my keyboard on the top and a big ‘old monitor propped up on a shoebox from my husband’s ultimate frisbee cleats.

Classy, right?

Of course, I didn’t style the desk that way for its beauty shots!

Top of desk painted in Mora by Miss Mustard Seed's Milk Paint with a White Wax top
Mora Desk

I wish my desk looked this clean!

Finding farm tables to use as desks is a little tricky. You need to make sure the table is tall enough for your legs or a chair to fit underneath.

Oak farm table, desk in Grain Sack Milk Paint, Eight Hundred Furniture
Grain Sack Farm Table/Desk

Having a drawer in the middle is also nice! I keep pencils, pens, Airpods, stamps, envelopes and scissors in mine.

Antique table painted in Driftwood Milk Paint by General Finishes with a Reclaimed Oak Top stained in Graystone Water Based Wood Stain
Antique Farm Table/Desk in Driftwood Milk Paint

Specialty Desks

I have come across a few pieces that quality as “specialty” desks. These are pieces you don’t find every day that have unique and fascinating characteristics. The first is this incredible Plantation Desk.

This is a piece that post masters or station masters would often use to keep their papers organized. I loved how this one had labels penciled on its little cubbies!

I’ve never found another piece like this one in my travels thus far, so if you find one, grab it!

Speaking of post and station masters, check out this killer rolltop desk!

Hemp Oil, Artissimo, Miss Mustard Seed's Milk Paint, Eight Hundred Furniture, Roll Top Desk, Oak Desk, Antique Desk
Rolltop Desk in Artissimo

This piece was like the 007 of rolltop desks because it had a secret latch in the back that would lock all of the drawers.

Hemp Oil, Artissimo, Miss Mustard Seed's Milk Paint, Eight Hundred Furniture, Roll Top Desk, Oak Desk, Antique Desk
Rolltop Desk in Artissimo

Aside from being a bit of a MacGyver desk, it was functional with 2 pull-out writing surfaces and plenty of room for a typewriter (or a laptop).

Artissimo, Miss Mustard Seed's Milk Paint, Roll Top Desk, Eight Hundred Furniture, Hemp Oil
Rolltop Desk in Artissimo
Hemp Oil, Artissimo, Miss Mustard Seed's Milk Paint, Eight Hundred Furniture, Roll Top Desk, Oak Desk, Antique Desk
Rolltop Desk in Artissimo

Whatever your needs are, and whatever your style is, I hope this little roundup of my desk projects has inspired you! Now go makeover your desk or hunt for an antique one to bing personality into your home office!

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I'm Jenn Baker - Milk Paint lover, photographer, blogger, and QVC Guest Host. Click below to learn more about me and my creative business.  LEARN MORE ABOUT JENN

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