the indigo desk.

I don’t know about you guys, but I try to use good judgement when making purchases via Craigslist.  However, I definitely don’t always manage to do so.  It feels so awkward to say ‘no’ to someone, so sometimes I end up buying a piece that I really shouldn’t.  I’m working on that skill though.  It can be really frustrating to take the time to go look at a piece, then get there and find that it’s not at all as advertised.  So if the piece is going to need tons of work and it isn’t priced accordingly (ie. dirt cheap), I’m learning to just walk away.

This happened to me a couple of months ago with a dresser.  It was priced right at the top of my price range.  That would have been OK if the dresser had truly been in ‘excellent’ condition as stated in the ad.  I was in the market for a piece that just needed painting.

However, in reality the piece was what I like to call a humpty dumpty (check out this post about the original humpty dumpty and you’ll see what I mean).  It would have required lots gluing and clamping to put it right.  So I didn’t buy it.  After looking the piece over and pointing out that it was not structurally sound, I simply said “I’m sorry, I’m going to have to pass on this dresser.  Thanks for your time.”

  That being said, nearly a year ago Mr. Q and I drove all the way out to Minnetonka to pick up two pieces from separate sellers.  I don’t normally drive that far to buy pieces anymore, but in this case I was able to arrange to pick up two things in one trip.  Plus the prices were really low on both pieces.

One of the pieces was this desk.

Obviously I was mainly drawn in by those cup pulls!

This was an interesting situation because the seller wasn’t actually going to be home.  They left the desk on a covered porch and asked me to put the money under a flower pot.  I know, it sounds crazy, doesn’t it?  This was not the first time I’ve made arrangements like this though.  There are still a few trusting people left in the world.

You’d think with that being the case it would have been super easy for me to just walk away after getting there and finding that the desk was quite a bit smaller than I pictured and the veneer was in really poor condition.  I could have just left the desk there on the porch and moved on.  But somehow I felt obligated to buy it since the seller had hauled it out there for me, and trusted me to show up and leave the money behind.  Plus after driving so far I didn’t want to go home empty handed.

So my next logical step was to shove the desk in the corner of my carriage house and try to ignore it for nearly a year (imagine that said with the proper amount of sarcasm) .

But I was finally tired of seeing it out there, so when it warmed up last week I pulled it outside and attacked the chipping veneer with my putty knife.  I basically just chipped off all of the loose veneer and then sanded heavily.  It would have taken ages to remove ALL of the veneer and this desk was just not worth that amount of labor.

While I was chipping veneer, I also stripped the top of the piece (with Citristrip) which is basically constructed of 3 solid wood boards (no veneer, thank goodness).

As I was working on the piece I noticed something kind of fab on the inside.  The desk must have been partially constructed out of old wooden storage crates.

Isn’t that kind of cool?  My favorite is the backside of this drawer front.

I’m guessing that this piece was homemade and it was cobbled together with spare bits of wood that the builder had on hand.  As I was working on this piece I began to realize that it really did have a lot of charm.

Originally I had envisioned this desk in chippy white milk paint.  After my semi-disastrous outcome the last time I used milk paint, you might think I would shy away from using it again.  But no.  I know that situations like that are the exception and not the rule.  I still love the results I get from milk paint 99.9% of the time.  However based on the size of the desk I decided it should have a more kid friendly color rather than white.  So I pulled out some Miss Mustard Seed milk paint in Flow Blue and mixed it up.  I probably could have gotten away with one coat, but I had plenty of paint mixed up so I added a second for good measure.

Once I had the paint on I was so happy I’d changed my mind about that white.

I also realized that I loved the contrast between the rich deep color of the Flow Blue and the pale wood top.  So rather than add stain or a dark wax to the top I simply waxed it with Miss Mustard Seed’s clear furniture wax.  In fact, the entire desk has a finish coat of the clear wax.

Then I cleaned the cup pulls with soap and water and put them back on.

If you’re wondering whether or not the chipped veneer is noticeable, it definitely is.

But I think that just adds to the rustic charm of this piece.

This desk is definitely too small to be used as a desk by an adult.  But it’s perfect for a kiddo.  Wouldn’t it be fun in a boy’s room?

But it also could be used as an alternative to a traditional bedside table.  It’s just the right height for that.

I have to admit, this desk turned out way better than I expected.  When I started work on it my goal was to just get it done and then move on to another piece.  I totally was not expecting to completely fall in love with the result.

Hopefully someone who needs an indigo blue kid-sized desk will fall in love with it too.

Be sure to check out my ‘available for local sale‘ page if interested!


29 thoughts on “the indigo desk.

  1. Boy, someone was really recycling when they used crates to build this cute little desk! Amazing what people come up with when they have to. Love this shade of blue too.


  2. I see this desk serving many purposes, put casters or wheels on it with a shelf in the center and it makes a great island. Or on thee front porch with a tray for drinks! Any way you use it, it has a sweet simplicity that really speaks to me. Fun project, glad you pulled it out of the corner.


    1. Thanks Laura! This piece is probably quite a bit smaller than you think. It would need to come up at least a foot or so to be island height. It would be lovely on an enclosed porch though!


  3. I like the color of the desk. I have used flow blue in other things that I have painted. I too had to learn just to walk away. I have trouble with really nice people! Now my husband gives me a look and I have to walk away. He gets tired of me involving him in the fixing of everything that needs fixing. After all he is trying to get the remodeling of our house done. Don’t get me wrong he is a prince,but I do realize that I put pressure on him sometimes. It is hard. The desk turned out great!


  4. I bought Jenna a bench that was made out of crates. It was my favourite part of the piece. She painted it in MMSP Farmhouse White and is now part of a banquet. The inside has the advertising-and it has beautiful chippy goodness. These are the things that have the most charm in a home. Love your little desk…probably because it’s quirky.


  5. Beautiful, you had me at indigo.Love the re purposed crates. I have purchased items in the same manner with money left under door mats and woodpiles but love the level of trust folks have to still “shop” that way.


  6. For sure! It’s so hard to reject anybody’s ANYTHING! My husband likes to “bargain”…….but for me I feel like I’m saying to the seller that YOU’RE not worth it!


  7. Beautiful, one-of-a-kind piece. Love the humpty dumpty pictures too. I wish Ken would hold classes for the younger generation. His skills are definitely a lost art.


  8. Quandie, I wish I lived locally! I love how the colors turned out. I’ve seen desks like that turned into a rolling kitchen island and they’re so cool. To do that, they add shelves in the area where the chair goes. Then they make a platform with large wheels and attach the desk to it. It might not sound cute, but it is.


    1. That does sound adorable. I’d have to add about 7.5″ to the height, and I’d also have to finish off the back. Currently the back is unfinished. But if I can’t find a home for it as a desk, I’ll keep this idea in mind!


  9. I know this charming desk will end up being sold, but I would be tempted to contact the seller to see if she knows any story behind this desk or where it was purchased. Brings to mind stories about thrifty times during the Depression when people “made do” with what they had at hand. I hope you point out these endearing features to the new buyer!


    1. That’s another downside to the whole ‘leave the money under a flower pot’ approach. I wasn’t able to ask any questions about the provenance of this piece. I do suspect it’s one of those pieces that had been in the family for a long time, but no one wanted it anymore.


  10. It turned out great and I love the flow blue. I know you said it’s childs size but you never know. I could see this for an adult in a small space to use as a charging station for phones and laptops etc. I love the idea as a nightstand too. Great storage and space for a cute basket underneath.


    1. Yes, it definitely needs a cute basket or something in that space. I tried suitcases there, and an old wooden crate … both of which were too big for the space.


  11. Oh my gosh😂I have the same problem saying NO-I’ll pass…then I am mad at myself the whole way home. Sometimes tho-they turn out great-like this!


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