Smoked Gray Vintage Desk: How to Achieve This Look

How Moms Deal

Hey everyone. Wanted to pop on here on this beautiful Saturday night and give a quick tutorial on my first piece I am flipping for a sale. All the furniture I’ve done up to this point has been for myself to keep in my home, pieces I absolutely love and am very proud of. This is a desk (though tempting to keep because it is so adorable) that is currently for sale, posted to facebook groups and Craigslist in my local area. I don’t have use or space for the desk in my home and it really is a great little desk that ended up being a perfect flipping piece. It wasn’t too large and daunting and it was still in really good shape. So, let’s dive in to the details and of course PICTURES of the before and after!


This desk was found at a local thrift store for $10 and I bought it. Miraculously, it fit in my van with one of the backseats in the stow-and-go and I didn’t even have to take my car seats out. AMAZING. The above pictures are the before shots (the first picture was after I started some sanding and stripping). This last picture above is the desk top before I did anything to it. It had been painted brown/yellow for a faux golden oak look. (WHY PEOPLE WHY). Underneath this finish was a glossy cherry wood finish (that could have been nice) which I discovered after beginning to sand off the paint.

Stripping and sanding can be a lot of work so once I decided to go for sanding the top off I decided to leave it at that and paint over the rest.

Removing paint with Stripping Gel. You can see the cherry/mahogany color stain underneath.


After new stain went on and some paint was applied
New stain is on.

I didn’t get a good picture of the desk top completely bare. But I did A LOT of sanding and the more I had to sand off the paint the cherry finish was coming off too so I had to sand it all off unfortunately.

The wood grain wasn’t too bad. There are a few dark markings in the wood grain, I’m not sure what from, but I like the little imperfections that give it character and history so I kept them.


Here is a better picture of the finished top (keep in mind the stain or sealer here was still wet).

I don’t know why but when I’m deciding on what colors and styles to go for there’s just something about the piece that speaks to me. For whatever reason, I wanted this desk to be neutral, yet masculine. I didn’t think it should be too bright, but definitely wanted an antique vibe.

I picked up a can of Rust-oleum Chalked Paint in the color Country Gray. The Country Gray has greenish undertones. They also carry an Aged Gray color which is more matte silver or a traditional looking gray. If you click on the *Rust-oleum Amazon link here* you can view both color options, as well as the topcoats I used which I will mention in a little bit. I bought my products at a local hardware store for about the same price as it’s going for on amazon right now.

(Speaking of Amazon. Did you know Amazon Prime day is coming up on June 16th?! Stay clued into that because they will be running all kinds of Black Friday like deals – maybe even better – I’ve got my shopping cart going and ready to watch for deals!)

Okay back to the desk.

Painting was pretty quick and easy as I was just wanting full coverage over the weird yellow paint that was on. I had a few issues with some bleed through but only in a couple of spots. Per the advice of Jami Ray Vintage on numerous videos and facebook posts, I bought some Shellac and covered up those spots. Once the Shellac was dry I went back over with the paint and it worked.

When the paint was dry I began the glazing process. I used the Aged Glaze (you can view via the *’d link above.)

The glazing was a little trickier than I thought it would be. The directions on the can said to use the glaze right on top of the paint. That didn’t sit right with me and I wished I had gone with my gut. I think it would have gone on easier over a top coat. It was harder to blend than I wanted it to be and so to fix the problem I used water to rub and blend. I had my little brush for the glaze and a little brush and a cup of water and a lint free rag too. As I was blending and adding water and trying to blend the paint started coming off too. Of course this would happen and I was worried about that! I stopped the process and once dry I painted with the clear top coat and then added more paint in just a few spots and then began the glazing process again.

It went a lot faster once I kind of had my method down. I would brush the glaze on just the frame of each drawer and along all the edges. Then I took a wet brush and went back and forth horizontally on each area with a wet brush until I liked how the blend looked. Then I would wipe of any excess with my cloth and blend more. The idea is to “age” or antique it by darkening corners, edges, and crevices. I achieved a similar look with my Hutch and Table but I used Annie Sloan Wax for those pieces. Glaze is a thinner almost paint like substance so the process looks a bit different.

In the end I love how the glaze turned out. It added some dimension and a different hue to the gray color. The Aged Glaze with the Country Gray compliment each other well. The Amazon Picture of the Aged Glaze looks a LOT more yellow/brown than it does for me. It looks more like a smokey brown. The other dark glaze Rust-oleum carries is called Smoked Glaze which is much more black looking.


After playing around a lot with the glaze and doing all the sides it was time to let it dry and then seal it up.

I used the Rust-oleum Clear Topcoat. It functions just like Polycrylic. In fact, the 2 products seem virtually the same to me and I probably didn’t need to buy the Rust-oleum version.

Here’s some more pictures of the painting process.

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I hand sanded the rope detail a little bit just to clean it up and then painted up to the flat desk top.


For the hardware I kept the original because they were beautiful they just needed to be cleaned up and freshened with new paint.

I washed and scrubbed them with a sponge and steel wool in vinegar water and then in soapy water. Then I rinsed it and let it dry.

I found this advice on Pinterest. I was looking at painting some bathroom fixtures but even though I ended up not painting my bathroom fixtures I used the same method because I wanted the paint finish to be super durable! So feel free to head over to the original blog post I got my tips for painting hardware. I’ll explain the method now:

First I sprayed the hardware with a gray Automobile Primer.
Then I used the Oil Rubbed Bronze spray paint that I have and have used on many other things.
Finally, I finished with a Lacquer Spray for extra durability and shine.

For the desktop I used Varathane Kona Stain.
I sealed the stain with Polyurethane.
I used Gel Stripper for the top to remove the existing finish, though sanding would have worked just taken a little longer.

Can’t forget to mention how handy my Black & Decker Orbital Sander was for removing the finish on the top. They make sanding so much easier and faster and I would highly recommend one if you plan on doing any piece in need of sanding. The sand paper in varying grits stick to the sander making it easy to change out and user friendly. I mostly used a 220 grit.

Here are all the after shots!


Thank you for checking out what I like to call the “Smoked Gray Vintage Desk”. If you are local and interested in buying feel free to contact me!

If this inspires you or you like this style Pin this post and share it with your friends.

Smoked Gray Vintage Desk


*This post contains Amazon Affiliate Links meaning if you click on my click and make a purchase on their website I may make a small commission that would go towards my home business and running my blog site. Thank you for your support.*

Published by Jessica

Wife, mom, homeschooler, DIY-er, blogger

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