Drab to Dreamy Lego Desk: Easy Distressing for Wood Furniture


Easy Distressing for Wood Furniture: Drab to Dreamy Lego Desk

How to distress wood furniture in order to create a fabulous lego or duplo desk for your child.

A tutorial on how to distress wood furniture, as well as on how to create a gorgeous Lego desk for your child. In this case, I added a plate for Duplo Lego blocks and there's still plenty of space for writing or drawing. There's also storage in the desk for all the duplo blocks. 

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WOW. What a fantastic project! I'm going to be overly pleased with myself for a very long time. This is a good example of how rewarding distressing furniture can be when it goes well.. and I've had really good luck with it so far.

My 3.5 year old, G, was moved to a big boy room a while back and he really needed a sturdy side table for a lamp.

I came home with this... 

I used this $40 desk that I found at the thrift store and created a beautiful desk for my son to write or play legos/duplos.

Let me take a moment to blame my mother-in-law... I was going to come home with a side table until she pointed this out. It's always fun to go thrift shopping with her. We'd gone out the day before and came home with nothing, and the guys all let out a big cheer about it. My father-in-law and my husband literally cheered. Football game style. Lame. Needless to say we went back for round two and found this gem. 

My big plan was to use this black spray paint, then to finish the top with whiteboard paint. I was using the spray paint on another project though and I decided to save it for a different project. Wood just distresses so nicely and there's no reason to mess up a perfectly good experimenting opportunity. 

I painted my dining room a while back and I had the paint leftover from that project. The paint looks so different on this furniture piece than it did on my walls

The big key with finding pieces to redo is knowing how much work you want to do. I wanted an item with drawers that worked well... I don't like to gamble on my ability to fix the drawers. Many people just remove drawers and fix so they can use baskets, but I just think a sign of a good furniture piece is drawers that slide smoothly. And I don't want to go hunting for baskets that fit. 

So this needed no fixing. 

All paint is no VOC Valspar satin paint from Lowes. Both of the paints were leftover from painting my dining room, half bathroom, and family room.

Paint Choice (top): Seine, 6005-2B
Paint Choice (rest of desk): Presidential Suite, AR1326 
Stain Choice: Rust-Oleum Ultimate Wood Stain in Ebony (Or you can try this Minwax Ebony Stain)
Poly Choice: Minwax Water Based Oil-Modified Polyurethane, Clear Satin


1. Pull off the cardboard backing. Remove drawer hardware. Spray paint hardware and cardboard backing black.
2. Remove drawers and place face up, along with the desk, on something that will protect your floors.
3. Sand with 80 grit. Be careful because this has the potential to take off too much wood... I just used it so that I could rough up all the sides. You may be able to skip this step depending on your paint or if you prime first. I've never done it that way.
4. Brush off the dust. 
5. Paint with the color of your choice.
6. Let dry. 
7. Add another coat (or two) of paint and let dry.
8. Sand lightly with 120 grit paper in places that would get normal wear and tear. This is the "distressing" part... I usually get around the edges and corners the most. Don't go crazy on big flat areas or it will look fake.
9. Brush off dust.
10. Paint on your stain. Let sit for a few minutes, then rub off with an old rag (t-shirt material works well, paper towels don't work super well). When you rub the stain off, make sure that you go in the same direction... it'll show if you go every which way.
11. Let dry. I gave mine 24 hours. 
12. Paint on your poly. Let dry.
13. Sand very, very lightly. Then apply poly again and let dry. 
14. One more layer of poly. 
15. Replace hardware and cardboard backing. 

Note: For the Lego board, I purchased a green one and painted it. They had a couple color choices that I didn't love, and the ones I liked better were higher priced. This was a quick, easy project. Check out Customizing the Color of Your Lego or Duplo Building Plate for the instructions.

Here's a video showing my process: 

    Before vs. After Drab to Dreamy Lego Desk: How I distressed an old desk for my son's room.

    If you want to pickup supplies online, here are some affiliate links to items that I purchased or needed to complete the project. If you use the links below, you help support my blog (at no additional cost to you).

    To Note:
    • You'll need to pick up all of your paint, stain, and poly as listed at the top of this post.
    • The building plate was about $16 at the time I bought it. Just keep an eye on the price as it seems to fluctuate.
    • My plate is painted black with the Rust-Oleum spray, but there's a wide variety of colors available. 
    • I used Gorilla Glue to glue it down. 
    • I used foam brushes for applying the stain and poly... I find both stain and poly are difficult to clean off brushes so I wanted a cheap option to apply it so I could throw the foam brushes out after. Not super ecofriendly, but I try to do what I can in other areas.
    • For painting, I use a regular paint brush. Pick the size that works best for your piece or use a couple different sizes. Regular paint is easy to clean off... I just rinse thoroughly under warm water, then let sit in a cup of water and blue Dawn mix. Then rinse again after a day, and let air dry. 
    • Drop cloth is a necessity, but if you want to save money then you could cut open a garbage bag and layer the floor with it. I have some drop cloths that I reuse often.
    • Sander and sandpaper to fit it... this is ideal. You can get sandpaper and do it by hand, but this makes the process a lot faster and easier. 
    • I didn't link them, but I do use latex gloves to apply stain and poly because I don't like how hard they are to get off my hands. Personal preference. You may also want to consider a face mask if you are concerned about chemicals. I paint in an open garage only to avoid issues with this.
    • Free materials that you need:
      • Old T-shirt to wipe off the stain. I really can't find anything better. I've tried paper towels and also sweatshirt material and neither worked great.


    Here are some pictures from when I updated the desk with "big boy" Lego plates!

    DIY Lego Table with Storage

    DIY Lego Desk

    Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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    DIY Danielle: Drab to Dreamy Lego Desk: Easy Distressing for Wood Furniture
    Drab to Dreamy Lego Desk: Easy Distressing for Wood Furniture
    Easy Distressing for Wood Furniture: Drab to Dreamy Lego Desk
    DIY Danielle
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