September 5, 2013

DIY Thrift Store Desk Makeover (Using Silver Leaf!)

You guys. I finally did something I've been wanting to do for years now. I silver leafed a piece of thrift store furniture! I'm absolutely smitten with the way it turned out, but I have to be honest. This table nearly ate me alive 14 times over the past 2 days. I still have silver flakes in my hair. But it was worth it.












A couple weeks ago, I mentioned that my vanity table was a little worse for wear after all of the makeup, hairspray, and the occasional flatiron melting. In the comments section, ya'll had some brilliant suggestions about how I could fix my problem: plexiglass. I was so excited by that idea, and couldn't wait to put it into action. I had planned to just add a piece of plexiglass to my old vanity (which was also originally a disaster), but when I came across a larger, much nicer desk at the thrift store last week for $15, I decided to donate the old one and start over. Here's the desk I found that I just knew would be an awesome replacement.


 It had a few dents and scratches in the wood, but I absolutely loved the shape. It had simple enough lines that I knew it would be the perfect specimen for my first silver leaf project. I've had the below picture saved as inspiration for my little vanity area for quite some time here on Pinterest, and since cutting mirrors to fit my desk turned out to be way too expensive, I decided that using silver leaf would be a great, affordable way to achieve a similar look.

via Decor Pad

So here's how I did it.
This project was super time intensive (about 4 hours total) and super messy (glitter in my hair, glitter everywhere), but actually kind of easy once I got the hang of it.


Here's what you need:
Metal leaf adhesive
Silver leaf (Great deal on 100 sheets here. I used 50 sheets on this project, just leafing the top and drawers.)
Paintbrush (To apply silver leaf)
Sealer (I tried the one pictured above, but wanted something sturdier, so I ended up using Polycrylic.)
Sponge brush (to apply polycrylic)
Silver pray paint (I used my favorite silver color and you could probably achieve a similar look with the spray paint alone...if I'm being honest.)
*Above links all take you to my Amazon Affiliate shop.

I started on the drawers. After removing them from the frame of the desk, I sprayed the entire surface with my spray adhesive. It stays sticky for about 10-15 minutes, so it works best to work on small areas at a time.


Pardon my man hand.

Then, I applied one sheet of silver leaf at a time, laying it gently on top and smoothing it out carefully with my paintbrush. To avoid a line in between each sheet of leaf, I slightly overlapped them. The sheets are super delicate, and tend to stick to your manhand. Whenever one would tear, I would just cover the gap with a smaller piece. There will be plenty of little pieces to choose from, as the silver leaf is super flaky, and you will end up with a million bits of silver leaf on the floor. Dropcloths come in handy.
Also, I definitely walked in some adhesive at one point and silver leafed my feet. 
That added to my enjoyment of this project. :)



Once the surface is completely covered in leaf, you have to seal it. I ended up using 2 coats of Polycrylic.



And now for a moment of honesty. After several hours of silver leafing the entire top of the desk and all 3 drawers, I realized how hard it was going to be to silver leaf the legs and all of the parts in between each drawer. So, instead, I covered the top of the desk with some craft paper, left the drawers out, and then took the frame outside and spray painted the legs with a super shiny chrome metallic spray paint. It ended up working out perfectly, and since the larger surfaces are all silver leafed, it looks like the whole thing is.
Poof. Magic.



Once the desk was done, I decided to put your suggestions into action. Even with two coats of Polycrylic, I knew that the top of the desk wouldn't hold up to my flatiron and face goo, so I decided to buy a sheet of plexiglass to protect the top. After searching around for a bit, we ended up at Lowe's, where they cut glass for free.  
I say 'we' because after DAYS of working on it, this vanity became a family affair. 
Jesse think vanity lovely, but Jesse hate vanity.


I came home with a perfect piece of plexiglass for $20. Seriously, who knew?! 
You did. You knew.


The plexiglass top is super functional, and it looks great, too. I couldn't be happier.


And since I didn't want to ignore any inch of this beautiful little hard-earned desk, I decided to paint the insides of the drawers black.



And then I added beautiful crystal knobs to each of the drawers. I love the tiny bit of gold against the silver leaf.
I'm obviously having a metallic identity crisis lately.




This room changes about once weekly, as I'm sure you're aware of, but this new little addition is definitely one of my faves. 
And with that, my silver leafing career is complete. As in, I'm never doing it again. :)



And as always, thanks so much for stopping by!

For related posts, please check out the following:
1 Bedroom, 10 Ways: Mistakes & Learning Lessons
10 Thrift Store Furniture Makeovers
10 Budget Decorating Tips
When I eventually decided to try again with the gold leaf

And feel to pin this post so you can find it later!


That's all for today! 'Til next time!
Follow my blog with
bloglovin' photo BlogLovin_zps5407d9e3.jpg
pinterest facebook instagram twitter Image Map

Subscribe to LiveLoveDIY with email!
Enter your email address:


-->

86 comments:

  1. it is STUNNING! i gold leafed my nightstands and it was a messy process, but so worth it! love how this looks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wanted to do nightstands SO bad, but couldn't find any worth working on! Did you blog about it? I wanna see!!! :)

      Delete
  2. Absolutely beautiful. I wouldn't have the patience for that but it's brilliant. I just spray painted my patio furniture because I was inspired by you and it looks pretty good! This blog rocks.

    ReplyDelete
  3. It's gorgeous! I know it must have been the most harrowing experience, but it turned out so, so amazing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks girl!! It was harrowing indeed! :)

      Delete
  4. It's so cute though! You know you want silver EVERYTHING now ;) It's so perfectly, sparkly, wonderful. I like vanity mucho-much.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Shannon! And yes, that's the problem....I don't want to do this ever again, but I love the results so so much! I'm sure I'll end up torturing myself again sometime soon! :)

      Delete
  5. I feel the SAME way about my upholstery career. After 3 chairs and a settee I am SO over it.

    Fun tutorial though - and thanks for the honesty! I always wonder what happens when other diy-ers run into problems. I'm glad to know I'm not the only one! Ha!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ha!! Totally been there with the upholstery burnout! :) Thanks Lisa!

      Delete
  6. Not my style at all but wow! Great job! I totally wouldn't have know about the spray paint if you hadn't said anything. :) I want to try gold leafing something but I think I'll start smaller, like a picture frame. :P Seriously, fantastic job! :)

    ReplyDelete
  7. I had no idea that Lowes could/would cut plexiglass!!!!!! I am going this weekend to get a piece for my dining room table!!! :0)

    Hooray!!!

    polkadottedbluejay.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Me either! It was quite the exciting discovery!!

      Delete
  8. I literally just bought enough gold leaf to do a nightstand in my guedt room. GET OUTTA MY HEAD, GUUUUURL. It looks amazing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I saw you pin some gold leaf nightstands just the other day...I could just 'feel' that you were going to leaf it up soon!! Can't wait to see your version...I know it will be amazing! :)

      Delete
  9. I love how it turned out! Love love love it! I am totally inspired to silver leaf something now, anything! :-)

    ReplyDelete
  10. This is gorgeous! I love how you can see a piece of plain furniture and envision a makeover for it. :) I have always wanted to try gold or silver leaf. Hopefully, soon.

    BTW, I have been looking for a good metallic / chorme paint. Thank you for showing the Rustoleum brand. Their version is what I have been looking for. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much Julie!! You are the sweetest! xo

      Delete
  11. Virginia! It looks SO good! However, I think with that added touch of glam you are going to need a glam eyemask and ear plugs to complete the fabulous ;)
    http://www.solomon-music.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/Screen-shot-2010-10-03-at-10.37.39-PM.png

    Have an awesome weekend!

    ReplyDelete
  12. That is just gorgeous! I've been wanting a mirrored vanity or chest for the longest time, but just can't bring myself to spend the money. You've inspired me to look for something less expensive and try silver leafing it!

    ReplyDelete
  13. I love this! I'm so so so tempted to throw away the paint I purchased to refinish my vanity, but your "never doing it again" attitude has me hesitant. Especially since mine has 8 drawers!

    What was the total cost breakdown?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much Ann Marie! It's totally doable! It was just really tedious! :) I think it cost me about $25 for all of the leafing supplies. I can't remember the exact prices.

      Delete
  14. Now that you did this, do you think just painting the whole thing would be ok? Instead of any silver leaf? Or does that part of it make it complete?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think the silver spray paint alone would be pretty, but the silver leaf really takes it up a notch. Although, the spray paint is SO much easier!! :)

      Delete
  15. That turned out beautiful! I've always been curious how you apply this but have never looked into it! Thanks for the info and well done!

    Laura
    House Envy

    ReplyDelete
  16. Let's blame your metallic love on your new chandelier! It matches so beautifully! I know this was really time-consuming work, but it really was worth the effort--so gorgeous.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Wow! Beautiful. I’ve been itching to do a –leaf project. I just bought a small all-inclusive gold leaf set this past weekend- but I’m not sure what I’ll use it on and to be honest, I’m a little scared.. but- you’ve given me some confidence, who knows, maybe a gold-leaf something will show up on blog in the next few days or weeks. Thanks for the inspiration!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much! Don't be scared! Anyone can do it...it's just kinda time consuming and messy! :)

      Delete
  18. Adorable! Turned out great. Now I need to find a piece of furniture in my house to transform with spray paint.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Virginia....this is beyond GORGEOUS!!! I love it so much! I have a old kidney shaped vanity that belonged to my Mom and I have destroyed that thing over 30 years but can't bear to part with it. Maybe, just maybe, I could try this!!! Yours is just fabulous and I love it! Thanks for the amazing inspiration and I totally love the silver-leaf feet! :) Have a wonderful weekend, you creative lady!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much Cindy! You are so sweet! I totally think you should silver leaf your vanity! Just be prepared for it to take forrrrever!!! ha! Thanks again! :)

      Delete
  20. love it, now I want to silver leaf something...

    ReplyDelete
  21. I love this! Especially when you sprayed the legs chrome-I can do that! Not sure if patience with leafing will work well on my end. You did superb!

    ReplyDelete
  22. LOOOOVE it! I've been wanting to do this to my dining room table in a gold/silver mix! I have lots of brown in my living and dining room area but have black dining room chairs (they were a gift) so to tie it all together I wanted to my table to have silver and gold. Your vanity is gorgeous, I love your creativity -- thanks for the inspiration and the great tutorial. xo

    ReplyDelete
  23. .....................oh sorry, that was me being struck speechless by your dreamy vanity. So gorgeous! I am also in the throes of a metallic identity crisis and mixing metals all over the place. :)

    ReplyDelete
  24. What?! That came out great! And you really can't even tell that the legs and base are spray painted. Wow. Great job!

    Runt
    runtspickins@yahoo.com
    www.runtspickins.wordpress.com

    ReplyDelete
  25. Hi! Just wanted to say that I really love your blog. I had a baby in February and am now a stay at home mum. For the first time since I was 15, I had no paying job and instead had millions of hours to look at the inside of my house thinking about how ugly everything was (ha!). I'm not particularly creative or handy, but your blog has inspired me to make some changes here and there and it has made me feel so much better about our house now. So I basically wanted to say 'thank you' for sharing because it's been really helpful :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much Adele! That is truly so wonderful! Thank you for taking the time to comment!

      Delete
  26. Virginia, this turned out ab-fab! Since you've claimed it a pain in the rumpus, in your opinion, how do you think it would have turned out with the whole thing sprayed silver? I'm right there with you though....I love me some silver leaf too!
    Nancy

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Nancy! Thank you so much! I really think it would have turned out pretty cool even if I had only spray painted it! Although, the silver leaf definitely makes it look a little better up close! :)

      Delete
  27. I love this! I was trying to figure out how to use silver leaf. Thanks for sharing!
    ~Erica

    ReplyDelete
  28. Well Job... err, I mean Virginia... you have extreme patience and are clearly dedicated to a project once it's begun. Good for you! The result is dramatic, while softly whispering "Hollywood Regency" in a soft, breathy way that evokes visions of Marilyn or Mae primping at the vanity. It's absolutely GORGEOUS and I am officially very jealous! Thank you for taunting... I mean, sharing! LOVE THIS TRANSFORMATION, 5 STARS!!!

    Dena :)

    ReplyDelete
  29. Replies
    1. Thank you so much, Sarah! Love everything you do, so that means a lot coming from you!! xo

      Delete
  30. hi there, just few days ago i came across your post from pinterest, and just loved how you redid this desk! its so beautifully done! so i went to craigslist and found exact same desk! how cool is that! i got it for 10$ only! i think its meant to be ))))
    i would like to do it exactly how you did it, can please specify what you silver leaf and which exact part are sprayed ?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi there! What a great find!!! So cool! I spray painted the legs and silver leafed the top, sides, and fronts of the drawers.

      Delete
  31. Hi Virginia, Im from Bali Indonesia, I live 6 months in Italy and 6 months in Bali, when I found this blog I could not stop reading it and now its 1 AM in Italy time while I'm writing this comment. My husband and I are planning to do make over our home in Bali, Thank You for being such inspirational for us. Hug Dinda & Roberto

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Dinda & Roberto! Thank you so much for your amazing comment! I appreciate your sweet words so much! Seriously, thank you! <3

      Delete
  32. I love this soo much!! I have always wanted one of the mirrored pieces of furniture, but since they are so expensive I was contemplating silver leafing. Thank you so much for the tutorial! I can't wait to find a piece of furniture that works so I can start!

    ReplyDelete
  33. Stunning! I have been wanting to do this for awhile now, I think I will start on the smaller side ;) I am so impressed, you have some serious skills!! <3

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks SO much, Jen! If I could go back in time, I would definitely start with a little end table rather than a DESK! :) But, it all worked out in the end! Thanks girl!! xo

      Delete
  34. This is absolutely stunning! I love it

    ReplyDelete
  35. I love this idea. I have an old student desk my mom used when she was in school that I now use as a make up desk that needs a make over very badly! I will try this. I love super shiny things. So I will try this. :-)

    ReplyDelete
  36. what do you think about using liquid leaf instead of the sheets?

    ReplyDelete
  37. I know I'm a little late to this party, but I just discovered this blog. I'm in love with all of the projects! I was looking for a desk project exactly like this one. Can't wait to get started.

    ReplyDelete
  38. My heart just skipped a beat just looking at the final results of your vanity. I LOOOOVE it!

    ReplyDelete
  39. I cannot express how happy I am to have found this vanity project and your BLOG! You have inspired me more than I can say. Thank you, thank you, thank you so much for sharing... Your blog, home, and YOU are beautiful!

    ReplyDelete
  40. Looks beautiful and like you must have spent mega dollars on it. Clever girl. Wish you lived next door and thank you for sharing and inspiring.

    ReplyDelete
  41. Love this! Did you need to sand it before spray painting? I purchased a black desk I plan to redo like this and wanted to confirm the process :-)

    ReplyDelete
  42. Oh gosh I love this so much! I was just being teased tonight about "when will you make a silver table?" (because I love shiny things, silver, and painting tables) This is so perfect!

    ReplyDelete
  43. Super job and you inspire so many people - you go, girl! And BYW, I love your chandelier!

    ReplyDelete
  44. So gorgeous!! I just got my own place and am in constant debate...make/buy? You're swaying me towards the "buy-thrift-then-make" camp a LOT with your blog, thank you so much!

    ReplyDelete
  45. Ok I really love this idea and want to do a similar project with two 3 drawer chests for my teenagers room. I am getting the Southshore ches from Target http://www.target.com/p/south-shore-simply-basics-3-drawer-dresser-white/-/A-11893774 as it is a really cheap price and I have not found any thrift store finds that would be better. This is cheap particle board furniture with laminate on it. Do you think this spray paint would work in this application? Also did it give you a very shiny finish? The picture does not appear to be too shiny. I would prefer a more matte finish with a low shine.

    Thanks for any help you can offer.

    Janice

    ReplyDelete
  46. Love love love it!! Just came across this and is really inspired by the look of the desk and the room. . . Not sure if I'm ready for the challenge just yet but my DIY juices are flowing!!

    ReplyDelete
  47. Absolutely Beautiful! Good instructions also. Now I am curious about the paint colour on the walls...could you share? It really is a great background for your silver. ;)

    ReplyDelete
  48. LOVE it!! Will definitely do this with my daughters :)

    ReplyDelete
  49. Love this so much its gorgeous! I may have to do this.

    ReplyDelete
  50. Love this! I have the same desk and am about to redo it. I can't seem to get my center knob off. There's no screw on the back...By any chance do you remember how you removed yours??? Thank you!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  51. This is such an amazing post! Thank you for posting it. The vanity turned out so gorgeous. It inspired me to do a silver desk, although I decided to spray paint because silver leaf looked like it would cause an emotional breakdown for me.

    ReplyDelete
  52. Do you remember where you got the chair and mirror? LOVE the whole thing!!

    ReplyDelete
  53. Have this exact Target desk (two actually!) and was planning to try and do something like this. So glad to have found your tutorial so I can really see what it would look like!! Thank you! :)

    ReplyDelete
  54. I am new here, I just spent about 15 minutes reading your blog, you are so funny! Your witty, off the cuff kind of comments... I am thoroughly enjoying the projects, as well as your killer sense of humour! New reader!

    ReplyDelete
  55. Seeing this post made my heart sing! I love how us DIYers are reclaiming “junk” – “treasures to us” and giving them a new life. You did a beautiful job on this desk!

    ReplyDelete
  56. I love this idea. I have an old student desk my mom used when she was in school that I now use as a make up desk that needs a make over very badly! I will try this. I love super shiny things. So I will try this. :-)

    ReplyDelete
  57. I absolutely love it! Thank you for sharing 'cause I don't have one ounce of creativity in me. I appreciate talented people like yourself.

    ReplyDelete
  58. Love it...I have painted so many things to match different rooms, but the silver leaf was something new to me. Love the plexiglass idea instead of glass...going to use in in my daughter's room for vanity I'm going to spray paint & attempt to add some detail to. Do you think spray painting the legs metallic on your chair will make it look more like a set?? Just a thought... Thanks for the tips!

    ReplyDelete

Thanks so much for leaving a comment!! I do the hammer dance every time I read one.

Quick and Easy LiveLoveDIY Projects

Mod Podge Hangers Photo Wall Ideas Sequin Art Chalkboard Cabinets Gold Leaf Art Stacked Log Tutorial