Refinished Student Desk & Chair Set Under $100

Our starter home was only 1,000 square feet so we didn’t need a lot of furniture. When we purchased a bigger home that was nearly double the size of our starter home, we were on the hunt to fill our house. I like heirloom quality, but I am not willing to pay a big-ticket price. The answer for me was estate sales!

Estates sales are a great way to find good quality items at a fraction of the price bought new in store. Most of the furniture is good quality, built to last. Not the particleboard, throw away in two years, stuff you’ll find in big box stores. I like estates sales better than garage sales, although both can be great. The biggest difference between an estate sale, and say a moving sale, is in an estate sale someone has passed away. What this means is they aren’t getting rid of the “junk” they no longer want. Their belongings are no longer being used and the family has decided to sell them.

We have furnished our entire home with estate sale finds. The pieces are conversation pieces that I mix with modern décor and accessories to bring them back to life. In our home 90% of our furniture is from estate sales. Our master bedroom suit is from the 1940’s, has been owned by one couple, and was a gift from the groom-to-be to his bride. The couple were married their entire lives and the wife passed away, prompting the estate sale. Talk about good juju! I hope my husband and I have such a long happy life.

At the same sale we purchased a 17-foot drop leaf dinning room table, a hutch cabinet, two matching dressers, mirror and nightstands. Since the dressers and side tables are an older style, we paired them with a modern upholstery headboard, matching lamps, and fun accent décor. The pieces are beautiful and truly complete our master bedroom!

Two of my favorite pieces we purchased at estate sales were our sons’ desks. I wanted a small, compact student desk that could be used in their bedroom and when they go to college could be taken with them. Since our boys are only 10 and 7, I needed something that would last for several years, and still be in good shape when they moved out.

I was so happy to find two student-sized desks at two different estate sales! The desks started out in rough shape. One was a terrible hunter green paint that had contact paper for the writing surface. The other was a cool, modern desk with a shaped top. It had scratches all over the surface and needed a good cleaning. The price was definitely right though! We paid $10 for each desk. These are solid wood, student-sized desks that were structurally sound, and only $10 each! I was also lucky enough to find some cool chairs that would coordinate perfectly with the desks. Each chair set us back $2.50. That’s $12.50 for a desk and chair combination – Woot Woot!

Since the furniture was so cost effective I decided to do something above just setting the desks in their rooms. I ended up having the pieces refinished. We have a friend who has her own business refinishing furniture (A Cut Above The Rust), and I knew she would do a fabulous job. She stripped the desks and chairs down to bare wood, painted them, added drawer pulls, and reupholstered the chairs for us. The turnaround time was a couple weeks, and they came out beautifully!

Refinished Red and Natural Wood Boy’s Desk
Refinished Vintage Black  Boy’s Desk

Each desk and chair combination when all said and done: purchasing, refinishing and reupholstering cost us $100 per set. That’s nothing compared to the cost of a new cheap desk. We found a comparable sized desk at Target for $225 and it wasn’t even made out of real wood, and didn’t include a chair. The desks are a great size to fit a computer, a table lamp and some odds and ends. There’s even space left for the kids to write.

Has enough space for computer, lamp, odds and ends, and a writing surface!
Boy’s student desk with enough space for a computer, odds and ends, and a writing surface

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