This transformation was pretty drastic! The desk/vanity was a mahogany type of wood, so it was dark red/brown. And shiny. When you have a piece like that you want to prep it well first. I cleaned it all first, sanded down areas that had cuts, gave it a quick scuff sanding everywhere, and then applied 2 coats of shellac. The shellac will stop the bleed through that tends to happen with these type of wood pieces. It also will cut the slippery feel. It helps the paint to adhere. Here is my affiliate link for the shellac I like to use if I am going to distress. You could also use an oil primer or the BIN primer.
After the shellac has completely dried I painted it with Annie Sloan pure white. This was a custom piece and was requested a pure white. When you are working with lighter colors, especially pure white, you will always need to put on more coats than other colors. I think I put on 4 coats on this desk. That is also because I was painting over dark wood. After painting and sanding and distressing, I sealed it with Annie Sloan clear wax. I prefer to use clear wax over the pure white because it does not yellow. Another option over white is Artisan Enhancements Clear Finish.
And here is the AFTER:
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More photo's of my work can be seen in the Gallery.