The Kelly Campaign

February 7, 2012

For the longest time I’ve been wanting to paint a piece of furniture bright Kelly green.  It started when I found this Reed & Barton color glazed silver bowl from the 1960’s in a thrift shop for a dollar.  A dollar for this beauty!

kelly green bowl

So I wanted to bring this fun color into our home and once I found the perfect piece, this small campaign desk, off to the paint store I went to color match it!  Here’s the  desk I found at (of course) a thrift store for $40 – the hardware alone is worth that to me, but the added benefit was this desk with faux bamboo legs that would tuck nicely into the kids study/art/craft playroom.


campaign dresser before



 kelly green campaign desk

The desk was not real burled wood, but had a speckled and scratched surface, so painting it was an easy call.  I followed the same steps I’ve mentioned before, 1. Remove the hardware, 2.  Clean and scuff up the piece with a medium grit sanding wedge and 3. Prime with product designed for glossy surfaces (Zinsser is my fave).

steps for makeover


Next, two coats of this fabulous paint!  I’ve wanted to try the Advance formula by Ben Moore and this desk was perfect candidate.  This enamel formula gives a harder finish like oil based paints but cleans up with water, I’ll definitely use it again – it comes in satin, semi-gloss and high gloss formulas.  No Floetrol needed, this paint is that good.

advance high gloss ben moore

The color is a custom formula to match the bowl, but if you want two close matches, try ‘Grasshopper’ by Sherwin Williams or ‘Bunker Hill Green’ by Benjamin Moore.

Finally I scrubbed and polished the brass hardware and reattached it.

polish brass reattach hardware

Now this fun Kelly green campaign desk sits in the kids’ playroom for art or homework.

kelly green campaign desk

I’m not alone in my love for this shade on campaign furniture, it’s been done before, so be sure to check out Emily’s campaign dresser and do you recall this set of green campaign dressers from Lonny magazine?  A gorgeous classic color!

Painted anything a bright fun color in your home lately?


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145 Responses to “The Kelly Campaign”

  1. We just painted our kitchen soffit bright tomato red!
    And, I was big-time scared.
    We LOVE it!

    I’ve never has the courage to paint furniture – but I might have to try.

  2. omigosh you are so cute! i love that desk!


  3. How much paint did it take? Love it.

  4. Michele says:

    Great job Kate! Love it. I spied it on Pinterest, but didn’t realize it was one you actually refinished until now. Love how you went bold and the hardware really makes it doesn’t it? So jealous you can find such great pieces for such great prices where you live. Maybe I just need to do more exploring. I’ve got plenty of projects ahead of me though. This adds to all the ideas spinning around in my head. so Thanks! ;-)

  5. Amy D says:

    adore this piece. So lucky to find this in a thrift store. You inspire me to get out there looking again and again.

  6. Jessica says:

    What a great re-do! I love your color choice and inspiration! I’m going to have to try out the BM Advance paint on my next project too.

  7. Beth says:

    My sister and I grew up with this in the 70’s! I can’t believe I am seeing it everywhere, I always hated it , seeing it everyday in our room, but now I am loving all the bright colors! It really lends itself to a bright funky paint job! I have seen it in cobalt and orange but I love the kelly green! Great job! You won me over!

  8. courtney says:

    I have this exact desk and a matching drawer set! I put them together and painted them royal blue and now use them as a long sofa table.

  9. Lovely lines on this desk. What a great find at a terrific price!

  10. Debbie says:

    I love this desk. Can you tell me what finish you used? What it semi or gloss?

    Thanks, Debbie in NH

  11. Melissa says:

    The Kelly green and gold together is perfection! This is so inspiring. Love, love your choices.

  12. What a find! I love the hardware too and that green you color-matched is so fun. Awesome job Kate!

  13. CentsationalGirl says:

    Hi Debbie, I used the high gloss formula, it gives a beautiful finish! If you don’t like gloss, there is a satin formula available.

  14. Dawn says:

    Wow, I LOVE that color! Beautiful job and what an improvment!

  15. Jessica R. says:

    So beautiful!!

  16. Lisa says:

    This is inspiring..I do love the color – it has taken the piece to a different level.

  17. Melissa S says:


  18. wow! What an amazing shade of green and a great finish! Good job.

  19. Sita says:

    Wow! It turned out amazing! The color is perfect. I too am loving bright bold colors at the moment. I just hacked a rast dresser and painted it coral!

  20. Liz says:

    I can hardly believe it, I found this EXACT desk at Salvation Army today. Not as great of a deal ($65), but solid. Can’t decide to do green like you did here, or coral. What did you use to polish the hardware? Mine’s looking pretty shabby, but all intact. So excited to get started on this one. If you have any coral paint recommendations, I’d love to hear…it’s so tricky to get a true coral.

  21. Liz says:

    Neeevermind…just saw your great link above about polishing the hardware. Thanks!

  22. I did a campaign dresser in kelly green as well. The green looks so good with the brass finishes. Yours looks amazing! Here’s mine:

  23. Maggie says:

    This same exact project was done last year

  24. CentsationalGirl says:

    Wow fantastic Maggie, thanks for the link, great minds think alike, ha! Seriously, that color is so classic and so beautiful! Love that desk too, thank you for sharing!

  25. CentsationalGirl says:

    Fabulosity Emily!!! You’re the second Kelly Green campaign makeover link today, I’m loving it! That endtable looks fantastic, thank you so much for sharing!

  26. Dear Lillie says:

    Oh my goodness, Kate! I LOVE this!

  27. Christy says:

    You find the best pieces! What type of thrift shops do u go to? Goodwill or antique stores?

  28. CentsationalGirl says:

    HI Christy, I rarely shop antique stores for furniture, simply thrift stores and Craigslist!

  29. what a fun, beautiful desk! you did a great job, and I’ll definitely have to try out your paint recommendations next time I work on furniture. it sounds like really good stuff!

  30. Felicia says:

    I have to tell you, I fell in LOVE with this desk the minute I saw it. We never find anything like this were we live. My husband and I go on a date once a week to cafe rio, then over to savers thrift store. Well we went last week and there it was, the exact same desk (with out the cute bamboo legs) same knobs and everything for $24.99, my husbands “Please don’t bring that home with you” face didn’t stand a chance! SO thanks again for the grate inspiration!

  31. Berenice says:

    I love it!! We were in your neck of the woods last weekend from SoCal, but sadly did not have a chance to visit any thrift stores. Ours are always wiped out furniture wise. We’ll be back in a few weeks and I have scheduled time for thrifting. Gotta find one of these desks… My hallway is crying for it!

  32. Meredith says:

    Kate – quick help!! I was at our local St. Vincent DePaul and saw a campaign dresser with/hutch above and a matching desk. I was in a hurry to get back to pick up preschool carpool so I didn’t linger long but I am willing to go back this morning. The only hang up is that it seemed to be a laminate over particleboard finish (as I could see from some cracking in a few spots.) Is it worth trying to re-do it? I have been looking for some sort of console piece to re-do for my front hallway and I thought this would be amazing. I am no stranger to refinishing pieces but have never done an old “vintage” laminate over particleboard before.

  33. Christy says:

    No top coat of anything? I want to do my sons dresser which gets a lot of use. Wondering if I should seal with something or is BM advance that good? Never worked with enamel or oil paints, any tips for my first project?

  34. vivacindy says:

    this is gorgeous! it looks like the exact color i painted my campaign dresser. it’s called “palmetto” by martha stewart. here is a pic:
    i would love to find a desk like yours! beautiful!

  35. Linda says:

    Love the green. Perhaps for my next project. Just this weekend I took a tired blue wicker table that I got for free and gave it a makeover in a bright pink. Makes me smile each time I enter the living room. As it was wicker, I used gloss spray paint but next time I try BM’s Advance.. new to me. Here is a photo of the pink table.

  36. We are currently getting ready to move (again) and so we are deciding what to paint and what to look for … I was directed to your site for painting tips and now my 14 year old is in absolute love of the desk!! I must find one:). Great job!

  37. CentsationalGirl says:

    Thanks Mary Katharine !

  38. Julie says:

    I love how your campaign desk turned out. That color is to die for! I recently picked up a campaign desk as well and was torn between painting it green or blue. I ended up going with a grayish blue and love the look! I featured your lovely desk in my blog post about my own desk transformation. It was the perfect inspiration!

  39. Amy Kelly says:

    Thank you SO much for all the tips and product info! I recently found the cream color version of this desk at a local thrift store for $30 and painted mine a glossy coral using your tips and suggestions. It turned out great and I couldn’t be happier with the result:

  40. Ennis says:

    would you be willing to share the paint color formula? I tried grasshopper, but it wasn’t as rich of a color. thanks!

  41. CentsationalGirl says:

    Hi Ennis, I don’t have the paint anymore, so sorry it wasn’t as rich but if you take it back to BM they always tweak it for you to get it closer to what you want!

  42. Angela says:

    I LOVE this DIY…so I featured it on my blog today. Great job!

  43. EricaVee says:

    Thank you for letting me know what this kind of furniture is called! I had a wonderful, gigantic dresser in this style that I got from a friend, who had found it on the side of the road. Someone had painted it a really rich, bright shade of yellow. Sadly I had to put it back where it came from when I moved–the side of the road. Hopefully someone else took it who appreciates how cool it is!

  44. Vicki says:

    I found a desk just like this for $20 at Goodwill but the kicker was it was missing 2 of the brass pulls. I have looked everywhere – even contacted the old Dixie Furniture Co. – but no luck finding exact replicas! Until today! On Craigslist was a small nightstand with two pulls the right size and an exact match! Can’t wait to get deep into this project. Love this kelly green, but think a hot red will be a better match for my decor. I just love the brass hardware and the bamboo look legs on this campaign furniture line! I went to Lowe’s tonight with your painting how-to’s in hand and bought Zinsser, Purdy brushes and Floetrol! I can’t wait!

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