The Kelly Campaign

By Kate Riley 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?



  1. I guess that is what you call “getting bowled over”. Lovely color; lovely creation! Bold and beautiful.

  2. omg! I totally had that desk (in white) as a child!!! And my parents still do now, 30 years later, bc they don’t throw anything away. It has a hutch/shelves to go on top and a matching dresser. You’ve made it look fab!

  3. Love it!!!!! The color is beautiful. Do you find a paintbrush easier to use than a spray gun? I’ve recently invested in an electrical spray gun and I love it. Let me know what you think.

  4. Are you kidding me??!! First of all, what a find for just $40! And second of all, you made it even more fabulous with that great color! You never disappoint :)

  5. i’m so excited, i literally just found the same exact desk via craigslist, and it’s my weekend project to re-do it :) so glad that yours turned out so beautifully, gives me confidence in my own abilities!

  6. Looks fabulous! I need to do a project like that but where would I put it…hmm. What color is the wal color behind the desk. great combo.

    PS I have made your white bean and bacon soup 4 times now and we love it every time :) Definitely a new favorite.

  7. I am OBSESSED with this desk! I love campaign furniture, but I have had no luck at the thrift store locating any :( The color is fab AND it has faux bamboo legs!! All reasons that this is probably one of my fave pieces that you have done. Lovely!

  8. I love the desk! But, i also love the color on the wall. Do you know the name of the paint color??

    • Hi Laura, I mixed that color myself years ago, it’s close to Ben Moore’s Fern Green but with more white in it!

  9. I love Kelly green – it’s such a happy color, and it looks fab on your dresser. And the Ben Moore Advance paint – I’m smitten with it. My paint guy called it “revolutionary” and he was right!!

  10. OMG This is so funny. It’s one of those times when I think to myself, is it just me or is kelly green super fantastic? And then I realize I’m not alone!! I’m ALL about kelly green these days ever since I found a desk lamp in that color. I am currently re-doing my office/craft room and kelly green is making a huge presence! Love the desk!!

  11. This is stunning. I’m always on the hunt for a nice campaign piece, preferably in the $40-$100 range…and I have not been so lucky, yet. I am determined!

  12. I so wished I had your vision! This is lovely!! We soon have to repaint our home, and I am thinking of using a neutral pallet to be able to introduce some of the many color you have added to my life instead of my vivid walls and plain furniture! You are SUCH an inspiration!!

  13. Love it! Boy did you ever fond the deals…a Reed & Barton bowl for $1 and that desk for $40! Love those bamboo legs!!

  14. Gorgeous!!! Love the shade of green and the cleaned up hardware is amazing!! Kelly green is definitely one of my favourite shades :)

  15. Gorgeous!!! Love the shade of green and the cleaned up hardware is amazing!! Kelly green is definitely one of my favourite shades :)

  16. Love love it!! The Desk turned out great, what a fun pop of color! At the beginning of the year I did a post claiming I wanted to add some of this color in my home also. I bought a fun vintage pedestal that is already painted that color from a friend of mine. I had admired it for a long time and she was selling it so I snagged it up I think it will go in my black and white bathroom as a place to stack some fluffy white towels. I love this color and with black and white it is amazing. You really got an amazing deal on your sweet dish!! Kathysue

  17. well, you know i LOVE it!!! Kelly green is one of my fav colors of all time & it looks beautiful in your home!!

  18. I have that desk! And a mirror and a dresser that goes with it all. I’ve had it since … 1983?? maybe?? My 14 yr old daughter has the desk and mirror now. Mine is white but it will be getting painted in the future. I’m kinda liking the green.

  19. OH!!! I pinned this quickly today because green is my fave color but didn’t even notice it was from you!!! Yay! I have an entire pinboard devoted to my love of the color green. But, this desk finish is phenomenal. I mean the color is the best but you just really did it justice and I want it. It’s so bold and fresh. Much better than that old scratched wood. (And I don’t have anything against a nice wooden piece.)

  20. Stunning color! I will definitely keep that version of Ben Moore in mind the next time I paint furniture. Your kids are lucky to have such a special piece in their space.

  21. This may be my favorite of your projects. I love the color, love the hardware, love the lines, and I’m more than a little jealous of the price steal (and the fact that the kiddies get to enjoy it)! GREAT job.

  22. I am beyond words in love. That green is ooh la la amazing! Ahh, I have had a dresser sitting here for eons begging me to be painted and you are just what I need right now to get my rear in gear.


  23. Ok, yes the green is fabo…but boy the detail in the wood prior (I know, you said it was not real burl) was also kinda fabulous….all good and beautiful job on keeping the hardware. Congrats

  24. Your furniture makeover projects always look so great! I’m about to start some furniture refinishing of my own, and I always turn to your site for the “how-to” details. Thanks for showing us how it’s done!

  25. Hi Kate,
    Wow! Great job!
    Question bout the paint…
    Was the finish good enough to not have to use some kind of protective coat on it??
    Are u able to use the desk top? If so then I’m super excited :)
    Let me know, love your blog!!!!!

  26. What a wonderful job you did! Love the bowl you used for inspiration.. the desk came out FABULOUS! Thanks for sharing :)

  27. Never in a million years would I have thought to paint that style of desk green, but it looks fantastic. I love the details. It really makes it look super classy. another great job!


  28. Woah, at first I was like ummmm, that color is not for me. And then I saw the desk. I need this in my life! Amazing vision!

  29. Looks amazing! I have a daybed that I need to paint and I want to go all out and paint it in a super bright color. Just haven’t picked a color yet.

  30. I saw a desk just like this over the weekend and knew I wanted it but had no clue what to do with it. Looks like I’m headed back now!

    Thanks for the inspiration!

  31. It’s a beautiful color- the desk turned out so perfect! I’ve been doing white or black on my furniture projects, but trying to decide how to change it up with my coffee table.

  32. I bet the energy in your home is just wonderful right now, with new vibrantly painted pieces. The Robin’s egg blue and Kelly green are both beautiful, and compliment each other nicely.

  33. wow!! you completely transformer that piece! It looks so beautiful. I have a few thrift stores around my house, I definitely should start checking them out more :)


  34. I love…both the bow & desk, not to mention the color is amazing! You’re inspiration to try out paint furniture. Now I need to find a project! Thank you!

  35. That is one of my absolute FAVORITE colors, and Shaunna and I are painting something a fun color here at our place this week! Can’t wait!

  36. I admit, I held my breath for a minute between seeing the bowl color and the desk finished. I should have known anything you do is always going to be great! The desk is no exception. Bravo!

  37. Gorgeous…both the desk and the bowl!

    The thrift stores near me never have nice furniture like this.

  38. 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! ;-)

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

  40. 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.

  41. 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!

  42. 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.

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

    Thanks, Debbie in NH

    • 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.

  44. 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!

  45. 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.

    • 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!

    • 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!

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

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

  47. 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!

  48. 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!

  49. 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!

  50. 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.

  51. 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?

  52. 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.

  53. 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!

  54. 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!

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

    • 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!

  56. 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!

  57. 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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