The before picture is really a middle picture. I got this desk for $2.50 at Goodwill. It was a tan color before, full of stickers and just a mess. I forgot to take a picture of it. (Oops!) So, anyway, I painted it one time, didn't like it at ALL, and this week I painted it again.
My sister gave me a gallon of paint she had mixed up from a bunch of leftovers. It's a great denim colored blue, so I am using it a lot. Denim blue has become a neutral color to me. Everything matches jeans, right? The only problem is that I really really like this color and it is a OOAK gallon of paint.
I painted the whole desk black and then put a couple coats of blue over that. To get the distressed look, I grabbed some sandpaper and gave it a quick once over. I didn't go too crazy with it. A little goes a long way.
Then I put four light coats of poylurethane on it so it should be a good and sturdy finish. The boys are using this desk so any extra "distressing" (mauling) that they do will just add to the look. I think. Probably permanent marker would not do much for it... but we know MY kids would never write on the walls or furniture...