Willow – A Vintage Secretary Desk

Secretary desks are not my favorite pieces to work on. Painting the interior can be tricky and they usually don’t sell as quickly as a regular desk but when someone donates furniture to me, I usually don’t turn it down! Other than a few scratches here and there this desk was in pretty good shape.

I lightly hand-sanded the entire exterior. The original finish was pretty slick and since I only did a light sanding I decided to use a coat of adhesion primer. When that was dry I could see some tannin bleed-through from the original stain so I put a coat of shellac on and then another coat of stain-blocking primer.

For the base coat, I used Dixie Belle Dropcloth, one of my favorite neutral shades. On the drawer and desk front, I used textured chalk paint in white to create a raised stencil vine design.

On the inside of the desk, I used copper metallic paint for the shelves.

I replaced the original drawer pulls with cup-style pulls in oil rubbed bronze finish. The top drawer had one knob missing which meant I had to find four matching knobs. Luckily, I found four knobs in my recycled hardware collection and all I had to do was paint them to match the cup handles that I had purchased at Hobby Lobby for the other two drawers. I also added a knob to the drop-down desk to make it easier to lower when needed. I added some copper accents to the hardware.

The inside of the drawers were in such good condition I decided to just leave them “as is”.

Sometimes I’m surprised how much I like a piece that I wasn’t too excited about when I started on it! This one is definitely a winner in my book!

Let me know what you think! Follow Flipped Her Lid on Facebook!

Products used:

  • Zinsser Bondz Adhesion Primer
  • Zinsser Shellac
  • Kilz Stain Blocking Primer
  • Dixie Belle Chalk Paint – Dropcloth
  • Home Decor Texture Chalk – Whisper White
  • Rustoleum Metallic paint – Bronze Medal
  • Rustoleum Chalked – Clear Matte
  • Oil Rubbed Bronze Cup Pulls – Hobby Lobby


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