Project: Secretary Desk ~ country to classic

A few years into our marriage, I had redone the secretary desk that was from my parents home. Originally, it had been stained a dark color by my dad in the 1970’s. In the late 1980’s, I redid it in colors of green and orange. Now, I’m ready for a new incarnation.

before

After doing a lot of looking online at various photos of different colored hutches, I decided to go wtih black. If you want a piece in a traditional color choose black, white/cream, or gray. These are the “neutrals” of painted furniture and will last a long time and work with a wide variety of decorating styles.

drawers repaired with Bondo (pink)

Since this piece doesn’t have a protective topcoat, I just cleaned any dust and grime off with a slighty damp cloth. I don’t want the pine knots to show this time so spray-primed knot areas with B-I-N (an oil based spray primer) to prevent bleed through.

spray primer to cover pine knots

I painted the entire unit with one coat of gray primer (Valspar Latex Enamel Undercoat) I had on hand. I mostly used a 4″  foam roller to apply the primer; a brush was used to work primer into the curves and recesses.

After it dried overnight, the first coat of color, Black Onyx (Glidden, Home Depot), was applied with a 4″ foam roller. The first coat should be thin. There were a total of 3 coats and between the 2nd and 3rd I did one light sanding by hand with a 220 sanding block. This was enough because the surface was very smooth already.

Valspar Waverly Classics – Gull W38006A was used to color the hutch interior and desk area of the Secretary. This was leftover from the bathroom project.

I removed the old backing to the hutch area and replaced it with fabric (Hancocks upholstery fabric, two yards on sale for $15). Replacing the backing is an easy fix, especially if it is warped, damage or obviously stained or peeling. I personally like a hutch or shelf unit backing that is a contrast to the main body of the furniture.

Nowadays, stencils or wallpaper are trendy for the back decoration.  Stencils do best on large flat areas such as drawer fronts, table tops, or the sides of a hutch or dresser. Stencils were in, then out, and now seem to be coming back in.  JMO but stencils went out due to overuse and people using multi-colors (i.e. think grapes with green leaves and purple fruit) so keep it simple.

A very dry 4″ foam roller was brushed over the stencil to achieve the effect. The damask stencil is from Michaels, though Hobby Lobby had a similar, but larger pattern.

The only tricky thing about stencils is lining them up and making sure they are truly centered. You’ll need to use a ruler and painters tape to mark out the alignment.

Use a tacky adhesive to get them to stay put during the process and make sure you press any curlicues or cut edges down carefully as they often pop back up when the paint is applied, making a smear. When using an adhesive be aware that it will pick up any dust and dirt, so put a piece of tape on the end and hang it to the side (not the floor!) with paint side out to keep it clean.

Distressing: I considered it, but decided not to with this piece. It’s not a high quality piece and the drawer fronts are thin boards of pine that would be easily damaged by a heavy hand.

After stenciling, I let it dry overnight before I gave the entire piece two coats of wipe-on, water based poly (fine for dark colors but not for white/light). This works fine as this piece is not a table (wipe on poly is not durable enough for table tops JMO). Later, I’ll put on some clear wax, which gives a nice soft glow

NOTE! An oil based poly cannot be used on top of latex paint; it will also yellow over time.

Hardware: The drawer knobs are from Hobby Lobby; the lower drawers were the original just spraypainted light gray (Ace Premium Enamel spraypaint).

Still thinking on what I’ll put in it – simple white pottery, some silver, and books or …. With the busier backing I don’t want to put in a lot of patterned pieces on the shelves. It also has door fronts that I’m still working on which will be with an open grillwork of some sort.

4 thoughts on “Project: Secretary Desk ~ country to classic

  1. Pingback: How-To: painting furniture 5 ~ paint combinations « Simply Rooms (by design)

  2. Pingback: How to: painting furniture 2 ~ abrasive tools « Simply Rooms (by design)

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