Great-Grandmother’s Secretary Desk Project

My grandpa recently moved and let me keep this secretary desk that had been his mother’s since he didn’t have room for it anymore and wanted to keep the desk in the family. I love having pieces of family history in my house! Grandpa said he used to do his homework sitting at this desk and that he remembers her painting it for him. I’m guessing that would have been in the 1940’s. Here is Bessie on the right with my Grandpa Allen right next to her.

Since taking the desk home, I’ve learned a lot more about my great-grandma. I learned that she liked to garden like me. My mom said she knew and cared about each plant in her garden like a person. Her husband managed a seed and feed store. My grandpa became a horticulture professor. It’s fun to see where my love of botany, biology and gardening came from. I decided to use the desk for my gardening stuff-seed packets, plans, books, notes, handouts from workshops, stuff like that.

I was planning on keeping the original knobs in, especially after I saw how pretty they were under the brassy coating, but after I finished painting, I could not figure out what the heck I did with them. I know I put them somewhere really special so that they would not get lost. Other than that, I have no clue. I’m sure I’ll come across them eventually. In the meantime, I found these cute knobs at Hobby Lobby. I like how they look with the turquoise accents on the desk.

What I did

  1. Sanded down existing paint-just enough to rough it up a bit. I wore a mask and did this outside since it was probably lead-based paint.
  2. Painted desk and chairs with good quality paint. I used Olde Century Colors brand, color: Cobblestone. I got the paint from an antique store that I love in downtown Snohomish . They use the same paint on the things they sell, so I could see what I liked and what it looked like on their furniture. Plus, I got some tips from the ladies there. I painted the organizer on the inside with white spray paint.
  3. Antiqued the desk and chair by sanding the edges with my electric sander to let the turquoise paint layer (under the dark green) show through.
  4. Antiqued the desk and chair by painting with wood stain and then wiping it off.  This made the exposed wood darker and gave the paint an old look. It also added visual texture to the paint because it shows the brushstrokes a little.
  5. Used spray lacquer as the protective coating. I did about 3 coats and this was really easy and fast to use.
  6. Replaced upholstery and knobs.

Dave thinks its really ironic that I went to all this work to repaint it and everything just make it look old again. Ha ha!  I am glad the desk was already painted so I didn’t have to feel guilty about covering up the wood on an antique.

This entry was published on July 26, 2012 at 3:26 pm and is filed under Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

2 thoughts on “Great-Grandmother’s Secretary Desk Project

  1. Jenny-jenny on said:

    Well done and great write up!

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