Today’s piece began life as a vanity/dressing table. I wasn’t terribly fond of the mirror that was attached to it though, so I took it off and decided to reinvent it as a more serious piece of furniture. A desk. I don’t have a ‘before’ picture of it, but it was part of the matching set that included the dresser I painted last week.
This gives you some idea of the color of the finish; kind of a yucky orange. Looking at the top though, I could see that the grain was quite pretty and I thought that maybe I could salvage it. So I stripped it, sanded lightly, and then used a Dark Walnut gel stain on it, followed by a coat of Cece Caldwell Aging Cream.
So pretty, and such a nice rich shade of brown now. Here is a tip for those of you who don’t already know this. Always do the stripping and staining of the top first. It will likely be at least a little messy, and that way you don’t have to worry about messing up a freshly completed paint job.
After seeing the end result on the top, I knew I wanted to paint this with MMS’ Marzipan milk paint. The same lovely almond color that I used on the Ironstone and Almond dresser.
However, I did suffer a little hiccup in the process. First, let me explain that the veneer at the bottom of the sides on this piece had gotten a bit of water damage. As a result, it was quite warped. I have a little cheater method of dealing with that problem. I run a blade horizontally just above where the veneer is loose, then I remove the veneer up to that line. Then I use some wood filler to smooth over the transition from veneer to no veneer. It’s not a perfect method, but it’s fairly well disguised once it’s painted and it gives new life to the piece without completely removing or replacing veneer. I use this method when the veneer is too warped to re-glue.
So, that’s what I did on this piece and I used a different brand of wood filler than normal. I decided to try this brand when my last bit of wood filler ran out. It is Elmer’s Carpenter’s Color Change Wood Filler. The packaging says it is paintable and stainable. It goes on purple and when it turns white you know it’s dry. Sounded like lots of fun at the time. So, I applied it and waited until it turned white, sanded it smooth and then started painting with the MMS milk paint. And yikes!
You guessed it! The watery milk paint reactivated the purple! Good gracious. I probably should have seen that coming, but I didn’t. I then got out the MMS Tough Coat Sealer and put not just one, but two coats of sealer over the purple. Unfortunately, that did not do the trick either. After it was dry, I painted over it and again, the purple bled through. At that point I wasn’t going to mess around anymore. I got out the spray paint primer. Yep, you read that right. Spray paint. This is one of my oldest tricks for dealing with bleeding of any kind. Spray paint will seal it up in no time. And in this case, I really just needed to spray a quick coat over the areas with filler. It did the trick perfectly, and once that was dry, my milk paint covered it up just fine. It would be super clever if I had remembered to take a photo of the finished repair for you, but nope, I forgot. But, you now don’t have to learn this the hard way. Don’t use the filler that starts out purple if you’re going to use milk paint over it!
I again kept the original hardware with its fab patina, and I highlighted that raised trim detail with white paint.
Although the rest of the piece is all painted with the same paint color, I feel like the drawers are just a hair lighter than the body of the desk. Sometimes that happens with milk paint. Even though I mixed the paint all in one batch, I painted the drawers entirely first (while waiting for those veneer repairs to dry on the body), then painted the body last. Some darker pigments must have settled to the bottom. But, I do think that it works on this piece. It’s just a slight difference and it gives a very subtle two-toned look to the desk.
So there you have it. A seriously studious desk. What do you think?