seriously studious.

seriously studious

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.

grey dresser before

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.

desk top

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!

purple filler

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!

desk corner

I again kept the original hardware with its fab patina, and I highlighted that raised trim detail with white paint.

desk hardware and trim

desk angle

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.

seriously studious desk

So there you have it.  A seriously studious desk.  What do you think?

31 thoughts on “seriously studious.

  1. Turned out great thanks for sharing all the tips for the veneer repair. I would not have thought the wood putty would have done that either. Good to know for the project I emailed you about last week. My husband is picking it up today.


  2. I had the exact same thing happen to me with that filler. I was so frustrated! And after I thought well duh!!!! I will have to remember the primer trick. Thanks! Oh and also that desk is fab. 😻


    1. I always admire your transferware too Linda! I only have a couple of pieces of the brown transferware because I can’t resist it when I see it at garage sales. I found this one at the Mac Grove sales this year!


  3. Very nice! And I am sure you have something up your sleeve for the mirror.
    Is it framed? Perhaps a chalk board or a good old fashioned cork board? Have you worked with the dry marker paint? Growing a little tired of the chalk board everything. How about you?


    1. Well, I have to admit, I still love the chalk board thing. But that being said, I have several of them in my own home and never know what to write or draw on them. I rarely change them up. And I know that chalk boards are somewhat “been there, done that” by now. So, not planning to turn this one into a chalk board. But unfortunately I don’t have a better plan either. Mirrors don’t really sell well at all these days. If anyone out there has any great ideas for re-purposing the mirror, I am all ears!


      1. I just bought a sheet of metal used for radiator screens. My plan is to put in in a wood frame to hold my earrings. Maybe that inside the mirror would be a fresh project to try. I still love the chalkboards too. I quite like the two tones on the desk, and the hardware of course. Lovely!


      2. Great idea! I did some pinterest research and didn’t find many unique, new ideas for mirror frames. Lots of chalkboards. Since I won’t be keeping it, I may just go ahead and make it a chalkboard after all!


    1. I’m pretty sure that the spray primer that I used is oil based. I used the Rustoleum 2x coverage primer spray. It does not clean up with soap and water, only with mineral spirits, which leads me to believe it is oil based. And I also believe that is why it seals bleeds as well as it does.


  4. Oh, this is just so beautiful. I love the stained top and think it looks so great with Marzipan. The original hardware is really pretty, too, I’m glad you kept it!


  5. Have you tried Bondo in place of wood filler? It’s wonderful once you get the hang of it. It repairs veneer too. You must mix it in small batches and work quickly, scrape flat before it sets up also, then sand. Nothing ever will bleed through it and if you use it right you will never see a repair or filled hardware hole again. Thought this tip might be of interest. S


    1. I have to admit that I did buy some Bondo over year ago to try, then I read the instructions about mixing in small batches and didn’t want to deal with that. Then, I left it out in the garage over last winter, which ruined it entirely! So I never did get to try it. I have heard great things about it, maybe one of these days I will try again!


  6. I wish I had found this earlier! I am going through the same problem! Will try the spray paint primer. Your pieces came out beautiful!


  7. Thank you for these wonderful bits of advice. This post is full of much needed information and I don’t know how I missed it. I thought I’d read your entire blog but it looks like there’s bits of goodness in there I’ve missed. Back to reading! I use DAP Wood Plastic. I buy it in the tub and each time I finish using some I spray a few squirts of water onto the top of it to keep it fresh. I’ve had the same container for over a year, have used half of it and the rest is still useable. I learned that spraying it with water helped after it had turned grainy on me after the 5t hor 6th use. It makes it like new again. The stuff sands easily and dries hard! I do want to try the Dixie Belle Mud sometime though just because of the color difference.


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