the nautical desk.

Before I get into today’s post, congratulations to Debbie (not my sister, another Debbie) as the winner of my Out on the Farm giveaway last week.  Luckily she is a country girl at heart so she’s sure to enjoy the farmhouse decor magazines!

Lately I’ve been steeling my resolve and not looking at Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace.  When I look, I tend to buy.  But what I really need to do right now is get through some of the pieces that have been stored out in my workshop/carriage house too long.  Like this one …

I purchased this waterfall desk at the thrift store way back last October, before the leaves had all fallen but after our first dusting of snow (as evidenced by the ‘before’ photo).

I had actually passed this one by the first time I saw it, as we know I’m not a huge fan of waterfall style furniture.  But when I went back a 2nd time and it was still there I decided ‘why not?’  I thought it would make a good winter project, ha!  And here it is July.

I mainly loved it for those fabulous handles.  Aren’t they awesome?

Had I painted this one over the winter I would have painted the entire thing.  However, since I procrastinated, I decided to strip the top.  I don’t really like to strip furniture inside the house during the winter.  It’s just too messy.  Plus, even though the citrus stripper I use doesn’t have a toxic, chemical smell, it does still have a kind of icky smell.  Sort of like wet dog mixed with oranges, or in this case, wet old furniture mixed with oranges.  Ewww.  So I save most of my stripping for the summer (please don’t quote me out of context on that, lol).

I felt like this waterfall style would be better served by a more traditional treatment on the top rather than my typical antiquing wax over bare wood, so I stained it with Varathane Premium Fast Drying stain in Dark Walnut.  Then I made a bit of a boo boo and purchased MinWax Fast Dry poly in satin to go over it.  I rarely use poly, and I hadn’t bought it in forever, so I mistakenly selected this oil based poly.  By the time I had it on the brush it was too late to go back, so I just went with it.

It certainly turned out pretty, but I had a heck of a time with drips and runs on that curved edge!  I’d think I had them all and then look back and find that more had developed.  I also ended up just tossing the brush I used because I hate cleaning oil based products using mineral spirits.  Next time it’s back to either the Wipe On Poly or the Polycrylic.

That gorgeous shade of navy blue on the desk is Dixie Belle’s In the Navy.  I used two watered down coats of paint because I find that is the best technique for getting really full and smooth coverage with the Dixie Belle paint.

After distressing the edges by lightly sanding them, I used clear wax for the top coat over the paint.

I spruced up the handles just a bit using my favorite Prima Marketing Art Alchemy Metallique Wax in Bronze Age.

The color looks more gold in that photo, but really it’s a warmer, more brownish color.

This time, rather than using a q tip, I wore some disposable latex gloves and applied it with my finger tip.  This worked much better on the larger surface of these drawer pulls.

Once it was dry (several hours later), I buffed the pulls with a piece of old flannel sheeting to give them a little shine.

You may have noticed that I moved my staging back indoors for this one.  That was mainly because I really wanted to stage my photos with these cupboard doors hanging on the wall above the desk.

These are some old cupboard doors that I purchased at a garage sale for $2 each.  I usually snatch up doors like these because they make great signs.  In this case I painted them white and then added two of the designs from Prima Marketing’s Seaweed transfer set.

The set comes with 4 designs total, and obviously I only used two.  I may do something similar with the other two, or I may hang on to them until I find a piece of furniture that they will look good on.

The detail on these transfers is absolutely gorgeous.

Their nautical theme, plus the fact that they are navy blue, made them perfect to pair up with this desk.

In addition to the transfers, I also used the Prima Marketing Seawashed Treasures mold and some of their Modeling Material to add the shell detail at the bottom of each door.

I feel like I got just a bit too carried away using dark wax to highlight the details of the mold this time.  I’ll have to practice a bit more to make that effect more subtle.  I’ve been playing around with the molds quite a bit and working on perfecting my technique.  I plan to share what I’ve learned soon, and will also have a fabulous giveaway in conjunction with that, so be sure to stay tuned for that one.

In the meantime, what do you think of this nautical style desk makeover?

Both the desk and the cupboard door wall art pieces are for sale.  The desk includes the chair, by the way.

It was one that I just had on hand.  I gave it a quick rub-down with Miss Mustard Seed hemp oil and now it works quite well with the dark wood top on the desk, even though it’s not a perfect match.

As always, thank you to Dixie Belle for providing the paint for this project and to Prima Marketing for providing the transfers, the Art Alchemy wax, the mold and modeling material.

If you’re wondering where to purchase the Prima Marketing products check out their ‘where to buy’ page.

If you’re wondering where to buy the Dixie Belle In the Navy, you can shop with them directly online or find a retailer near you.

And finally, if you happen to be local (Twin Cities, MN) and in need of a nautical style desk, check out my ‘available for local sale’ page for more details.

43 thoughts on “the nautical desk.

  1. Thank you so much for your neat giveaway! And I won it on my anniversary!!! I love your blog and am constantly inspired by what you do. I also love the fact we don’t have to hop around on Facebook or Instagram etc to enter. Some of us choose not to do social media. Thanks again!


    1. You know, the main reason there is no hopping around to win is because I could never keep track of all of that. I try to keep things simple for my own sanity, but I’m glad others appreciate it too 😉 Congrats again on winning!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I am with you on the waterfall furniture, not a style I love. But with the stain and the navy paint, your desk is quite stunning. It looks classic with those handles and would look great with most decorating styles. Another excellent makeover!


  3. Yes those handles are quite handsome. Love that you stained the top in walnut. The navy was the perfect choice for such a hefty piece it gives it a very masculine vibe. I would definitely consider purchasing it. Did the transfers on the cabinets guide your decision on the paint color? Great styling as usual.


  4. I like it but I am always partial to the navy pieces. The walnut does match up perfectly with the navy. The cabinet doors are fun too.


  5. Oh my goodness, I just love, love, love this desk! What an amazing makeover! Again, I wish I lived anywhere near you, because that desk would already be sold. Such a beauty.


  6. The desk is a classic-makes me look at waterfall differently.The cupboard are a nice touch with the molds added. I have to also have to agree with Debbie ( the contest winner) I appreciate the simplicity of your entry process.


  7. Marvelous Makeover…I would not have been a fan at the thrift store but definitely a fan after the Quandie touch.


  8. Wow… I just can’t get over how beautiful the waterfall is in that walnut stain! You have completely transformed that plain (ugly) desk into such a gorgeous piece of furniture! The color choices were spot-on… Great job!!!


  9. Lovely as usual! I have a waterfall dresser that I’ve been meaning to re-hab for two years now! At least it’s being used for storage in my “studio”.


  10. A brilliant transformation! The contrast between the walnut top wrapping around, and the navy paint below is just great. And the rounded form of the top echoes the shape of those beautiful handles. They all seem to belong to each other…really nice!


  11. Oh my word! What an improvement. You’ve got me rethinking waterfall pieces. The combo of the stained and navy was just the ticket. Looks like it could have been a captains desk. Wish I lived closer!


  12. I too have some ambivalence about waterfall furniture. In fact I turned down my husband’s grandmother’s waterfall armoire years ago. Seeing this piece gives me the slightest twinge of regret. I do have a container of “In the Navy” sitting in my stockpile of yet-to-be-used paint. You’ve inspired me to crack it open! Beautiful and elegant.


  13. I recently found your blog and love it! Thanks for all the inspiration! Do you recommend “watering down” chalk paint to brush out paint on large surfaces such as a table top or headboard? I find it hard to make large areas look good.


    1. Absolutely! In fact, I water it down for pretty much everything. Most of the chalk paints that I have used are pretty thick, so watering them down is a great way to eliminate brush strokes, not to mention stretch the paint further. Two thin coats is almost always better than one thick coat, in my opinion.


  14. What a gorgeous vignette. It looks like something styled from a magazine. Your creativity is endless. The cupboard doors are so clever and beautiful. Great job!


  15. What a wonderful desk and design doors. They are lovely. I love nautical design. I live on a little island called Steamboat Island in Washington state. I have many nautical things. These pieces would go great in my house 😊


  16. Great eye for design. I don’t think I would have thought of keeping the top unpainted, but that decision was dead on target. Also, your doors look enviable. As far as the shell molding, my honest opinion is that it’s a personal taste thing. I can’t see a problem with them, but you’re the one who knows what you wanted them to look like ultimately. Good job.


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