As a reminder, here is the pretty little secretary desk that I shared with you guys on Monday. I picked this up at an ‘epic’ garage sale while out driving around in Wisconsin.
Just check out that curvy serpentine front and those fabulous claw feet. Ignore the not so great hardware and the incredibly beat up finish.
You’ll also have to ignore the Blue Cross/Blue Shield information sticker inside, plus the bent and disconnected hinge. Not to mention all of that dust.
I knew that behind those flaws was a gorgeous piece of furniture.
I started work on this piece by removing the inside piece.
Did you know that sometimes these just come right out? Unfortunately that’s not true of all secretary desks. Plus someone had added a couple of screws to this one to hold it in place, but once I removed those it slid right out. It couldn’t be any more convenient for painting.
Once I had it out I removed the sticker, then the little knobs. I cleaned it up and then sprayed it with Rustoleum Chalked spray paint in Charcoal. With all of those slats it would have been a bear to paint with a brush. After sanding some edges to distress, I sealed the spray paint with the Rustoleum spray matte clear sealer as well. Finally I put the original knobs back on again.
Next I sanded and cleaned the outside of the desk. As I was cleaning it, the water was turning decidedly orange-ish in color. That was a good indication that this piece was going to be a bleeder and since I was going to paint the outside in Dixie Belle’s Drop Cloth (a creamy white), I needed to find out for sure.
So I painted just one of the drawers as a test. Yep, definitely a bleeder. In other words, the orange-y colored stain on this piece was bleeding through my creamy white paint. I’m sure many of you are familiar with this phenomenon, but in case you aren’t, when this happens you have to seal your piece with a stain blocking sealer before you can proceed with painting. It doesn’t matter how many coats of paint you put over bleeding stain, that stuff will just continue to bleed thru.
So I brought out the Dixie Bell BOSS.
This product comes in both a clear version and a white version. I think the clear version is more versatile since I don’t always want to see white under my paint color when I distress the edges, although the white version would have worked fine for this particular piece.
I painted the outside of the desk with just one coat of the BOSS and then I let it dry for 24 hours. I’ve learned in the past that extra drying time can make a big difference with this product, so I now always let it dry for at least 24 hours.
And here is the difference using the BOSS made.
Ha! Yep, I wasn’t kidding when I said this one was a bleeder! The top drawer is my test drawer without the BOSS. The bottom one is another drawer with one coat of BOSS followed by two coats of Drop Cloth. That’s some pretty good blocking power.
Now, you do have some other options for sealing a bleeder. You can use shellac. But that stuff is smelly and it’s a pain to clean your brush afterwards. You can use spray shellac and sometimes I do pull that out for spot treatments, but you can only use that outside (unless you want to gas your family). You also can use a stain blocking primer from your local DIY store, but I have yet to see those available in a clear version.
So, BOSS gets my vote. It has very little odor and you can clean up with soapy water.
Once I had the rest of the piece painted with two coats of Drop Cloth I had to wait for the next step. I knew I had the perfect transfer coming from Prima Marketing, but it wasn’t here yet. I’m not very good at waiting … tick tock, tick tock … but this one was definitely worth the wait!
Now, I have to say, I don’t know why Prima chose to call this one Parisian Letter because there is only one small line of French on it, and it’s a the very bottom and didn’t fit on my desk. Obviously there’s also a little Latin on that crest, but otherwise all of the writing on this one is in English.
But that doesn’t make it any less gorgeous.
Most of the writing seems to have something to do with the quantities and prices of things, and a lot of it isn’t terribly legible. But that isn’t the point, the point is to look pretty not to impart a message of any kind.
I’m not sure if you noticed, but I changed out the drawer pulls. I really wasn’t loving the original hardware, plus it’s always my preference to let the transfer be the star of the show. Clear glass knobs from D Lawless sort of fade away, but yet also look appropriate to the piece.
This sweet serpentine secretary desk would be perfect to use bedside instead of a nightstand. You could keep all of your reading material inside. It would even be quite simple to set up some sort of charging station inside by cutting a hole in the back to allow cords to go through.
Of course, you could just use it as a desk. My handyman Ken repaired and reinforced the hinges that support the desk top so it is perfectly functional. Of course I wouldn’t put something super heavy on it, but it would easily hold a lap top.
But it would also be a great spot for dropping your keys and mail in the foyer. You could fill the drawers with hats, scarves and gloves.
So many possibilities!
As always, many thanks to Dixie Belle for providing the BOSS sealer, the paint and the clear wax, and to Prima Marketing for providing the transfer for this project.
If you’re wondering where to purchase the Prima Marketing transfers check out their ‘where to buy’ page.
And finally, if you happen to be local (Twin Cities, MN) and in need of a sweet serpentine secretary desk, check out my ‘available for local sale’ page for more details.