Guest room secretary desk and dresser

Happy February!  Not sorry to say good-bye to January.  What a wet month!  We had so much rain and grey and drear that I couldn’t be happier to say “adios” and don’t come back.  Of course, today is kinda grey right now too, but it’s not raining and I even saw some blue sky  so – I live in hope!  Anyway, when you can look out of your window while you are complaining about the weather and see this, it can’t be all bad!  She had a little friend with her too, but that friend was bashful and stayed behind the trees.


Last time I shared the new headboard I painted for the guest room.  My goal in the room is for a slightly gustavian taste to the room – I’m not a slavish follower of the style, but I think it’s so pretty and light.  Along with the headboard (and bed!) the room also houses a pie crust table and small dresser for bedside tables, a larger dresser for clothes, and a little writing desk as well.  I mentioned that every piece of furniture came from a different family member – and while all were a dark brown wood, not all of the wood was pretty and the bigger dresser is about the only one that didn’t need refinishing.  The pie crust table is probably worth the expense, but the little desk and bedside table are not.  The bedside dresser is something Kirk’s mom bought for her guest room, but she never really liked how it looked in there and gave it to us.  Somehow one of the feet cracked , and there was some water damage to the top – I don’t know how, neither of those things make sense given how particular Kirk’s mom was, but it was damaged and since it is a veneer, it didn’t make sense to try and “fix” it.  But it is well made with dovetail joints and nice slides, with a pretty shape besides, so it was well worth trying to improve the appearance.

The little dresser before
The little desk before.








The desk belonged to Kirk’s grandmother, and he remembers it well from his childhood.  When his aunt was downsizing, she gave the little desk to him, and it has lived in the guest room ever since.  So while it has sentimental value, it was pretty beat up and, I suspect, wasn’t a terribly expensive piece to start with.  Every time I’ve looked at it, I’ve thought “that desk should be blue” and finally decided to make it so.  I love little secretaries, with their cubbies and drawers, and I thought that it had such a pretty shape.

Mr. WoW at his grandmother's house. Desk to his right. Wasn't he adorable?? So dapper...
Mr. WoW at his grandmother’s house. Desk to his right. Wasn’t he adorable?? So dapper…

However, during the time we had an exchange student staying with us, we stored it in the barn while we substituted a bigger flat table for her to use for homework.  (I don’t know why we bothered- she and my daughter always flopped on the bed [maybe it was the heated blanket?] and did all of their work there, so even if we have another student, the desk stays.)  But, while the barn is sound, it can be damp, and the plywood backing and drawer supports delaminated, and all had to be replaced.  So, while Mr. WoW worked on making it whole, I worked on making it pretty.  The barn left the finish kind of funky, so it got a light sanding before painting.  As I wanted the two pieces to match the headboard, I painted them both with Sherwin-Williams Whole Wheat, and then gave them a coat of the Antique Blue.  The little dresser took it fine, but I was having pink bleed-through with the desk.  It started with the very first coat.  I knew it, but I still was in denial so I gave it one and then another coat of blue to see if that covered it.  No, no it did not.  So here we are, three coats of paint, and still the wretched mahogony bleed-through all over the desk.  I finally admitted defeat, and outside it went for a pray coat of Zinnser shellac.  Because Mr. WoW apparently loves me a great deal, he gave it a nice even coat and brought it back for me to paint while I painted the little dresser.  It still needed two more coats to fully cover the funky pink spots, but it looked so good after.

Finally covering the pink streaks.
My “supervisor” supervising.











Second coat of wax
Second coat of wax


Drawer fronts









Since I wanted to bring attention to the little cubbies and drawer, I painted them in a slightly darker paint color, Robin’s Egg Blue.  It was a bit of a pain to push the little brush into all the cubbies, but since it would be installed and inside the desk, I didn’t sweat the perfection too much as it would be hard to see any problems once it was back in place.  I painted the inside of the desk with Maison Blanche Magnolia to bring a little lightness to the desk.  I considered adding a wreath stencil on the inside drop-down piece, but decided not to make it too busy since I was already using three colors.  I used my handy-dandy sanding block to distress both pieces on the edges, keyholes, legs and where the hardware goes.  I also gave the brass hinges, hardware and keyhole a quick rub with the block.  I wanted to have some of the brighter brass show through without making all the pieces shiny new.  Then both pieces got a coat of clear wax, followed by a coat of Maison Blanche Light Brown wax.  Again, the slightly darker wax really brought out the richness of the color, and gave an even better contrast to the three colors on the desk.  Don’t you love the little medallions on the front of the dresser?  So pretty once the darker wax helped them to stand out.


dresserfinished dressermedallion

I did find a pretty yellow sprigged fabric to face the new plywood backing on the desk, which I attached with spray adhesive to the new wood, and then tacked onto the back of the desk.  I really love how the desk turned out, I think it’s so cheerful and pretty.  I keep a key, deck of cards, local tourist pamphlets and guide books, a few local postcards and pens for guests in the desk.  I’ve paired it with an old dining room chair of Kirk’s other grandmother, which we did have refinished, and Kirk’s mom needlepointed the pretty pansy seat cover.  Such lovely memories of sweet women in his life.

Sprigged fabric backing
Sprigged fabric backing
Desk closed up
Desk closed up









Gustavian Inspired Secretary Desk
After photo – I love it!


The Teenager and I were able to spend the day in Edmonds last week.  It was a teacher in-service day, and we went out to celebrate her end-of-semester grades.   Edmonds is a pretty little town north of Seattle, set in the hills above Puget Sound.  It is a ferry terminal for the Olympic Peninsula, but well worth a stop on its own.   Waterfront dining, local shops, a bakery, movie theater, home of Rick Steve’s travel…  We had a nice lunch overlooking the water, walked along the sound, and were able to drop in the Edmonds Book Store.  I love independent bookstores, and this is a terrific one.  I think I showed remarkable restraint in purchasing only 3 books, 2 for me and 1 for the teenager.  Yes, she noticed I got one more book than she did, so I reminded her how amazing it will be when she has her own money and doesn’t have to depend on the kindness of others.  (To misquote an old movie. )  She loves my humor.  😛  We had a wonderful day, I always enjoy the time I spend with my best girl!

Watching the ferries come and go.
Watching the ferries come and go.
a harbor seal pup sunning herself on the pier
A harbor seal pup sunning herself on the pier
Edmonds Book Store - I love this shop.
Edmonds Book Store – I love this shop.



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