The Desk Project – Complete!

Remember a few months ago I mentioned I had an ambitious project to re-paint my desk? Well this summer I bit the bullet and bought some paint! The Desk Project is Complete!

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Letter written to ‘Kitty’, a previous owner of the desk.

I knew this project wasn’t going to be easy; the piece I wanted to paint was a 1930’s mahogany veneer replica desk. While dismantling the desk into movable pieces my husband and I came across a letter jammed in between the letter holders and the side of the desk. It had been written in February 1944 and was addressed to someone named ‘Kitty’. Having also found an old cheque written to the same woman, I begin a little detective work and can now say that this desk once belonged to a family from New Jersey. Kitty is actually Katherine and Dudley was her husband, both born in 1906. The reference to Carolyn was their daughter who, at the time, had just had her tonsils removed. How the desk ended up Canada I have no idea – Carolyn would now be in her 70’s somewhere and I have her mother’s or father’s desk sitting in my sitting room!

Learning the lesson, Mahogany bleeds through white paint!

Right, let’s begin: My first thought was, ‘if I paint the hutch first then if anything goes wrong it wouldn’t be as awful as losing the main desk.’ So I removed everything and grabbed some white paint and began the journey…into FRUSTRATION!  Apparently mahogany bleeds into white paint and gives it a lovely reddish-brown hue so I googled for help and after reading through many sites and blogs I came to the conclusion that I needed a specific primer to stop the bleed. Canadian Tire, here I come!



This began a very long, tedious and, at times, head-banging-against-wall saga. I discovered some areas bled more than others and some areas bubbled as well as bled through. I was mixing coats of paint like it was going out of style!  I sanded, painted, re-sanded, repainted and painted again more times than I care to remember, all the while telling myself I was committed and would see this project through. Slowly, but surely, my project started taking shape…

IMG_8281The hutch was the first piece finished and then I moved onto the desk itself. Once everything was dismantled I began the real fun work of doing my colors – I chose a beautiful Robins Egg blue for my interior and after much debating decided to spray paint the original hardware silver. The result, I have to say, was better than I expected!

Another factor that wasn’t helping me was the heat – this year Toronto saw a very hot and humid summer so there were many days when I just couldn’t paint as it just wouldn’t dry. I got kind of bored of seeing pieces just lying about, my desk contents piled in boxes in a corner of the sitting room. Days would go by with no progress but eventually a weekend came where I could really get lots done and before I knew it I was suddenly covering my last piece of wood. I couldn’t quite believe I was finished!

My husband had also helping with the project and I actually can’t say who was more excited about putting the desk back together! He quickly helped me get the glass back into the doors, various tiny screws back in place and other fiddly bits and pieces and once done, it was back upstairs for the final build!

The Desk Project - Completed!
The Desk Project – Completed!

What took weeks to complete was put back together in under 10 minutes and it looked glorious – the blue interior looked so fresh and clean, the silver hardware shining against the glossy white. Yeah, I’m hamming it up but I was really happy the job was finally done! The last little bit left was finding a beautiful piece of Japanese Chiyogami paper to line the back of the hutch so I took a trip to my favorite paper shop in Toronto, The Paper Place, and bought two full sheets of paper. Once home I cut them to size and stuck them on with blue tack. I thought about gluing it but then decided against that as it was more trouble than I wanted and I had spent enough time on the bloody thing already! Besides, it left me the option to change the paper later on down the line if I wanted.


So here it is, finished, filled and ready to be enjoyed and I hope, like Kitty, to spend many years at this desk.

Painted, papered and filled - glad to be back!
Painted, papered and filled – glad to be back!

My next project?

A diamond tufted headboard……

I’ll keep you posted!