Do you ever find you are drawn to an era, either because of family lines or maybe just the design style suits you? For me, it’s anything that has a story. Particularly for me that have a utilitarian function within a home. Take this vintage secretary desk radio, for instance. Yes, it was a radio and a desk at one point. It looks to have seen many faces in its time, and is even given a slightly dark face currently.
It was painted black on only certain parts was to hide the fact that it has replaced doors. This is actually a Red Lion Cabinet Company radio cabinet with secretary desk on top. While the bottom was the space used to house the radio. You can see what this originally looked like here in these images.
The paint job was not a good one with it being super thick and drippy, but that’s not something I can’t fix, right?
At any rate, I fell in love with its simple design and the story it had to share. If you’re not familiar with a secretary desk, the top typically folds down to reveal little cubbies for ink, envelopes, and such.
I made me lough out loud to think you could sit and pen a letter while jamming to the beat. I love it!
When I see an old secretary desk, I envision some young lady or gent sitting down to pen a romantic love letter. But, in truth I also see the harried mother of many children sitting down to figure out the monthly allowances to pay the everlasting bills. Isn’t it fun to imagine?
Okay, so I decided since this was a mish-mosh of parts, to give it some English cottage style. First, I used my sander to remove the layers of paint from the desk top front.
Once done, I used a small brush to stain the design using my favorite Early American stain seen in these posts. In order to create the look I was after, I add highlights to a few areas to draw them out.
After adding a few more details to the secretary desk front, I moved onto the cabinet, starting with the legs.
The main part of the secretary desk cabinet is tackled with my stubby brush so I can get great coverage, and fit in those tight spots.
Last, but not least, I knock out those tiny cubbies.
Now to add a even more fun I decided to use some of these supplies: a mold, a ginormous stamp pad, pastoral toile stamp, a bottle of ink (not pictured), and a beautiful transfer. I am saving the transfer and ink for a later project, but using the other three goodies today. Doesn’t this look like fun?!
I am so excited because the mold can be used for anything, even food! I’m all like…really? So cool! Although food isn’t what I’m after, I file away some ideas for future uses. Since I didn’t have time to run to the nearest craft store, I chose to use my hot glue gun.
Look how nicely the glue filled the mold. I just pumped some in making sure bubbles were nonexistent, and let it cool. Once cool, it slipped right out and I trimmed any excess with my X-ACTO Knife.
My reason for creating these designs was to be able to add some depth to my desk makeover. Once these plates were cool enough, I drill a hole in the center and put my knobs in. I’ll show you in a bit, but before that, I want to show you my other fun.
CHECK IT OUT
I have a serious addiction to not only ticking, but toile. You can imagine my delight when I see this pastoral toile stamp that can be used on walls, furniture, fabric…anywhere. eep! I knew I had to incorporate this gorgeous design into my desk. Just too fun not to, right?
Since I was using the stamp in a specific space. I set the stamp on my desk front dry, and used some making tape to mark off the area I needed to ink. While I could have use the ink, I wanted to match the color on my desk. A micro foam paint roller with a bit of matching paint is put on and then press.
In my hasty excitement, I forgot to practice on a scrap piece. I could have done a bit better with my inking, but either way, I just love the outcome.
It’s blue and made new. So fun to see how the right tools took this secretary desk to a whole new level.
Isn’t it crazy to think those embellishments are made out of hot glue?? I can’t wait to do more! After painting, I use a white wax wash the surfaces to give it aged appeal and more depth and dimension.
The fun part is the pop of yellow using the same yellow I recently used on this chest of drawers. You can even see the original emblem still tacked onto the left side inside the desk.
The bottom that used to house the radio now makes for perfect extra storage space. Not bad considering the original owner thought it to be a sewing desk. Maybe I should show it to them? hee hee.
My thrifty ol’ self also wants you to know that many of the objects in this staging are from the curb, and the rest from the thrift store, barn sales, and one from Craigslist. Oh, and gorgeous flowers from my mom. (thanks, Mom!) I avoid box store looks like the plague and prefer to create a story and texture of my own. It just goes to show that you don’t need a giant budget to make your house your home.
What makes it even more fun is that I was able to find this antique caned chair to complete the set. Isn’t that splat fabulous? (the piece on the back)
If you can’t already tell, I’m so in love with how this project came together. It was fun to do and got me using my creative juices with the right tools. If you would love to make it your own, you can purchase the desk set and brushes from my online shop. We do ship to your door – message me for a shipping quote.
Do take a minute to pin and share because there are others who need inspiration and could use these tips and tricks too. Thank you!
Up next, I’ve got a sweet succulent creation for you using reclaimed wood. Head here to see. Just be sure to sign up for my newsletter to get my latest projects, tips, and tricks in your inbox. PLUS, you will get your FREE Furniture Buying Checklist and special discount to my shop. Until next time!
Nancy Sartori says
I love this little desk. Such character! Great make over, you should show the previous owners. THey would be amazed?
Sweet! I think I just might. They were so nice and a pleasure to deal with. 🙂 Thanks, Nancy!
Love how this turned out. And the embellishments and other items are so cool. I need to check them out.
You will love them Debra! And the brushes are awesome too.
Love the use of the hot glue in the moulds what did you paint them with regards AnnieB
I just used a basic latex paint. 🙂
Thank you so much for your reply I love the IOD molds and I have made some with the hot glue since reading your post, now could you tell me how do you fix them on ? I have also used the rub on transfers love these also kind regards
You can glue them on in many ways. Most often I use wood glue or hot glue itself. Hope that helps!
Cute little desk and such a beautiful make-over. Sure wasn’t expecting to that gorgeous yellow color painted inside. Like that pop of color.
I have a rather large dresser to paint, so them brushes sure would come in handy. Can’t tell you how many brushes my dear hubby has ruined. If I should happen to be the winner these brushes would be hidden from his site. No way would he get his hands on these.
Thank you for this wonderful giveaway opportunity.
That is my kinda girl!! ahahaha…. 😀
Barbara Brannon says
Let me try this again (got kicked off here) – I find you to be such an inspiration and makes me feel that I can do anything! Thank you for all you do – LOVE what you have done with the gorgeous desk.
Glad you made it! Thanks so much for the love, Barbara. You CAN DO IT! 😀
Maryann Smith says
I’d paint a little half stand that has been in my garage forever.
Wow! What a makeover! You are so creative! The toile stamps looks just like fabric. And hot glue??! Who would have thought. Got to get to the craft store!
I am so excited to share the brushes and tools. So many good things out there!
Dorothy Roush says
The desk is just so darn cute! I love it! Love old furniture in general…and have saved a few pieces myself from the trash. Next project is a China Cabinet that needs some love. I could REALLY use that set of awesome brushs from Zibra!
Love me a china cabinet makeover! 😀 You will love these brushes, Dorothy.
Forgot to add I have an old radio cabinet as my next project. Would love to try out the brushes on that. And I pinned your latest creation to my painted furniture board
Got it! 😀
Jayme Coonce says
What an update! My first project for those brushes is a dresser in my boys’ room that is just itching for a makeover. Pinned to my wood projects board – momofmanyjs
Thanks! Yes, the brushes would make it a breeze. Got your extra entry! 😀
Jewell Styles says
Love the desk. So creative to use the hot glue in the mold, would never have thought of it.
Thanks! It worked out so wonderfully.
Janette Deans says
Oh this looks so sweet, love the colours you chose to….If I had one of those brushes I would paint my fiddley back kitchen door first, they look amazing, who knows I may get one one of these days…x
I had such fun, Janette. Thank you! That sounds like the perfect project.
Love the outcome! I knew immediately it was a secretary desk, but to have once housed a radio? Neat! I have several pieces that I am considering painting this summer, those brushes would make the job so much easier!
So cool, right?! Yes, the brushes sure would. 😉
I just love your style and enthusiasm showing in your writings and finished projects!
I’m so happy to share, Diana. Thank you!
Love the little desk…you are such a visionary! If l won those beautiful Zebra brushes …after just enjoying how great they look unused for a few days,l would tackle painting a small side table / book stand we have. Thanks for the chance.
That sounds like the perfect project, Janina. My pleasure to share.
Aww this is just too adorable for words. The colors, all those details. It is perfect!!
Thanks, Mary! 😀
I’m crazy about the mold; definitely going to check out that company.
They many styles to choose from. So cool!
Anya Mathis says
Fabulous job with the desk! I also love decorating with found interacted things. It makes your home look more personal and collected. I love your style!
You are so right. It makes your home story that I love. Thank you!
Yet another great idea for using hot glue to make a detail mold. How creative is that !! and …
OMGosh, an opportunity to try your favorite brushes !!! Can’t wait – would love to try them on an old boring dresser
set that includes 2 nightstands. They sorely need a facelift and a color change!
Yay!! I’m loving your enthusiasm, Dodie. So fun!
Very nice. Good paint brushes are SO important. Thanks for your inspiration.
Lee Oliverio says
Love love love the toile! The little desk with a past is adorable. Pinned!
It is my favorite next to toile. Yummy. Thanks so much for pinning!
Rebecca Drake says
I would paint my buffet I’m working on. They would help me with the legs so much
I loved the secretary radio desk. The toile is beautiful.
Thanks for the giveaway!
Thanks, Rebecca! I have a buffet to do too. Love those things.
Frances Batson says
Love the little desk. I could really use the brushes on a small oak
ladies desk. I have had it for 40+ years and hate to get rid of it so painting would liven it up. Love the toile. Makes such a difference.
I look forward to your post. God Bless.
I know what you mean about pieces that just last forever, but sometimes we need a refresh. Sounds like the perfect project. Thank you so much for the love, Frances. Hugs!
Seriously you are the only blogger I follow. I am all about thrifty, reusing what you have, and hate things that match. lol Thanks for inspiring me to take another look at that ugly piece of furniture and make it into something beautiful.
You made me giggle!! I love that you have a heart for the unique. It sure does make life fun. Hugs to you!!
Mechele Rose says
I love it ! But then I love all of your work or should I say your ART work. The colors on and in the little desk area are a prefect combo ! Who wouldn’t love it. If I was the lucky one to win the box of goodies , I mean the box of Zibra brushes I would use them to paint my first project a old potato bin that I bought for $55 at a antique store down the road from me. This would give me the opportunity for the first time to use the stamps that I bought from the Iron Orchid months ago. Also I would like to say that I love your TUTORIALs ! I read them all. Thank you !
You just made my day, Debi. Thank you so much! That sounds like the perfect combination. I’d love to see it when you’re done.
I have a similar desk I am trying to redo, thanks for the ideas!
Lezlie adams says
Love the pop of yellow. I don’t know what I would use the brushes on…..if you could see my stash, you would think I’m a serious hoarder.
hahahaha…likewise. I call it my home.
Debra Wise says
You never cease to amaze me with your creativity. Love the change you made to the secretary and would love to win the brushes. I’m sure it would make painting much easier if I had some good brushes instead of cheap ones. Thanks for what you always teach us!!
They sure do make all the difference in the world. Thanks for the love!
It turned out so nicely!
Thanks, Jessica! I had fun. 😀
I would paint a bookshelf with the brushes, and I pinned your project!
Barb B. says
That is gorgeous! And I love the pop of yellow. Never knew someone made a radio/secretary combination. If I win the Zibra brushes, they will be used to paint a set of built ins. And after this post they may be painted a color with another color for the back of the shelves. Thanks for the color inspiration!
I didn’t know of them either. It was a fun history lesson for me. I’m happy to hear you like it!
Cute desk. I love the stamps!
Donna Marchlewski says
I would paint my headboard.
Kim Hyatt says
I would paint the china cabinet I just bought at a moving sale. It’s a late 1960’s Thomasville in excellent condition. I can’t wait to get started!
You did a beautiful job on this makeover. It’s the details of a piece that make it really stand out, and I really like that bit of wood trim around the toile. I have a towering pile…er, small collection of things that I need to redo but I have some spindly chairs to conquer and I think the Zibra brushes would be perfect.
haha…you go, girl! These would be perfect for you PILE. 😀
I am always impressed with your creativity. If I were to win those beautiful brushes I would repaint the baseboards in my house, no I’d repaint my bathroom floor.
Thanks, Liz! Perfect project for the brushes. Yay!
Ann Halsing says
LOVE IT Great Job!! always looking forward to your next project. Ann H.
I’m happy to hear it, Ann. Thanks!
I’ve never thought about using molds before for handles and such!!! That is such a great idea, and extremely cost efficient! Thanks for the tip!
My absolute pleasure, Kaitlyn. Thank you!
You’re so creative! Love the yellow inside the desk, a happy surprise! Would love to try those brushes.
I wanted sunshine and sunshine I got! hahaha…thanks so much, Regina.
This is a fabulous refresh. How fun!
Wonderful to hear. Thank you, Kimberly.
You always come up with something so creative! Lovely! and I really like learning about the Iron Orchid Kit.
You are so sweet! Thank you.
I love all the projects you do! You make it look so easy. The brushes would be perfect for a couple of bookcase that I have with spindles. Regular paint brushes don’t quite get the job done easily.
Fantabulous! Yes, spindles can be such a bear to do. Hope you win!
Barbara Ackerman says
I’ve been following your blog for a short time and it has quickly become one of my top 5 blogs. Your little secretary desk is gorgeous.
That just made my week, Barbara! Thank you!
Fran Legler says
Awsome! I have a similar desk that was my mother’s. As soon as we move into our new home (piece is in storage right now), I’m going to give this a try. Also, can’t wait to visit Iron Orchid Designs web site!!
So awesome to hear, Fran. Thank you!
Judy Black says
Love this !!
Nancy Walden says
I love it!
Larissa you alway floor me with your beautiful makeovers! Those stamps, molds and transfers are great. I’m going to check them out.
Mary Kaiser says
I CAN’T BELEIVE YOU CAN PAINT THAT WITHOUT TAPING IT, WOW! I NEED TO WIN THE BRUSHES!! LOVE YOUR TRANSFORMATION!
I woke up this morning thinking about these Zibra paint brushes!!! I just got a couple of shutters that I want to frame a picture. I really want to paint them. I remembered your tea cart with the shutters and how you used that triangle brush to smoosh into the levers. Thanks for the chance to win these!
I love your secretary desk redo. (I also adore ticking and toile!! Those and swiss dots and eyelets make my heart sing.) You are so innovative to think of the hot glue in the molds. Everything came together so sweetly. The surprise sunshine inside is so cheery it would make me want to write letters! I am “borrowing” a secretary desk right now because I’ve wanted one for so long! If it ever becomes mine, I’m going to paint it. Thank you for sharing with us .
How fun is that?! Yes, that triangle brush was a lifesaver in that creation. You are such a kindred spirit, Paula. My pleasure to share!
Oh, and I pinned too!
Robin Defenbaugh says
I am, as we “speak”, painting my kitchen cabinets using the square and triangular Zibra brushes. The shapes are great for getting in corners and cutting in along the ceiling without taping! They also hold a ton of paint! Love them!!!
Wonderful! They make my work so much easier. Cabinets are one of my least favorite things to do since I had to do dozens while on paint crew on college. haha… Yes, the amount of paint they hold makes for awesome strokes.
Robin Defenbaugh says
I also pinned this project. Love the colors!
Cindy Downing says
I love this project..i too am a huge toile fan..i have a dresser to paint with amazing zibra brushes
So good to hear, Cindy. Thank you!
Cindy Downing says
Donna Gonzalez says
I have an old secretary (with drawers on the bottom) that needs some love. Lots of ideas to steal here.
That would be a sweet project. 😀
Love the makeover! You really gave this piece a second life. I would paint my sons nightstand first. It could use a fresh new look.
Thanks! I bet he would love to help. 😀
Great restyle Larissa. I never would have thought of using a hot glue gun with these type of mouldings – brilliant! The surprise pop of yellow made me smile – love it! 🙂
Thanks so much! I wanted the desk to be like sunshine on a rainy day. 😉
Jeane Gallo says
Love the sweet little secretary. My grandma had a large one when I was a kid, and I loved to play hotel clerk with all the pigeonholed. My cousins and I would leave notes for one another in it.
I’d love to win the brush collection. We are going to redo a table in our living room. They would come in handy.
I used to do the same with my parent’s. Loved to play office! Now what I wouldn’t do to get away from my desk. ha!
Christi Norris says
I think I’d use the brushes to redo a small telephone table.
Still need to paint my Hoosier cabinet – these look awesome!
They are! And would be perfect for your cabinet.
Patty Soriano says
Hello, Sweet Lady! Since I have an over-abundance of little tables, that’s probably what it will be. Would love to try some good brushes for a change. Love the way you did the lid of the desk…. looks just like toile! So cool!
Hello! Sounds good to me. Thanks for the love!
Marie|The Interior Frugalista says
You had me at Secretary desk. You intrigued me with those amazing brushes and each of their intended purpose. You wowed me with the blue and lovely yellow paint colors. You inspired me with the glue gun mold and how you cleverly used them as hardware backplates. But you floored me with that amazing toile press that I MUST have! It took that already interesting Red Lion Cabinet to a whole different level – looks like fabric! Yet another makeover where I had an audible gasp.
Marie, I could hug you. You seriously know how to make my heart happy. Thank you for all the kind words and for being an ever-present friend. Hugs!
Patty Soriano says
Done pinned it, Larissa !
leisa gustafson says
Love the colors and the white wax! I have an old china cupboard that those brushes would certainly help me finish. I already have my paint and the colors are very similar!
Thanks! I had such fun.
leisa gustafson says
Love the surprise buttery yellow found inside! Love your work, as always! 🙂
I wanted a peek of sunshine and I think it worked. Thank you, Cindy. 🙂
I love the pop of yellow when the desk is opened. The idea of painting wood used to freak me out but seeing you turn a piece into artwork has made me a convert. I have an old mirrorless vanity I’d like to give new life to.
fist pump!!! That’s awesome to hear. I truly take it seriously when deciding whether or not to paint. I adore wood and try to only work on pieces that are misfit. Thanks, Tracy!
What a gorgeous transformation Larissa! I am a big fan of toile as well, so I love this desk.
Works for me! Thank you, Kaycee. 😉
True English style for sure Larissa! Very nice! Have a question- I bought 100+ year old wooden chest. Is it nessesary to wash it with before any repairs? I got rid of smell using laundry sheets, and it doesn’t seem very dirty either… What do you think? Appreciate your advice!
Thanks! I would say just wipe it down with a slightly damp cloth to be rid of any residue and then it’s game on. Feel free to email me if you need.
I love the look of this cute desk, especially the turned legs. You did a wonderful job on this project. I do love to come and browse the blog to see the many rescued pieces. How happy they must be to given new life! Okay, I know they don’t feel anything, but we all sure are happy that perfectly good items are not in a landfill somewhere. I like that you teach your kids the value of repairing things instead of throwing them away! I homeschooled our daughter through high school and we frequently visited thrift stores to find lovely treasures. Partly for the fun adventure, partly to show her that we did not always have to buy things at full retail prices. Anyway, thanks for doing what you do!
I totally get it, and, yes, they do talk! hahaha… Sounds like you are an adventure seeker too. Such fun!
Yolanda Acevedo says
Yes, it is. 😀
Hey- I just gave one of my kids a mold like that for Christmas! We’ve messed with a few “mold fillers”, but hot GLUE??? Never would have thought of it! : ) WHAT an idea! So much sturdier than other options! Cool results on your project here, I like the blue. I’m a painting maniac these days, and experimenting with different brushes, but hadn’t thought of using as many on one project as you did here. Gotta go check out your brushes now.
Awesome gift! Gotta try it, eh? 😉 I used to be a one brush gal for 20 years, but found better since. This makes so much more sense.
Lovely job, as always! I think that triangle brush is really, really cool.
That gem has saved me oodles in my time of need. 😀
Another awesome piece. Made sure to pin to my furniture board. I too love toile, definately need to check out Iron Orchid. I would love to win brushes. I have many projects but next on list is a bamboo/rattan desk and chair for my daughter’s room makeover. Thanks for the chance to win.
Thank! Got your extra entry. You’re a good mama to get ‘er done. 😀
Beautiful !!! Blue is my favorite color & toile reminds me of my late grandma.
Those are the best memories. hugs!
What a fun makeover!
Awesome to hear! Thank you.
Maureen Clipperton says
I would paint a bookcase desk that needs a face lift.
Karen Simon Peterson says
Love the desk- so sweet. I have a table and a bookcase that I would paint if I won these brushes.
those brushes are amazing . Love the projects you and your family refinish. Looks like I need some of those brushes myself.
They sure make my job easier and more fun. Thank you, Mary. 😀
C Brannon says
Cheryl B. says
I love the tools stamp. I would love to learn to use stamps like this on furniture.Great piece.
I was very tickled at how easy it was to use. I can’t wait to do more with it. Thanks, Cheryl.
Susan Esparza says
Brushes are a game changer! I would use mine to paint a tall mahogany bureau my grandmother gave me almost 30 years ago. Dying to paint it a deep red with some black undertones. Hope I win!
They sure are! I thought I would never change my ways, but I have been proven wrong. That would be a gorgeous piece when done. 🙂
Beautifully done! Love the toile and the yellow complements the blue perfectly!
Thank you for helping me to enjoy what I do, Diane. It makes life fun. 🙂
This is such a great makeover. I love the stamps, too cool! And I’d love a set of the brushes!
What fun can be had with the right tools! I wish I could give everyone a set.
those brushes look amazing. Love the way they get into different areas. I would like to try them out on a mirror frame and a chair.
That’s my favorite part of them. No having to work extra hard to get the job done.
Lovely transformation. The yellow interior is a happy surprise ?
Thank you for the sweet words, Kathy. 🙂
I love your website and just signed up for your newsletter. Would you please share what color paint you used on this secretary desk (the blue and the yellow)? Thanks.
Hi Melissa! I’m delighted you found me. As for those colors the blue was a seconds mix and the yellow called Jackfruit.