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.
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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!