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Vintage Secretary Desk with Updated Look

Do you ever find yourself fascinated with something and you don’t know why? Yeah, I’m like that too. haha. For today’s purpose, I am confessing my addiction to a particular style of furniture – secretaries. One piece of furniture I believe every home should have is a multi-purpose feature like this vintage secretary desk.

Vintage Secretary Desk Before Makeover by Larissa of Prodigal Pieces | #prodigalpieces

Why, you ask? Well, I realize that we are primarily in the digital age where our bills are paid electronically and we lack the paper trail we used to have in days gone by. However, who can deny the functionality of the cubbies, the fold-down desk, and all the drawers below to stash away things that may not have a permanent place.

Secretary Desk Open to Interior |

Besides, it’s still useful for your laptop or tablet to tuck away and keep you organized. Or…better yet…pen a special letter to someone to make their day.

This particular desk is a sweet size because it can fit most anywhere. However, I wanted to give it an updated look and feel. It has a few issues: missing veneer, gouges, and wear here and there. Overall, it’s stout and well-built to last the test of time. Also, it has the original manufacturer stamp by Jasper Cabinet Co. Plus, it has all the original hardware which is a bonus. Don’t you just love this Chippendale style?

Gouges in top of vintage secretary desk |

*post sponsored byΒ Zibra and includes affiliate links so you can find the products I love to use too. (see full disclosure)


First, I make any necessary repairs, like filling holes with wood filler and giving it light sanding with my sander. Once that is done, I use a vinegar/water mixture to wipe it down and remove any residue. While cleaning it up, I found a bit of dough in a secret compartment.

Found Money in Vintage Secretary Desk by Prodigal Pieces |

I reached out to the original owner offering to send it to them. Her response was,” Oh my word. Merry Christmas! Thanks for your honestly. May God multiply it for you.” How sweet!

I persisted to offer to send it back, but she also insisted I keep it. Funny thing is that right after I found it I also found this…

God's Love is Unfailing button |

Oh how true it is. I had fun tucking the money back in and letting each of my children see if they could find it. They had a blast! What a blessing that God uses people to help us in our need.


As soon as my kids gave the clear that there were no more treasures to be found, I began to continue my makeover. Next, using my 2″ Angled Brush, I applied one of my favorite colors to the exterior. It’s the same color as I use in my home called Slate Green by Glidden.

Painting with Zibra Angled Brush |

Also,if you haven’t tried all the styles of the Zibra brushes yet, you’re missing out. They are my favorite because they give a flawless finish, hold loads of paint for less dipping, and are easy on my wrist and hands. You can see how I’ve used them in these past projects HERE and even in this video demo below.

Painting Slate Green on Vintage Secretary Desk by Prodigal Pieces |


Then, once the exterior is curing, I began the interior. For this I wanted to freshen it up with a soft antique white. However, because this vintage secretary desk is what it is, I knew those cubbies wouldn’t be fun to work on. That is, unless I have the right tools {{super hero music begins to play}}. Enter in my Triangle Brush! πŸ™‚

Painting Interior of Vintage Secretary Desk with Zibra Triangle Brush |

Because of the awesome design of this brush, I was able to knock out those cubbies in no time. Can we say happy dance ovah heeyah?!?

At first, I thought I could just paint, but then found that at some point someone must have splattered ink all over because it instantly bled through my first coat. So, I used my stain blocker as the second coat and then added the final third coat. Same stuff I used to block out smoke on this vintage entertainment center.


Last, but not least, I wanted to add a bit of depth and dimension to this ol’ gal. I loved the painted look as-is, but wanted it to have a story. So, using my retired Square Brush, I added a brown wax shading to the various points. The Round and Square brushes work wonderful for waxing.

Waxing Secretary Desk for Depth and Dimension |


After the love and care given to this vintage secretary desk, it’s time to see the reveal.

Rustic Chic Vintage Secretary Desk for Farmhouse Cottage Decor by Larissa of Prodigal Pieces | #prodigalpieces #diy #home #farmhouse #furniture #homedecor

Aqua Blue Secretary Desk with Antique White Interior by Larissa of Prodigal Pieces | #prodigalpieces #diy #vintage #home #homedecor #furniture #farmhouse

I’m so please with the outcome. If you notice, I didn’t do anything to the beautiful hardware outside of cleaning it up a bit. The brass suits the the style and look I was after.

Now for a peek at the inside…

Farmhouse Chic Vintage Secretary Desk by Larissa of Prodigal Pieces | #prodigalpieces #diy #home #furniture #vintage #cottage #farmhouse

Painted Secretary Desk Open with Storage by Larissa of Prodigal Pieces | #prodigalpieces #vintage #furniture #home #farmhouse #homedecor

And, for fun I had to stage with one of my favorite books – an antique etiquette book. It’s open to a chapter about breakfasts, luncheon and teas.

Antique Etiquette Book about Tea Parties and Invitations | #prodigalpieces #antique #book

Notice the line just after the invitation sample. Isn’t that fun? I seriously love pouring over this book. Dare I say we could stand to reinstate some of these in our forlorn society?

Vintage W.M. Rogers Silverplate Pitcher by Prodigal Pieces | #prodigalpieces #vintage #silver

Cottage Farmhouse Style Decor by Larissa of Prodigal Pieces | #prodigalpieces #home #homedecor #cottage #farmhouse

Is this inspiring to you? I hope so. My goal is to help you to consider taking those dated pieces that you may already own. Or, even update your home with found pieces with your own story written on them.

If you’d like to purchase this vintage secretary desk, you can find it, the silverplate pitcher, and so much more available in my online shop. (SOLD)

Shop Prodigal Pieces |

Side View of Vintage Secretary Desk by Larissa of Prodigal Pieces | #prodigalpieces #furniture #home #homedecor

Secretary Desk Makeover by Larissa of Prodigal Pieces for Cottage Chic Farmhouse Decor | #prodigalpieces #furniture #home #vintage #homedecor


Zibra and I are all about empowering you to take on your own DIY projects with confidence. We are giving away this amazing set of my favorite brushes to one of you.

Win this fantastic Zibra Paint Brush Prize with the giveaway by Prodigal Pieces | details at #prodigalpieces #giveaway #paint #furniture #diy #home #homedecor

Easy entry – just complete as many steps as you’d like in the widget below (daily even for more entries). Open to U.S. and Canada residents 18 years of age and older. Winner is contacted via email and has 24 hours to claim their prize. Also, be sure to check your spam!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Do pin and share my vintage secretary makeover to inspire others. They may have furniture that just needs a refreshing.

This vintage secretary desk needed an refresh and update. Larissa of Prodigal Pieces gave it charm & character with simple updates. Come see at #prodigalpieces #furniture #home #cottage #farmhouse #homedecor

To get these DIY tips & tricks in your inbox, be sure to sign up for my newsletter. PLUS, you will get your FREE Furniture Buying Checklist and special discount to my shop. Until next time!

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In addition, more projects like my vintage secretary desk makeover:

What a transformation! A Vintage Secretary Desk Radio is transformed into an English Cottage gem by Prodigal Pieces. A must see! | prodigalpieces.comOh my! This sad looking Art Deco vanity got a new lease on life with TLC by Larissa of Prodigal Pieces. Boho Chic is the new style and looks oh so good. DIY details at Prodigal Pieces |

108 replies on “Vintage Secretary Desk with Updated Look”

I passed on getting a secretary desk just the other day; No room & more $$$ than I wanted to pay for it.
Has the manufacture stamp on it, plus finding the coin; what a bonus.
Nice to see that it still had all the original hardware and that you didn’t change them out. I love them hinges.
Don’t know right off hand on what I would paint next if I where to win the brushes; maybe the small 3 drawer night stand that I have had stored away.
Thank you for this wonderful giveaway opportunity.
God Bless and have a great day.

I actually waited to purchase this one and it ended up being reduced in price. I was a happy camper already and then to be gifted the cash was the cherry on top. You are most welcome, Colleen.

Love this makeover and story, God is good! Your talent is amazing, it’s so fun to see where your imagination takes you on each makeover.
The brush giveaway is awesome, I hope I entered correctly. The older I get the more confusing online things are! Oh! I have a dresser waiting for me in the basement, I hope to start it this month.

This was posted just in time, as I’m about to do a secretary desk for my granddaughter! I’m happy to know what brushes to use. I’ll probably just paint it using very similar colors, but without the wax. Thanks for the tips!

Thank you for the giveaway opportunity! The secretary is so lovely! I especially love the keyhole hardware. It really is elegant.

I love the choice of color and fabric you chose for both desks and the chair. I love color, but do some white on chosen pieces. Thank you so much!

Beautiful makeover, as usual. What type/brand of brown wax did you use? I tried using dark wax only once before and I was not happy with the outcome. I really like the way your secretary came out so maybe I should give it another shot. Thanks

I love the triangle brush – how inventive! The right tool for the right job. Thanks for the give-away and your blog Larissa.

Hi Larissa and Happy New Year! I think it is so awesome that you found that stash and the previous owners Blessed you with it. God works in mysterious ways. Ok, so let me tell you that i had this exact secretary desk and I too painted it in a Sage green and i sold it for the exact amount you are asking. I did put a transfer on mine of a map from Re-Design with Prima. I also have a silver tea pot like yours. Isn’t that cool? Now, i wish i had your ability to create. Thank you for sharing. I wish i had kept my secretary.

Such a beautiful piece! I have a secretary my father built as a teenager in woodshop. I would love to redo it….so many beautiful details just lost in the current finish….but I am afraid to try it. I hesitate to change it for purely sentimental reasons

This came out gorgeous! I’m going to look for one for me to redo. I even like the color and I’m not a big fan of green. Keep up the great work!

I am scheduled to begin painting our kitchen cabinets next week. I will put the Zibra brushes to good use beginning withe the cabinets. When i am finished with those I will be painting some of our old furniture. Thanks so much for continuing to share your talents with us.

This a beautiful piece and I love the colors. I have never seen a triangle brush and I’d love to win it. Thanks for sharing your amazing projects.

This piece turned out beautiful! Great job! Love the added shading with the dark wax. I would love to give Zibra Paint brushes a try on our $9 Goodwill desk find. I originally painted it white, but I am thinking some pops of color would be even better! Thank you for the chance to win. Happy New Year!

Hi Larissa, what a beautiful secretary and awesome finds hidden within!!! I love her new look with fresh paint and wax, she is a stunner again!

It’s gorgeous! I you are the exception, I think, but I’m not sure many of today’s parents are as concerned about good manners and etiquette as they were in my day. (I’m 70) I love old books though. I hope my grandchildren appreciate them too.

This is gorgeous. I have a french provincial bedroom set that has similar drawers. I have been debating how to redo it for a long time. I love the touches with the darker wax and think it would look great on a whole set.

I had a secratary style desk years ago! I don’t even remember what I did with it but somewhere in the last 50 years or so I got rid of it. I love the makeover and would find a place in my home to put it!

Terrific makeover! I still have a secretary to work on so this inspires me. What a blessing to have a story to go with your project! Thank you for the opportunity to win the Zibra brushes.😊

I love how easy you make a paint job look. I don’t usually buy pieces like yours because I don’t want to refinish them. I need to get brave and try it. Your things look so lovely I always want everyone of them. LOL. Keep up the great work. I love your blog.

Thanks for the tip on the triangle brush, it is just what I have been looking for. Also this is my favorite makeover!

That is just so heartwarming that the “Dough’s” owner responded that way, but also a bit sad that they would be surprised at your offer to return it. Definitely one of those wonderful teaching moments to your kiddo’s :).
This piece is just lovely Larissa, and I think my favorite is the pretty reveal when you open the top.
Thank you for being such a wonderful mentor in so many ways. xo

Thank you so much, Kim. I was going to send it back anyway since I had their address, but I know how I’ve felt when I’ve offered someone something and truly want them to have it. Yes, a teachable moment indeed. I love the inside too as it has all the fun going on.

I love the sweet story of the $ and the coin. And such a great example for your kids!
I, also, have antique etiquette book from the early 1900s that was written for teachers. My favorite parts are about keeping the classroom clean – ‘sweeping the woodstove ash and wiping the lanterns’ and ‘be sure to be mature, but cheerful when the superintendent comes to call’!

Finding money in a secret compartment … WOW, what fun !! I think that desk turned out fantastic. You definitely give me courage to paint some pieces I have that could use some freshening up. I would love to paint my bedroom furniture and new brushes would be just the excuse I need. Thx.

Hi Larissa,
The first thing I would paint with the brushes is my half moon console table. It needs a refresh and I’ve always wanted to try Zibra brushes! Thanks for the giveaway!

I love all your work but this piece really speaks to me! I’m just starting to dabble in up-cycling and you give me such great inspiration! Thank you!


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