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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.com #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 | prodigalpieces.com

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 | prodigalpieces.com

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

DIY TIME

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 | prodigalpieces.com

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 | prodigalpieces.com

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.

NEXT STEP

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 | prodigalpieces.com

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 | prodigalpieces.com

THE INTERIOR

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! 🙂

Painting Interior of Vintage Secretary Desk with Zibra Triangle Brush | prodigalpieces.com

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 STEP

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 | prodigalpieces.com


THE REVEAL

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.com #prodigalpieces #diy #home #farmhouse #furniture #homedecor

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

Painted Secretary Desk Open with Storage by Larissa of Prodigal Pieces | prodigalpieces.com #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.com #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.com #prodigalpieces #vintage #silver

Cottage Farmhouse Style Decor by Larissa of Prodigal Pieces | prodigalpieces.com #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 | shop.prodigalpieces.com

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

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

GIVEAWAY TIME

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.com #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.com #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 | prodigalpieces.com

Comments

  1. Lori Sawyer says

    The money ,coin and original owner just made my morning. I love the makeover so beautiful!!

  2. Carla Moody says

    This is gorgeous! Perfectly updated!

  3. ColleenB.-Tx. says

    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.

    • Larissa says

      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.

  4. Tammy says

    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.

    • Larissa says

      I am just so happy to share it with you. Thank you, Tammy. You did just fine! 😀 Sounds like a fun project piece.

  5. Denise Vrooman says

    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!

    • Larissa says

      Oh how fun, Denise! 😀 I hope you have a blast with it.

  6. Susie says

    I would paint my dining table with the brush giveaway!
    Love the desk and all your blogs!!

    • Larissa says

      Yay! Sounds like the perfect project piece. Thank you, Susie.

  7. Patricia Bates Martinez says

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

    • Larissa says

      I love that it still has the original skeleton key and locks up perfectly. Thanks, Patricia. 😀

  8. Joanie Dannenbaum says

    Love how it turned out ,the color is so sooothing!

  9. Alicia H says

    What a sweet gift from God! Always love seeing what you are up to Larissa! Happy New Year!

  10. Micah says

    I just got an old etiquette book for Christmas. I love it! It’s very entertaining to read.
    Thanks for the giveaway!

    • Larissa says

      Sweet git! They are such treasures to have and peruse. You are welcome, Micah.

  11. Lisa L says

    This is wonderful. It turned out beautiful!!

  12. Lisa says

    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!

    • Larissa says

      Thank you for the kind words, Lisa. These are such fun pieces to do.

  13. Judy Newell says

    Larissa,
    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

    • Larissa says

      You are so sweet, Judy. Thank you. I use different ones for various things. One I prefer is this one HERE.

  14. Colette Bailes says

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

    • Larissa says

      I seriously love that one for just that purpose. Nooks and crannies can be awful! 😀

  15. Cheryl Atkinson says

    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.

    • Larissa says

      Woot! Great minds! 😀 You do have the ability if you did all that. 😉 Thank you for the love, Cheryl.

  16. Lynn Beeman says

    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

    • Larissa says

      ooh…I don’t blame you there. Props to your dad for building a secretary at that age! 😀 Sweet!

  17. Jane Clelland says

    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!

  18. SONJA HANSEN says

    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.

    • Larissa says

      You have quite the fun scheduled, Sonja. tee hee. These brushes will help you knock them out in a jiffy.

  19. Shellie Boss says

    I love the color of the desk!

  20. Maria J. Howard says

    I really love the colors and the way this turned out!!!

  21. gwen says

    I love the color and the dark waxed areas!

    • Larissa says

      Thank you, Gwen. With the aged brass, it just needed something to add depth and warm it up.

  22. Lori Hartman says

    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.

    • Larissa says

      Thank you for the kind words, Lori. I have used it often and can’t say enough good about it.

  23. Genevieve says

    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!

    • Larissa says

      Atta girl, Genevieve! 😀 You sound like me. Creating is half the fun! 😀

  24. Doreen Hill says

    What a wonderful story! And of course, a beautiful makeover. I have so many projects waiting for their turn for a transformation, two nightstands are first in line!

    • Larissa says

      It truly struck me, especially with my latest dealings in life. I know you’ll love these Zibra brushes.

  25. Marie says

    Such a pretty makeover, Larissa, love the color. Finding the cash and the original owners response made me smile but finding the button…goose bumps!

    • Larissa says

      Thank you, sweet Marie. Yes! That is what truly gave me goosebumps.

  26. Nancy F Lambert says

    Its Beautiful…
    God Blesses us every Day…

  27. Kaycee says

    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!

  28. Kim says

    A Media console for my daughter. We are just now working on her living room and that is our next project.

  29. Carol Claremont says

    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.

    • Larissa says

      Thanks! Yes, I am a rare nut for sure. hahaha. I believe they will in their time.

  30. Lorene Dehl says

    What a fun piece and a gorgeous update!

  31. Melissa Storms says

    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.

    • Larissa says

      Sweet! The serpentine style is easily one of my favorite designs. You can’t beat the uniqueness it gives. Have fun!

  32. Nancy Walden says

    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!

    • Larissa says

      I think we all have those kinds of wonderings…haha. Thanks for the love, Nancy.

  33. Laura says

    Beautiful secretary, the colors are lovely! A new set of brushes would help all my projects get done!

    • Larissa says

      I’m tickled to hear you love it so. Thank you, Laura. I agree with you on the brushes! 😀

  34. Dale Cundy says

    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.😊

    • Larissa says

      Thanks, Dale! They are such handy pieces to have. I hope to find one with a hutch on top.

  35. Tammy Shelton says

    Oh, I have stockpile of projects! Probably a vintage wooden jewelry box.

  36. Christina A. says

    I think I would repaint our den coffee table! It’s not looking so great!

  37. Anita says

    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.

    • Larissa says

      Aww…you are so sweet, Anita. Thank you for the compliment. And yes, you CAN DO IT! 😀

  38. Michele Branham says

    Another beautiful furniture makeover! ❤️

  39. dianne anderson says

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

    • Larissa says

      You bet! It’s saved me oodles of work and given me a fine finish over and over again. Thanks!

  40. Kim Banko says

    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

    • Larissa says

      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.

  41. Kristina Austin says

    Very beautiful makeover Larissa. You are a true inspiration in so many different ways, Thank you!

  42. Michelle says

    I love all your projects!

  43. Michele says

    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’!

    • Larissa says

      Oh my…I love it! I truly think at times I was born in the wrong era. haha. Thanks for the kind words, Michele.

  44. Kelly Malone says

    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.

    • Larissa says

      Yes!! Totally a surprise and even better was the coin reminder. I know you can do it, Kelly! 😀

  45. Kelly Kayfes says

    Another beautiful job Larissa. Thanks again for the inspiration.

  46. Toni says

    I love the secretary. I have a small child’s rocker that’s my next project needing the brushes.

  47. Gail says

    What a beautiful job Larissa! I especially love the depth of the shading. Gail

    • Larissa says

      yay! That part helped bring it all together as it was flat otherwise, and lacking the same aged appeal as the hardware. Thank you, Gail.

  48. lumi says

    You do such an amazing job! Love to see your work xo

  49. Babette says

    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!

  50. Deb says

    Love it, turned out beautiful!

  51. Cynthia says

    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!

  52. Elizabeth says

    Love the colors you chose. What’s the name of the interior color used? Is it white or ivory?

    • Larissa says

      Thanks! It’s called Antique White. Just soft enough…

  53. Amber Kolb says

    A door to make into a shelf!

  54. GLORIA LUONGO says

    THAT IS A BEAUTIFUL PIECE. AND I WOULD LIKE TO DO AN OLD DRESSER FOR MY GUEST ROOM. I WOULD BE HAPPY IF IT COMES OUT HALF OF GOOD AS YOURS.

  55. jane Jakins says

    nice project, paint kitchen cart

  56. Cassandra D says

    The vintage dresser.

  57. Deb Klein says

    Such a beautiful story and desk! I have a nightstand that really needs help!

  58. Linda Fernandez Mathews says

    Love the story . Also thanks for the inspiration. I have this piece from my mother in law who sadly passed away last year. I’ve been thinking of painting it to match my bedroom and you gave me the extra push and inspiration to try it myself . Thank you!

    • Larissa says

      Thank you for stopping by and taking the time to leave love, Linda. My condolences to you and your family. You have quite a treasure to keep her memory. Enjoy. {{hugs}}

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I love it! Larissa is amazing. She listened to what I wanted and then she took care of the rest! This is my second piece I've bought from her and I'm in love! I highly recommend her.

~ Laurel

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2020-03-21T21:34:13-04:00

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I love it! Larissa is amazing. She listened to what I wanted and then she took care of the rest! This is my second piece I've bought from her and I'm in love! I highly recommend her.

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