Monday, April 13, 2015

Restoring a Vintage Leather Desk

I needed a break from white. If you are a furniture painter, you'll get what I mean. Painting white takes multiple coats of primer, and then who knows how many coats of white you need to get good even coverage. I had just finished a white secretary desk, two chairs, a dresser and two nightstands. For my own sanity, I needed to paint something with color and a finish that didn't need to be perfect.

So when I rescued this vintage leather desk from a garage sale, with the leather vintage top in near-mint condition, I knew immediately that it would not be white! I asked my son if he wanted it for his room, and of course, he said no when he took one look at it in its before condition:

Here's a view from the top. The lady I bought it from said she had a glass top on it which probably accounted for the leather being in such great condition.

I still wasn't convinced my son wouldn't want it for his room, so I painted it in Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in Graphite as his bed is already painted in this color. And no, you can't see it, because that would require someone actually cleaning his room and making his bed! (Teenagers!)

So how am I able to achieve this finish with a "black" paint such as Graphite? I get this blue hue by almost doing a dry brush technique. I don't load my brush with a lot of paint, keep all of my brush strokes in one direction, and never overlap strokes. This is definitely a one-coat technique because the second coat will definitely be darker.

The goal in this technique is not perfection - but a look that looks like it has been authentically weathered over time. I also gently distressed the drawer edges with a 220-grit sanding block to give it additional character. The original hardware polished up really nicely with some good old-fashioned elbow grease.

This color is one of my favorites!

I sold this really quickly to a lovely young couple about to get married. And wouldn't you know that a few days later, completely oblivious to the fact that I sold it, my son asked if he could put it in his room?

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  1. I love it when these desk transformations work out! It's a lovely color and the leather looks to be in perfect condition! Great job!

    1. Thanks so much! I lucked out with the leather in such great condition!

  2. Wow you were so lucky to find one with the leather in such good condition! Great makeover, gives it a the masculine feel it needed.