French Secretary Desk

Welcome to Themed Furniture Thursday, where I and several other furniture redoers make over a piece of furniture to fit a different theme each month! This month’s theme is “Inspired By”. I’ll share how I was inspired a little further down.

First, check out this piece I found at my local Goodwill last spring:

French Secretary Desk

Pretty, right? I originally walked out of the store without it and headed to another thrift store down the road a bit. When I got there, I saw the saddest secretary desk, very similar to this one. It was really on it’s last leg and the store employees had the nerve to put $75 on it. Do you know how much the one I walked out without was? $55!

I marched right back out to my car and headed straight back to pick it up, crossing my fingers that it was still there. And it was.

At the time I didn’t have a booth, so I wasn’t in the market to pick up furniture pieces I did not need, but aside from a little damaged spot on top, it was in perfect condition. I had to bring it home.

Here is a shot of the inside:

French Secretary Desk

I had a really hard time with this desk. It’s very difficult to take a paint brush to a piece of furniture in perfect condition. And I did not want to paint all those cubbies!

This piece was not an antique…probably made no earlier than the 90’s, so it’s not like I would be ruining a family heirloom, but still a bit hard to start slapping paint on.

I finally dug it out from my to-do pile, and decided to just go for it. After much deliberation, here’s how she turned out:

French Secretary Desk

Adding French graphics is one of my favorite ways to add character and charm to a piece of furniture.

French Secretary Desk

Now it’s a one-of-a-kind!

I also changed out the hardware. These are from Hobby Lobby, but I spray painted them and sanded them a bit…

French Secretary Desk

Now for the inspiration part. Everyone has been inspired to do something, but how about being inspired not to do something? After browsing on Pinterest, I came across a solution to painting all those cubbies! Don’t paint them at all.

Here and here are beautiful examples of secretaries that were left natural on the inside. And so I was inspired not to paint mine…

French Secretary Desk

I think it’s a real wow factor to open up a desk like this and see a beautiful contrasting color, but choosing to keep the original wood preserved some of the beauty of the original desk. The inside will wear much better as well, especially if it’s a hard worker!

French Secretary Desk



French Secretary Desk

To add the graphics, I downloaded this one from the Graphic’s Fairy already in the reverse.  Then I uploaded it to and printed it out to fit the oval area on the desk. Blockposters is so easy, you just put in how many pieces of paper wide/tall you want your image to be and it figures it  all out for you.

French Secretary Desk

Just trim the edges and tape together. Then I taped it in place and rubbed a pencil across the back to transfer the image. See more details about this transfer method if needed.

French Secretary Desk

Once the image was transferred, I painted it in with black acrylic paint using a script brush. A good sanding once it was thoroughly dry left a nice smooth graphic:

French Secretary Desk


French Secretary Desk

Secretary Desk with French Graphics


If you have absolutely nothing else going on right now, how about checking out my other Themed Furniture Thursday transformations at the links below:

Themed Furniture Makeovers


1. $5 Yard Sale Chair Makeover  (Bold)

2. Mini Drop Cloth Rosette Stool  (Travel)

3. Flower Stenciled Side Table  (Flowers)

4. Thrift Store Side Table Goes Glam (Metallic)

5. Duck Egg Blue and White China Cabinet (Two-toned)

6. Sewing Chair with a Secret Drawer  (Numbers)

7. Decoupaged Paper Mosaic Rolling Cart (Decoupage)

8. Desk with French Graphics (Letters)

 You could also say I was inspired by one of my own…a  previous Themed Furniture post…#8! 🙂

Below you can see how my blogging buddies were inspired to redo (or not) their furniture pieces!




If you like what you see, there are several ways to follow along! :)

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I love to share at some of these great parties:

Home Stories A to Z  Not Just a Housewife Kammy’s Korner  The Happy Housie  Design Dining and Diapers  Liz Marie Blog  Funky Junk Interiors  Savvy Southern Style  Tatertots and Jello  DIY Show Off  Redoux Interiors  Between Naps on the Porch  The DIY Dreamer  Oh My Creative  Little Miss Celebration  Just a Girl and Her Blog  Sand and Sisal  Interior Frugalista  House on the Way  Addicted 2 DIY  I should be Mopping the Floor  Miss Mustard Seed


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  1. Christy,
    This turned out beautifully!!! That graphic is perfect on it. Well done my friend!!

  2. I would love to have this desk, I have the perfect spot for it! Beautiful makeover!

  3. GORGEOUS Christy!!! I love it!

  4. Nice job, Christy! I would have hesitated to paint it too, but since it wasn’t an antique I would have painted it as well. I love the graphics you used!

    • I know I had a hard time painting it, but by doing so, I got a quick sale. People just aren’t willing to pay good money for things that are left as is these days! Thanks for the visit. 🙂

  5. Hi…I have an old desk like this and wanting to paint it up…What did you use for paint on this? thanks
    I am thinking chalk paint but it is so expensive…any ideas would be great… it

  6. Looks great! I love that you kept the inside natural and the graphic you picked looks perfect. Just beautiful!


  7. Gwen Conchewski says

    Beautiful! I never would have had the nerve to paint that piece but I do like it even better after you were done with it. Changing the handles was a nice touch but of course the French wording steals the show!That must have been a ton of work, all that careful letter painting but so very worth it! I love how you left the inside unpainted, very wise!

    • Thanks so much, Gwen! It took me a long time to work up the nerve to paint it. Then I saw it in the background of a TLC show and was reminded it is not a one-of-a-kind piece. It is one of thousands just like it. Now it’s an original. 🙂

  8. Absolutely gorgeous! I love that you left the inside dark! I have never used Blockposters before, I will have to give it a try!

  9. I really adore your transformation, beautiful job you did. The piece is just stunning now.

  10. whew! You were able to go back and get for the SCORE! Great makeover, Christy!

  11. Hi Christy! I have that exact piece with the top hutch on it. I bought it new at Ashley Furniture around 2006. I have thought of painting it so nice to see how it would look! Your graphic you chose fits in the oval perfectly so if I ever do paint it I will have to consider that same graphic!! Thanks!! I must add that I paid a tad more than you got yours for:(

  12. Christy the graphics are so pretty and thanks for the info. I’ve been wanting to try some for a while, but keep getting conflicting instructions. Thanks for clearing up the age of this desk. I would have guessed earlier. I guess I don’t know much about secretaries. Its stunning!

    • One of my readers just told me she has the same desk that she purchased in 2006, so that makes me feel even better. Glad you like it. Give the graphics a go. It’s such a great way to add character to a boring piece. After I paint in the letters, and I’ve left it to dry completely, I take a 220 grit sand paper and run it lightly over the whole graphic. This takes down any bumps or ridges created while painting and makes it smooth as silk. Often I’m not happy with it until this point! Good luck! XO

  13. This is an amazing transformation! The original piece was nice, but the finished product has so much character, and the graphics are a wonderful touch. I can understand why making the decision to paint it was difficult, but you created a real gem.

  14. $55.00!!! I couldn’t have got it stuffed into the back of my vehicle fast enough. Our Goodwill prices things much higher over here. You made a good decision painting it – it is stunning Christy! Love the French graphic in the oval. I bet this baby hardly touches your booth floor before it’s picked up by someone.

  15. This is absolutely gorgeous! And I love that you kept the inside as is, it’s beautiful!

  16. Beautiful! Quick question… I have done a number of graphic transfers and find when I sand, the graphic tends to ‘stain’ the white paint around it. Did you find that or am I doing something wrong. I used ASCP for my base. Thanks Christy!

  17. Christy, you inspired me! I checked out your redo of the china cabinet because I painted my china cabinet, took the doors off and I love the new look, but like you I have iron stone pieces in it and it needed something to show them off. I thought of wallpapering the back or something like that. Seeing your blue painted inside gave me the idea of painting the inside of my cabinet in a similar color. Think it will look great! Thanks!

  18. So pretty! I love your transformation and not painting the inside. Some day soon, I’m going to try the graphics transfer.

  19. Oh my goodness.. You know how much I love anything FRENCH. I love this. And thank you so much for telling me about block poster. I had completely forgot about that.
    Amazing Makeover and I love that you left the inside wood!

  20. Absolutely gorgeous, Kristi! I think it’s perfect that you left the inside natural. The only damage was on the outside, so if the contrast with the inside natural is beautiful. Plus I would want to avoid painting all those cubbies too!!

  21. AHH!!! As soon as I saw those cubbies I thought, “I wouldn’t paint them—leave them be, for contrast!!” lolololol
    Great job!!!! love the graphic!!!! Love your ideas and work. This is just how I would have done it!!!

  22. Christy, This piece is incredible! I love that you were inspired to not paint the inside. What a great blogging desk! You’re transfers are always so neat and crisp! Love it! Jeanette

  23. That is so cute, I love it!! Thanks for the tip on blockposter!! 🙂 Marti

  24. Melody @ My Passion For Decor says

    Beautifully done!! I’m glad you left the inside, it makes for a nice contrast!

  25. Wow, that desk was a steal. I love what you did with it Christy. The wood finish on the inside is beautiful and works great with the white paint. I’m glad you didn’t paint the inside!

  26. Um, so I do know how to spell your name. I was commenting from my phone and it autocorrected to Kristi – sorry!

    • Ha ha ha! I use the microphone feature on my phone to text a lot and when I say, “Christy”, I swear it spells it a different way every time! No worries at all. 🙂

  27. Bwahahaha – that’s the feature I use all the time too! You just have to make sure to check it… Guess I didn’t:-) I love it, but I might be a bit of a freak walking around talking into my cell phone all the time…lol


  29. Guess it’s time to paint my secretary desk. My Mother and husband discouraged my doing this because it is antique oak. Though it’s nice, I would love it a lot better if I painted it how I envisioned in the first place. Love that I don’t have to paint the inside. That wouldn’t be something I’d want to look forward to! LOL

    • There are some pieces that are hard to take a brush to and it doesn’t help when other’s opinions stand in the way! But it is just paint after all and can be sanded back down if the desire ever strikes. I say go for it! 🙂

  30. Christy, this is gorgeous (of course)! I’m sure it will sell very fast in your booth. Lovely inspiration, thank you! <3

  31. Beautiful, I love it. We have been hunting though our local charity (GW shops) shops for a while looking for such a piece of furniture, after selling my hostess trolley before christmas (it was hardly ever used!) there is a space in the dining room calling out for something like this, we want to keep the ipads/laptops in there. I love how you have given it a new look all together.
    Ann in Scotland.

  32. This turned out really beautiful! I love the fact you decided to keep the inside original, it gives it dramatic character!!

  33. Esto resultó hermoso!! He visto el truco en las paredes antes, pero nunca hubiera pensado en usarlo en los muebles. Gracias por compartir tan gran idea! Yo recentemente hice en una pared y me fue mas facil, ya que me heciro una plantilla en vinilo!! te dejo aqui el enlace

  34. Laura Lane says

    I love it painted much better!! Great job as always!


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