Sweet friends, I am so excited about today’s vintage secretary makeover! Before I get right to it, today is also Furniture Fixer Upper day where my friends are also sharing trashy furniture makeovers, so be sure to look for links to their projects at the bottom.
I describe this piece in its before state as ugly, but with beautiful lines:
Am I right?
I do love anything French provincial, but when I first spied this secretary at the thrift store, it was marked at $49. It had some issues and I didn’t feel it was worth the trouble for that price, so I left it behind. Luckily, when I returned a week later, it was marked down to $34.95 and I decided to go for it.
It had a few areas that were water damaged:
Clearly, this piece is not solid wood.
It also had this crack across the front piece:
It ended up being intact, but that maybe someone had put extra weight on the desk at one point that caused that to happen. These problem areas are what made me pass on it on the first trip.
But I came up with a plan to work with those issues!
I started this makeover with a good cleaning:
I used to just reach for the jar of wipes to clean my pieces pre-COVID, but they aren’t so easy to come by these days. I have been using White Lightning and it works so well. I just mix one TBSP of White Lightning with a half a gallon of hot water and then go to town. Look at all the dirt that came off of this piece…
It was pretty gross! I swapped out my water for clean water to rinse, and this secretary was ready for paint.
I gave it three coats of Cotton:
It’s amazing how paint erases that dated look so easily!
Now for the fun part! I found this decoupage paper on Etsy a few weeks ago when I was searching for transfers:
It is a bit thicker and larger than traditional tissue paper, so it is perfect for adding a special touch to any furniture piece.
I started by adding a coat of Clear Coat in satin with my blue sponge to the surface where I wanted to add the paper:
WHILE IT WAS STILL WET, I carefully positioned the paper where I wanted it and smoothed it in place:
You could also use Mod Podge if you have that on hand.
I used a razor blade to cut off the excess, and then smoothed out any wrinkles as best I could with this scraper:
Don’t worry about any wrinkles that remain after smoothing the best you can as they will practically disappear as the paper dries.
Then I sealed with Clear Coat in Satin:
I sanded and sealed the rest of the secretary as well. You can see more on how I paint furniture, including a video at the end HERE.
New hardware and this sweet piece was complete!
Such a charming piece now, right?
I am so thrilled with how this one turned out!
The decoupage paper camouflaged those troubled areas perfectly!
And what I love about this decoupage paper is that it gives the look and ease of transfers without the hefty price tag! These were only around $6 each. I used two sheets for this piece.
The inside had a couple of blemishes…
(Wow, it really was ugly before, wasn’t it?)
I decided on sleek Caviar for the inside:
I had to replace all the hardware because the original hardware was actually glued in place and not all of it was able to be removed unharmed.
These cup pulls came from Homegoods last year:
And the top drawer is my favorite pull from Hobby Lobby:
To line the drawers, I looked through my fabric stash and found this fun buffalo check that I actually found at the thrift store:
You can see how I line drawers with fabric in this video:
If you have trouble viewing, find it on YouTube HERE.
And that is my trash-to treasure for this month!
It’s not trash anymore!
Don’t go anywhere just yet!
My friends have more furniture makeovers for you today! Visit their projects at the links below!
1. Two Color Furniture Makeover– Petticoat JUNKtion
2. Paint Stripes Dresser– Girl in the Garage
3. Antiquing with Glaze– Salvaged Inspirations
If you’re looking for even MORE Furniture Fixer Upper Flips, you can see all of mine in one place HERE! They go all the way back to 2017!
And if you enjoyed this secretary, you might also enjoy this secretary desk I redid last year:
I’m so excited to cross another project off the list!
If you missed any so far, you can catch up at the links below:
$3 Thrift Store Headboard Repurposed
DropLeaf Table and Chairs Makeover
I’ll be back on Tuesday with a round of smalls:
UPDATE: See Painting the Smalls #10 HERE now!
Have a fantastic weekend!
Don’t Miss a Thing!
If you like what you see, there are several ways to follow along!
EMAIL * INSTAGRAM * FACEBOOK * PINTEREST * TWITTER
Christy, that is beautiful!!! I love every piece you do but you have outdone yourself on this one! Everything you chose looks perfect together. Outstanding job!!!
Thank you so much! This was a fun one to work on! XOXO
Elise Howell says
Christy! Christy! Christy! This secretary make-over is a stunner, inside and out. Your “home-runs” just keep on coming! Love subscribing to your blog/channel. Hugs from San Diego, Elise
Thank you so much, Elise! This one had lots of character to play with! XOXO
I missed this one last week. Elise took the words right out of my mouth! Stunning!!! Just…WOW!!!
Thank you so much, Stacey!! XOXO
All of your makeovers are awesome but this secretary takes the cake! What a beautiful transformation!
Aww thank you so much, Sandi!! XOXO
Vicki Lombardi says
Omgosh!!! Love love LOVE!! I pretty much love all your projects but this and the serpentine dresser in Caviar are among my favorites. Thank you for my Thursday inspiration!!
Aww thank you so much, Vicki!! This is probably one of my favorites too! Have a fantastic weekend! XOXO
Tammy Ganci says
That secretary desk came out amazing, a real beauty.
Have a great day
Thank you so much, Tammy! XOXO
Sue H Mellette says
Stunning Makeover! I love, love the decoupage pattern you used. Caviar painted on the inside of the secretary really pops against the white!. The pulls really add that vintage look. Naturally, I love how you pay attention to the inside of drawers by painting or adding fabric! Really beautiful piece. Thanks for sharing!
Thank you, Sue! This paper is so pretty! I bought a few to try, but this one won out. I’m so glad you enjoyed this one! XOXO
Absolutely beautiful I love it.
Thank you, Candy! XOXO
Freaking adorable. You are one smart cookie! How did you deal with the interior water damage? I doubt you were able to sand it down flat since it was not real wood. How did you make it look good?
Thank you, Kim! Luckily, the water damage was only on the outside! XOXO
Jane Sauder says
This is gorgeous! I love everything about it! No one would guess where this piece started from!
Thank you so much, Jane! It really is a far cry from where it started lol! XOXO
I need to clean my kitchen cabinets. Finger prints and grease, daily wear. My question is: is white lightening something to use or is that too strong. Not painting. Love the Dixie Belle products I’ve used so far. Thanks
Hi Pam! White Lightning is not for general cleaning, but more for paint prep as it is a degreaser and deglosser. XOXO
Diane A.S. Stuckart says
I have to say I’m not usually a fan of what I call the “frou-frou” shabby white look but this makeover is totally awesome. I have a cool old secretary I need to refinish (partly because my dog scratched up one side) and I am totally stealing this look! 🙂
Aww yay…I’m so glad you like it! Thank you and steal away! XOXO
Wow! What a difference! What a fantastic idea for camouflaging the damaged areas too! I have to remember that trick!
Thank you, Becky! Yes…the paper worked wonders! XOXO
Tracie Hanshew says
Just out of curiosity… when did you purchase that decoupage paper? I purchased the same paper from the same shop around that time and never received my order.
Oh no! I didn’t purchase mine from that particular shop. The Etsy shop I ordered mine from no longer has that print in stock. Have you tried to message the seller? I hope you get a resolution, and maybe I should link to a different seller! XOXO
Tracie Hanshew says
I dod and I didn’t get a response, just a refund. It was so weird. I ended up getting one from a different seller. Yours turned out beautifully!! 💚
Oh that is weird! I changed my link in the post. I wish the seller I purchased from had them in stock as she shipped quite quickly! Thank you!! XO
Tracie Hanshew says
You’re awesome!! 💚💚
Teresa Farrell says
She is BEAUTIFUL. What a transformation. I would have a really really hard time letting her go.
You are amazing. Kudos, girl.❤
Aww thanks, my friend! It looks so pretty sitting in my dining room that it will be sad to say good-bye! XOXO
Mary Smart says
Christy, this one is a stunner for sure! I would have a hard time letting this one go! That paper worked miracles.
Thank you so much, Mary! The paper worked fabulously! XOXO
Karen Jones says
Gorgeous, as usual! That is a beautiful piece! I’m glad they marked it down so you could work your magic on it. LOL!
Thanks so much, Karen! I’m happy they marked it down too! XOXO
Sometimes when I see the piece you are going to be working on, I say to myself “now how is she going to make this look good “.?. This piece turned out beautifully. The design on the front made the chest so unique, and took the age right away from the piece of furniture. This is beautiful. You outdid yourself! Beautiful!
You know, Anita…that is funny because I say that to myself sometimes too ha ha! Thank you! I am just grateful I was able to work out all the issues! XOXO
I love all your pieces and this is my new favorite! You really turned that ugly duckling into a swan. The paper is beautiful and love the choice of interior paint and fabric.
Aww yay! Thanks so much, Laura! The paint did wonders on this piece! XOXO
This one for me was a major “Wow!” How fabulous!!! Thanks for sharing and for motivating us!
Oh I love that, Kathy! Thank you!! XOXO
So beautiful! I learn some much from you. I’m so inspired 🌸
That is the best compliment ever, Rosa! Thank you!! XOXO
Roberta Menconi says
Thank you, Roberta!! XOXO
Larissa ~ Prodigal Pieces says
Thank you, my friend! XOXO
Rebecca Payne says
I simply the this makeover. Beautiful.
Thank you, Rebecca! XOXO
I never expected the secretary would turn out this beautiful. You did another amazing transformation.
I’m so glad you like the result, Jo-Ann! Thank you! XOXO
Christy, that’s one of the most fabulous transformations to date! Wow. Talk about an update! Love how you put the transfer on just that front piece of carved wood on the top drawer, and left behind it white. You are SO good at this!
Aww I appreciate that so much, Janina! Thank you!! XOXO
Tracie Hanshew says
Gorgeous! Absolutely love this!!
Thank you, Tracie!! XOXO
Oh my goodness, what a sweet makeover!!
Thank you, Wendy! XOXO
Denise Zdziennicki says
Love it Christy! That paper is so pretty and totally transformed this piece! 💙💙💙
Thank you, my dear friend! That paper is amazing! XOXO
Doreen Hill says
As always, your makeover of this secretary desk is stunning! Great idea to use the decoupage paper and fabric.
Aww thank you so much, Doreen! The decoupage paper really saved this one! XOXO
Nice save!!! Good job!!!
Thank you so much, Addie! XOXO
Dixie Lee says
I totally love this, even though I don’t do pink anymore (had lots in the house before this one!)
Thank you, Dixie Lee!! XOXO
Cate Cooper says
This is just lovely! What a great job you did. So good that it was marked down, too.
Thank you, Cate! Yes, I was very happy to see it was still there and had been marked down! XOXO
Very pretty! I really enjoyed seeing how you decoupaged on top of the wet clear coat rather than using modpodge. Brilliant! I will try this on a smaller scale jewelry box.
Thanks! Yes the clear coat worked fantastically! You could do a few smaller pieces since the size is pretty generous! XOXO
Jayne Tiehes says
You are so talented, and so kind to share all of your lovely pieces with the world!!
Aww thank you so much, Jayne! It is always a pleasure to share! XOXO
Very pretty! I’m curious about the water damage-did you have trouble getting the paper to stick over the bumps? Is there a way to get rid of water damage on a piece like this? Your work is inspiring!
Thank you, Celia! I had no issues with the paper adhering to the water-damaged areas. There is really know way to fix those areas with pressboard, unfortunately. XOXO
Christy… another winning makeover! I just shake my head in awe at your talent.
One thing though… did you repair the crack in the front at all? If so, how?
Thanks so much, Marci! I did not do anything to repair the crack first since on the other side, there were no cracks at all. It was still sturdy and intact, so I just covered over with paper! XOXO
How adorable is it now!! It just is amazing what a little paint can do. Great job! Have a good weekend 😁
Thank you so much, Rosie! Yes, paint can work miracles for sure! Enjoy your weekend too! XOXO
This has to be one of my favorite pieces of yours. I prefer the look of decoupage over transfers and don’t think you could’ve gotten such a natural, beautiful look any other way. You truly made this piece come alive.
Thank you, Chris! This was my first time using this paper and I will definitely be using it again! XOXO
Denise Cox says
Damn, girl!!! You’ve gone and done it again 😂👏👌😝😋!!! It’s gorgeous!!! I love how you left the top drawer white, but decoupaged the pull. And I’m in love with those drawer pulls! Did you not use a similar paper in the past? It looks quite familiar. What a transformation!!! This is hard for me to say (like saying you have a favorite child), but I think this piece really shines and stands out!!! 😊 This WILL NOT last long in the store… 😢😉. But that’s a good thing. Sure wish I lived closer… Happy Thanksgiving to you, your family… and to ALL of your readers… 👨👩👦🍗🥧🥂🦃
Thank you so much, Denise! This is my first time using this paper. I really loved working with it! And ha ha, this is a new favorite of mine too!! XOXO
Marcie Lovett says
Well, this one didn’t look too trashy until you got up close and personal. So much better now! The paint and decoupage make it a stunner.
Thank you, Marcie! Had it not had the water damage issues or the crack across the front, I definitely would have deemed it worth the original $49.95, but with those issues, I just couldn’t do it lol. Glad it was still there when I went back now! That paper was wonderful to work with too! XOXO
Dorothy Loose says
Christy you just knocked this out of the park. I was wondering what direction you were thinking of going in and it was such a nice surprise to see the contact paper-it was the perfect choice. Love it!
Thank you so much, Dorothy! XOXO
Cecilia from Georgia says
I bought several different decoupage tissues like yours and love how they adhere with the DB clear coat. I learned how at the the DB workshop in GA when we made trays (it was freezing but so much fun). I wish I could find some tissues that are bigger for larger pieces. Have you seen any? The desk is over the moon! XOXO
Thank you, Cecilia! I wish there were larger pieces too…so far, this is the largest I’ve seen. XOXO
Cheryl Atkinson says
Hi Christi. I received my order! You sure dont waste any time. Thank you!! You are going to laugh when I tell you I have this same Roycled paper. Thank you for the Inspiration.
Oh yay…yes, it is so nice fulfilling all my orders myself now…I can get them out super quickly! And isn’t this paper so pretty? I need to order more before it’s all sold out! XOXO
Christine Hamon says
Christy I’m sure you’ve had this question asked over and over but I’m a newby. How do you figure out the price of your pieces? Would you be willing to take a look at my piece(s) and help me out with a price?
Thank you in advance for your time,
Hi Christine! Pricing is always a challenge, but I wrote a post on it that should be helpful! You can find it here: https://www.confessionsofaserialdiyer.com/how-to-price-items-for-resale/ XOXO
Kathy Owen says
This piece is so beautiful now Christy. I would have passed on it because it was so outdated. It isn’t anymore and I love the decoupage paper. Great job as always, Kathy
Thank you, Kathy! It really was very dated before! Have a great weekend! XOXO
Sharon H says
I can not even believe that is the same ugly duckling you started with! That is like watching a magician turn around once and pull an elephant out of his vest pocket. I am giving you a standing ovation on this one!
Aww thank you so much, Sharon! It really doesn’t even look like the same piece! XOXO
Just too busy for my taste.!
Thank you for your honest feedback, Maggie! XOXO
Jen @ Girl in the Garage says
This turned out SO gorgeous, Christy! I might have passed it by too! (p.s. I noticed you have my little decorative trunk from Hobby Lobby in your queue for a makeover LOL) xo
Thank you, Jen! Oh ha ha…I sure do! I actually love it as is! XOXO
Wow! love this transformation! Amazing!! so creative and beautiful! All your flips come out amazing!!
Aww thank you so much, Hanna!! XOXO
Karen H says
Christy, that is just stunning! Really gorgeous! I’m not always a fan of patterns on furniture… but that just literally… in the two minutes it took me to read this post… may have just changed my mind! xo
Thank you so much, Karen! I agree…you can have too much sometimes! XOXO
Awesome! I just love what you did – it’s gorgeous!
Thank you, Marty!! XOXO
Kathy W F says
I’m so sorry I’m just now responding….busy time of year. What a makeover! This beautiful piece will find a new home quickly. Someone will get a nice Christmas gift! Wish it were me. LOL. Happy Thanksgiving to everyone. Quick question….I think I’ve asked before…sorry. When you use Hobby Lobby pulls do you replace the screws because they are so long? Just wonderfing how you do that? Again…beautiful glad you went back for it.
No worries, Kathy! Thank you! I’m so glad it was still there on the second trip! If the pull screws are too long, I will use a dremel-like tool from Black & Decker to cut the ends off. You can buy a metal-cutting attachment that works great. Before that, I would use a small hand saw that took a bit of effort, but did the job. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours also! XOXO
ROSE LEFEBVRE says
Love how it came out.
Thank you, Rose! XOXO
Lisa Nichols says
Just WOW! New follower and so inspired! Your work is amazing!!
Thank you so much, Lisa, and welcome!! XOXO
You sure saw something in this piece that eluded me.(I would have passed it by for sure) What a beautiful makeover, love the artistic placement of the decoupage paper. Thanks for sharing!
Thank you, Val! I did pass on it the first time, but I’m so glad I took a chance on it the second go round! XOXO
Thank you, Ruth!! This was a fun one to work on since it could only get better from where it started lol! XOXO
I will be re-doing a desk one day that used to belong to my mom. Yours is an inspiration!
Oh perfect! Good luck with yours! XO
Elizabeth Terrell says
this is ridiculously outstanding!! You should be thrilled with the outcome! Bravo!!
Thank you! This is one of my favorites! XOXO