Hello lovelies!! I’ve been getting ready for some fun things happening around here this weekend (baby shower, Mom’s birthday party), but I told you I would still have a thrifty makeover to share, and so here I am! This vintage secretary makeover turned out so sweet that I knew y’all wouldn’t mind seeing this one once again!
I describe this piece in its before state as ugly, but with beautiful lines:
Am I right?
It is ugly AND beautiful lol. I have a soft spot for anything French provincial, but when I first spied this secretary at the thrift store, it was marked at $49. It had too many issues for that price, so I left it behind.
Luckily, when I returned a week later, it was marked down to $34.95, so I grabbed the tag and claimed 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 though and only cracked on the outside veneer. This was the main reason I passed on it the first time.
But guess what is going to save this piece? Decoupage paper!
I’ve included a few affiliate links so you can find the products I love.
But first, I gave it a good cleaning with White Lightning:
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 the exterior three coats of Cotton:
It’s amazing how paint erases that dated look so easily, right?
Adding Decoupage Paper
Now for the fun part! I found this decoupage paper on Etsy a while back (I no longer see it available but it is called Queen Bee by Roycycled Treasures):
I don’t use decoupage paper that often as I really enjoy the ease of transfers, but decoupage paper is another great option.
This paper is 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 everything 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.
Vintage Secretary Makeover After
New hardware and this sweet piece was complete!
It has so much more personality now!
The decoupage paper camouflaged those water damaged areas on the drawers perfectly!
I used two sheets of this decoupage paper for this piece.
The inside had its own issues…
(Wow, it really was ugly before, wasn’t it?)
I decided on sleek Caviar for the inside:
All the hardware needed to be replaced 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 that I use often from Hobby Lobby:
I like how the pulls blend right in and let the pretty paper be the focal point.
You know I had to give the drawers some love too.
I lined them with 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.
This was definitely a trash-to treasure project!
It’s not trash anymore!
If you enjoyed this secretary, you might also enjoy this secretary desk I redid, also with decoupage paper:
Meet me back here on Tuesday where I’ll be sharing what I did with the hutch of that piece:
UPDATE: No need to wait, see what I did with it 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
Get FREE SHIPPING on all orders over $50. No code needed at checkout! Orders under $50 always enjoy $8 flat rate shipping! Most orders ship same or next business day!
Mary Kaiser says
I love how that turned out! I loved the buffalo check in the drawers, and the black inside of the top! I just always love black with white, and then the touch of pink in the florals make it just beautiful! Have a fun weekend with your family!
Thank you so much, my friend! I too love classic black and white together, and you can pair any color with that combination as an accent! Thank you for the wishes for a fun weekend… Looking forward to it! XOXO
Michele M. says
OH. MY. GOSH!!!! That is just mind boggling how you do these transformations, Christy. My word that is gorgeous. Just wow. Sigh.
I’m so glad you like it, Michele! Thank you so much! I really enjoy the pieces that need a ton of work because you can only go up lol! Have a great weekend! XOXO
Michelle Barrett says
You do such beautiful work!!! I’m doing some pieces for myself. I eventually want to have my own business like this when my girls are grown and I get them thru school. Do you have any advice how to get started financially?? Thank you. I love your work ❤️❤️❤️❤️thank you Michelle
I appreciate that so much, Michelle, thank you! This is something you could start at any time. Start with just one or two pieces and offer them on Facebook marketplace. Then you could take the money you make from those couple of pieces and put it into more supplies. Once you do get started, it’s easy to want to buy a ton of things to redo. But I would try to work through the items you have on hand before going in search of more because it’s really easy to become a hoarder lol! I wish you all the best! XOXO
Jackie C says
This is BeAuTiFuL!! I LOVE this one, you did good Sis. 🥰🥰
Aww thank you so much, my friend!! XOXO
Deanna Casto says
Beautiful! I’m back into creating again. After moving north last February, I’ve finally gotten to a stopping point with my home, AND I FINALLY found an amazing shop where my pieces should do well. Thank goodness! You keep going and I’ll keep watching. Thanks for the inspiration😊
Thanks, Deanna! Glad to hear you are back at it! And fantastic that you found a great shop…best of luck with that! XOXO
Sue Carole McCombs says
Thank you so very much for your inspiration, great shop and guidance in furniture painting and upgrading. I am having such a great time since I started this in August of 2022. Found that I can donate finished pieces to people who are aging out of foster care and setting up their own homes, apartments, etc. This really made me happy as I now have an outlet for my made over treasures.
Oh my goodness, I love that idea so much, and I know those kiddos will be so thrilled to receive such blessings! Enjoy!! XOXO
WOW!!! Gorgeous, I absolutely love it. Thank you for sharing!
Thanks so much, Candy! XOXO
OH MY! What a swan from the ugly duckling! And the pop of black/white checkered drawer lining! Amazing! One look at this and I’m ready for Spring! Amazing, Christy! Thank you for the inspiration today!
Aww thank you so much, Peggy! This one sure needed the help lol…spring can’t come soon enough! XOXO
Eileen Napolitano says
Hello. The vintage secretary desk…was that wood or particle board?
Hi Eileen! I think the drawer fronts and the drop down part on the top were all some sort of particle board. XO
Denise Zdziennicki says
So feminine and gorgeous Christy! Pinned! XOXO
Thank you so much, my sweet friend! XOXO
Lynn Libby says
This one is really spectacular, Christy!
Thank you so much, Lynn! XOXO
Joanne D. says
Oh my! One of my favorite pieces. I passed up a Secretary desk a few years ago at our Goodwill. Kicking myself ever since! We are in Florida for the month – a little closer to you but NOT close enough!
Thank you, Joanne! It stinks when you pass on a great piece. I did that with a mini hutch no too long ago! Enjoy that warm sunshine!! XOXO
Catherine Lennox says
Where do I find the cotton paint? What is the brand?
Love & Appreciate what you do!
Hi Catherine! Thank you so much! If you see any blue text throughout my posts, those are clickable links that take you right to those products. The Cotton is from Dixie Belle and I am a retailer for them, so I link to all of their products in my shop. You can visit my Etsy shop online here: https://www.etsy.com/shop/TheSerialDIYer Cotton is right at the top in my shop under featured items. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out! XOXO
Gosh, I love this one! I don’t remember it from before so I’m glad you reshared it! Beautiful decoupage paper. The pulls are perfect too! Great transformation!
Thank you, Cecilia! I’m glad I reshared it too since you and a couple others missed it on the first go. I really enjoy seeing these damaged pieces come back to life! XOXO
Mary C King says
I really like this one. It reminds me of the long dresser and round side table you did a couple of years ago.
Thank you, Mary! Oh yes…those made such a sweet set! XOXO
Caroline Acuna says
It looks spectacular! Definitely given me some inspiration thanks!
You are so welcome, Caroline, thank you! XOXO
Fran Blunt says
Absolutely Fabulous. The use of decoupage has taken it to a new level.
I’m so glad you enjoyed it, Fran! Thank you! XOXO
Wow! That looks amazing. What a smart & beautiful way to salvage that ugly old thing!🥰😍
Did the paint make the water damage worse? Does the texture show through the paper at all?
Thank you, Cyndy! That decoupage paper worked some miracles ha ha! The paint did not worsen the damage and the texture wasn’t noticeable at all with the print on the paper. Win win! XOXO
Caye Cooper says
Well done, Christy!! I really love this piece. What a good idea to cover up those blemishes that would otherwise be a p.i.t.– (bum). lol
Ha ha thank you, Caye! That pretty paper rescued this one for sure! XOXO
Christy you sure took this up more than a notch! Many who would have rejected this before would find their eye drawn to it’s new found beauty! It would easily be the main event in any room and rightfully so. Thanks for sharing your creative gifts you are truly an inspiration!
Aww that means so much, Cindy, thank you! I even rejected this one on the first go ha ha! I’m so glad I took a chance on it on the next visit though! XOXO
Gorgeous!! So we’ll done! I have a similar desk but it has a roll top instead of a door. Hate to loose the roll top so I keep putting off the refurbish. Any suggestions greatly appreciated. Thanks!
Thank you so much, Roxann! I always pass on the roll tops as they seem like they wouldn’t be the easiest to tackle, so unfortunately, I don’t have any experience to share. I wish you all the luck with it though! XOXO
Wow!! Love it!
Thank you so much, my friend! XOXO
Wow! another fabulous finish!!! I love it!
Thank you so much, Lani! XOXO
I think this is my favorite piece yet! Anything French Provincial is a win in my book, but you really outdid yourself with the finished piece.
Oh yay! Thank you so much, Janet!! I’m a sucker for all things French Provincial too…those curves! XOXO
Rose LEFEBVRE says
Thank you so much, Rose! XOXO
Tracey A says
Thank you, Tracey! XOXO
Wow! It turned out beautifully.
Thanks so much, Lizzy! XOXO
JACQUE VOTH says
So you didn’t have to do anything to the water damaged areas, other than covering them with the paper? If you didn’t cover with the paper, how would you have fixed this area?
Hi Jacque! I didn’t do anything special before adding the paper. I don’t believe there is any way to actually fix this kind of water damage. Covering it was the only option. XO
Beautiful transformation. Love the paper you chose, the buffalo check looks lovely in the drawers and the black paint looks so sleek. You made this desk look stunning.. someone is going to be very lucky to own it.😍
Thank you so much, Lorri! These neglected pieces are always the most rewarding to work on! XOXO