How to turn a beat up vintage French cabinet into a beauty!
Several months ago, I stumbled upon a fabulous French Provincial secrétaire at the Habitat ReStore in our area. We were there looking for replacement tile for our bathroom renovation and I briefly looked at the secrétaire as I walked past it. I made the comment to hubby that I couldn’t believe no one had bought it, but we were in a hurry, so we left without purchasing it.
I couldn’t stop thinking about it, so the next morning, over coffee, I told hubby that I couldn’t get that sweet French Provincial secrétaire out of my head. And, like the good husband he is, he offered to drive back the 40 miles to get it for me!
The French secrétaire had such pretty details, and fabulous curvy legs. I fell in love with it when I saw it, even though it had seen better days. Once I got it home and was able to inspect it more thoroughly, I realized it was in worse shape than I had originally thought.
It was dirty and dusty, and though it was solid wood and heavy, it had some water damage to one side, which had resulted in some warped wood. It looked as though it had been sitting in an outbuilding somewhere and had been exposed to the elements, so I decided to give it a makeover with my favorite paint Pure & Original Classico.
The first thing I did was remove the hardware, then wiped away all of the dirt, dust, and grime so I could begin painting.
I started by first painting with a base coat of the color Elephant Skin on the outside, and Steel Blue on the inside.
After my base coats dried, I began layering with the lighter colors, Polar Blue, and Bone on the exterior.
I left the interior in Steel Blue with no other colors added, because I wanted to create some major contrast between the outside and the inside. I painted the outside with a combination of techniques, dry brushing, and spraying with water to give a thin glazed look, achieving the layered finish that I love.
Once I had the layers looking the way I wanted, I used my homemade glaze and a small artist’s brush to add antiquing to the details, nooks, and crannies. Adding shadows with glaze or dark wax helps to “age” a piece and adds depth so that your piece of furniture doesn’t look flat and one dimensional.
After the glaze dried, I added the finishing touch….Pure & Original Italian Wax. I love using this wax for a beautiful finish. It’s so easy to use, and after buffing, the Italian wax leaves a silky, subtle sheen.
Here is our sweet French Provincial secrétaire after her makeover!
I love the way this pretty French Secrétaire turned out!
It has such a light feel to it now, and the paint hides it’s imperfections resulting from sitting out in the weather.
Reusing the original hardware, I gave it new life by gilding it with Rub-N-Buff gilding paste in color Gold Leaf.
Using my homemade glaze in the recessed areas really helped to define all of the details. It gives it just the right amount of “aged patina”.
Luckily, the original key was taped to an inside drawer when we found the cabinet at the Restore.
I love dressing up a cabinet with a pretty tassel, so I tied the key to this fleur de lis tassel that I’ve had stored for a couple of years. I think it was originally used in our Christmas decor years ago, but it now makes the perfect decoration on the secrétaire.
Remember that I painted the inside a different color? A gorgeous blue, called Steel Blue?
It creates a bit of drama when the desk front is opened to reveal that stunning color.
I had so much fun decorating the inside with old French books, a vintage loving cup filled with a pretty blue dried hydrangea, a couple of old sacred hearts, a metal crown, and an antique French clock.
I collect antique French documents, so I added a few of those, as well as a small packet of love letters. Over the last thirty years, hubby has written me many love letters, all of which I’ve saved. I keep them tied with pretty velvet ribbons, and tucking a few of them into one of the secrétaire’s cubby holes makes me smile every time I see them.
I hope you have enjoyed seeing the transformation of this neglected French secrétaire!
It’s amazing what paint can do to breath new life into an old timeworn piece of furniture.
*The paint for this project was provided by Pure & Original, however all opinions are 100% my own.
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