furniture painted sponsored

The Great Secretary Makeover

*I was provided the paint and wax used in this project free of charge in exchange for a post demonstrating their use.  The project and opinions are my own.*

My Great-grandmother was an amazing woman.  She was full of spirit and fun.  I didn’t get to know her very well, as she passed away when I was only 8 years old, but I have memories of going to the zoo with her and spending time with her at my Grandmother’s house.

The older I get, the more I cherish the connections I can maintain with those who have gone before.  I appreciate their sacrifices on my behalf a little better, and I try to keep their memories and stories alive.  That’s why, when my Aunt offered to let me have this secretary of my Great-grandmother’s, I was thrilled.  It’s a beautiful piece and a tangible way for me to keep her memory close.

 However, the wood stain was not my favorite.  It’s a bit dated- the picture doesn’t do justice to the greenish 70’s hue of the wood.   And the whole piece was a bit too dark for my home.  I have been wanting to paint it for years, but because it has so much sentimental value, I was afraid of ruining it.  When I was contacted by Annie Sloan Unfolded to try their Chalk Paint® Decorative Paint by Annie Sloan, I knew it was finally time to tackle this special piece.

I thought about going with a bold color, but since I already have a pretty bright piece in this room, I decided to stick with something a bit more neutral.  I used Old White as the main color for the secretary, but I couldn’t resist adding a bit of oomph with a bright yellow- in this case English Yellow.

 I only wanted a bit of the yellow to show through, so instead of painting the entire piece yellow, I just painted the places I wanted the accent color to show through.  Once the yellow was dried, I painted the entire piece with the Old White.  I followed the advice of a friend with much more experience than I and while the white was still wet, wiped off the areas I wanted the yellow to show with a wet baby wipe.  I used A LOT of wipes, but I love that it allowed much more of the yellow to show through than would have if I had allowed it to dry and sanded the white off.  
I ended up painting two coats of the white because the green cast of the original stain was still peeking through the first coat.

I had a hard time deciding how to treat the inside of the main cabinet.  I decided to paint just the back yellow and the sides and top and bottom white.  I love the bold statement of all that yellow in the back.
Once the entire piece was painted and dry, I took a very fine grit sand paper and lightly sanded the edges.  I wanted just a bit of the wood to show through, but not a ton.  Then I used the soft clear wax and did one coat over the whole piece.  I wanted this piece so have a little softer feel, so I followed up the first coat of wax with a light coat of the soft dark wax, focusing on the edges, corners and inside the detail work on the cabinet doors.  I didn’t want it too dark, just a bit of an aged patina.  I followed that with one last coat of clear wax over the whole piece to knock down the dark wax a hair and seal it really well.  The first time I painted furniture I was worried about the waxing part, but it’s really one of my favorite steps of the whole process.  I’m amazed every time at the beautiful, soft finish it gives the piece.

I’m so grateful to finally give this piece the makeover it deserved! 🙂  It is bright and happy and lightens up my front room.  I love the hints of yellow throughout.  The Chalk Paint ® was so easy to use and apply.  I love that I didn’t have to prep the piece other than cleaning it well before starting.  I’m a big fan of the soft, lovely finish the paint and soft wax combination gives the furniture.

The writing desk has to be one of my favorite parts.  I love those three yellow drawers.  I kept all the original hardware on the secretary.  I think the aged bronze finish works perfectly with the colors I chose.
Who knew furniture painting could solve so many problems all at once?  I lightened up my living room, conquered my fear of painting and waxing furniture, and kept the memory of my great-grandmother alive all in one fell swoop!  So, now that you know how easy it is to use Chalk Paint® Decorative Paint by Annie Sloan, what are you going to paint first?  I have a table downstairs that’s just begging for some color…or the kitchen chairs…or the bar stools…  I guess I better get busy! 🙂


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  • Kara
    May 23, 2014 at 2:15 pm

    Oh Amy, it is just gorgeous! I love all the fun accessories inside too. Nice job my friend!

  • Ronda Batchelor
    May 23, 2014 at 4:41 pm


  • Mary Miller
    May 24, 2014 at 11:26 am

    Such a great project! I might just have to give something like this a try on a "boring" hutch I have. As usual, Amy, you inspire!

  • Charis
    June 27, 2014 at 3:29 pm

    This looks great! Do you have any tips on applying the wax please as it's still the step I most dread
    Thanks for the inspiration!