Black “Lacquer” Secretary Desk

December 18, 2015

Black “Lacquer” Secretary Desk


I spotted this desk at a local auction, and knew it would be the perfect fit for a small wall nook in my office. I loved the glass doors on the top that allow for showcasing pretty things, but the drawers on the bottom were perfect for use as storage for guests since the room doubles as a bedroom. It looked to be in very bad shape cosmetically, but it was structurally sound, so I bid low and got it for $25!


The before and after are quite remarkable for a project that only took one afternoon. Keep reading to see how I did it!


Below are the tools/products I used for the project, all found at my local home improvement store. I used a wood fill pencil, sanding block, sticky rags to pick up the dust and a short Wooster brand brush – this was a great find!


But by far, the best advice I have is investing in a good quality paint. I wanted the look of a high shine lacquer, but that can take lots of coats and lots work. The Behr Marquee Interior Semi-Gloss Enamel paint is life changing. I’ll get to that later.

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I first started by sanding the entire surface area of the desk to even out as much as possible. I used a 180 grit flexible sanding block which was much easier to maneuver than a regular sand paper sheet. I then wiped the surface clean with the tacky cloth – this is a great trick to get the surface nice and clean. The last step was filling in any major gashes with a wood filling pencil. I selected a color close to the original finish, but it didn’t really matter since it would be painted over.


While the wood filler was drying, I removed the hardware and used a gilding paste to give it new life. I swear I use this on almost every project I do! It’s such a quick and easy was to get wood, metal, almost anything a beautiful gilt finish. The best part is that you can control the coverage – from hints of gold in the nooks and crannies to full on glam.


Once the wood filler was dry, I painted. And this is where I realized how much paint quality matters. ONE coat was all it took to get a rich, full coverage and glossy finish. The tiny scratches were gone, and I was left with an even and wonderful result.


 I originally painted the back a powder blue, but it was falling flat. I got this marbalized paper from a local paper store, and it gave the back wall the perfect statement I was looking for.


The wood panes were originally on the inside of the glass, but I moved them to the outside which gives them more definition and impact. It was an easy switch, simply removing the tiny metal tacks and pushing them back in on the other side.


Marlowe approves.


I’m still looking for the right piece to put on top to give it more height. I’m thinking a cool vintage birdcage? I love the hunt!


 xx Kate, Wynn & Roo

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