make me pretty – secretary desk for the roosevelt

July 21, 2011

I have been known to trade graphic design work for furniture. I like to barter. That is how I acquired this desk. It has been sitting in my garage for a while because I knew the first thing I needed to do to it was strip it and I wasn’t about to go near those crazy chemicals when I was pregnant.

So when my friend, who is opening a new restaurant, asked me if I had a desk that might work in the space I knew it was meant to be. I was really considering keeping this one but it is going to look so perfect in the Roosevelt!

Here is the before: So many layers of white paint!

This shot is in the middle of stripping (outside in the 98 degree Richmond summer soup!)

Oddly, there was a lot of gilt gold inside of the desk.

Here she is totally stripped and sanded.

Next I put two very thin coats of cream paint on. There is a lot of ornate, intricate carving in the desk, but it is very shallow – so I wanted to make sure you would still be able to see it at the end.

I then mixed a glazing medium with a dark teal paint. I painted it on the desk, really hoping to get it into all the cracks to accentuate the carving. It worked out, but unfortunately it also left blue streaks on the surface. So I got out the fine sandpaper and got to work. The finish I was left with was super distressed but I love it.

To make it a little more “darling octopus” I painted the inside of the drawers, and the cubbies in the desk, the same dark teal. I also found a really pretty fabric with the same colors and put it on the face of the cubbies.

You should go visit my desk, and more importantly the Roosevelt, when they open later this month!

PS – I also designed their logo! Check out more of my graphic design skills here!

Update!! Check these awesome pictures of my desk in the super lovely Roosevelt. All these photos were taken by John Murden. Thanks John!

PS- I got to eat at the Roosevelt a couple weeks ago and it was so amazing! The food and the atmosphere. I know I might be biased, but I’m not the only one saying good things. I actually haven’t heard one single bad thing!







  1. My husband, son and I went to the Roosevelt for dinner last week. I wasn’t sure if I was more excited to try their food or see the desk you created. Both were terrific.

  2. I just found you via Pinterest. How absolutely lovely. Interestingly enough, I am addicted to Citristrip and how it lifts paint off in ribbons. In the case of this really beautiful desk, had all the paint been lifted, it wouldn’t have the character you created. Someday, if I ever get from Annapolis down to Richmond, your would also love to see the Roosevelt and more importantly, your work. Beautiful job.

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