Thursday, September 5, 2013

Sassy Secretary Desk

I love cool furniture projects. I mean, taking something ugly and making it beautiful? That's amazing. It's something I never would thought I could do. I follow many blogs that have writers with incredible ideas. One of those blogs is Sarah M. Dorsey Designs. She makes some absolutely stunning pieces - and the rooms she pulls together amaze me. She was part of a "Creating with the Stars" challenge and the piece she made for them was a show stopper. I mean, I could not stop going back to look at it. 

And she showed us the before - I was shocked, how did something so plain and ordinary end up looking so fabulous? It was a design miracle. As I was needing a hutch to store mason jars and hosting stuffs, I thought a piece like hers might just be the perfect solution. I began to keep my eyes open for a rough before piece. And by keep my eyes open, I mean scour Craigslist's free section every day and peer down all alleys looking for free furniture.  

One day I came across this beauty for free on Craigslist. It was out in an alley 5 minutes from my house, almost behind our church. I sent my sister (who lives a few blocks away) to check and see if it was in decent condition before I dragged Paul over there after work. 

This was a "fun" experience for a few reasons. Firstly, Paul thought it was super ugly. He's right. Second, we have a small Rav4, not a truck. This piece is huge. There was no way it was going to fit into the Rav and we don't have a rack on the top of our car. What to do. Though it was pretty close to our house, we definitely couldn't walk it - and remember, I have a bad back. We'd grabbed a blanket and a rope/string, so Paul decided we should try to tie it to the top of the car and drive home real slow. So that's what we did. It was terrifying. I was certain it was going to come crashing forward the whole way home. The stress!!! I wanted to take a picture but Paul was already super stressed, so I didn't want to push my luck. There may have been some warnings issued from him that cemented that reasoning. 

Anyways, we got it into the house and that was that. Due to busyness it sat in the garage for about a week. Then it was time to sand! I had another project on the go, so I worked on that project and Paul sanded this one for me. 

Our workspace / garage. 
This project meant our car was booted into the driveway all summer. Totally worth it though.

Then the two pieces sat there for a month until I had time to prime. I spent one evening priming and both of my projects. 


I took off the cupboard doors, and in retrospect I wish I'd taken off the drop down door as well. Sadly, I ended up painting the hardware and while that's fine, it would look a lot better if I'd taken that time and salvaged it. Oh well, now I know! It's my first project and I was on a steep learning curve!

Then the piece sat for an even longer time - another two weeks passed before I had time to stencil the backing. I forgot to take a picture of this infuriating step. Firstly, we bought a piece of board (I think MDF) at Home Depot for $13 and they cut it to our exact measurements. I found my stencil at Micheal's in a package - a grouping by Martha Stewart. I've never stenciled before and oh man it's hard. I couldn't get it to be the same, or even remotely uniform. It took me four hours to do the back. UGH. While most people really like it and don't mind the not awesomeness of it, I know how sophisticated and classy the example piece looks, so I notice it, big time. 

At this stage I was disapointed - the primed shelf looked weird, the stenciling sucked (in my opinion) and I was losing hope. 

Then almost a month later I had time to paint! My amazing paint guru, Anna, at Home Depot Cambie Street had helped me pick my colors and steered me in the direction of a gorgeous white paint. I painted coat one, let it dry for 4 hours.

At this stage my excitement was starting to come back. It looked good. Then Paul and I tag team painting the second coat and then it was done! We wrangled it up the stairs, attached the back and found a home for it. Then I, excitedly, filled it with what it needed to contain and voila! She was done. I was in like. Not quite love, but like. The rest of the house, however, loves it. As do any guests that come over. So it's only, perfectionist me that is struggling. I do have to say though, it's a thousand times better than what it looked like originally, it was a great learning project, I love it in our home and we put the back up knowing I might find a print that I like better and switch it out. Phew. 

Our house is all greys and browns and whites (I talked about this before during our entryway revamp) so this helps add a much needed pop, tying into the color of the new entryway shelving. 

My stuff looks so pretty in it!

And last, but not least, because everyone loves a before and after shot:

Yessiree, she's come a long ways!

And those are the details of my Sassy Secretary Desk Revamp. 

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