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No desk I try is ever quite right for me.  I’m short, and I’m an untidy worker.

The spinet desk I used in our last apartment was too constricting.  There was no room for my teacup!

The antique table I’ve been using here is better, but its one-drawer storage is inadequate.

For a long time, I didn’t have any particular solution in mind, but last month I saw a wide, shallow vanity on Craigslist that looked like it might fit the empty wall in the study.  I liked the shape, but not the white paint.  Now, normally I am all about white-painted furniture.  But the vanity table has a good bit of detail on it, and it looked very feminine and… well… a bit frivolous.  I wanted a desk with a more serious attitude.  Something that would say to me, “Sit down and get to work.”

Because I need that kind of help sometimes.

So I began stripping the paint off the top of it, to uncover the original dark finish.

The white paint had not, upon close inspection, been carefully applied to all that decorative detail.  So I decided to strip the body, too.

And then, you know, since I was working on it anyway… I might as well do the drawers.  I didn’t mind the crazing, but their veneer was starting to chip.

I still felt like Goldilocks.  I was on my third desk in as many years, but: “Not quite right.  Nope, not this way either.  How about this…”

When it was as bare as I could get it, I painted the body in ASCP French Linen.  That looked kind of anemic, so when I got out the ASPC Dark Wax for the top surface, I dark-waxed the whole thing.

Finally, it’s Just Right.

Right down to the details.

There’s plenty of room on top for my laptop, along with a cup of pens, a lamp and a plant, a slate coaster from Wales, a little dish for my phone, and a bright yellow clock.

Yes, the clock works, but I can’t tell time so it hardly matters.

Now that we’ve come this far, I may as well show you the rest of the tiny room.  Our house was built in the 1920’s by a doctor, and we’ve been told that this little room near the front door was his waiting room.  It’s hardly large enough for any practical purpose, especially when you take into account all the occupied wall space (three windows, and a wall of built-in glass-front bookcases).  We call it “the study” but really it has been Jackson’s room: his safe space, where his food and his water dish live, and where a baby gate keeps him from harm if scary people came to the door.  He runs right inside when the doorbell rings, but he doesn’t like to hang out there unless someone keeps him company.

We hung a wire shelf over the desk, to hold family photos.  This one of B’s grandmother braiding rugs seems especially right in its space…

…because that’s her braided rug on the floor.

A couple of months ago, I painted the stark white walls with the same soft ivory paint I’d used in the living room.  The tiny room’s best feature is the wall of built-in glass-front oak bookcases opposite the front windows.

I bet that doctor used to keep his Readers’ Digests in them, and the Saturday Evening Post.  And maybe some leather-bound anatomy textbooks.  And a matched set of something he ordered through the mail — the collected work of O. Henry, bound in dark green cloth covers with gilt lettering.  I see those books at flea markets all the time; some of them look unread.

I wonder if his patients read from the shelves, or brought their own reading material.  Some of them watched the street outside.  Some of them were too busy worrying to concentrate on anything else.

I keep my collection of early edition Heyer in these bookcases.

The new desk suits the space and really, I think, completes it: now it’s useful for Jackson, and useful for me, and pleasant to look upon.

Of all the rooms in the house, I have used this one the least — but I think I’m going to miss it the most.


Project linked at Miss Mustard Seed’s Furniture Feature Friday link party.

Furniture Feature Fridays

11 Responses to “I Am the Goldilocks of Desks”

  1. Adam Z. says:

    That’s beautiful! I love the texture in the body and drawers. And I like the way it contrasts with the dark top.

    Your furniture projects occasionally make me wish I had space for (yet another) ongoing project in my life. But perhaps one day. When I get tired of beer.

  2. love your desk, i would love to feature it if this would be ok with you please let me know.

  3. What a lovely room! The desk/vanity is gorgeous–the new color is very elegant.

  4. christina says:

    WOW! That is one beautiful desk!

  5. How do you get the dark wax to blend so perfectly? Mine comes out in blotches even when using a brush-what is the secret 😉

    • Elizabeth says:

      Cristine, this was the first time I’ve applied dark wax over paint, so I don’t think I have much basis for offering advice! I can tell you that I was WAY more careful with the body of the desk than with the top, and I used very little wax on my brush, and buffed a lot. I really wish I had given it a coat of clear wax first; I think that would have helped me blend in the dark.

      The Annie Sloan stockist from whom I bought the wax was very helpful; I suggest asking in person if you live near one. And if you don’t, my local stockist, The Purple Painted Lady, has a How To section on her blog at http://www.thepurplepaintedlady.com!

  6. You found the perfect use for this room and what a wonderful desk you created.
    It was a lot of work, but it sure seem worth it now!

  7. This piece is beautiful. You did a great job.

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