Friday, April 12, 2013

The Huntley Desk

As I continue to share projects with you, I’d like to let you know a bit about my background.  But instead of dumping a long history on you, I thought I’d just let little bits dribble out at a time! 

I currently work from home and have periods of time when I am not involved with my job, but it is important I remain at my desk.  Hmmm, how shall I spend my time (productively) during those lulls?

Craigslist, baby, Craigslist!  I stalk it throughout the day, refreshing quite frequently.  Much to my surprise, this beautiful mahogany desk appeared

She had enjoyed better days, but her structure looked good.  Oh dear…no phone number in the CL listing so I fired off an email.  The listing was only 15 minutes old when I first spotted it.  Certainly I’ll be getting a call in response to my email. I waited for 90 whole minutes and had not received a reply.   It seemed like an eternity!  I sent another email.  “I don't mean to be a nudge, but I see the ad is still up.  Are you currently talking to someone else about this item or is it still available?”  Fortunately, the seller responded by letting me know others had been in contact with her, but no one had set up a time to come look at it.  Moral of the story, don’t assume! It’s okay to be a little forward!  Needless to say, this lovely desk came to live with us!

What do we know about pieces with the old dark red mahogany stains?  Shellac ‘em!  Or else put up with bleed through!  

See how shiny she is?  That's from a quick coat of shellac.  

I stripped and sanded the top (sorry no pictures!) and flipped her upside down on my work bench.  I find I get into all of the nooks and crannies much more thoroughly when the pieces are upside down.

I knew I wanted to apply clear and dark wax after she was painted so I gave her a very rough paint job.  It allows the wax to settle in the roughness of the paint and adds some character to the finished piece. 

After painting, she gets a coat of clear wax and then some distressing around the edges. And now for the "sludge".  I don’t do well with straight dark wax, so I mixed clear and dark wax together to create a 'sludge'. I applied it with my dark wax brush. This helpful tip is from StoneGable blog.  Here's the link for the tutorial.  It's a great site, by the way...

I learned a wonderful tip from Christen at  Apply the dark wax and then use some steel wool to lightly pull it off.  That tip has made such a difference in my technique.  She has a good video if you want to take a look.

I flipped over the vanity and gave her curvy top a good coat of Minwax Dark Walnut.  A few coats of polyacrylic and she is ready for adoption

This was my first stab at refinishing and I think it turned out well.  Another case of taking something old and breathing new life into it.
She was adopted by a lovely young woman who will be using it as a vanity.  

It may seem odd my posts include so many acknowledgments to others.  I've learned a great deal from these folks and I would feel guilty not giving credit where credit is due!


  1. Your desk looks great in white, I also like the mirror hanging over it! I found a similar one that I painted in French Linen:
    Stephanie :)

  2. Stephanie,

    Thanks for the nice words! I just commented on your desk. It really turned out beautifully!
    Thanks for stopping by...I'm new to this blog post stuff!


  3. Another fab job! Am I right in assuming that you are Robin? I personally am glad of your giving credit to other bloggers for their tutorials, as I've only recently started learning about furniture restoration too, and am like a sponge at the moment - soaking up all the knowledge I can.

    Judi in the UK

  4. Judi,

    Wouldn't it be great if all of the tutorials, and other information were available in one place for all of us who are learning about the art of furniture restoration? Hmmm...maybe a new project for me?
    And yes, I am Robin. Thanks for your kind words. I find them encouraging. :)

  5. Hi,
    I am looking for my grandfather's desk that was taken and may have been sold on Craigslist. Did you find it near the Grand Rapids MI area? There were a few discolations and marks on the top right of the desktop. The drawers were deep and slightly curved. Please get back to me. I would buy it back. It would mean the world to find his desk again. 616.821.6769

    1. So sorry to hear about your grandfather's desk. This was purchased in Southeast Virginia and it was over 3 years sorry. I hope you find it....

  6. I have this same desk , full size bed ( headboard footboard ) and dresser ... any idea on value I could sell the set for ? Thanks jw

    1. Someone on the internet called ask me was trying to look up what the what they're worth cuz I had pictures and serial numbers but I haven't heard anything back if you can help me about how much these things was worth for selling it would be appreciated