Secretary “Cottage” Desk Makeover

Secretary Desk Makeover Secretary Cottage Desk Makeover

Secretary “Cottage” Desk Makeover

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This week has been a very productive one and let me say it feels so good.  Today I am sharing my secretary desk from hell. LOL! Yes I said that. This thing gave me a run for my money but I did not stop until I finally was able to finish it.

It has been a while now since I have wanted a secretary like this and I was able to finally pick one up from FB Marketplace. From the start I knew I wanted to give it a make over.  I was not fond of the dark stain and I had seen several online that others had painted lighter and I wanted to try it out for myself. 

Here is what it looked like when I purchased it. It had a finial at the top but I removed it from transport and then I ended up liking it without it. 

Secretary Desk Makeover BEFORE Secretary Cottage Desk Makeover

When I first began to redo this desk, I was reached out to by a company who wished to send me a sample of their furniture paint that was a one and done deal. They assured me their paint would need no primer and minimal prep.

Since they had great reviews and many people used it, I thought I would try it out. Unfortunately it did NOT work so well for me. There was severe bleed through with this piece. I am not sure whether it was the paint, the age of the secretary, the type of wood or finish that did this, but it was pretty bad and I had gotten a but frustrated. 

I had painted furniture before and always used an oil based primer especially when not using chalk paint and I knew better. But sometimes you just have to try things out and learn.

So after I went through all of that I decided to use my trusty primer to seal all of the bleed-through. This is what I use for my dark furniture before I paint. 


Screen Shot 2021 03 12 at 12.25.05 PM Secretary Cottage Desk Makeover


Once the primer was dry I sanded everything with an orbital sander to make sure if was nice and smooth. But then came my next mishap.

Secretary Desk Makeover 1 Secretary Cottage Desk Makeover


I tried to use a new spray gun to paint the secretary (thinking it would be quick and give me a smooth finish). While I followed directions it didn’t come out so well. The paint came out super splotchy and uneven everywhere. There were huge globs of paint in sections so I decided to stop. 

So here I am trying to sand every detail smooth again. 

Secretary Desk Makeover 2 Secretary Cottage Desk Makeover

Oh, the horror. Another life lesson I guess…. just go with what you know… for now. 

I used Glidden paint for this project in a semi-gloss (which is great for furniture since it makes it super wipeable). It’s a light gray color. 

Secretary Desk Makeover 6 Secretary Cottage Desk Makeover

I used an angled sash brush for the corners and a foam roller for the flat and smooth areas. 


Secretary Desk Makeover 7 Secretary Cottage Desk Makeover

I wanted to add a little extra character by adding some beadboard that I had left over from my kitchen renovation and apply it to the back of the shelves.

The Latino Engineer helped me with cutting them and I installed them.

Secretary Desk Makeover 3 Secretary Cottage Desk Makeover

I used liquid nails and a nail gun to install. 

Secretary Desk Makeover 4 Secretary Cottage Desk Makeover

One thing you need to make sure when you do something like this, is that the lines match up as you move from one shelf section to another. This will make it look like one solid piece of bead-board instead of 3. Plus the lines lining up will look so much better. 

Make sure to caulk all of the edges of the bead-board so that it looks seamless. 

Secretary Desk Makeover 5 Secretary Cottage Desk Makeover

I wanted the piece to have a two-toned look so I painted the beadboard white. And while it’s hard to tell in the images, the secretary is painted in 2 different colors.

Secretary Desk Makeover 10 Secretary Cottage Desk Makeover

Finally, I wanted to reuse the old hardware so  I decided to spray paint them black. But then after putting them back on I didn’t like them so I removed them again. This time I spray painted them a copper (hammered) metallic color.

I am so glad I changed them. The black was just too stark.

Secretary Desk Makeover 8 Secretary Cottage Desk Makeover

Then lastly it was time to style. I added a mix of books and things I already had on hand along with some of my previous DIYs. 

Secretary Desk Makeover 9 Secretary Cottage Desk Makeover

I love the old key that came with the secretary and the lighter color of the secretary now accentuates the little key. 

Secretary Desk Makeover 12 Secretary Cottage Desk Makeover

How many DIYs can you spot here? ?

Secretary Desk Makeover 13 Secretary Cottage Desk Makeover

Leaving the original handles allowed me to keep this makeover really inexpensive. 

Secretary Desk Makeover 14 Secretary Cottage Desk Makeover

I removed the doors from the top (but kept them in case I wish to do something with them in the future). 

Secretary Desk Makeover 11 Secretary Cottage Desk Makeover

I love the look this secretary has now. It still has that vintage look but it has that nice soft cottage feel. The bead-board gave it that extra detail and it’s completely functional still which is great! 

I placed it next to my fireplace and I love the location. 

Secretary Desk Makeover reveal Secretary Cottage Desk Makeover

Let me know what you think! I worked on some other items during the time I was remaking this secretary and you are welcome to check them out below. 

Finishing Up DIY Projects

As always you can PIN this or share with a friend who would enjoy. 

Secretary Desk Makeover Secretary Cottage Desk Makeover


I will see you next time.

Until then… adios! 

Yami Signature Secretary Cottage Desk Makeover

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  1. I love your finished result! Absolutely beautiful. I’m currently in the process of painting one. Did you paint the inside of the desk? Looking for any tips on that!

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