Monday, May 30, 2016

A Vintage Maple Student Desk in Blue

I think we've all seen this desk before, in fact, I'm willing to bet about 92% of us did our homework at one c.1994. I'm pretty sure I had one, and I see them all the time now on craigslist, at tagsales, and at the goodwill. No one wants these cute little desks any more, so this is my argument on behalf of the classic student desk.

         I picked this piece up from one of my new favorite top secret furniture sources and it needed some TLC. But here's what I liked about it; it's solid rock maple, always a good thing, and when can you find solid wood furniture new on the market these days?? Never. I like the asymmetry of it, with one bank of drawers on the left side, and the pretty turned legs on the right. It's got a bit more going on visually than a double pedestal desk. Being that it's solid maple and nicely made, all the drawers already worked perfectly and it was nice and sturdy, always good as it allows me to focus my energy purely on the surfaces and finish work.

         So to give this cutie an updated look I first sanded off the old chipped caramel colored finish on the top. The top had worn down to the bare wood in several places, and without the old varnish to protect it, it had gotten water stains all over it, but underneath all those ghastly black splotches I could see a spectacular figured maple top, definitely worth saving. So I used wood bleach, which works like magic, and the water marks were completely gone in under a half an hour. I then stained the top a dark walnut to give it a rich deep tone, and sealed it until it was glassy smooth. It's absolutely flawless, again, when do you ever see surfaces like that on new furniture?? Pottery barn? Restoration Hardware? Nope, never. This is the real deal, unique and breathtaking.

         Once the top was all set I got to work on the case. I filled the old holes from the original dumpy faux Chippendale drawer pulls, and swapped them out for salvaged antique knobs on the top drawer, and salvaged antique bail brass pulls on the other drawers. I recolored all the pulls to a dark dark dark gray that's almost black, but not quite. Much more sophisticated than the original pulls!

            Finally I sanded the case to prep for paint. I painted the desk in a new custom mixed blue that's kind of a slate on steroids that I've named 'Deep Shoal'. I love the color, especially against the warm espresso colored maple top. yummy. I lightly distressed the paint with 80 grit sandpaper, then sanded all the paint with 220 grit to make it satin smooth, and then sealed it with my homemade dark wax.

             Oh! and I almost forgot! What would a sweet vintage desk be without an even sweeter antique chair to go with it! The chair is a c.1890 oak press back with woooooonderful carving. I didn't want the set to be matchy-matchy so I mixed a separate paler blue for the chair.

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