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How to Transform Your Vintage Desk into a Nautical-Themed Masterpiece

Take an ordinary, boring vintage desk and transform it into a statement piece using decoupage paper, texture, paint, wax, and glaze.

I'm pretty sure you can find a vintage desk just like this in every small town school and library in the US. So what can you do to breathe life into a worn out, boring old tired desk? Well, I'll tell ya!

After a good cleaning inside and out I started by creating texture for the base coat. This desk was well-used and full of small scratches, dents, and dings. It was not made of solid wood that would benefit from a good sanding. Using texture is a great way to cover those areas. Many vintage pieces of furniture are made of something besides solid wood. This was no exception. Just because it's heavy does NOT mean it's solid wood! MDF, particle board, and pressed wood can be extremely heavy!

I knew I wanted to use this beautiful decoupage paper from The Painting Lady☝🏼for the top so I started with a layer of primer before applying it. Primer gave it a good base and made the background lighter, which is important when decoupaging if you want your image to stand out.

The next step was finding the right combination of paint colors to extend the scene because the paper didn't cover to the ends of the desk on each side. I gathered all the colors I had that were close to the same shades as in the paper. I had to mix several different colors to come up with some custom shades that worked.

After the texture dried I painted the body of the desk in several shades of blue and teal that were in the paper. I blended them from the top down going from light to dark. The next step was sanding back into the texture to expose the base coat color. I love the way it looks like waves or sea foam. The large clumps you see on the left and bottom are what it looks like before it's sanded back.

Since I wanted to age this desk and make it look like it had been used by a salty sea captain, I distressed the places that would normally show wear. The next step was adding dark glaze to the top and sealing it with poly. For the body I added clear and dark wax, making sure to get it into the details and crevices for a great aging effect.

These close-up photos show the grungy good detail that I love. I can imagine the salty old sea captain in his dimly lit cabin of an old weathered ship leaning against this desk. The surface is scattered with nautical charts and a worn leather logbook. Maybe there is a compass and other brass instruments that no one knows how to use anymore. Kinda like that typewriter and phone in the photo below.

As of this post, this desk can be seen in person at a shop called DIGS in Champaign, IL and it is also currently available for purchase on my website

I ship nationwide and have free local delivery.

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