Tag Archives: flea market find

Salvaged Secretary Dresser

We’ve finally finished our secretary! To remind you, we bought this at the Raleigh flea market from some guy who said he cleans out old barns for people, and he found this in one of them. It was pretty rough to start out (with lots of icky spiders inside it!):

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Our strategy was to strip and sand the drawer fronts,the top of the desk, and the very top shelf. We sanded these down as much as possible and stained these parts with 3 different shades of stain. The rest, including the cubby insert, was sanded, primed, and painted many times over since red from the wood kept leeching through. Nik added a cut piece of wood to replace a chunk that was missing out of one of the front feet. Nik then stenciled a design into the front fold up panel to add some texture. I sealed the whole thing was sealed with water-based polyurethane. Then I spray painted the old hardware (admittedly this is one thing we’re still working on…our first spray coat was done in very humid weather and they dried sticky so I’m going to redo this…but they were good enough for pictures!).

Here is the final product:

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And here are some closeups on the hardware, the keyhole on the front, and the inside hinges:

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Sorry to overload you with pictures, but I think this piece has a lot of interesting details to show! So, with all the stripping, sanding, the different stains we used, the new sheet of backing we put on, and the primer/paint/polyurethane and spray paint, I think we’re about $75-80 into this piece including the $50 we paid for it, so we’ll see what we get out of it!

Nik is working on a new eclectic project that he dug out of the dumpster – as a teaser, its a big old chair, and there will be lots of belts involved with the final product. I need to get some pictures of his progress from his phone, but I’ll post about that next week! Also, we’re going to my parents for Thanksgiving and they’ve decided to put us to work this weekend (not a bad idea with all the calories that will need to be burned off) redoing 2 little pieces of furniture they picked up last week from an unfinished wood store. So there will be a lot to look forward to next week!

Progress on the Ombre Secretary

Its been a while since I’ve posted, but I’ll update you on the progress we’ve made on the antique secretary we bought at the Raleigh flea market:

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This piece was in rough shape, but Nik had the idea of doing an ombre pattern on the drawers with several different shades of stain. We stripped then sanded and sanded and sanded these drawers down and finally got them to have less of an awful red tinge. We also stripped and sanded the writing surface (inside the cabinet, and also the interior side of the flip down part) and the very top of the cabinet.

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The three stains we selected are Minwax weathered oak, classic gray, and jacobean.


And we stained the writing surface and top of the secretary, as well as the bottom drawer in the jacobean, then progressed to the lightest color on the top drawer. Here’s a few views of how the drawers came out, and again the image on the right is the order they’ll be in on the piece:

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I really like how the middle drawer came out, but we’re thinking the lightest one should have a little more gray in it to blend better. We’re going to see how the rest of the cabinet comes out with the paint, and then decide if it needs to be re-tinted with stain. The body looks like this:


Right now, the plan is to prime and paint the rest of the cabinet (including the compartments that insert into the top of the secretary) and we’ve got a clearance can of paint that is a cream color. Our goal is to get this painted by the end of this weekend so we can wrap this piece up.

Pistachios and New Projects

After my previous lengthy, descriptive post, I promised I’d make a post with updates on our ongoing and new projects. I’ll start off with a fun crafty project that is totally not furniture-related. Nik and I LOVE pistachios, and find ourselves going through a Sam’s Club-sized bag every month or two. On one of the blogs I read, Addicted2decorating.com, she posted about an idea to use up all the shells left over from pistachios.

I love this, and had all the tools to get started – tons of empty shells (which I rinsed a few times with water), glue gun, and downtime in the evenings when I like to do mindless things to relax. I’ll still need to figure out a frame or shadowbox to use, and get some dye to make them colored.


The first one I tried to make ended pretty terribly (its the one that’s laying on its side in the picture above because instead of making the petals on the same plane, each layer added height to the flower and it ended up more like a pine cone). I decided this was a stupid activity and was about to give up, but then Nik tried one with more success and renewed my motivation to keep going. Each one got easier to make, and now I probably have about 10 flowers of varying sizes. I’ll get some dye and a frame this weekend and finish this up.

Next, I posted about the ugly little side table we picked up from a yard sale a couple weeks ago:


Since then, we’ve strippped, stained, and sealed the top of this.


And then we primed the body – we’re trying to figure out which of these handles left over from other projects to use on the drawer – any preferences? I’m leaning towards the round ones…

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We were planning on going with cream paint that we were thinking of antiquing with stain, but then we got this awesome clearance color for 50 cents at home depot that I absolutely love. Unfortunately it didn’t have the color label on it, so it was probably a color match reject from someone else.


So now I’m debating antiquing over that color or just leaving it pretty as it is. I might do some practice antiquing on junk wood painted with the color, to see how I like it and that will help me make a decision.

Finally, we went to the flea market with some friends on Saturday, and we bought a new piece to work on that is a really really old secretary/dresser. This piece is in rough shape and will need a lot of sanding and cleaning up and possibly some repair to the back panel to get it in working condition.

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I’m clearly dedicated to this piece, because I battled these awful spiderwebs and eggs to get it onto my porch. Gross.


Nik’s idea for this piece (assuming the wood drawers actually yield decent quality wood when we strip them) is to do an ombre pattern with stain on the drawers, kind of like this dresser. I like the gray tones in that, so we’re going to check out the options for gray stains, which we’ve never tried before. Rustoleum and Minwax both make a variety of gray stains, so we’ll have to pick some out to try. The rest of the body might be painted, we’re not sure just yet.

That’s it for right now. I’m looking forward to a weekend with great weather so we can actually wrap up these projects in progress!