The furniture makeovers just keep on coming, don’t they? This steady stream of productivity is the result of almost 2 weeks worth of pumping out one project after another. Today’s makeover is this pretty serpentine kneehole desk that I purchased from my local Habitat for Humanity ReStore.
The shape and condition of the desk were fantastic! The only downside was the top.
Leather inlay is the absolute worst in my opinion. I really don’t like the look and it’s a pain to paint over. You can do it, but I wasn’t sure how Milk Paint would take to it. I really wasn’t going for the chippy look on this desk, so painting it was out.
This piece actually sat for a while in my apartment because I was dreading working on the top. I knew it would take a lot of time to rip off the leather and sand away the veneer. You see, leather inlay is…well…laid in between strips of veneer. So, if you take off the leather, you’re left with a little trench where the leather used to be.
I did lots of researching online and there are a few ways to remove leather inlay.
- Use a heat gun or hair dryer and gently loosen the glue, then rip it off.
- Steam it off with an iron.
- Use chemical stripper to eat away at the poly coating and then scrape it off.
I had used a heat gun to remove leather inlay on a different antique desk that I had finished a few months ago. Remember this one?
Well, that was the “before” photo. Let’s try an “after” shot.
Remember it now? All of that leather inlay had to come off and sanding down the perimeter veneer was a total pain in the rumpus. It took me about 2 hours to get the wood up to 220 grit. It was definitely worth it in the end.
With flashbacks of hours of sanding swirling in my memory, I opted for the iron option. I dug my iron out of our linen closet and filled it with water so it would create steam. To protect my iron from getting dirty, I used a damp hand towel.
After the iron was heated up, I pressed it along the veneer and the leather, using my towel as a protective layer. You have to let the iron sit for a while in order for the layers of glue to loosen up. To be specific, “a while” = long enough to think something has to be burning under there. Believe it or not, things were OK. Just check the progress every so often.
The leather came off easily enough. There was some residual glue and leather left when I ripped it off, but that could be sanded quickly.
Goodbye ugly leather inlay!
The veneer put up more of a fight.
It took about 15-20 minutes of steaming to get the strip above removed. It was looking like my method wasn’t going to work for the rest of the desk. It would take me just as long to steam it off as it would to sand it down. My avoidance of sanding was apparently not going to work.
So, I put my big girl pants on and trucked the desk over to my parents’ house and did the inevitable sanding. Lots and lots of sanding. The top took a while to get down to the bare wood, and the body was covered with a super glossy poly finish. This was the result of two sweaty days’ worth of sanding.
When it came to picking a color, I wanted something that would compliment the original chippendale handles. I picked Miss Mustard Seed’s Shutter Gray.
Shutter Gray is one of those colors that I love every time I use it. Sometimes it looks gray while other times it leans blue or even lavender. It’s a total chameleon color meaning that it takes on the qualities of the colors around it. Shutter Gray is a French blue/gray and I’m always pleased when I use it.
The dresser took two coats of Shutter Gray, and I wet sanded it with Hemp Oil. Some light distressing around the edges finished the look!
The top was painted along with the body. I really wanted to stain it, but the wood underneath the veneer was actually green in some places. I had no idea how that would react with a wood stain, so I played it safe and painted it.
It’s much easier to see the curved (or serpentine) shape of the desk now that it’s in a lighter color. It adds an extra touch that I really like.
I have two favorite drawers on this piece – the middle and the lower right.
The bottom right drawer actually fooled me at first. It’s deeper than the others, perfect for storing three ring binders or important files.
I moved this piece to Morgantown Market a few days ago and it’s happily situated in front of my Farmhouse White mantle.
It’s staged with some fun decor for Fall including cotton sprays and cotton balls.
I also clustered a few floral picks in a metal milk pitcher. The bright gold color makes me wish Fall was coming sooner than later. I don’t know about you, dear reader, but it’s hot and humid here in Southeaster Pennsylvania and I am not a fan. I’m ready for boots, jeans, and scarves. Give me crunchy leaves and a pumpkin spice latte over shorts and flip flops any day!
The desk is currently available at Morgantown Market for $225 if you’re in the market for a beautiful addition to your home! You can also shop for Shutter Gray Milk Paint and Hemp Oil while you’re visiting. I’m a certified retailer of Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint, and my booth is all stocked up!