Secretary Desk Makeover with D Lawless Hardware

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Tips for a vintage secretary desk makeover. Furniture makeovers can be simple, like this green painted dresser or more complex, like this ombre dresser. This vintage secretary desk is simple, but since this piece is large and has tons of details, it felt like a more complex project.

Today I’m sharing a furniture makeover that I’ve been working on for months! Months ago I brought home a vintage secretary desk to paint and sell. It’s gorgeous and has so many amazing little cubbies.

But the thought or painting all of those adorable cubbies pushed it to the back burner for a while. I’m happy to say that my secretary desk makeover is complete now and has gorgeous new hardware!

tips for a secretary desk makeover

This secretary desk makeover is my entry for The Fab Furniture Flippin’ Contest hosted by Evey’s Creations, Ritzy Parties, By Scottie, Glittered Barn Designs and My DIY Envy. Our fabulous sponsor this month is D. Lawless Hardware and the theme is “Make it Pretty.”

Some or all of the hosts of The Fab Furniture Flippin’ Contest receive monetary and/or product compensation from the sponsoring brand, D Lawless Hardware, in order to complete their themed projects. D Lawless Hardware will also provide the prize package for the contest winner. 

Secretary Desk Makeover Tips

secretary desk before

This secretary desk had great bones but needed some love.

tannins bleeding through primer

Seal with Shellac When Painting Light Colors

My husband primed this piece for me using a sprayer and the wood tannins bled through. This shows the importance of using shellac to seal those tannins in!

painted secretary desk

Primer Helps When Painting a Dark Piece a Lighter Color

This vintage secretary desk was a dark cherry color before. Painting it with primer first made it easier to cover with light gray chalk paint.


I love the details on this piece.

secretary desk feet

Like these feet! So cute, right?

gorgeous new hardware

Consider Modernized Hardware

The desk received new hardware from D. Lawless Hardware. I’m a huge fan of D. Lawless and buy from them often. Their selection is incredible and so is their prices. I used their glass knobs and cup pulls in my kitchen, as well as many other furniture makeovers.

secretary desk makeover after shot

Change out Handles for Knobs

This secretary desk has serpentine curves, which made new hardware tricky. It had the typical gold pulls on it, but to be honest, those are my least favorite look ever. If I’m going to spend the time redoing a piece of furniture, I want it to look completely updated, hardware included. So I filled the holes with bondo and sanded well. I like bondo better than wood filler because it’s so much smoother.

new modern hardware

Then I drilled new holes at the front of the curves of each drawer for the new knobs. I chose these oil rubbed bronze octagon knobs because I like how classic, yet modern they are. I love how the octagon shape feels modern and the way the oil rubbed bronze contrasts with the gray paint.

secretary desk without hutch

Use a Smaller Paintbrush for the Cubbies

The inside was painted white to contrast with the gray. It took several coats of paint, but was worth it.

secretary desk cubbies

I love the tiny drawers so much. The knobs are original to the piece and look pretty cute with the new knobs!

Use a Scraper to Remove Paint on Glass

I’ve never found tape to be much help when painting around glass. I would rather just paint and remove the dried paint later. Rubbing alcohol or windex helps with the parts that won’t scrape up easily.

secretary desk makeover

I love how versatile this piece is. It can be used with or without the shelf at the top!

how to paint a secretary desk

If you’re interested in joining The Fab Furniture Flippin’ Contest, send an email to [email protected]

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secretary desk makeover tips


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