Vintage Early 1900s Writing Desk

Scandinavian Pink chalk paint on desk.

I was fortunate to win this desk at auction. The inspiration for my design was based on a painted secretary desk by Jonathon Marc Mendes at Painted Love. I fell in love with his color scheme and couldn't wait to give it a try!


The desk is solid and with high quality construction. It had a lock, but at one point in time it was removed. I believe the tear drop pulls are original. If I had to guess I would say it is early 1900's, but I'm not sure of the exact time frame. It includes a label from Alms & Doepke from Cincinnati, which started in 1878 and at one point was one of the largest dry goods store in the country. The store later closed in the 1950s.

Before: Alms & Doepke vintage writing desk.
Before: Alms & Doepke vintage writing desk.

The top had a lot of surface damage.
Damaged surface.
Damaged surface.

I wanted to preserve the aged finish, but I needed to sand out the heaviest of the gouges, so I used my orbital sander.
The deepest gouges were sanded smooth with an orbital sander.
The deepest gouges were sanded smooth with an orbital sander.

The paint color I chose is Scandinavian pink. Oh I love this color. It's a bold pink, but I thought it fit this desk perfectly.

Scandinavian Pink!
Scandinavian Pink.
After applying the pink I wet distressed the paint with a damp washcloth. I was working indoors so using the damp distressing method is ideal -- no sanding dust!

Wet distressing with a damp washcloth.
Wet distressing the drawer front with a damp washcloth.
The photo below shows the beginning results of wet distressing. You can vary the amount of water and pressure you apply. Continue to work the pressure that you use until you get the results you are looking for. 

I wanted to add a few borders, so I taped off an area on the sides of the desk with painter's tape and filled it in with Chateau Grey.

Painter's tape used to mask off border.
Painter's tape used to mask off border.
The final part of the process was to add speckled brown patches. I applied dark brown paint to an old paint brush and then flicked it off with a paint stirrer.

Supplies used for creating a speckled paint finish.
Supplies used for creating a speckled paint finish.


Antique desk painted with Scandinavian Pink chalk paint.

Corner of desk showing antiqued paint finish.

Desk with tear drop drawer pulls. Painted in Scandinavian Pink chalk paint.

Thank you so much for stopping by the blog today!

Supply List

Below are the supplies I used for this project (affiliate links).
  • Orbital sander and variety pack of sand paper (60, 80, 100, 150, 200-grit). The sander is an investment, but it makes quick work of the job and many times eliminates the need for messy chemical strippers. You can find it for $50 or less, and if you work on a lot of projects it's totally worth it.
  • Chalk Paint by Annie Sloan Scandinavian Pink, Old Ochre, and Chateau Grey. Wax: soft clear and dark wax. Click on the link to find where you can by her products from local stockists. Some stockists also ship via online orders! 
  • Lint free shop rags (for removing excess wax). These can also be used to buff the wax.
  • Rub-n-Buff I purchased a sample set a couple of years ago and use it frequently on my projects. The tubes are also sold individually. 
  • Wooster Vintage Effects paintbrush (2" angled china bristle)
  • Wax brush
  • Brown acrylic paint
  • Painter's tape


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