Antique Desk: Duck Egg Blue and Coco

Desk by Widdicomb Furniture Company 1901

I found this desk at a thrift store literally buried under other items. It was manufactured by The Widdicomb Furniture Company in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The underside is date stamped from January 1901.

Label Widdicomb Furniture Company Grand Rapids Michigan

Manufacturer stamps from January 1901

I try to use good judgement when deciding whether or not to paint a piece.  This desk was already painted by a previous owner, so I didn't have any qualms about painting it.

Outside for sanding

I actually liked the painted finish except for the top as the brush stokes were a bit bumpy for a desk top.

Bumpy finish on surface

So I used my orbital sander to sand it to a smooth surface.

Sanded top to bare wood

I thought I would be able to work on this project outdoors, but the weather took a turn for the worse (snow in April????). So I brought it indoors, and I stained the top in Antique Walnut. I liked the color of the stain, but it ended up being a bit too blotchy, so I decided to paint the top instead. You might have noticed in the "before" photo that the drawer pull is missing from the center drawer. I put a temporary knob in place while I did the prep work.

Stained top in Antique Walnut

Rather than sourcing a matching drawer pull, or instead buying three new pulls, I decided to use a knob that I had left over from a previous project. So I needed to fill in the existing holes.

Missing drawer pull

An easy way to fill in the existing holes is to place painter's tape on the back of the hole.

Cover hole in back with tape

Next I added a small amount of wood filler to a syringe. Using the syringe eliminates air bubbles which can cause the wood filler to crack after it dries.

Add wood filler to syringe

Then I injected the wood filler into the holes.

Inject wood filler into hole

I applied additional wood filler to the surface and used a putty knife to smooth it out. After the wood filler was completely dry I used sandpaper to sand it smooth. I used a drill to add a new hold in the center of the old holes.

Apply wood filler to surface


I painted the desk in Duck Egg Blue.

Antique desk from 1901 painted Duck Egg Blue

The top is painted in Coco. I sealed the paint with soft clear wax.

Top of desk painted in Coco.

Since the weather wasn't cooperating, I decided not to distress the finish. Instead I created a subtle aged finish using paint. I used small amounts of Graphite and Coco to create shadows and dimension.

Serpentine drawer fronts

Missing drawer pull replaced with knob.

Here's a closer view of the replacement drawer knob.

Replacement knob

And a few close up photos to illustrate the shading created with paint:

Aged finish created with paint

Shading created with paint

Subtle dimension created with paint

I didn't plan to paint the drawer interiors, but the finish was in bad shape, and I couldn't save it despite my best efforts. So I lightened them up with a couple of coats of Old Ochre. 

Interior drawers painted

I think technically it is a writing desk, however, it would work wonderfully as a vanity, too. So I paired it here with an upholstered vanity stool. Duck Egg Blue has an undertone of green to it, so it works nicely with the green in the fabric.

Desk paired with upholstered vanity stool

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  1. Beautiful! Thanks for the syringe tip.

  2. Beautiful makeover! Thanks for the tip about using the syringe.

    1. Thank you Debra. I'm glad you found the syringe tip helpful.

  3. It's stunning Patricia! I assumed you got those gorgeous highlights from dark wax and impressed you did it with paint. Thanks for the syringe tip! Pinned

    1. Thanks Marie. I'm glad you enjoyed the tip about the syringe. And thanks for pinning!

  4. I can only reiterate what others have said - truly beautiful. Love the syringe tip, will remember that for future use and the knob is a great idea, being circular it matched the handles.

    1. Thank you Pat! This is one of my favorite pieces.

  5. Oh my goodness. I absolutely love the finish on this table, it looks amazing. I would Love to be able to paint something that beautifully. Wonderful job.

    1. Thanks so much Stacy Lynn! I bet you could do something similar. If you're new to painting furniture then I recommend you start with a small project and give it a try. Just be aware that it can be addictive!


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