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Colonial Style Secretary Desk

Secretary desk painted in Duck Egg Blue chalk paint.

I painted this secretary desk in Duck Egg blue. I use it everyday and really like it as my new office space. It is a Governor Winthrop style secretary desk with a slant front top, bat wing key holes & pulls, and four serpentine drawers. The top includes a hutch with glass doors.


There were a few relatively minor spots of damage to the desk, but otherwise it was in fine condition.

Vintage secretary desk.

I used it to store painting supplies. Not a great interior design look for my living room, but hey it worked.

Painting supplies stored inside a secretary desk.

It had some missing pieces of veneer which I filled in with wood filler before painting.

Chipped veneer on desk.

I really wanted to use the desk as a mini-office, but the interior cubby prevented me from storing my laptop inside. So I removed the cubby prior to painting and now my laptop fits. Even if you plan to keep the mail cubby in place, I recommend removing it first as it will make it easier to paint (see instructions below).

Cubby inside secretary desk prior to removal.

I ordered replacement drawer pulls and key holes to give it a fresh new look. The desk didn't come with a key, but I have a skeleton key that fits it.

The original bat wing style hardware prior to replacement.

It makes the job so much easier if you remove the mail cubby from the secretary desk prior to painting.

In order to remove the interior cubby from the secretary desk, I removed the bottom back panel. The cubby was attached to the back panel with nails, so I carefully pried it off. Luckily I didn't damage the back and was able to re-attach the board.

I removed the back panel of the desk in order to remove the interior cubby.


And here's the new look! I think it's so much brighter.

Vintage secretary desk and chair painted in Duck Egg Blue.

The new drawer pulls add just a touch more elegance to the piece.

Replacement drawer pulls for the secretary desk.

I love, love, love the serpentine drawer fronts.

Serpentine drawer fronts on secretary desk.

I painted the desk in Duck Egg Blue, The interior shelves and drawer pulls are painted Old White. I sealed the paint with soft clear wax. It gets put to daily use and I am happy to report that the finish has held up extremely well.

Duck Egg Blue and Old White Annie Sloan Chalk Paint.

The top of the cabinet has decorative molding with a flame finial.

The secretary desk is topped with decorative molding and a flame finial.

I love the details and curves on this secretary desk.

The slant front opens to reveal the work space. With the cubby removed I can now tuck my laptop away when it's not in use. I drilled a hole in the back panel so I could slip my power cords through to the electrical outlet.

The front of the desk opens to reveal a work space.

Oh look, the screen in the photo shows a charming painted tea cart! You can view that project HERE.

Project by The Black Sheep Shoppe shown on laptop screen.

The pretty handles on the door fronts open to reveal . . .

Charming vintage handles on the glass doors.

. . . three storage shelves. Instead of storing paint supplies, I now store various staging items that I use in photo shoots.

Secretary desk with glass doors open.

Display shelves inside secretary desk.

Hand painted Paris sign.

Vintage tea cups stacked for display.

Flowers inside an antique bowl.

Thanks so much for stopping by The Black Sheep Shoppe today! I hope you enjoyed the project.

Before and after painted secretary desk.

Cup of coffee on secretary desk

Ho-hum furniture? You can create the style you desire even on a limited budget.


  1. I have nearly the same secretary, but I want to paint the insert. How would you suggest I do that? Your piece is just so gorgeous!

    1. Thank you Donna! I saved the insert but haven't painted it yet (I plan to repurpose it into something else). The easiest way would be to use a paint sprayer, but that's an expensive option unless you plan to use it frequently. For tricky spaces like this I use a variety of paint brushes and test them out without paint to make sure the brushes will be able to reach all the spaces. So probably some flat artist brushes to reach into the back spaces and a short-handle angled brush. I hope this helps!

    2. Thank you Patricia!

      This was my grandmother's secretary and if a litter of puppies hadn't used the bottom corner trim as a teething spot, I probably would never have considered painting it. But it is what it is.

      How did you get the insert out? Mine is different, but it's still similar enough that it should be close t the same.

      You used chalk paint? I'm thinking a mix of Sherwin Williams and calcium carbonate for the recipe. Not sure I want to wax it. I think I'd rather use polycrylic as the top coat.

    3. Puppies do the darnedest things. But they are so cute, you just have to forgive them! The insert was nailed to the back panel, so we took the panel off and used a hammer to remove the nails, then put the panel back in place. My waxed finish is holding up beautifully, but you could definitely use a different sealer. However, I recommend testing it first on a scrap piece especially if you're using a lighter color. Some polycrylics will yellow the color. Not always, but just in case I would test it first. Good luck with your project Donna! I would love to see photos when you're done.

    4. Use a water based polyacrylic varnish to avoid the yellowing, and choose Matt finish to give a waxed look, unless you like a more glossy look. It's the oil in varnishes and gloss paints that yellow o we time .

    5. Yeah. I learned the hard way about yellowing polyurethane years ago when I painted a bedroom set and it yellowed. :(

      I'm not a huge fan of dead flat finishes, so I will probably go with a satin to give it a bit of sheen.

      I just noticed you painted the hardware. How is that holding up for you? How did you prepare it to take/keep paint?

    6. Hi Donna, I painted the new hardware with chalk paint (Annie Sloan brand). I did a light first coat and let it dry and then applied a heavier second coat of paint. I applied soft clear wax to seal the chalk paint. If you're using a different type of paint you might need to apply a primer coat first, but check the manufacturer recommendations.

      I use the desk daily and to clean the painted/waxed surface I wipe it down as needed with a microfiber cloth. The finish has held up beautifully.

      If you're wanting to use something other than chalk paint then you might look into Fusion Mineral Paint as it doesn't require a top coat. I haven't used it personally yet but I plan to give it a try soon as I've heard great things about the product.

  2. This piece is absolutely fabulous. I love what you did, as well as the color of paints you chose. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Thank you Ivory Jean! Duck Egg Blue is one of my favorite colors. :-)

  3. Hi! Your secretary is beautiful. I'm wondering where you got the new hardware. I have old eagle shaped key holes and pulls on mine that I'd like to replace with something a little nicer than what I'd find at the big box stores. Any ideas?

    1. Thank you Jackie! I ordered the hardware online for this piece from D. Lawless Hardware. I also use Kennedy Hardware for many of my projects, too. Good luck with your project!


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