French Inspired Desk

By Paula Basnett in Reidsville, NC.

As soon as I saw the graceful curves and delicate lines of this beauty I knew it had to have a French theme. She didn't want to look brand new, but exquisitely aged.

The inspiration led me to a French grainsack wrapping paper. All the color and design cues flowed from the paper. The vision for the desk was ffairly ornate. I wanted someplace for the eye to rest. So the frame and top were painted in Kettle Black Satin (Valspar). 

Now the real fun started. The drawer fronts and side panels were the places where the vision would really shine. The wrapping paper served as a decoupage paper for the larger side panels. I based each panel in white paint to prevent any bleed through or discoloration of the paper due to the wood showing through it. Wallpaper paste was used as the adhesive for the paper. (It doesn't make the paper transparent like other adhesives can.) After thoroughly drying, it was trimmed using a large drywall taping knife and a utility knife. Polycrylic was applied for protection and as an isolation coat for a later aging technique.

The hardware was left as it was - perfectly aged and tarnished.

The drawers were the target of the next decorative techique - raised stencils. A small motif stencil was radomly placed on each front. (I've had the stencil for so long, I can't tell you where it came from, or who makes it. Any small motif would have worked.) Drywall mud was troweled onto the stencil and the stencil was lifted from the drawer. This was left to dry overnight.

The drawers and raised stencils were painted with chalkpaint made, according to directions, with Webster's Chalk Paint Powder. The base colors used were Valspar Snowcap White and Mountain Smoke. In some areas the two new chalkpaints melted together and were brush blended. This gave the impression of several layers of paint and aging.  After drying the chalkpaint was distressed going. through to the wood in distinct but soft areas. All of the drawers then got a coat of polycrylic.

The newly finished areas looked a little too new and need a little more age. Some "dirty" areas would do this perfectly. A dark brown acrylic paint was mixed (approximately 3 parts to 1) to an inky consistency. That mix was randomly applied to spots on the drawers and all along the edges of the wrapping paper. The already applied polycrylic allowed time for the brown paint to be wiped back and blended with a rag. 

I wanted the raised designs to take center stage, but still appear soft.  To accomplish this, the Snowcap White paint was dry brushed aacross the raised stencils. The white paint did just that.

The final step was to give all the unprotected areas a couple of coats of Polycrylic in Satin.

The end result is a delicate, high-contrast, yet soft and delicate piece - not  screaming FRANCE!,  but definitely giving homage to it.



Project Category

Upcycling Merit CategoriesBlack and White

Products Used

  • Valspar Flat in Dark Kettle
  • Valspar Flat in Snowcap White
  • Valspar Flat in Mountain Smoke
  • Minwax Polycrylic in satin
  • Roman 880 Pro Wallpaper Paste
  • Folkart Color Acrylic Paint Dark Brown
  • Proform All Purpose Ready Mix Joint Compound
  • Webster's Chalk Paint Powder
  • French Gift Wrap - Grey French Country Grain Sack Style Wrapping Paper (Etsy purchase)

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