Art Deco Secretary Makeover with Autentico Paint

Art Deco Secretary Makeover with Autentico Paint

Art Deco SecretaryArt Deco Secretary

When I first saw this beautiful Art Deco secretary, it was love at first sight. I am always a big fan of pieces with interesting shapes and gorgeous grain. My original plan was to do a full restoration, but unfortunately much of the veneer on the bottom was damaged beyond repair. Well, damaged beyond my skill level of repair. Although it pained me to paint this beauty, I am thrilled with the results. I share all the details on creating this finish below, and I will let you in on a little secret - it is SUPER simple! 

Supply List:
Autentico Primer Gray

Autentico Paint Scandinavian Blue
Autentico Paint Denim
Autentico Paint Zinc Look
Autentico Paint Lava
Autentico Paint Evening Shadow
Anthracite Wax
Clear Wax
Fishing for Ideas Decoupage Paper
Decoupage Medium
Parchment Paper
Clothing Iron
General Finishes Arm-R-Seal
Natural Sea Sponge
2 inch Chip Brush

Prep Work: The work you put into preparing your furniture piece for painting/refinishing is hands down the most important step - your finish will only be as good as your foundation. For this piece, I used GreenEZ Degreaser and my Surfprep 3x4 Electric Ray Sander with the Maroon Non-woven abrasive to scrub the piece clean removing the cleaner with a rag as I work. Next, I rinse the piece with warm water and a clean rag until the water runs clean. Once thoroughly clean, I sanded the existing finish from the piece using 180 grit sand paper. I then applied two coats of Autentico gray primer to the bottom half of the desk only.

Restoring the Walnut: For the top portion of this desk, I continued to work up to 320 grit which was the grit recommended on the General Finishes Arm-R-Seal directions. I chose Arm-R-Seal for its urethane resin qualities which penetrate deep-down into the wood and create a very natural look.  Since it's oil based there is no need to top coat. I used a soft lint free cloth to apply to Arm-R-Seal onto the walnut and wiped away the excess and left to dry. I applied 3 coats total sanding with 320 grit after the first and second coat.  The original finish was high gloss with orange/red tones, but I love the effect this product gave the grain - very natural warm brown tones.

Isn't this woodgrain gorgeous?

After conquering my first decoupage project (see previous blog post), I found myself really inspired by the process of having to create a design based on a printed image and ready to take on another decoupage project. This was my first time using MINT by michelle decoupage paper, and it definitely will not be the last as I have since been selected to become a Brand Ambassador for the company! I thought the Fishing for Ideas design was clever to use on this desk. I was surprised to find that these papers are a bit more transparent in person which made it super easy to blend the paper into the background. This also means that what ever color I used as the base would show through the paper. Since this little fishing guy looks like he is sitting up in the clouds, I knew I needed to to find the perfect blues to create a sky. Luckily, Autentico's robust line of colors made it super simple to color match with the paper. 

MINT by Michelle fishing for ideas decoupage paper

Step One: Once my primer was dry, I applied two coats of Autentico Vintage Zinc Look using a ClingOn Oval 40 brush. Zinc Look is a blue-gray and the perfect base for creating a layered sky effect.

There are several ways to adhere your decoupage paper to your projects and each provide a different effect. For this project I chose to use the Iron-On method. To do this,  I very liberally apply two coats of Autentico Decoupage Medium onto the right side of the desk and allowed to dry. Next, I cut my decoupage paper to size and aligned it on the piece. I then placed the parchment paper over the decoupage paper. This protects the paper from the heat of your iron. With the iron set on low begin working from the center of the decoupage image out. Keep the iron moving and always make sure your parchment paper is between the iron and the decoupage sheet. The heat from the iron reactivates the decoupage medium and adheres the decoupage paper to the piece of furniture. The Iron-On method is great when you want a smooth, wrinkle free decoupage image. After attached the image to the piece, I then applied two additional coats over the decoupage image and allowed to dry fully. Your paper may bubble or wrinkle when the medium is applied over top - Don't worry! As it dries the decoupage paper will flatten out. If you happen to have any bubbles or wrinkles after the top coat of medium has dried, simply poke a hole in the bubble with a safety pin and then iron over the paper using parchment paper. If it's not perfect just roll with it! It gives your piece even more character and charm.  Check out all of the beautiful MINT by Michelle decoupage  papers here.

I love how the orb around the light is illuminated and wanted to carry the orb onto the front of the piece. Using a 2 1/2 inch natural bristle chip brush I began layering the grays and blues over the image on the front corner. Start with your darkest colors and layer each on top of the other using a dabbing or pouncing technique. You want each layer to show through to the next so apply less of each color. Finally, after creating my darker layers I added some Wise Owl 1987 on top to create the illumination.

Step Two: The next challenge was to seamlessly blend the edges of the paper into the painted finish. Using a natural sea sponge I applied my paints from darkest to lightest all over the piece. The procession was Evening Shadow, Lava, Denim, and Scandinavian Blue. I wish I could explain exactly how I determined where and where not to place the colors when layering, or how much or little to apply but this was a process that I just kind of let it happen. The texture of the sponge creates varied pattern and by layering the colors from darkest to lightest helps to create additional depth. If you find yourself not feeling a section after you have painted it all you have to do it go back in with your sponge and one of your darker colors to even it out. Just have fun! You may surprise yourself - I know I did. The finish I created was nothing of what I expected to be. A definite welcome surprise. In the photos below you can see the layering process on the left side of the desk. I used to same technique over the edges of the paper on the opposite side. Keep playing until you love it! It's just paint!

Step Three: After you're happy with your painted finish its time to protect your work. I chose to use Autentico Clear Wax over the entire painted portion of the desk. To add additional depth and a bit of patina I used Autentico Anthracite wax on corners, ridges, and where two pieces of the furniture connect. Everything looks better with a bit of patina! To continue the illusion of the light bulb illuminating the right side, I did apply the Anthracite wax to the entire left side to darken the tone of the paint.

Believe it or not those are the only steps involved in creating this  finish. Who knew a sea sponge could create such an interesting finish? The next time you are dreaming up ideas for your next design I encourage you to paint with something other than a paint brush. Get out of your comfort zone and have some fun! 
Here is a closer look at the finished piece.

Happy Painting, friends!

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