Carved Walnut Antique Desk
By Mackenzie at Kathie Jordan Design
To preface this blog post, the photos that appear are not "work-in-progress" photos. They are of the completed Carved Antique Desk.
We picked up this great Carved Antique Desk at an Antique Market. The first thing I liked about it was the beautiful carving and molding details that go all the way around all four sides, so this piece could be placed anywhere in a room instead of against a wall. It is also shorter than a typical desk, so that speaks to the age of the piece, although I don’t know the exact year it was made. Two small pieces of trim were missing so we had them replicated and applied in place.
I started the paint job by painting a drawer from start to finish - creating a colour scheme and a technique that I would like to see on the whole piece. A bit of a small test to see what I could come up with…
The first coat of paint was a blend of Chalk Paint™ by Annie Sloan – colours Primer Red, Scandinavian Pink, and Olive. This layer of paint is quite a bit darker than what I would be painting over top. A lot of this layer will be showing through my next coat of paint.The top layer of paint was another blend using Chateau Grey, Cream, and little hints of Olive and Primer Red here and there to kind of “grey” the colour a bit as I went along. This wasn’t a solid coat of paint… especially in the areas with all the carving detail. In the deeper spots of the carving, I left the dark colour showing and I used my lighter colours to highlight all the detail. Some areas are kind of red, with the bottom layer showing through and some areas are more greeny-grey… but in the end the desk reads as green.
On larger flatter areas of the piece I blended my lighter colours Chateau Grey and Cream together to create some highs and lows for some interest and some movement, which is something I often do when painting pieces for our shop. Instead of mixing colours together in a dish and applying one colour, I have at least a couple colours open and just dip my brush in whichever one I want and paint it more like I was painting on canvas.
Some of the details were distressed with a bit of 220-grit sandpaper. This shows off the lines a little bit and also reveals that first layer of paint and the wood underneath.
Clear Wax was applied to the entire piece (excluding the top) at this point. The wax adds a lovely luster to the piece and protects my paint colour as I move on to the dark wax application. Then, using a brush, I applied lots of dark wax to the carving and molding. I make sure to get the dark wax into every deep crevice. When the deep areas are filled it really sells the look and makes it much more believable as a natural patina. If deep spots are missing some dark wax and they are light coloured, it can be a giveaway that this is a bit of a faux-aged technique. Excess dark wax is wiped off with a cloth with the help of a little clear wax on the cloth at times to lift off the dark wax. Using a cloth alone, I find that I can’t quite remove enough of the dark wax for my taste. I didn’t apply dark wax to every flat surface of the desk. In areas with less molding, I brushed a small amount around the edges.
The hardware was removed before I painted the piece. Once I put it back on, I added a bit of gold gilder’s paste with my fingertip to highlight it.
I wanted the desktop to be a wood finish, and sometimes I can just leave the top the way it was, but in this case there were a bunch of cigarette burns in the top that someone seemed to have done in an act of furniture violence! So my mom and I scraped off the existing finish with paint scrapers, then gave it a light sanding and washed it off with a cloth. We re-stained the wood with a mixture of General Finishes Gel Stain colours Nutmeg and Java – a dark delicious stain colour indeed! The Gel Stain is applied with a brush and wiped off with a cloth and left to dry overnight. We then sealed the top with Annie Sloan’s Clear Soft Wax.
The desk gained a little bit of height by placing glass casters under the feet. And there you have it! What a showpiece!