A French-Inspired Writing Desk

 My mom bought this little vintage school desk at an auction. It was in pretty rough shape on the surface, but it had character—perfect for a project! She was kind enough to give it to me to fix up for my booth space.

I never worry about redoing pieces that have existing finish, stains, or even rough spots because I use Annie Sloan Chalk Paint (I’m not getting paid to promote her paint by the way…I wish. I just love it that much). You don’t have to sand or prep or anything with this paint.


I got a little overly excited to get going on the desk and forgot to take a before picture, but here’s the desk, um, half-painted. I used Paris Grey ASCP. I only had to do one coat on all parts of the desk except the top, where I touched up a few spots with a second coat.

I decided to do something kind of fun with the inside of the drawer, and as you may know, if you’ve seen any of my other projects or pictures of my booth space, I love old book pages. I have several old books from auctions and flea markets—some I use for decoration because I love the covers, and some I keep just to tear out the pages for projects like this. You can get old books for cheap, cheap, cheap at auctions, flea markets, garage sales, Goodwill, etc., so never overpay for an old book, unless it’s just amazing and you’re confident you’ll never find another like it :).



I simply applied some Mod Podge to the bare wood in the bottom of the drawer, laid my book pages down, and then applied another layer of Mod Podge over the book pages to seal them. Normally, my biggest pet peeve with applying a top layer of Mod Podge is the bubbles that pop up in the paper. I didn’t worry too much about bubbles in the pages, because, after all, it’s the inside of a drawer. I could’ve skipped the top layer, but since the pages are acting as the lining of the drawer, I felt that they should be sealed so that they wouldn’t get ripped when the future owner is rummaging around for a pencil or calculator or something.

While the desk was drying at home, I happened to find a sample pot ON SALE (which, like, never happens with Chalk Paint, at least at my supplier!) of a color I had never tried, nay, even noticed before. I decided I would paint the little pull out writing desk thingie (does anyone know the formal name for one of those?) to add the perfect pop of pink. I LOVE IT. The color is called Antionette, and I will definitely be using more of it! Can you imagine using this color in a baby girl’s nursery?! I’m freaking out just thinking about it! Someone hire me to decorate a nursery so I can use this color!

I ended up doing two or three coats of this color, which is very rare, indeed, with ASCP, but it was necessary in order to cover up all the spots where kids had so lovingly written their names. Youths. No respect for school property.


For the top, I wanted something Frenchie (yes, Frenchie) that made sense with the desk. I didn’t want to put just any old French typography on there, or my desk would end up saying something like “olive oil for sale,” which I guess is ok if the person who buys it doesn’t know French, but that seemed nonsensical to me. I found this typography with the name and address of an editor on Graphics Fairy—perfect for a desk!—when revisiting one of my pins on my DIY board entitled “11 DIY Painted Office Furniture Projects.” HELLO! Exactly what I needed.

For these sorts of things, I almost always use the same method—no special printer or transfer mediums required. I resized my typography in a Word document and printed it out using our plain old (and I do mean old) inkjet printer. I used some painter’s tape to keep it in place, and then I traced over the letters with a permanent marker. For this particular project, I used a fine-point Sharpie, since the letters were so narrow. The marker bleeds through the paper onto the desk, and then all you have to do is fill in your letters!


I used my trusty acrylic paint pen to fill in the letters. These are so cheap, come in lots of different colors and sizes, and get used in so many of my projects. I get them from Wal-Mart and Hobby Lobby.


DSCN0485My pup pup keeps me company while I work on projects. Sorry about the yucky basement floor in the background. Just focus on the cute pup. I also had my laptop propped nearby so I could watch Gran Hotel on Hulu while working. I’m a great mutli-tasker…or I just love TV. 


paris desk 1

paris desk 2

Here she is in all her glory in the booth! Someone come buy her! I don’t have anywhere to put her, or else I would keep her. I’m going to stop referring to the desk as “her” now, because it’s getting creepy.

Here are a few other projects I’ve done for the booth with acrylic paint pens. You can read more about the corner cabinet here. I don’t have pictures of how I did the poison label mirror, but it was SO fun. I didn’t document it because I wasn’t sure it would turn out, but it ended up being one of my favorite pieces! I’ll do something similar to it in the future so I can show you step by step. The Jardin chair was done using the same technique as the mirror, so stay tuned–I’m sure I’ll do some more like it!



poison mirror

"Eggs"--outlined with paint pen and filled in with acrylic paint and brush
“Eggs”–outlined with paint pen and filled in with acrylic paint and brush
"Hayrides" lettering was filled in using a brush, while "pumpkins" and "apples" lettering was done with a paint pen.
“Hayrides” lettering was filled in using a brush, while “pumpkins” and “apples” lettering was done with a paint pen.

How to Trace Vintage-Inspired Advertising onto Glass

Hey, guys! Ok, really quickly, I have to share a story about “hey, guys”. I went to Ireland for an internship between my junior and senior years of college. I helped at Dublin Christian Mission’s summer youth camps. All the kids thought it was so funny when I would refer to them in a group as “guys,” so they would make fun of me in their best American accents and say things like, “Hey, guys. Let’s eat a SUCKER and then go get a COOKIE at Staaaaarrrrbucks.”

My husband and I went back to Ireland for our honeymoon, and we took a couple of Paddywagon tours to travel around the country (I would HIGHLY recommend Paddywagon if you go to Ireland. SO fun.). We had three different drivers, and one had actually gone to school at Indiana University. He had picked up some American phrases and added them to his regular vocabulary while living in the States—one being “guys.” Our next driver loved to do impressions of our previous driver, saying things like, “Alright, GUUUUYYYSSS! Come on, GUUUUYYYSSS! Hey, GUUUUYYYSSS!”

I can’t think of a better way to address a group, so I’m sticking with “guys,” no matter how funny that sounds.

Anyway, I moved into my new booth space over the weekend! I wanted to share it with you, especially one project in particular—my corner cabinet–because I used a technique I had never tried before, and I think you’ll want to try it yourself as soon as you see how easy it was and how it turned out.

I decided I needed one good display piece in the booth, and by that I mean one that is not for sale. In my previous booth space, we would get a big hutch or pie safe or bookshelf or cabinet or what have you, make a great display in it with all of our little pieces, and then it would quickly sell. The little pieces would be a mess on the floor or just placed awkwardly wherever the buyer could find a space for them, and it would be another couple of weeks before we could get another big piece in to replace it.

Tony’s late grandfather bequeathed a corner cabinet, as well as several other pieces of furniture, to us. Corner cabinets are great, and I know buying a new one is really expensive. This one was immaculate, and we very much appreciated it…buuut we didn’t have a space to put it, and it was rather outdated. With a little bit of work, we thought this would make a perfect display piece for the booth. I wish I would’ve taken a before shot, but I was too eager to get some Annie Sloan chalk paint on her! I used my go-to colors, Paris Grey and Old White.

It looked beautiful with just the paint, but I wanted to do something to make it really unique. I thought about replacing the glass with chicken wire, but I just couldn’t bear to bust out this perfect glass. Authentic and faux advertising pieces are super popular (and one of my very favorite looks), and I’ve really been wanting to try my hand at it. One of the easiest ways to achieve this look is by tracing advertising text onto glass—BRILLIANT!


My inspiration for painting advertising typography on glass: http://thegraphicsfairy.com/painted-french-windows/

I searched through some old advertising pieces for inspiration on Graphics Fairy, and found one that would be perfect for a China cabinet. I wanted to change the text to something more my style and perhaps easier to trace, so I made my own signage in Word. You can do the same! I suggest using landscape format (turning the page horizontally), and adjusting the font size to fit your project. If none of the fonts in Word thrill you, you can always download free fonts from sites like dafont.com. Check out my DIY Pinterest board for lots of downloadable fonts.


My inspiration for China cabinet advertisinghttp://thegraphicsfairy.com/vintage-advertising-clip-art-ironstone-pitcher/

Once I got my advertising printed out, I cut down the unnecessary blank space at the tops and bottoms of each page and taped them to the inside of the cabinet door with painter’s tape. I used this acrylic paint marker that I got from Hobby Lobby for about $4 to do the tracing and filling in of the letters on the outside of the cabinet door glass. This is a medium sized tip, but they come in different sizes (as well as different colors) for smaller and larger jobs. I suppose you could use a Sharpie, but I think it would turn out rather streaky. The paint marker was especially great for filling in the traced letters. You can fix mistakes as you go while the paint is still wet, but once it’s dry, it’s permanent.



You might notice some of my Downton Abbey references.


I don’t have a very steady hand or great handwriting, so if I can do it, you can do it! I didn’t worry too much about getting it perfect. It is hand drawn, and it’s supposed to look hand drawn. It adds to the character and the shabby, vintage look.



I took the signage down once I traced the letters so I could see better to fill them in.


 Hope you’re enjoying the reflections of our very old basement in the glass…


I removed and painted the hardware with Paris Grey.



Everything’s dry and finished, and ready to move in to the booth…

And here she is in all her glory and filled with merchandise in the booth!


I’ve already had several people inquire about purchasing it. My urge is to just sell it knowing that there are buyers ready and waiting, but I think I would kick myself once it’s gone. It makes sense to use a piece that was free to me for displays, rather than to go buy a piece for displays…I think. For now, at least.


In the process of moving in…


I love that there is storage down below, too!


My husband very patiently decopaged all those book pages onto the wall while I worked on price tags and inventory. The pages are from an old songbook and an old Bible that I bought at an auction and a flea market, respectively.

One last thing I want to point out…this tub. There are few things more adorable than a claw foot tub, but it’s hard to find old ones in good shape. I found this one at an estate auction. The couple had used it in their garden, which I think is an adorable idea, but it had been out in the elements for a long time. The inside was covered in dirt, rust, and algae, and the outside had been spray painted a pretty hideous color of bright blue. After a lot of scrubbing, cleaning, painting, and heavy lifting (it’s IRON, folks), it’s gorgeous again and waiting for someone to do something adorable with it. I hope whoever buys it sends me a picture of where it ends up. A lady at the auction told me she bought one once and made a garden fountain out of it by installing a pump and a plug. Her grandkids love to play in it. CUTE!




Thanks for reading, GUYS, and don’t forget to check out my booth, Bird and Tree Vintage!