Vintage Secretary : The Perfect Addition to Our Living Room

This vintage secretary found a perfect place in our home.  We have a very bare wall between our front door and the large picture window in our living room that I haven’t been able to figure out what to do with.  While I was finishing up this piece I started envisioning it there and just knew it would work.  I’m so happy it did.  It is the perfect addition to our living room!

This secretary has been sitting in my basement since I picked it up from an estate sale this past summer. I was out garage sale-ing with my 2-year-old daughter that day and happened to see the estate sale sign while we were out.  I wasn’t expecting to buy any furniture since I was just driving our little compact car, but I found this piece and the price was perfect.  I just had to have it.  So, I paid for it and asked them to hold it for me while I ran home to make arrangements to pick it up.  They were fine with that, since my house was just a couple miles away.  I hopped back in the car and drove the short distance home, woke up my hubby, and asked him to please hook up the trailer to the car because I needed him to help me get this piece of furniture home.  It’s a good thing he loves me so much and was willing to help me!  ;)

The secretary sat and sat in our basement as I bought more furniture pieces and kind of forgot about it.  Then the other day, I was starting to feel a bit claustrophobic in my packed basement and turned to this piece and thought I should probably get started on it.

I loved the lines on this piece when I first saw it, but those metal grates someone had put in the “windows” were not my fave!  When I was first looking at the piece at the estate sale, the woman showed me the original pieces that the grates had replaced.

Once I saw them, I really knew I had to have it!  The design is so pretty.  They look like old church windows.  I don’t know why anyone would have replaced these pretty things with those terrible grates!I debated sanding them down and restaining them because they are a tad bit tattered, but in the end I really loved how they looked old and worn and how that fit in perfectly with how I repainted the piece.

I painted the whole piece with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint.  The body is Duck Egg and the interior colors are Old White and Coco.

Check out this little gem I found on the small drawer while I was painting.  Apparently the secretary was originally finished on June 1st, 1944 and was priced at $25.00.  I love finding little snapshots in history like that.

I found these vintage wooden carpenters’ rulers at an antique shop while out and about with my husband a few weekends ago.  They were a great price, so I snatched them up knowing I could find somewhere in my house to use them!  Funny thing is, when I picked them up my husband said “oh, I think we have some of those in the barn” – meaning his parents’ pole barn.  And then when we got to his parents’ house later that day, his dad said the same thing!  So I may be adding to my new collection of vintage carpenters’ rulers…if we ever find the additional ones in the barn!  :)

When I was searching the house for items to put on the secretary display shelves, I found my sheep in the basement looking all lonely.  We got them on our honeymoon in Martha’s Vineyard, but I hadn’t been able to find a good place for them in this house yet.  This is the perfect place for them where I can see them everyday.  They are just the cutest little sheep family, aren’t they?



And if you have a keen eye, you may have noticed Marian Parson’s (Miss Mustard Seed) new book “Inspired You” sitting on the desk of the secretary.  I got the book for Christmas and have really enjoyed reading it.  So much so that I will be giving away a copy on my blog soon, so stay tuned for details on that coming up!

Thanks for visiting today!  I just want to take a second and say thank you to each and every one of you who read my posts.  I really enjoy this journey I’m on and am so glad I get to share it with you all!

Allison sig

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  1. This is so beautiful – how lucky that the original inserts were still there!
    Love that you kept them wood – it’s really a beautiful contract!

  2. Love it! I’ve been searching for months for a piece just like that! I found one at an estate sale, but it was so damaged from water. Great color choices and it looks like it’s a perfect addition to your space!


  3. WOW!!! it is so beautiful! i love the color combination and love the insets in that stripped look! perfectly done!

  4. It is so pretty. I love the colors and those windows are fabulous.

  5. Love, love, love it! Pinned it!

  6. This turned out awesome!! My favorite part is the windows!!
    -laura @

  7. BEAUTIFUL! Windows details are amazing! LOVE it!

  8. Such a pretty piece, Allison! Love the color you chose for it!

  9. LOVE IT! Ok sorry to shout, but every piece you do is better than the next. Please come to my house and paint all my furniture? :)

    • You are so silly! You make me laugh! Thank you for the very sweet compliment. I finally feel like I’m beginning to find my own personal style and get a bit more confident in what I’m doing. So glad to hear other’s are enjoying it!

  10. it turned our beautifully. I just love that color, have never used it yet but want to. PS- cute sheep!

  11. Beautiful! I love the doors the original way too – so glad those were still available!

  12. I totally spotted that Miss Mustard Seed book. ;) Reading it right now too and loving it. It will be a great giveaway! I am totally amazed by your talent to makeover such beautiful pieces. Can we go shopping?? ;) I’m with you on the metal grate pieces. The original panes are much more beautiful! And the sheep are extra cute too.

  13. Oh my goodness, this is so beautiful! You did such a great job! I just picked up a tester in that blue and can’t wait to try it out.

  14. Wow, Allison, that is stunning!!!! You did an awesome job, beautiful pics! One of my fav furniture transformations:). Have a great weekend, Jen

  15. Those windows are to die for. And your styling and photos are just lovely.

  16. it’s so beautiful Ali…love it.

  17. Love this and great color.

  18. I have a similar piece that’s been waiting for a makeover and you’ve inspired me with this fantastic piece. Well done!

    Visiting from FFF.

  19. I understand why you had to have it! It’s gorgeous and even more after you painted it! Good job.


  20. Lovely… I adore the colors you chose. Visiting from MMS!

  21. Allison, What a beautiful blue you chose for this piece!It is so soft and pretty!

  22. Allison, I love everything about this post. Your furniture turned out beautiful. I love the sheep, and Martha’s Vineyard, and Miss Mustard Seeds book. It all made me smile.

  23. This is so beautiful Allison! The colors you chose are perfect. Love.

  24. I love everything about this!

  25. so gorgeous it hurts!

    popping over via miss mustard seed and hope you’ll stop by when you have a moment.

    smiles to you and happy weekend.


  26. Absolutely love the way your secretary turned out! And good decision on bringing the old grates back into the door. Beautiful!

  27. Love the new color – and the old inserts are so much prettier! What a great find =)

  28. Feaking GORGEOUS Allison! I love that it came with the original pieces so that you could replace the grates. It’s a absolutely gorgeous piece and that little note written in pencil in the drawer. amazing :)

  29. Love it all. I really liked the idea of using the wooden folded ruler like you did. Gave me an idea! Thank for sharing.

  30. I love that you left the wood on the windows stained. Beautiful.
    - Lora

  31. What a lovely secretary! I just love the cathedral insets. The colors are very soft and pretty. I’d love it if you linked this to my new linky party, “What We’ve Accomplished Wednesdays.”

    Have a great weekend!

  32. This is beyond beautiful… is stunning!
    I cant get over its beauty…the windows…ohhhhhh, colours, oh my… it is absolutely amazing!

  33. What a beautiful piece! Love the color and I ADORE the sheep!!

  34. this is so pretty! I have one very similar that after seeing yours painted this gorgeous color, I’m tempted to paint mine. thank you for sharing your lovely work! Little Bit from

  35. Wow this is amazing! I am going to have to find a piece like this to copy! BEAUTIFUL color combo!

  36. Congrats! It is a beautiful piece and you did a beautiful job on it! Looks great!

  37. It is gorgeous. I love the color. You did an amazing job. I agree that the original glass is much better. I have a secretary that needs to be refinished.

  38. My, oh, my!

    A great piece … wonderful color … cute decor inside.


  39. Absolutely beautiful! I can’t get over how amazing this piece is either. Thanks so much for sharing!

  40. Gorgeous.

  41. That is fabulous!! I love the paint color and I just love that piece … what a beauty!

  42. Great choices for the chalk paint, definitely like it better with the original inserts. Don’t you just love discovering the history behind old furniture pieces? Thank you for sharing!

    Katie @ The Inveterate Homemaker

  43. This is fantastic! Duck Egg Blue is one of my favorite ASCP colors. I love the windows and love how you kept it shabby chic. I’m loving Marian’s book too (so inspiring). Thanks for sharing the secretary at Silver Pennies Sundays x

  44. What a fantastic find and and an even better paint job. Its just stunning. I’m with you in that the little detail of it being $25 back in 44′ is just priceless. Such a beautiful addition for your living room.

  45. What a totally BEAUTIFUL piece! I love that color combo! Life to the full, Melissa

  46. Beautiful, especially with the original door detailing. (and i love the sheep family!)

  47. What a gorgeous piece of furniture!!!! Love the contrast of the original trim and the paint. You picked the perfect color. Cheers.

  48. It’s Gorgeous!! You did a fantastic job on it! I love the colors…I need to get me some Annie Sloan! Love your blog! I’m pinning and will be returning.

  49. That is a lovely piece and you did a great job on it. Love the colour!

  50. A marvelous piece. I’m glad you decided to put the original pieces in the doors. They’re lovely.

  51. This turned out so beautiful! You certainly have a great eye for furniture and styling! Keep those projects coming… I love seeing them :)

  52. What a beautiful piece Allison!

  53. This is gorgeous! I stopped by the other day as well. Love your style! New follower! Have a great day!

  54. What a gorgeous piece of furniture! The paint colors your chose are perfect. Such a lucky find! Don’t you love when that happens? I’m your newest follower. :)

    Visiting from Southern Lovely.


  55. First time here – I really enjoyed reading your post. The secretary in duck egg blue with the wooden glass dividers are perfect for each other.

  56. It looks beautiful. I just did one in the same color.

  57. Absolutely stunning! I’m so happy they saved those cool pieces for the windows. They look so perfect in there. Great idea leaving them as is.

  58. Love, love, love! Sharing on FB :)

  59. This is one beautiful makeover…love how you found that date and price (so very cool).


  60. Absolutely love this! I have a Chippenham-style desk that I have been wanting to redo and this would be perfect. I love this color so much that if I lived alone, this would be the main color in my home.

  61. Beautiful and lovely!!! Totally liked it on facebook.

  62. I’m dying over this piece!!!! I have been trying to find the perfect onre to finish for our living room . I love the color you chose and want to do something similar. Great job!!!

  63. It’s stunning, Allison. Love the color, love the character and love your accents. Beautiful job all around! Thank you so much for sharing. Sometimes I want to “shop” from the party links! This would be in my cart for sure! haha!


  64. Anonymous says:

    Oh Allison you have inspired me to paint some tables in my living room Duck Egg Blue. This secretary is so beautiful! I love those little sheep….lin

  65. Thanks so much for linking to Make the Scene Monday @ Alderberry Hill. You are being featured tomorrow morning!
    I hope you are having a wonderful weekend, and join me tomorrow night for Make the Scene Monday #61!

  66. Keeping the dividers natural wood – genius! It’s a stunning piece!

  67. The perfect color. The perfect amount of tattering. The perfect arched window grates, I guess you could say you did a perfect job! I would be proud to have it in my home. Keep inspiring us.

  68. That is just beautiful and I love how you refinished it to bring out the character. Those window inserts are just beautiful! So glad I saw this featured at Elizabeth & Co. Just wonderful! Sharon

  69. This turned out just beautiful!


  70. Just pinned this beauty! Love the colors! ~Kristie

  71. This is gorgeous and I adore the doors and the color is so perfect. I featured this today at my link party! Thank you for sharing.

  72. The color choices are spot on. Beautiful piece and I am so glad you were able to recover the old wood pieces for the windows. Sooo much better.

  73. I have been seeing your stuff all OVER the blogosphere lately!!! You inspire me girl. It is all so beautiful!!

  74. Beautiful job. I’ve been looking for an antique secretary – no luck yet! Love the way you left the “windows”.
    I’m a new follower :-).
    Mandy recently posted…A Dollhouse Tutorial You Are Gonna LoveMy Profile

    • Thanks Mandy! So glad to have you here! I hope you find a secretary someday soon! I really enjoyed redoing this one! :)

  75. First time visitor… This is beautiful! Could you estimate how much ASCP this piece took? I am ready to try it but have heard it goes pretty far, so not sure how much to get.

    • Thanks so much for stopping by, Sandy! To answer your question, I only used one coat on this piece since it covered the previous color well (a lot of times I use two coats, though). I probably only used about 1/10th of my quart of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint. It really depends on how much coverage you want, what color the piece is starting with, and how much the paint soaks into the piece. Those variables will be different for every piece, so it is really hard to estimate how much you’ll need. I’d say buy a quart of an ASCP color you LOVE and you know you’ll have enough. Then you can always use the extra paint on another piece. Hope that helps!

  76. These looks amazing and beautiful. The cabinet is one of a kind. Thank you for sharing this to us.
    Lily recently posted…RefinanceMy Profile

  77. Love this piece!! Did you dilute the duck egg blue with white or is this the color straight out of the can?

    • Thanks Cara! The color is straight out of the can – but I did use a mixture of clear and dark waxes over it, so I guess it’s a little bit “browner” than the actual color – if that makes sense.

  78. Love this secretary desk! Coming over from Sarah’s.
    Julia @cuckoo4design recently posted…On My Mind Monday – Retail TherapyMy Profile

  79. AnnieVee says:

    Oh I’ve loved this for so long…since you had it on MMS’s Furniture Feature Fridays… and I’ve been searching high and low…every day on Craigs List and Kijiji but all I have seen are $500 and UP! It’s just not happening, but occasionally I come back to your blog and and inspired to be patient. Some day my secretary will come. I too have a perfect spot for it. ;)

  80. The secretary is divine, and I love the way you’ve styled it!

  81. debbi in Texas says:

    Those door inserts are perfect the way they are and add so much to the entire piece to make it outstanding; nice job

  82. Hi Allison. Just wanted to say “I got it!” Yay! I finally found a secretary that I can do just like yours! Oh I’m so excited. I have come back to this page so many times… and looked around your whole house… and at all your beautiful projects and decor ideas. Your personal stories are just that… personal… and honest… and real. Thank you for being such an inspiration. Now I need to get on with it. But… I’ll be back. :)

    • Allison @ The Golden Sycamore says:

      Thank you so much for all your sweet words, Anne! It means so much to hear that I have inspired even one person! It’s such a blessing to me! Best wishes on your secretary! Let me know how it goes! :)

  83. Sheila Perez says:

    Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful:)

  84. I found the post on this! So beautiful. Did you use the Annie Sloan waxes or the kiss Mustard Seed ones?

  85. Linda Weeks says:

    ..Uh…I don’t actually have a website – but I had wanted to ask if you removed the inside to paint it the white color – mine is similar, but I wouldn’t know how to go about removing the little inside shelves etc. Could you let me know? I’m getting ready to try a similar approach to my secretary who is currently mahogany! Thanks, thank you veddy veddy much!

    • Allison @ The Golden Sycamore says:

      Hi Linda! I didn’t remove any shelves. It was a real pain to paint all the nooks and crannies and it took several coats. I was really tired of it by the end, but it was worth it. Just use a small paint brush and take your time. Happy painting!

  86. This is beautiful. I had an antique secretary in my room growing up, so they always catch my eye. :) I love how you left the mullions unpainted, and the chair is just perfect with it!
    Jenny B. recently posted…2014 Project Life | Week 13My Profile

  87. Hi Allison,
    Any idea what company made this secretary? Just wondering. Thanks!

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