Sometimes I wonder about the past lives of antiques and vintage furniture. Who owned them, what type of home did they reside in and what stories could they tell? Especially this one. I have always felt that something was not right with this curious family piece. It’s like that excentric great-aunt no one could quite explain. I have a suspicion this piece was reconstructed once upon a time. So we’ll call this post, “Mystery of the Secretary”.
My first clue the secretary was altered, was when I examined the odd trim around the top, which was the same trim that was used inside the cabinet section, for the shelf supports. It was a decorative addition but not refined by any means. And of course, there was the cornice which was too wide for the overall look of the secretary. It had to have belonged to another piece of furniture. What were they thinking? Whoever “they” were.
Unfortunately, I knew the mystery of the secretary would never be solved. Therefore, off came the ostentatious cornice which was barely held in place by three screws, followed by the trim with a gentle tug. Old nail heads and glue were revealed when the trim was removed. No wonder someone covered it up.
Wanting to give the furniture a “normal” look I decided to add a piece of simple molding to the top. I probably measured nineteen times, before cutting the pieces with a saw and miter box…manually!
After the pieces were cut to the correct length, I made tiny pilot holes with a drill to make nailing the trim in place easier.
Once the molding was in place, I decided it needed one more piece of trim. The additional trim finished the top with just enough height and width to look balanced. I’m justifying the use of oak and pine, since the secretary was already mismatched with several types of wood. 😉
Staining was the last step after installing the molding. I used a small brush to carefully apply the Minwax stain, which to my surprise went on quick and easy. I’m not sure why but I was expecting the staining process to be messy. I gathered up a dozen rags and towels for the job. Yay, no drips on the carpet or my clothes. I must have done something wrong.
The inside back panel of the cabinet was updated with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in Louis Blue. It was a bit too bright, so I used the dry brushed technique with French Linen over the Louis Blue to soften the color. I’m still not sure if the color is right. It’s growing on me but may need a little more tweaking.
Two of my favorite features of the old secretary are the dovetail joints on the drawers and the fold down desk. I consider them to be redeeming qualities for a secretary with a questionable past.
The fold down desk top has layers upon layers of water marks and ink stains from a fountain pen. At one time it was heavily used as its character shows.
Maybe these were clues, but left by whom and for what purpose? Case reopened.
The mystery of the secretary continues.