Annie Sloan Proucts

DIY Roll Top Writing Bureau –Chalk Style Paint Makeover

DIY Roll Top Writing Bureau –Chalk Style Paint Makeover

Roll top writing desks are one of my (many) favourite things. I love it when I see that a boring old laminate writing desk has been replaced with a beautiful writing bureau. There are so many great old types out there but I have to say that I have a soft spot for the roll tops. A few months back we decided to clear out some junk by having a garage sale and seeing as my mother in-law had plenty to sell we decided to have a combined sale at our place. Of course I couldn’t resist picking through what she was selling and I’m glad I did, apart from finding a great pair of wooden ladders I also came across a great old writing bureau with a roll top!! I was instantly determined that I must have it and so I told my wonderful hubby to go buy it off his mum. As you can imagine he was a bit reluctant as we were supposed to be selling things not buying them haha but with a little convincing it soon was all mine  🙂

Writting Bureau Desk

Because I really love this piece I wanted to do something a little bit different with it to make it really stand out. While I would have loved to have had some Annie Sloan Chalk Paint on hand I didn’t at the time so I whipped up a batch of DIY chalk style paint. The colour I decided on is a gorgeous coral green colour. I couldn’t find any sample pots that suited so I mixed my own and the colour came out great. I mixed a blend of a rich green, light grey, duck egg blue and limed white to get the colour I wanted, it sounds like a lot of colours but they blended together perfectly. Now I just had to get painting.

The first thing I had to do was clean my piece down and make sure it was free of dust, dirt, ink and sticker residue etc. I was lucky as my mother in law had partially replaced the handles and I really liked the new ones she had chosen. The desk was well used so it had dents and grooves but I think these things are part of the pieces story and add character and charm so I opted not to sand them out. It cleaned up really easily which is great as the fun part really is the painting! I started painting my piece in the workshop/shed the weather down our way is icy so my poor fingers were purple. I managed to get the drawers painted and the top and side of the writing bureau before I was forced to retreat to the warmth of the house. While I love painting I HATE the cold and it was cold enough outside to put me off doing any more painting to my new project for over a week. Then finally I was lucky enough to get a sunny warmish day that fell on one of my home days, so this pushed me to get my bum into gear and get painting.


The sun was out in full force and it was actually warm enough to paint outside, how lucky is that? I set up quick smart and got stuck into painting. I decided to paint one side then while I let it dry I started on the other side etc so as not to waste any time waiting for coats to dry, that’s the beauty of all chalk paints they dry super fast. With the DIY chalk paint you have to lightly sand between coats to get rid of any grit so if you’re using a DIY version make sure that you have plenty of very fine grit sand paper on hand. I painted the entire body of the desk (except for the underneath and roll top area) the lovely coral green, but I decided to paint the remaining areas in a contrasting light ash grey colour. Using the same method, sanding between coats, I started painting the underneath and roll top areas. Thanks to the warm sunshine I was done in no time. I decided that the roll top would look great distressed so I got sanding and I really loved the results. I used slightly varying grit sand paper to get different levels of distressing so that it would look more natural. I really liked the way the distressed areas came up, but I still wanted a little bit more detail to this piece so that it would look fabulous.

Writing Burea      Writing Bureau

This is where my new paisley stencil came out to play. I had only just received this stencil in the mail so I was very excited to try it out. As mentioned it is a paisley design with two large and two small paisley leaves. I decided that I would use my stencils to create a lovely stencilled surface on the desk top area. As I had painted this area in coral green I decided to use the contrasting ash grey colour and a gold acrylic paint. Now for stencilling make sure you have the following items on hand:

  • Your choice of stencil (of course)
  • Stencilling brushes
  • Paint
  • Plenty of old newspaper
  • Masking tape
  • Clean Water
  • Towel

It’s important to have the above mentioned items so that you can stencil effectively. The masking tape is needed to tape the stencil down. If your stencil is thin you can use spray adhesive to hold it in place but as my stencil was made of thick plastic I opted for the masking tape. Lay out your newspaper and have the water and towel nearby in case you need to wash your brushes. You don’t need to wet your brushes as stencilling is a dry brush effect. With stencilling you dip your brush into the paint and then offload the paint onto the newspaper. You want to make sure that your brush is not soaking with paint as too much paint on your brush can cause the paint to run under your stencil. Once you have offloaded the paint then you start to stipple or dab the brush over your stencil area. You want to start with opaque coverage then let this dry and go over it again until you have the desired effect. I usually say to wait till the stencilled area is dry before moving your stencil but on this piece I cheated and peeled the stencil off when it was still wet. As mentioned above I chose an ash grey colour for the stencil areas but I also decided to lightly dab over it with gold paint to give a nice shimmer.  I moved the stencil around the desk area so that I could create variation in the pattern, be careful if you do this not to smudge your other stencilled areas if the paint is still wet. Once I was satisfied that I had filled the desk top with enough of the pattern I let it dry completely.

WP_20130508_008    WP_20130508_007

At this point I was very happy, it looked great. After the stencilled area was dry then I lightly sanded over the stencilled area to smooth the surface out and make the stencils look more natural and blended. Now all that was left to do was wax the entire piece. I was lucky enough to have some Annie Sloan soft waxes on hand. They made my job so much easier, while I love Minwax it is not as soft and easy to apply as A.S products. I rubbed the entire piece over with A.S Soft Clear Wax using a soft cloth. Then I used some A.S Dark Wax over the distressed roll top area, this gave it a lovely aged patina. I let the wax dry or cure for about 15 minutes and then softly buffed the entire piece to give it a lovely shine.  And that’s it, all done and I really think this piece turned out fabulously! 🙂

Vintage Writing Bureau   Writting Burea Vintage

Writing Bureau  paisley stencil

Vintage Writing Bureau

What do you think? …..  I’d love to hear from you!!!

2 replies »

  1. This is beautiful!! Love the stencilling! And the colour….. and the roll top desk, but that’s a whole other fettish! Ha ha.

Leave a Reply