Vintage Executive Wooden Desk with Carte Postale Graphic

Last summer I picked this vintage wooden desk up at a neighbor's garage sale for a song. Several weeks later I discovered a wood ladder back chair sitting in our back yard, compliments of the same neighbor. Running out of room bursting at the seams with furniture awaiting makeovers I finally dusted them off and gave this vintage executive wooden desk a makeover with a lovely carte postale handpainted graphic.

Vintage Executive Wooden Desk With Carte Postale Graphic

Vintage Executive Wooden Desk With Carte Postale Graphic

This is what the desk looked like before.

Vintage Executive Wooden Desk Before

You can see in the photo below that the top had seen it's better days. I discovered a few messages carved into the wood.

Vintage Executive Wooden Desk Top Before Makeover

I hemmed and hawed about sanding it down to the natural wood but that would have required taking it outside. At the time the temperatures ranged around -26℃ (-14℉) and there was no way in H E double hockey sticks I was doing that so I opted for the warm option by painting the desk instead.

Here's how I did it...

The desk was painted in a custom white color with a 1:1 ratio of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint­­™ in the colors Old White and Pure White. The drawer fronts were painted in the color Pebble Beach (medium grey color) by Country Chic Paint.

Chalk painted Vintage Executive Wooden Desk

The paint was lightly distressed with 220 grit sandpaper.

Vintage Executive Wooden Desk Makeover Left

Vintage Executive Wooden Desk Makeover Right

Instead of replacing the batwing drawer pulls, I spray painted them with Primer White Rustoleum Painter's Touch matte spray paint.

Painting original bat wing pulls for executive wooden desk makeover

And distressed them with sandpaper to reveal some of the original finish underneath.

Painted Bat Wing Pulls on Vintage Executive Wooden Desk

The desktop felt like it was missing something and so I headed over to The Graphics Fairy website in search of the perfect graphics to transfer onto the top when I found the perfect Paris Letter with Postmark.

Vintage Executive Wooden Desk with Carte Postale Top

I enlarged the graphic to fit the desktop over at Then I printed it on several sheets of bond paper and taped the graphic together. To see how to transfer graphics onto furniture visit my Image Transfer Technique Tutorial.

Deciphering the Paris Letter and Postmark

Here is where the fun came in. As I was transferring the graphic it became difficult to superimpose parts of the image because they are worn, making deciphering the cursive French handwriting a challenge. Wanting to accurately transfer the image I did some research on Google.

After a lot of digging, I managed to figure out that the circular date stamp was postmarked on November 2, 1837, in Boulogne-Sur-Mer (a city in Northern France) with a mileage stamp of 643It was addressed to Madame Sugat at 9 Rue Neuve in St. Denis (a northern suburb of Paris).

The oval stamp on the top left says Bonne Frères Boulange S•M. I'm going to assume that is the name of the post office - Good Brother's in Boulogne-Sur-Mer. I must say it was a little eerie tracing the handwriting of someone who was alive 177 years ago!

Carte Postale Graphic on Vintage Executive Wooden Desk

Dress up the drawers

I always like to add an element of surprise in the drawers and thought this Old World Map wrapping paper was perfect. My preference for lining drawers is using wallpaper paste because you don't get as many air bubbles or wrinkles.

Executive Wooden Desk with Old World Map Lined Top Drawer

Executive Wooden Desk Makeover with Old World Map lined drawers

The bottom of the deep drawer will likely not be seen once hanging file folders are in place but I gave it some paper goodness too.

Executive Wooden Desk with Old World Map lined double drawer

Ladder Back Chair Makeover

Now for that chair that mysteriously appeared in my back yard. It looks like it originally was stained in a cherry color but had been spray painted grey. Unfortunately fortunately for me, the reason it landed in my yard was that it was full of paint drips. Sorry, I forgot to take a picture before taking the power sander to it.

To unify the chair with the desk I painted it in the same white and grey colors as the desk and also gave it a timeworn look with distressing.

Ladder Back Wooden Chair Unified with Executive Wooden Desk | The Interior Frugalista

I transferred the same Paris Letter with Postmark graphic in a smaller size onto the seat.

Ladder Back Wooden Chair with Carte Postale Graphic

Now they look like they've always been a matching set.

Executive Wooden Desk and Chair Makeover

Executive Wooden Desk Ladder Back Chair

For more desk inspiration, here a few other styles I've upcycled over the years. Like this Queen Anne Writing Desk that went from Bombay Co. To Anthropology with French flair. Or how I saved this Curbside Rescue Secretary Desk.

If you have any questions about this executive desk makeover, please leave them in the comment section below or press the Contact Me button at the top of the blog to drop me an email. I love hearing from you!

Vintage Executive Wooden Desk Before and After

You will find this project linked to these inspiring link parties.



  1. You sure made that old desk beautiful :)

    1. Thank you so much Susan 😊 This is another one of those projects I wish I had kept.

  2. If I can't get the same paint as you, what kind of paint is it? And how many coats did you do? It came our beautifully!

    1. I share the paint colors and the name of the paint brands in the post. You should be able to find a retailer near you if you visit the brand websites and their retailer locations.


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