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A Curbside Rescued Secretary Desk Makeover

When you see a piece of furniture discarded onto the curb, do you keep driving? It may look ugly but if it's in decent shape, it could be a diamond in the rough. Like this small secretary desk that my neighbor rescued from the side of the road. Other than a broken drawer guide and a dated finish, there was nothing wrong with it.

Today I'm going to show you how to completely transform this Curbside Rescued Secretary Desk and breathe new life into it with a little chalk paint.

Would you say it is landfill worthy now?

Curbside Rescued Secretary Desk Makeover

Many times I've opened my back door to discover the "furniture fairy" a.k.a. my awesome neighbor magically left a gift in our back yard. She has been one of my biggest cheerleaders as I venture on my furniture flipping business venture. In appreciation, I offered to give a furniture piece of her choice a makeover and she chose her rescued desk.

A Curbside Rescued Secretary Desk Makeover


Here is what it looked like before...

Curbside Secretary Desk Before Makeover

After removing the hard board back that had several holes to accommodate electrical cords and filling in the nicks and scratches, I got to work giving the desk a base coat of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in the color Graphite.

Base coat of Graphite chalk paint on rescued secretary desk

The top coat is a 50:50 ratio of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in the colors Pure White and Old White. 

Once dry, I used 80-grit sandpaper to remove some of the white paint around the edges to reveal the graphite base coat underneath. The trick is sanding very lightly otherwise you risk going down to the original stained wood color.

Another option is to Wet Distress which means before the top coat dries, use a damp rag to remove some of the white paint.

Desk makeover painted white and distressed to reveal graphite underneath

I replaced the original hardboard on the back of the desk but before installing it with a pneumatic nail gun I chalk painted it in the color Midnight Sky by Country Chic Chalk Paint.

Backboard on rescued Secretary Desk painted Midnight Sky

I also painted the sides of the drawers with Midnight Sky and lined the bottoms with a striped wrapping paper purchased at HomeSense (Canadian version of HomeGoods).

Wrapping paper lined drawers on rescued Secretary Desk

Midnight Sky painted drawer sides on rescued Secretary Desk

The pretty ceramic knobs were also purchased at HomeSense with the intention of using them on a future project. Less than a week later I started this desk makeover and they were perfect for this piece.

Floral Ceramic Knobs on Curbside Rescued Secretary Desk

I love how the pretty knobs compliment the colors in the wrapping paper lined drawers.

Paper lined drawers echo knobs on rescued secretary desk

I was thrilled that my neighbor liked what I had done to her desk. The colors compliment the décor in the room this desk will be used in nicely.

Curbside Secretary Desk with lined drawer

Here is a closer look at the pretty ceramic knobs...

Pretty Knob on Curbside Rescued Desk Makeover

I could see myself sitting at this desk with a cup of coffee and my favorite stationery to write my friend's across the pond a newsy letter about the day the furniture fairy arrived in my back yard.

Rescued Secretary Desk with rose petal stationary

Has this rescued Secretary Desk Makeover inspired you to think twice about driving right by discarded furniture on the curb of your neighbor's driveway? Just think of how many perfectly good pieces of furniture would be saved from ending up in the landfill.

Here are a few other curbside furniture pieces I've rescued and given a new life. Curbside Tilt Top Drop Leaf Table and Queen Anne Clock Face Table.

If you like this Curbside Secretary Desk Makeover please share it with a friend and/or save it on Pinterest.


Curbside Secretary Desk Makeover Before and After

I'm sharing this project at these LINKY PARTIES

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Let there be light {Phase Two of our Dining Room Makeover}

I finally have an update on Phase Two of our Dining Room Makeover. Between a new grandbaby, Easter, and life in general, it's been a slow process but alas the Dining Room Built-In China Cabinet Makeover is complete!

Dining Room Makeover Phase Two

If you've been following me then you know this room makeover is an attempt to get rid of all the brown-on-brown tones going on in the room. Phase One of this makeover was about adding some visual interest to the long wall. We're so pleased with how much it brightened the room and gives the illusion that the room is much larger than it is.

Here is what our dining room has looked like for the last three years (minus the mess on the table). Yawn!

Dining Room Makeover Before

It's amazing what a can of paint and some elbow grease can do to completely transform a room.

Dining Room Makeover Phase Two After

Phase Three of this makeover series will be replacing the furniture. The original set that you see in the Before picture is going to our daughter. The set in the After picture is a Vintage Dining Table and Vintage Dining Chairs I gave a makeover to several months ago.

On a whim we brought it upstairs to see what it would look like in this space.  Being a couple of old farts in our 50's there was no way we were hauling that sucker back downstairs so we decided to use it for Easter Dinner, where it remains.  I don't think it works in this space and so it's For Sale in my Etsy Shop.

I have BIG plans for furniture in this space...all thrift store and DIY items but more about that in future posts.

Chalk painting the bead board china cabinet back Luscious Lime

Like the Antique Radio Cabinet where I added pretty green paper to the back, I decided to give the same pop of color to our built-ins. Instead of paper I chalked painted the bead board in the color Luscious Lime by Country Chic Paint. I applied the paint with random brush strokes to get an uneven affect and then went over it with White Wax.

Luscious Lime chalk painted china cabinet back

I just love the rustic look of the paint and how everything in the cabinet pops!

China Cabinet Back After

By fluke the green in our vintage china matches beautifully.

I forgot the Cuss Box was in there before taking the photo.  It sat in my Grandmother's kitchen growing up and whenever we came for a visit my Father would have it filled!  I haven't a clue why I ended up with it *blush* but let's just say that if I used it for it's intended purpose, we could go on a Hawaiian holiday every winter!

Closet up of Luscious Lime chalk painted china cabinet back

We removed the Valance between both cabinets. I never liked it and thought it dated the piece. Instead we wrapped a heavy crown around the top of each unit.

Built In China Cabinet removing the valance and adding crown moulding

We painted the entire unit white to brighten up the space.  I love the look of white cabinets and three years ago we painted our kitchen cabinets white so now this unifies them as both can be seen from the living room.

Painting the Built In China Cabinet White

We decided to keep the top stained Dark Walnut.  I love the juxtaposition between the two fnishes.

Staining the Built In China Cabinet Base Dark Walnut

I couldn't justify replacing the bronze hardware we purchased when refinishing the kitchen cabinets. I didn't want a high contrast between the hardware and the cabinets and so I spray painted the existing pulls with Rustoleum Primer White and distressed the raised details to reveal some of the bronze underneath.

Bronze China Cabinet Pulls spray painted Primer White and distressed

Once again here is the Before and After.

Built In China Cabinet Before and After

I can't wait until the new new to us furniture is finished and in this space. It will pull this room together.

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Vintage Blog Of The Week Feature

I'm so excited to share that I have been chosen as Vintage Blog Of The Week by Diana at Adirondack Girl @ Heart.  

Adirondack Girl @ Heart

Diana has featured some incredibly talented bloggers since launching this series and I'm honored to have my name included among them.  Please pop on over to Adirondack Girl @ Heart to check out my Feature and be sure to say hello.

Another weekly series at Adirondack Girl at Heart is Vintage Finds where Diana shares her weekly thrift store, garage and estate sale finds.  That girl can sniff out some fantastic vintage treasures!  

Thank you so much Diana, I appreciate you sharing The Interior Frugalista with your readers!


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A Red Painted Wingback Chair - change the color NOT the fabric!

Do you have a favorite chair that is in great condition but you dislike the fabric? Does replacing your favorite chair not fit your budget? Perhaps it has sentimental value and thought of getting rid of it is too upsetting. Today I'm sharing an affordable option that won't break the bank. Did you know that you can paint upholstery?

That's what I did after exploring all our options and today I'm sharing how I updated our 80's burgundy chair with a can of paint. A Red Painted Wingback Chair - change the color NOT the fabric.

Red Chalk Painted Wingback Chair

This is what the chair looked like before...

Wing Chair Before being painted

We purchased the wing chair at an auction several years ago and it's been the go-to chair in our living room. Replacing it was not an option and so I covered it with an inexpensive red ticking stripe slipcover ordered online.


Slipcovered Wing Chair Before Painting Upholstery

While it certainly made an improvement, I was constantly straightening and tucking the fabric back in after anyone sat in it. I looked into having a custom slipcover made but that too was over our budget. For a hot minute I considered sewing my own custom slipcover but remembered my limited sewing skills.

The light bulb moment

Enter the color Emperor's Silk by Annie Sloan Chalk Paint™.

Close up of wing chair after being chalk painted

I love how the burgundy fabric combined with the dark red gave the chair pink undertones; not too pink and not too red. The color pairs so nicely with the lime green accents in the room.

Here is a close up of the color...

Wing Chair painted with Emperors Silk Chalk Paint

These pictures were taken before applying a coat of clear wax which deepened the color and softened the fabric so it feels like leather. 

From Burgundy to Light Red Chalk Painted Wing Chair

Supplies for painting upholstery

  • Chalk paint
  • Paint brush (my preference is a round natural brush)
  • Spray Bottle with water
  • Bucket of  water
  • Clear wax
Supplies for chalk painting upholstery

How To Update A Wingback Chair By Painting The Fabric


Wing Chair Upholstery Painted with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint™

I've used regular paint brushes in the past but my personal preference for upholstery is using a small round brush.

Step 1 The first coat of paint

  • Work in small sections.
  • Use a spray bottle to dampen (not saturate) the fabric as you work.
  • Have a pail of lukewarm water at your side. 
  • Dip just the tips of your brush into the water and then into the paint.
  • Apply long even strokes moving sideways and up and down for even coverage.
  • Continue these steps until the entire chair has been painted.

Step 2 The second coat of paint

  • Wait approximately 12-hours for the first coat to dry completely.
  • Work in small sections.
  • Use a spray bottle to dampen (not saturate) the fabric as you work.
  • Apply chalk paint in long even strokes.
  • Let the paint completely dry between each coat. 
My chair took five coats of paint for full coverage over the dark burgundy fabric and 12-hours between coats.

Step 3 Applying clear wax

  • Allow the fabric to dry completely (it may take a few days) before this step.
  • Using a wax brush (my preference) or a lint free cloth, apply a light coat of clear wax, working it into the fabric in a circular motion (like applying hand cream) in small sections.
  • Wipe off the excess wax as you work in sections. 
  • Wait at least 30-minutes or the following day and buff the wax with a lint-free cloth. The goal is to soften the fabric but not leave a shiny sheen.
  • The fabric will feel like leather and it softens over time.
  • Avoid anyone sitting in the chair, especially with dark clothing like blue jeans, until the wax is cured (around 30-days).
Wing Chair fabric chalk painted red

Chalk painted wing chair AFTER

I'm quite pleased with the transformation and all it cost was the price of a can of paint.

If you're wondering why I have no furniture in the dining room behind the chair, it's because I have some sweet thrift store finds that I'm working on that will go in this space.

Update: you can find them here in my posts Duncan Phyfe Dining Table and Duncan Phyfe Dining Chairs. I also repurposed a thrift store headboard into a Dining Bench for this space too.

Chalk painted wing chair and ottoman

A Chalk Painted Wing Chair Before and After

So for a fraction of the cost of my original plan to have the chair upholstered, our go to comfy living room chair has a brand new life. I hope my painted wing chair has inspired you to attempt painting one of your favorite chairs.

I also painted a French Provincial Chair white a few months ago. With this one I learned the importance of waiting 30-days before allowing anyone to sit it in. I brought the chair into the living room while hosting a party just a few days after waxing it, and sadly the denim from the guest's jeans rubbed all over the white seat.

I painted a third chair for a client and you can see that makeover here in my post Antique French Provincial Armchair.

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Vintage Waterfall Vanity Hollywood Glam Makeover

Last October I found this beat up vintage vanity at a local thrift store. It was a hot commodity with three of us wanting to take it home. I was doing the happy dance when I won the bidding war only because I had a vehicle that could transport it.

The funny thing is that we had just come from the dealership to pick up my spanking new Mazda 5, a.k.a. the Frugalistamobile, and it was on its maiden voyage when we decided to stop. Finally, we have a vehicle that can hold a piece of furniture - no more driving down the road with furniture hanging out the trunk of a sedan!

I'm excited to be teaming up with Modern Masters for this project because as soon as my eyes set on this piece, I knew I wanted to give the Vintage Vanity a Breakfast at Tiffanyesque Hollywood Glam Makeover.

Vintage Vanity Hollywood Glam Makeover

Thank you, Modern Masters for providing the Metallic Platinum Silver Semi-Opaque paint for this makeover in exchange for a product review.

I've included a materials list towards the bottom of this post for your convenience so you can see what products I used or recommend to complete this makeover. What that means is that if you press one of the links and make a purchase, at no extra cost to you, I may receive a small commission which helps to support running this site. Please read my full Disclosure Policy.


Vintage Waterfall Vanity Hollywood Glam Makeover


This is what the vanity looked like before the makeover. I apologize for the poor quality image because I was too lazy to run upstairs and get my big girl camera.

Vintage Waterfall Vanity BEFORE

Other than a couple of wonky drawers and a well-used top, the vintage vanity was in fairly good condition sans a matching bench. After fixing the drawers and prepping the top it was time to give this baby a new lease on life, Hollywood style!


Painting the vanity

Because Modern Masters Matte Metallic Platinum Silver Paint is semi-opaque, the vanity required a base coat of paint first. I gave it one coat of Pebble Beach, a gray chalk paint first.

Vintage Waterfall Vanity Chalk Paint Base Coat

I let the chalk paint dry for about an hour and sanded it smooth with a sanding block before applying the first coat of Matte Metallic Platinum Silver. You can apply it with either a brush, paint sprayer or roller. I chose the later using a 4-inch foam roller to achieve a smooth finish.

The paint rolled on like butter and I was surprised at how much coverage I got on the first coat, especially considering it is a semi-opaque paint. To avoid lap marks from the roller I applied light pressure and made long even strokes while keeping a wet edge. A wet edge means overlapping the previous row of wet paint.

Vintage Waterfall Vanity Makeover with Matte Metallic Paint

Ye of little patience and someone who predominantly works with fast drying chalk or milk paint, I was surprised by how quickly the paint dried.  It was ready for the next coat within 30 minutes.

I applied three coats, sanding lightly between each coat to get the coverage I wanted. The last coat dried overnight before applying two coats of satin polyacrylic. It is recommended that you use Master Clear Protective Clear Coat with the Modern Masters metallic paint line.

Look how beautiful the metallic sheen is on the vanity top...

Vintage Waterfall Vanity with Silver Metallic Paint

To add contrast I applied dark wax on all the trim details.

Tip for applying Dark Wax Into Tight Spots

The easiest way to apply dark wax into tight spaces is to cut the bristles of an inexpensive chip brush to approximately half an inch. Make sure to run your fingers through the bristles first to remove any loose strands.

Vintage Waterfall Vanity Metallic Silver With Dark Wax


DIY Pearl Beaded Drawer Knobs

What's a Hollywood Glam makeover without some bling! I cleaned the original brass knobs with a toothbrush and Barkeepers friend. Once completely dry I spray painted them in a Universal Metallic Pearl Mist color.

I found a set of four pretty pearl crystal beaded buttons and with E6000 glue, I attached them to the center of each painted knob.

Vintage Waterfall Vanity With DIY Pearl Bead Knobs

Don't the DIY pearl beaded knobs look pretty?

Vintage Waterfall Vanity with Pearl Beaded Knobs

The middle drawer was looking rather plain. It has a curved notch to open the drawer and rather than add another pearl knob, I added a decorative strand of pearl beads onto the center to give it some bling.

Vintage Waterfall Vanity Decorative Pearl Strand Trim

I marked the center of the middle drawer with pencil and again using E6000 glue, added a strand of pearl beads for a decorative touch. Once the glue dried and the pearls were secure, I cut the clear thread from the strand. You could do this beforehand but I wanted to make sure they lined up evenly and straight.

Vintage Waterfall Vanity with Decorative Pearl Drawer Trim

Adding some pretty to the vanity drawers

Like they say, beauty must come from within so I added a surprise pop of Tiffany Blue to the drawers both inside and out.

Next, I lined the bottom of all the drawers with pretty metallic polka dot paper.

Vintage Waterfall Vanity Drawers Painted Tiffany Blue

Vintage Waterfall Vanity Metallic Polka Dot Lined Drawers

Tip for lining drawers

My favorite product for lining furniture drawers with paper is to decoupage them with wallpaper paste. It gives you some play time for lining up the paper and there are far fewer wrinkles and air bubbles.

A new vanity bench

Unfortunately, the vanity was missing the original bench and tried to find one online without success. Last weekend I did the happy dance when I found the perfect metal stool that not only looks great but tucks nicely underneath the vintage vanity.

Vintage Waterfall Vanity with New Metal Stool

It's hard to see in these photos but the fabric has a pearl damask pattern. To unify the stool with the vanity I applied Silver Gilding Wax to the metal straps joining the curly cues or whatever you call them.

Adding Silver Gilding Wax to the metal details on a vanity stool

I think the vintage waterfall vanity and new metal stool look perfect together.

Vintage Waterfall Vanity Hollywood Glam Makeover

I took these photos in our media room which happens to have a Breakfast At Tiffany's movie poster on the wall.

Vintage Waterfall Vanity Breakfast At Tiffany Style

I only used two-thirds of a 32 fl oz jar of Modern Masters Metallic Paint to complete this project. Yay because that means I can play some more.

Vintage Waterfall Vanity Hollywood Glam Makeover

Materials List

As promised, here is the materials list with links to some of the products I used or recommend to complete this project.

Vintage Vanity
Gray Chalk Paint
Metallic Platinum Silver Semi-Opaque Paint
Master Clear Protective Coat
4-inch Foam Roller
Dark Wax
Silver Gilding Wax
E6000 Glue
Pearl Crystal Beaded Buttons
Pearl Bead Strand
Tiffany Blue Paint
Pearl Mist Spray Paint
Wallpaper Adhesive
Foam Brush
Metallic Polka Dot Paper
Metal Vanity Stool


I quite enjoyed working with this paint and have so many ideas for using it on other projects. There is an array of color options available in the Matte Metallics paint line. I'm thinking the Champagne color would be very pretty. I could go for a glass of bubbly right about now to christen this vintage waterfall vanity makeover.

If you found this vintage vanity makeover inspiring please share it with a friend. Perhaps you want to try giving a piece of furniture a Hollywood glam makeover using metallic paint, then please save this tutorial to Pinterest.
Vintage Waterfall Vanity Hollywood Glam Makeover

I share my projects at these fabulous Link Parties


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