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Chalk Painted Bureau

Writing desks were introduced in the late 17th century. Prior to that the scribes used a sloping box which was place on top of a table. Over the centuries, writing desks have changed in their look, function and the materials from which they were made. In the Late 1800's and early 1900's with the greater availability of oak, writing desks became increasingly popular and were included in the mass produced items of furniture.

Today we have moved on from writing desks and have laptop computers, but writing desks are now more of a feature item in many contemporary homes. A few years a go, I was gifted this lovely oak bureau. It does not have many details and is quite simplistic, but it is a lovely solid piece of furniture. It did have quite a few scratches on the surface, which I guess could have been sanded out. However, I felt that it needed a bit of 21st century treatment to fit into a modern home.

Out came my trusty paint brushes and my favourite Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in French Linen and I started to paint the outside of the bureau. One does not need to sand the item down when using chalk paint, but it is a good idea to wipe your piece down with a damp cloth to get rid of the dust, cobwebs and odd spider that might be hiding in a corner! I gave this piece 2 coats of paint and then ever so slightly sanded down the edges only to reveal a very little bit of the wood to create a few imperfections and give it a slightly aged, used look. When using chalk paint, it is important to seal it with a coat of wax. I used Annie Sloan Clear wax on this piece.

My friend who gave this bureau to me, has a beautiful daughter, called Jessica, whom I have known since she was a baby. What has that got to do with upcycling this bureau, you ask? Well when I came to paint the inside of the drawer, I found this little drawing and "Jessica" written inside. Do you remember when children just learn to write their names and you find them written in pen, pencil, crayon, felt tip or any other form on any possible surface? Well I think that is exactly what Jess did here. It was such a precious memory that I decided to preserve it and not paint over it, hence the inside of the drawer was left unpainted.

I then tackled the inside of the bureau with Annie Sloane Chalk Paint in Country Grey for a bit of contrast. It is a little fiddly to paint the insert of the bureau as in this case it was not removable, but I think it adds to the overall look and when the desk is open, that is the main focus of the piece.

As mentioned before the bureau has no real detail to it and I do like to find a little something of interest somewhere on a piece of furniture, so I stencilled a pretty little design on the surface of the fold down top in French Linen.


A lovely young couple with a new baby bought this bureau from me. They were thrilled with not only the colour but the size as they had a very specific place for it to go in their new home. It makes me so happy that an old piece of furniture, which was much loved in one family can now find a place in a new family and who knows, perhaps their little baby will also write their name in the drawer next to Jessica's!


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