This week would have marked the start of the GCSE Exam week for my daughter, Caitlyn and all her friends, but rather than frantically revising, we are still in Lockdown due to Covid19. At the start of the Lockdown there were very mixed emotions about not taking exams and the uncertainty of it all. In our family this was no different and as Caitlyn has been working hard towards this exam, she was needless to say, a little more than disappointed when the Government announced the cancellation of GCSE & A Levels this year!
Let me tell you the story preparation!
Summer holidays of 2019, oh how long ago that seems! We had a lovely family holiday cruising around the Mediterranean. It was hot, proper hot, the places we visited idyllic and oh the food..... It was to be a very relaxing holiday, making memories, all before the infamous GCSE year commenced in September..
On our return from holiday, Caitlyn was already thinking about the year ahead - not so much about the studying and revision, but about the space in which she wanted to study. About 2 years ago I bought an old desk to upcycle for her, but as life happens, it ended up spending longer in my neighbour's stable than was intended. (Big thank you to my lovely neighbours for freeing up one of their stables to store my furniture in, that still needs upcycling)
As the GCSE Year was looming and I had time during the summer, it was now time to transform this desk for Caitlyn, ready for September 2019! Caitlyn likes things that are unique and a little different to the main stream. As we have just been visiting the Med (one of Caitlyn's favourite places!), we took a bit of inspiration from what we saw there - these fabulous tiles and the beautiful blues all around!!
After hauling the desk out of the stables from next door, it needed a good wipe down with a damp cloth to get rid of all the dust and cobwebs. No need to sand, as I use Annie Sloan Chalk Paint, which happily adheres to just about any surface!
I removed all the drawer handles. As they were broken and the sets incomplete, we decided to replace them with one single ceramic knob for each drawer and therefore I filled the holes with a mixture of wood glue and saw dust. (of course, you can use a wood filler too) Once this was dry, I lightly sanded the surface, to ensure it was smooth.
The original drawers had a small strip of beading on, which I really liked, but unfortunately this was broken and pieces of it missing. I could not find a similar replacement, but I wanted a bit of detail on the drawers so found beading from the local D I Y store. I cut these into the correct lengths using a saw and mitre block to ensure the angles were exactly 45º and the joins wood be neat. Using a bit of wood glue, I secured the newly cut beading strips to the front of each drawer, clamped in place and allowed to dry.
This desk comes apart into 3 main sections, which makes it easier to move around and paint one section at a time. I started with the desktop and painted a coat of Annie Sloan chalk Paint in Duck Egg Blue, leaving the faux leather inserts unpainted. Next were the Drawer stands to get the same treatment.
I wanted the overall feel of the desk to have a stronger colour, but not overpowering. One of Caitlyn's favourite colours at the moment is Teal, so I opted for Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in Aubusson for the next coat. I then applied a wash of Duck Egg Blue to go over the Aubusson. To make a wash, simply add a bit of water to the paint to thin it down to the consistency of pouring cream. Below is a little time-lapse video of these two steps. I applied it to each piece of the desk unit as well as each drawer.
Once the wash has been applied, I allowed the pain to dry thoroughly and then sealed it with Annie Sloan Clear Wax.
The next step was to transform the red, faux leather inserts. This was a little ripped in places, but I wanted to keep it as a base for the desk top, so I simply glued the ripped bits down. Inspired by those beautiful tiles we saw in Corfu, we looked for a suitable Wall paper for the top, cut it to size and using wall paper glue, adhered it to the faux leather insert, allowing this to dry well.
The last step of the desk transformation, was to attached the beautiful ceramic door knobs. As the new knobs were to be placed in the centre of each drawer, I needed to drill a central hole for these beautiful new knobs to take pride of place.
And there we have it, a lovely desk to study at for the GCSE Year ahead......
BUT now where does she put her notes up? A large notice board is what is required when one gets to GCSE, I believe!
Unfortunately I forgot to take photos of the process, but let me briefly explain.
I used MDF as the base of the board and old pieces of architrave, (painted using the same techniques and colours as the desk above) to form the frame. I glued the painted architrave on to the MDF board using a strong wood glue.
To create a softer area, into which one can push drawing pins, I used cork board roll cut to size and then using a Spray Adhesive suitable for cork, I glued the cork to the MDF. The beauty of creating a customised notice board is exactly that. It is not only customised by design and colour, but also size. This one has lived up to expectation and has lovingly been adorned with notes and inspirational quotes.
So although there we no GSCE Exams to be taken this year, plenty of preparation, studying and revision was done at this desk. I am thankful for a daughter who loves learning and I know that no matter the outcome of those results in August, she will always do her best and make the best from whatever life throws at her!
Wishing this year's GCSE & A-Level Cohorts all the best for the next step in their education. You can do this!