Shabby Secretary Desk & DIY Chalk Paint

You all may remember this lovely little secretary desk that I found at a thrift store. I showed if off a couple weeks ago in a Thrifty Thursday post. I was really anxious to tackle this cute little desk and to be honest I was really anxious to tackle a new paint method (ok, not really NEW but new to me).
This is how the desk started out. Great bones, great style, just needed a little TLC. I have been wanting to try out some DIY Chalk Paint. It seemed easy enough, but I was still hesitant that it would really be as great as it seemed.
DIY Chalk Paint Recipe:
1 Cup of flat paint
1 Tbsp of non-sanded grout
*I also add just a splash of water to help with thickness and chunks in the paint.
That’s it.
I mixed up the paint and grout in a plastic bowl and got to paint’n. It took two coats for proper coverage, but not having to sand or primer the desk was totally worth it! The chalk paint dried pretty quickly so I needed to work fairly fast. I was worried about brush strokes, but once it all dried they were hardly noticeable.
Once my two coats of chalk paint were dry it was time to a top coat. I haven’t heard a lot of people talk about the top coats that they used on chalk paint, so I decided to talk about what I used. I decided on Minwax’s Paste Finishing Wax. I just lathered on a good layer of the wax and then buffed it out once it was dry.
Here she is all dolled up. I choose an off white color for my flat paint that I purchased at Home Depot.
Before I added the Minwax I did a bit of distressing. I grabbed some gritty sandpaper and started hitting all of the edges. There is little that makes me as happy as a distressed white piece of furniture.
I think secretary desks are so fun! I love that you can have a work space easily available and then it can all be hidden away. I’m not a big fan of clutter! Not to mention all those great drawers for storage.
Luckily this piece had all of it’s hardware and it was all intact. I just cleaned it all up a bit. I decided not to paint it because I liked how the brass drawer pulls looked against the white paint and next to the distressing.
I simply love how my shabby secretary desk turned out. It is such a beautiful and lovely piece, but I love it’s casual feel!
Chalk Paint Recipe
Linking up to these great link parties!!!


  1. Beautiful desk! LOVE it!

  2. Your desk came out great!!!

  3. Oh Courtney, I love it! I can’t find non-sanded grout in Oz so I just use regular grout to make my chalk paint and it is always very gritty and I have to sand afterwards to get a smooth finish. Am I not mixing it properly? x Julie

  4. Love this secretary chest! The paint job really gives it a great look!

  5. LOVE!! looks great!

  6. Beautiful. It turned out great.

  7. Gorgeous! I’m glad you mentioned what you used as a top coat because that isn’t something that is usually talked about. Great job on the desk.

  8. Looks amazing, as usual 🙂

  9. This turned out great, and I completely agree with your decision to not paint the hardware! I just bought chalk paint and am working with it for the first time. I might try to make my own next. 🙂 Great job!~Zuni

  10. those secretary desks are the best and you did a beautiful job on that one – great colors and the perfect amount of “wear”.

  11. It looks great. Not painting the hardware was a good decision.

  12. I’m wanting to try this too! You might have just sold me on doing it! 🙂

  13. I love this! I just did a secretary, too, and I hope to get a post up about it in a day or two!

  14. My mom has this exact same secretary and it’s still brown. I like it in white, esp. with the distressed feel. Glad to hear your take on the homemade chalk paint. And once again, I picked another of your links at Twigg Studios.

    When you got it, you got it!

  15. Beautiful secretary, my Mom has one and I may have to grab it next time I visit! You did a beautiful job 🙂


  16. AWESOME!! Courtney you did SUCH a great job!!

    In regards to the recipe, you mention a ”flat white paint” did you use the Behr Paint & Primer all in one that is illustrated in the photo?

    I sure hope you’re planning on sharing this at The DIY Dreamer.. From Dream To Reality! 🙂

  17. Love the secretary! Another beautiful piece! I’ve also been using the finishing paste – how do you buff yours? with a rag or a brush? I’ve been using a rag but always wonder what other people use! I’m following, would love if you’d stop by and follow back 🙂

  18. Hi Courtney,

    Visiting from The Sabby Creek Cottage;

    I love this Secretary Desk makeover. I need to try this chalk paint technique. Thanks for sharing…

  19. Jerry Grove says:

    We have not tried this process. Looks like you had great results


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