I was contacted by Fran asking me to source a desk for them. She didn’t know what she wanted done with it but we felt if I sourced something that would fit her space first it would then be easier for us to come up with inspiration.
After scouring my usual auctions and websites, I came lucky on Gumtree. A gorgeous Georgian style writing desk at quite a reasonable price. I went and picked it up and saw why it was so reasonable. The previous owner had damaged the leather inlay and it was definitely too worse for wear for me to repair (I’m gutted as I totally forgot to take a before photo).
When I got it home I gave Fran a ring to explain about the damage but said it didn’t matter as we could decoupage paper/material over the top instead so that the desk still had the extra detail that made it so attractive in the first place.
We discussed maps, material etc but it was Fran that suggested old paper cuttings. What a great idea. She sourced 2 plastic bags full of fabulously old and worn newspapers from over the past 60 odd years. Luckily for me she wasn’t too fussed as to what she definitely wanted except for it to be a mixture of headlines and stories.
After cleaning up the desk and giving it a light sand I painted it with Annie Sloan Old Ochre. I chose this colour as it matched perfectly with the colour of the old newspapers.
I decided instead of cutting the articles out with scissors I wanted to tear them so the edges were softer. I used a ruler so they were straight but I’m really happy with my tearing decision – it helped with the worn look. I spent an enormously long time going through the newspapers – partly trying to find the best articles to use but also on reading as it was fascinating reading about the past.
When I had enough articles I started the hard task of trying to lay them out. This was nearly impossible because although it worked I knew it would only be once I started sticking that I would realise what would fit well next to each other. So I took a deep breath and smeared pva glue over the surface of the leather inlay. I started with the larger articles and then placed the smaller ones around them. I had to resize things and find more fillers. I tried to do a mix of serious and joke (I loved an advert selling a 6 bed London house for the extortionate sum of £11,000!!!). I spent a lot of time with a credit card smoothing out the bubbles that always appear. It’s a tedious task but definitely worth it as there’s nothing worse than air bubbles ruining what would be a fabulous revival 🙂
I used a ruler to cut around the edges to fit exactly into where the leather inlay would have been.
Luckily before I started protecting the newspapers I did a trial and realised that the first layer of pva glue that I usually use on all my decoupage actually smudges the newspaper which totally ruined the look (obviously) so I did quite a bit of research on the internet and came up with a spray varnish. I sprayed two layers of varnish over the newspapers and then sanded down to smooth it out. I then finished with 4 layers of polyurethane, sanding in between each layer when dry. For the paint I protected it with Annie Sloan Clear Wax and then buffed and slightly distressed the edges and corners for a more worn effect.
I’m absolutely thrilled with the finished article, as is Fran 🙂
If you would like me to revive a piece of furniture you already own or for me to source something else please just ask.
Thanks as always for reading.