I was beyond excited when I came across an old French Provincial Desk on Facebook Marketplace. Its unique lines and curves had a classic and timeless charm that I just couldn’t resist. I knew it needed some love to restore its original beauty and bring it back to life. So, I decided to give it a furniture makeover to take it from drab to fab! In this blog post, I’ll walk you step-by-step through this project on Painting A French Provincial Desk.
Just a hint – there are transfers and stencils involved in this makeover. Read this post for lots more information on Furniture Transfers And Stencils & More ways to embellish your painted furniture makeovers!
What Is French Provincial Furniture?
I just love French Provincial furniture. This style of furniture is timelessly elegant and has a unique charm. Its classic lines, elegant curves, and often ornate detailing are the perfect combination of sophistication and simplicity.
This style is typically characterized by its light and airy design, such as delicate armoires and dressers that bring a sense of sophistication to any space.
The style dates back centuries, but its popularity endures even today. With just a bit of love and care, you can bring any French Provincial piece back to life with a stunning furniture makeover. Whether it’s an old desk or dresser, these pieces have the potential for beauty beyond belief!
I recently revived an old French Provincial Desk with Wise Owl One Hour Enamel and some gold accenting. It was such a fun makeover and turned out so beautifully that I wanted to do another one. Plus I had a half of the can of Wise Owl paint left over to use!
See that makeover here at French Provincial Desk Makeover.
Painting A French Provincial Desk: Supplies List
Compared to the last one I did, this desk is a bit smaller and only has one row of drawers. I now think that prior French Provincial Desk Makeover was more of a vanity rather than a desk! My bad. . .
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Here are the supplies I used for this makeover – a bit different from the prior desk makeover:
- Wise Owl One Hour Enamel Paint in Black Cherry
- Stain Eliminating Primer by Wise Owl in Gray
- Dixie Belle Synthetic Brush in Flat Medium
- Wise Owl Varnish Sealer in Satin (to seal the transfer)
- Dixie Belle Stencil Victorian Damask Pattern
- Best Dang Brush (also by Dixie Belle) for stenciling
- Posh Chalk Pigments Byzantine Gold
- Clear Coat Gloss By Dixie Belle for mixing with the pigments to make a paste for stenciling
- Artist Brush
- Redesign By Prima Transfer Sweet Notes
- Kacha Imitation Gold Leaf by Redesign With Prima
- and Kacha Gold Leaf Glue
That’s a long list of supplies! But the outcome is worth it!
For a full detailed list of suggested supplies, check out my post: Furniture Painting Supplies.
And if you’d like to see a short little video of the furniture makeover process here’s one below:
The Paint: Wise Owl One Hour Enamel
I chose Wise Owl One Hour Enamel to transform my French Provincial Desk – giving it a whole new look with an elegant, yet very durable finish. This paint cures to a rock solid finish. It is a tough product, but goes on with a beautiful sheen.
However, the only drawback is that it takes so many coats for solid coverage. I did apply the primer as mentioned below, but I still ended up using about four coats to get solid coverage.
I suspect this may be improved if I used the dark gray primer or a different color paint over the base. I’ll try again with another color in the future and test this theory out.
How To Prep Furniture For Painting
My recent blog post – How To Prep Furniture For Painting – covers all you need to know to get your piece ready for a makeover.
But I’ll quickly review what I did before painting this French Provincial Desk.
First, I removed the hardware. I intended to paint it because the finish had dulled over the years.
Second, I used a shop vac to clean the outside, underneath, and inside the drawers.
Third, I cleaned this furniture very well with Dixie Belle White Lightning and hot water and followed with a good wipe down of just water to remove any cleaning residue.
Then, she was ready for primer and painting.
Prime Before Painting on French Provincial Furniture Makeovers
This furniture was an off-white which had yellowed over the years. It had some stains that persisted, even after cleaning. And as with the other French Provincial Desk I refinished, the surface is a slick laminate type finish. The desk is solid wood, but the outer layer is a sleek laminate of some type.
As I mentioned in my recent Laminate Hutch Makeover post, any sleek shiny finish requires a bonding primer. This bonding primer is what makes the paint stick to the surface! So yes, it’s important. Without the primer, your paint finish will likely not last and be susceptible to damage and wear and tear.
And in my experience most of this white French Provincial Furniture is that type of slick finish.
Also, Wise Owl One Hour Enamel Paint suggests using a primer before the paint application anyway.
So, for this piece I chose to use the Wise Owl Stain Eliminating Primer.
I love this primer because it goes on smoothly and it comes in several colors, including clear. It seals in stains and odors and acts as a bonding agent on laminates and shiny surfaces! What more could you ask for in a primer?!
I applied the primer with a brush, but a roller or sprayer would have made the job go faster!
Next, Apply Wise Owl One Hour Enamel Paint
Next up, after the primer was fully dry, I applied the first coat of Wise Owl One Hour Enamel in Black Cherry. This color is a beautiful deep plum shade of purple. To apply the paint, I used the Dixie Belle Flat Medium Brush. It is one of my favorite brushes.
I talk about my favorite and most recommended brushes in this post: Best Brushes For Painting Furniture.
This paint is super tough, drying to a stone-like rock solid finish. It has a nice satin sheen also. Silk Paint, my most used paint product, is more of an eggshell finish.
I wonder if this paint would do better being rolled or sprayed on? I’ll test that question in the future.
But for this project, I used a brush, and applied a total of four coats. The good news is that this paint dries so fast, in one hour or less. So you can re-coat and finish your project quite quickly!
Painted Furniture With Gold Accents Using Gold Leaf
If you’d like more details on ways to embellish painted furniture with gold accents, read this post: Painted Furniture With Gold Accents. In this makeover I accent with both Gold Leaf and Posh Chalk Pigments. So let’s start with Gold Leafing.
This sweet desk has a nice curvy edge on the front. On this edge only, I applied Kacha Imitation Gold Leaf. Gold leaf is really beautiful and fun to use, but quite messy! So have your shop vac or broom handy.
To apply gold leaf first you put a layer of gold size, or adhesive only where you want the gold leaf to stick. I used the Kacha Gold Leaf glue. Brush it on with an artist brush and avoid getting it on areas where you don’t want gold leaf.
Next, allow the Gold Leaf glue to dry about 10 minutes and it becomes tacky. Once tacky, gently lay down your gold leaf sheet on the area and gently press down. Allow to dry fully and then brush away any unstuck or excess gold leaf.
I recommend wearing gloves with gold leaf because it is very delicate and tears easily.
Posh Chalk Pigment To Create Gold Accents
This sweet French Provincial Desk has some ornate carvings on the front and on one drawer. So, I accented those indentions and carvings with gold. I created a thin gold paste using Posh Chalk Pigments in Byzantine Gold and mixed in a few drops of Dixie Belle Clear Coat in Gloss until I got the correct consistency.
This Byzantine Gold is the perfect match for the Kacha Gold Leaf sheets!
Once the paste was mixed, I applied to the carved areas using a small artist brush. So pretty! I’m a big fan of gold accents on furniture these days.
Painting A French Provincial Desk And Applying A Gold Stencil Design
Okay, so now that the desk is painted it’s time to do the stencil design. I love stencils for painted furniture.
In a recent post, How To Stencil Painted Furniture, I discussed several way to apply stencils successfully. So check that post out for some tips.
For this desk makeover I chose the Victorian Damask Stencil by Dixie Belle. Once the stencil is positioned where you want it, apply your paint lightly to get desired coverage.
A big tip is to tape or firmly hold the stencil in place while applying paint to avoid smudging your design. And don’t overload with paint. Apply lightly and then add more paint if needed. Too much paint will lead to smudging under the stencil edges.
I did the stencil with the same gold paste created above using the Posh Chalk Pigments in Byzantine Gold and the Gloss Clear Coat. It worked perfectly! Even better than the gold acrylic paint I’ve used in the past. This will be my new stencil medium most likely!
To stencil the design I use the Best Dang Brush by Dixie Belle. This is my go to stenciling brush for sure. You can’t go wrong with this brush when applying paint to stencils. If you’d like to see a few more painted furniture makeovers with stenciling, check out:
- Silk Paint Deep Seas with a Kacha stencil
- Vintage Vanity Makeover with the Damask stencil and
- Morocco Inspired Table Makeover uses the Dixie Belle Moroccan Tiles Stencil
Painting A French Provincial Desk & Adding A Furniture Transfer
Lastly, to add even more unique beauty to this makeover, I added the Sweet Notes Maxi Transfer by Redesign With Prima. This transfer contains 2 pages, 12×12 each, of gold script transfer. It is so lovely! And just perfect for these drawer fronts.
A tip with using transfers is don’t be afraid to trim the transfer to fit your desired application area.
I trimmed to the desired size and applied sections of the script transfer to each of the four drawer fronts.
In my opinion, this script transfer perfectly complimented the gold accents and was in keeping the elegance of French Provincial furniture.
After your transfer has been fully burnished on, it needs a topcoat to seal it. So, I applied two coats of Wise Owl Varnish in Satin, allowing each coat to dry fully. The topcoat was applied to the desktop over the stenciled design and on the drawer fronts over the transfer.
Replacing the Hardware – Knobs and Pulls
The hardware also need to be renewed. It looked faded and dingy. I opted to replace the knob on one drawer with a cute gold pull from Amazon. The other pulls were the originals I believe, although one was missing. Luckily, I had a matching replacement from a prior makeover.
After cleaning the pulls, I painted them first with a spray primer in white. Next, I sprayed them with Rust-Oleum Spray Paint in Bright Gold Metallic. But once I decided to go with the Byzantine Gold for the gold accenting, I wanted the pulls to match. So they also got painted with the gold paste mixture of the Posh Chalk Pigment and Clear Coat in Gloss. They came out beautifully.
Summary: Painting A French Provincial Desk
This blog post details the process of making over a French Provincial Desk, from painting it with Wise Owl One Hour Enamel in Black Cherry to replacing the hardware. The desk was further beautified with a gold script furniture transfer, lovely gold accenting, and a gold stencil design. The result was a stunning piece of furniture that was transformative, yet maintained the elegance of the French Provincial style.
This project demonstrates how easy it is to transform furniture with a few simple supplies and some creativity. So, don’t be afraid to get creative and try out this makeover process on your own! With the right tools and techniques, you can create stunning pieces of furniture!
Thank you for reading my post and following along.