Friday, December 5, 2014

Louis XVI Secretary Patina Tutorial

I am finally finished with the Louis XVI secretary I found on Craigslist!

This is the original Craigslist photo.  I cannot believe I found this before anyone else did!

This is a truer representation of the finish.  It had a shiny topcoat, identifying it as a newer reproduction.  The manufacturer is Henredon, from the Villandry Collection.

I took this photo first thing this morning.  The secretary is in the Music Room.  It covers the opening between the Music Room and the Family Room.  The tapestry panels cover the "window" openings.  Everything in this room is from Craigslist except the grotto stool and a few accessories!

The finish took a long time.  It required many coats of paint and distressing.

A closer view shows the grey patina...
This is also a reenactment of what I was doing during the whole process.

The interior is painted with Annie Sloan Aubusson Blue, including the glass shelves.


It seems to be a different color depending on the light. A most desirable characteristic!

This is my favorite project so far!  The exterior is Annie Sloan Old White, followed by sanding, then more Old White, a random wash of pure white acrylic, then more Old White, Clear Wax, then Miss Mustard Seed Linen Milk Paint, followed by distressing using a hammer, scraper, chains and finally, a mix of Miss Mustard Seed Linen and Typewriter Milk Paint as a "glaze".

The Aubusson also takes on different tones in the light.  The Clear Wax brings it to life!
I painted the interior glass shelves as well.  Be certain to allow at least a day between coats when you are painting glass!  That is why this project took so long!  There are three coats of paint on the interior!
I may glaze the interior with Annie Sloan Duck Egg and Dark Wax but I am going to wait at last a month to allow the glass shelves to cure!

The Process...

First step: Annie Sloan Old White, two coats...

Sand and distress...then paint with Old White again, random pure white acrylic, followed by Miss Mustard Seed Linen.  It gives the appearance of paint wearing down, rather than being abraded by a sander.  The more random the better. However, be sure to distress the areas of higher use, such as around handles, at the feet, door corners...any place that tends to get more use.  The feet would have been abraded over time by brooms, mops, contact with shoes, etc.

I took a hammer and pounded, scraped and dragged it in the surface of the paint.  I used a scraper and a length of chain to distress it further.
As I pounded and banged I soothed the dogs and cats...
"BANG,!  BANG!  BANG!!!!"
"Sorry guys.  It's okay.  It's just Mommy."
"No, no, no...come back, Atticus, it's's okay sweetie."
I would hold the hammer in front of their noses.
"Look!  It's a hammer.  It's just a hammer".
Then I would pick up each pet individually, soothe them and ply them with treats.

Needless to say, that part took a long time.

I then applied a mixture of three parts Miss Mustard Seed Linen to one part Typewriter and five parts water to make a "glaze". I brushed on the glaze and wiped it with a dry cloth.
I call  this my "What have I done?" moment.  It passed!
As an aside, when I ordered the Milk Paint, I rushed.  I thought Curio was grey.  It isn't.  It's brown.  However, the Linen and Typewriter did the trick.  If I did this again I would buy the Trophy.  

I went over the area with a wet cloth to give a random, time-worn patina. This shows the door before I went over it with the wet cloth.
Sorry for the poor lighting. I did this at night.

The finished result is a finish that moves with the light.

I love it when things go my way!

If you have any questions, please leave them in the comment section and I will answer them there!



Sharing with:
Kathleen at The Dedicated House, Anything Blue Friday!


  1. Remarkable! Looks terrific Andie! An amazing find that you transformed into a thousand dollar piece! Bravo!

  2. Another remarkable transformation. Good job, Andie! Henredon Heritage has always been regarded as one of our finest makers of furniture -- fine material, great craftsmanship. I have one their "Chinese Modern" bedroom sets bought in the 1950's when that style became very popular. It still retains its original factory finish, but I enjoy it just the way it is even so.

    I have to say, however, that the original medium brown, high gloss finish on your wonderful secretary did nothing to enhance the carving or the proportions of the piece.

    I'm curious. Was the idea to paint the interior that particular shade of blue original with you, or were you inspired by some historic precedent? I think it might be a good idea to add another layer of color to the blue, as you, yourself suggested. I know the interior would not be as worn as the exterior surfaces, but adding another layer or two to the finish would probably give it a feeling of greater richness, age and depth. I hate to sound critical, but as it stands now the blue interior seems just a wee bit flat.

    Lovely room!

    1. Thank you, my dear friend!
      You are right. The interior needs more work but I will wait a while longer, lest I pull paint up from the glass. It really wasn't my brightest idea to paint the glass shelves.
      I always look forward to your advice because you are usually right.



  3. Amazing to see this transformation! The amount of thoughtfulness and work you put into this piece is astounding!
    Thanks so much for sharing Andie!

    The Arts by Karena

  4. That was a huge job but you got it done LOL It is very old world charming
    I love seeing it finished as much as you do

  5. Amazing job do you do it, I don't even understand the procedure! I love the gorgeous finished look with the blue inside. Very French looking!

  6. Splendid! You totally amaze me, Andie. First you find these amazing pieces, and then you have the vision and the enthusiasm to transform them into incredible pieces. Bravo!

  7. I have one question. Have you lost your mind?! Actually that's more of a statement… You have lost your mind!!!

  8. I don't do projects at night. I am too busy watching the real housewives of every city in America.

  9. Andie, it is simply gorgeous! I love all the texture and depth that it now has, it has definitely taken on an old world feel!

  10. Andie the time you spent faux painting your piece paid off beautifully. I haven't ever painted glass shelves before, did you use something on them first, wiped them with something that would make the paint adhere? Stunning work.

  11. What can I say but.... Wow this is absolutely magnificent!!!!! You really know how to make MAGIC with your paint brush. Love, Love it!

  12. My dear blogging friend Andie--you have such an amazing gift that emanates in all you do. Your passion for animals, your nesting, your ability to transform the average into the spectacular, your love for your daughter and I am sure so many other areas that we as readers are not privy to.
    This piece of furniture is stunning and your patience is something I admire and aspire to have. Thank you once again for sharing. Whenever I look at 'blogs that inspire' in my sidebar and see you have a new post--I truly get giddy and know I am in for a treat. You could post a pic of a shrub and I would be thrilled---I feel so lucky to have discovered you and your grace.

  13. Lové the out Côme, you have added value to the piece, yet for me I would have had to make wood shelving in place of the glass as I did on that nothing little cabinet that now sits a top the sideboard in my kitchen that I painted.
    You find the most amazing pieces of grandeur.... I so need to camp out with you and hit those craigslist listings with you, then get I to a rumble over who gets it :))

    Love your hands in creating your magic here.

    I am and have wanted to add a little more aging to my piece in my kitchen, but I never know how long the piece will hang out before I may replace it with another piece, and time and effort sometimes does not work in resale.
    You my dear Andie have a piece to love.
    Did you see my new Theatre? In my latest post? This one may fit more up your alley in style of your home, as I am I'm love with your authentic puppet theatre in Gracie's room of play.

    See you soon dear.


  14. This was fun to read, especially the part of the bang bang and its just me mommy....lolol Nice job Andie!

  15. Oh Andie, I really like the way it turned out...beautiful! So much better than the original.
    Merry Christmas.

  16. Andie,

    I've been meaning to tell you, and keep forgetting: That tympanum-shaped painting above the piece is a stroke of genius. It gives added height, richness and a greater sense of importance to the already-spectacular cabinet.

    Have you considered wiping on then buffing touches of gold to accentuate the carvings and graceful outlines of the raised panels? I believe that was often done in the "Louis" periods. Might be fun.


  17. Olá,
    amei, tua casa está cheia de riquezas e os móveis estão lindos. Também quero píntar mas tenho medo. Que bom que deu tudo certo.
    Bjos tenha um ótimo dia.

  18. This is gorgeous! It had great bones beneath all that shiny finish, but now its magnificent! The techniques you came up with were perfect! So much better than the original finish. Hugs, Leena

  19. Absolutely magnificent !!!
    What an incredible find and you transformed her ( furniture always have a gender in my mind lol ) magically - just WOW - stunning !

  20. Absolutely magnificent !!!
    What an incredible find and you transformed her ( furniture always have a gender in my mind lol ) magically - just WOW - stunning !

  21. What an amazing piece! Beautifully done! Thank you for sharing. You are one of the features at the Anything Blue Friday party at The Dedicated House! Yes, the party is back. Here is the link to this week's bash! Hope to see you again at the party! Toodles, Kathryn @TheDedicatedHouse


I love hearing what you have to say!


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