French Provincial Decoupage Desk


Sometimes, the most satisfying makeovers begin with a really ugly piece – one that has years of neglect and sadness lingering in every crevice, with little hope until someone with fierce determination and impressive skills comes along.

Other times, we need to catch a break.

This is a lesson I’ve learned – a garage full of “deals” that need tons of work and have been piling up over the years is not better than a few key pieces here and there that need minimal work.  It’s good to have a (small) stash of furniture, but you’re only wasting money and precious garage space if you groan every time you glance in their direction and just. keep. putting. them. off. forever.

So give yourself a break.  Pay a little more for a piece that won’t make you want to scream and pull your hair out.  This desk was a little more than I would normally pay, but thankfully it didn’t have many challenges.

Vintage French Provincial decoupage desk makeover - Girl in the Garage

The biggest issues were some deep scratches and gouges in the wood top and some fading and scratches on the leather.Vintage French Provincial decoupage desk makeover - Girl in the Garage

Friends, it’s Furniture Fixer Upper day with some of my blogging buddies so be sure to check out their projects at the end of this post!

Someone did a good job of protecting the drawers with paper inside.

Vintage French Provincial decoupage desk makeover - Girl in the Garage

* This post contains some affiliate links, at no extra cost to you, so you can easily find the products I use and recommend.

I sanded out the scratches and filled the gouges with wood filler.  Vintage French Provincial decoupage desk makeover - Girl in the Garage

I was concerned about bleed-through so I primed it (everything: wood and leather) with two coats of Zinsser BIN shellac primer.  This was my first time using it, and I was really impressed.  It’s also supposed to block odors (although it is pretty stinky while you’re using it).  Because it’s shellac, you need to use the right type of paint brush and you’ll need to clean the brush properly afterward.  I used diluted ammonia – just a little of it mixed in a cup of warm water, swish the brush around for a few minutes, and then rinse it well and let dry.

Vintage French Provincial decoupage desk makeover - Girl in the GarageTip:  I like to keep big cardboard boxes to break them down and put under my projects, especially if I’m painting in the house.  Gotta protect the floors!

Next the desk was painted in about 2.5 coats of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in Pure White.  The primer really helped keep the white paint nice and bright.

Vintage French Provincial decoupage desk makeover - Girl in the Garage

Over the next couple days I applied two coats of Fusion Mineral Paint’s Tough Coat matte poly topcoat.  I have used it on a few pieces now and I like that it is easier to use than wax (it’s a liquid that you can apply with a cloth or brush) and it is honestly non-yellowing!

If you’ve been following me for a while you know I’ve tried many, many topcoats and have been very frustrated.  Even several that said they wouldn’t yellow, yellowed.  UGG.  But I have been really happy with Tough Coat!  (FYI Fusion Mineral Paint doesn’t require a topcoat since it’s self-curing, but I’ve been using the Fusion Mineral Tough Coat over Annie Sloan’s Chalk Paint since that does need a topcoat.)  You can learn more about it Here.

Here are the drawers out of the way, all piled up under the kitchen table.  😉 Vintage French Provincial decoupage desk makeover - Girl in the Garage

Next was the fun part: Getting everything ready for decoupage.

I got several sheets of my favorite scrapbook paper from Hobby Lobby (see it in this project HERE and also HERE), measured, and cut it to size with my paper cutter.  This cutter makes projects like this a breeze because you have to have perfectly straight lines, and you can cut paper for all the drawers really quickly.  Here’s a link to where you can learn more and buy this paper cutter online (it’s a #1 best seller on Amazon!).Vintage French Provincial decoupage desk makeover - Girl in the Garage

I glued the paper over the drawer fronts with matte Mod Podge and a sponge brush.  Mod Podge dries really fast so work quickly – and you only have 1-2 chances to reposition the paper if you mess up the first time.

And here’s how she looks now…

Vintage French Provincial decoupage desk makeover - Girl in the Garage

Advice please!  I was really debating whether to paint the pulls or leave them as-is.  They’re dark bronze and they kind of match the script on the paper.  But are they too dark?

Let me know if you think I should dry brush them with white paint – I’d leave some of the dark showing through.

Vintage French Provincial decoupage desk makeover - Girl in the Garage

Vintage French Provincial decoupage desk makeover - Girl in the GarageThis decoupage desk makeover is similar to one I did several years ago (see it Here or at the bottom of this post).

Vintage French Provincial decoupage desk makeover - Girl in the Garage Vintage French Provincial decoupage desk makeover - Girl in the Garage

The primer and paint covered the leather really well.

The entire desk has a modern vintage look now.  (So fresh and so clean)Vintage French Provincial decoupage desk makeover - Girl in the GarageThis decoupage desk will be available at the Hunt and Gather Market next month, July 14-15th in Crown Point, Indiana.  Come visit me if you’re in the area!Vintage French Provincial decoupage desk makeover - Girl in the Garage

Today is Furniture Fixer Upper day with my friends!

Furniture Fixer Uppers

Below are the Before photos – click the links underneath to see the Afters and learn how they did the makeover.Furniture Fixer Uppers - June 20171. Confessions of a Serial DIYer
2. Just the Woods
3. The Interior Frugalista
4. Petticoat Junktion

* You might also like this similar project:  French Decoupage Desk Makeover *
French Decoupage Desk Makeover - Girl in the Garage


 photo just-paint-it-ad-border-wide_zpsmka7ckdc.jpg

65 Comments on French Provincial Decoupage Desk

  1. Jody
    June 22, 2017 at 6:54 am (3 months ago)

    The desk is so cool. I like the dark pills. Nice contrast.

    Reply
    • Jen
      June 26, 2017 at 6:58 pm (3 months ago)

      Thanks Kandice! xo

      Reply
    • Jen
      June 26, 2017 at 6:58 pm (3 months ago)

      Thank you Larissa!

      Reply
    • Jen
      June 26, 2017 at 6:57 pm (3 months ago)

      Thanks so much Christy! I’m going to leave the pulls dark – seems to be pretty unanimous. 🙂 xo

      Reply
  2. Barb MacAskill
    June 22, 2017 at 9:06 am (3 months ago)

    I wouldn’t change anything about this breathtaking piece! The dark pulls look perfect as is! TFS!

    Reply
    • Jen
      June 26, 2017 at 6:55 pm (3 months ago)

      Thank you Barb! I’m going to leave the pulls dark. 🙂

      Reply
  3. Marie|The Interior Frugalista
    June 22, 2017 at 9:43 am (3 months ago)

    Jen, this desk is gorgeous! I think the pulls look fine dark, they add a nice contrast. The script papered drawer fronts are stunning. Beautiful makeover ♥

    Reply
    • Jen
      June 26, 2017 at 6:54 pm (3 months ago)

      Thanks so much Marie! xo

      Reply
  4. Brenda
    June 22, 2017 at 10:27 am (3 months ago)

    Leave the pulls dark lovely piece

    Reply
  5. Laura Smith
    June 22, 2017 at 12:07 pm (3 months ago)

    Jen, The pulls are perfect as is, they give it a pop! I am so glad you used that paper on the front and showcased it! LOVE LOVE LOVE!

    Reply
    • Jen
      June 26, 2017 at 6:54 pm (3 months ago)

      Thanks so much, Laura! I’m glad you like the desk! 🙂

      Reply
  6. Sheryl
    June 22, 2017 at 12:33 pm (3 months ago)

    The desk makeover is gorgeous! I’ve been thinking of using paper on drawer fronts, but feel unsure. So, you attached the paper with modge podge, and then? Did you modge podge over the paper too! If yes, how many coats?

    Reply
    • Jen
      June 26, 2017 at 6:53 pm (3 months ago)

      Hi Sheryl, thank you! I usually use thick paper when I decoupage so I don’t have any issues with bubbles or wrinkles (unless I want a more distressed look). I applied a thin layer of Mod Podge directly onto the drawers and then carefully laid the paper on top starting on one end and slowly pressing down until the entire paper was flat on the wood. Then I gently rubbed back and forth with my hands over the top for a few minutes. I didn’t apply Mod Podge on top of the paper this time – but I think I did before on the black desk from a few years ago that I also shared a photo of in the post. If you put MP over the top, use matte and only apply 1-2 thin coats. Too much Mod Podge may cause the paper to rip. Hope that helps!

      Reply
      • Sheryl
        June 27, 2017 at 7:26 am (3 months ago)

        Thank you for taking the time to share your knowledge – I appreciate it. 😊

        Reply
  7. Angie
    June 22, 2017 at 12:46 pm (3 months ago)

    Leave the pulls as they are! It is all gorgeous together!

    Reply
    • Jen
      June 26, 2017 at 6:43 pm (3 months ago)

      Thank you so much, Angie!

      Reply
  8. wendy
    June 22, 2017 at 12:50 pm (3 months ago)

    when you decoupage the drawers how do you get them to not have bubbles and wrinkles? help please! btw it is a beautiful piece!

    Reply
    • Jen
      June 26, 2017 at 6:43 pm (3 months ago)

      Thank you Wendy! I try to use thick paper when I decoupage and then I don’t have any issues with bubbles or wrinkles. I apply a thin layer of Mod Podge directly onto the furniture and then carefully lay the paper on top starting on one end and slowly pressing down until the entire paper is flat on the wood. Then I gently rub back and forth for a few minutes. Hope that helps. 🙂

      Reply
  9. Connie
    June 22, 2017 at 12:56 pm (3 months ago)

    I would leave them dark. It looks beautiful

    Reply
  10. Melva
    June 22, 2017 at 12:58 pm (3 months ago)

    Hi, the makover is absolutely stunning. The dark pulls are a nice contrast. However, you can’t go wrong either way.

    Reply
    • Jen
      June 26, 2017 at 6:38 pm (3 months ago)

      Thanks so much, Melva! 🙂

      Reply
  11. Connie
    June 22, 2017 at 1:16 pm (3 months ago)

    The desk is beautiful! The dark pulls are pretty and do provide contrast but I personally would prefer them softened a little with the white drybrushing. They seem a little harsh for the soft lines of the piece.

    Reply
    • Jen
      June 26, 2017 at 6:38 pm (3 months ago)

      Thank you Connie!

      Reply
  12. Debbie
    June 22, 2017 at 1:23 pm (3 months ago)

    This is a beautiful makeover. I love the pulls dark! They look so nice against the decoupaged paper. 🙂

    Reply
    • Jen
      June 26, 2017 at 6:37 pm (3 months ago)

      Thank you Debbie! I’m going to leave the pulls dark. 🙂

      Reply
  13. Marcie Lovett
    June 22, 2017 at 1:24 pm (3 months ago)

    Great bones before, beautiful now! I vote for keeping the drawer pulls dark, although you might consider dry brushing the one on the center drawer that didn’t didn’t get decoupaged.

    Reply
    • Jen
      June 26, 2017 at 6:37 pm (3 months ago)

      Thank you Marcie!

      Reply
  14. Nancy Kriner
    June 22, 2017 at 2:00 pm (3 months ago)

    Leave as is Don’t paint pulls.

    Reply
  15. Melissa Davis
    June 22, 2017 at 2:09 pm (3 months ago)

    Love it ! I am going to use your inspiration on a jewelry box .

    Reply
    • Jen
      June 26, 2017 at 6:36 pm (3 months ago)

      Thanks Melissa! I’d love to see it when you’re finished. 🙂 You can upload a photo on my Facebook page if you’d like.

      Reply
  16. Linda
    June 22, 2017 at 2:29 pm (3 months ago)

    I love the drawer pulls – the piece is beautiful!!!

    Reply
    • Jen
      June 26, 2017 at 6:35 pm (3 months ago)

      Thank you so much Linda!

      Reply
    • Jen
      June 26, 2017 at 6:34 pm (3 months ago)

      Thank you Rose!

      Reply
  17. Jolinda
    June 22, 2017 at 3:12 pm (3 months ago)

    I say leave the handles as they are. If they were white or light it would be too much blending.
    It turned out really nice.

    Reply
    • Jen
      June 26, 2017 at 6:32 pm (3 months ago)

      Thanks so much Jolinda! I’m going to leave them dark. 🙂

      Reply
  18. Dee B
    June 22, 2017 at 4:14 pm (3 months ago)

    That is so nice I am drooling! Thank you.

    Reply
    • Jen
      June 26, 2017 at 6:28 pm (3 months ago)

      Haha! That’s so sweet, thank you Dee! 🙂

      Reply
  19. Tracy Shudo
    June 22, 2017 at 4:19 pm (3 months ago)

    Love Love the way it is now, don’t change a thing. And along with other persons question, did you use modpoge to just attach paper or did you do coats over it after to seal it? Thanks PS I like the white one a little better than the darker one.

    Reply
    • Jen
      June 26, 2017 at 6:28 pm (3 months ago)

      Thank you Tracy! I did not apply Mod Podge over the top of the paper. (I believe I did on the black desk that I did a few years ago though.) You can do it either way, but I’d suggest to use matte Mod Podge if you do and only apply 1-2 thin layers.

      Reply
    • Jen
      June 26, 2017 at 6:16 pm (3 months ago)

      Thank you Sharon! 🙂

      Reply
  20. Kim
    June 22, 2017 at 6:50 pm (3 months ago)

    The pulls are perfect as they are! Great piece!

    Reply
    • Jen
      June 26, 2017 at 6:14 pm (3 months ago)

      Thanks so much, Kim!

      Reply
  21. Susan
    June 23, 2017 at 6:28 am (3 months ago)

    I love the dark pulls! Beautiful work!

    Reply
    • Jen
      June 26, 2017 at 6:14 pm (3 months ago)

      Thank you Susan! They’re going to stay dark. 🙂

      Reply
  22. Bonnie
    June 23, 2017 at 8:30 am (3 months ago)

    I really like the pulls are they are.

    Reply
    • Jen
      June 26, 2017 at 6:13 pm (3 months ago)

      Thanks Bonnie! I’m going to leave the pulls dark. 🙂

      Reply
  23. Chris
    June 23, 2017 at 12:58 pm (3 months ago)

    Love the desk! Love all your ideas.

    Reply
    • Jen
      June 26, 2017 at 6:12 pm (3 months ago)

      Thank you Chris!

      Reply
  24. Barb
    June 23, 2017 at 7:46 pm (3 months ago)

    This is one gorgeous piece! I love the white and especially the script on the drawer fronts! The handles you painted black look terrific! Fantastic job, GITG!!! Stupendous!

    Reply
    • Jen
      June 26, 2017 at 6:12 pm (3 months ago)

      Thanks so much, Barb!

      Reply
  25. Terri Hughes
    June 23, 2017 at 10:16 pm (3 months ago)

    Absolutely beautiful….I would leave the drawer pulls dark. They make the desk stand out even more. I love it!

    Reply
    • Jen
      June 26, 2017 at 6:11 pm (3 months ago)

      Thanks Terri! I think I’m going to leave the pulls dark. 🙂

      Reply
  26. Debra Mccoy
    June 25, 2017 at 11:36 am (3 months ago)

    Absolutely love it. And the paper choice is awesome. Writing paper on a desk, no Brainer huh! Love the dark pulls. Ready to try on a dresser I’ve put off too long.

    Reply
    • Jen
      June 26, 2017 at 6:08 pm (3 months ago)

      Thanks so much Debra! 🙂

      Reply
  27. jacquey
    June 25, 2017 at 3:37 pm (3 months ago)

    can appreciate all of the time and effort you put into this piece and it paid off handsomely–but eyes were pulled directly to the pulls. dark grey would be my choice.

    Reply
  28. Patty
    June 28, 2017 at 8:24 am (3 months ago)

    I love this piece! So pretty. I think the dark pulls pop, love them too. My question is, how does the paint on the leather top hold up? How do you keep it from cracking?

    Reply
    • Jen
      June 29, 2017 at 6:37 pm (3 months ago)

      Thanks Patty! Since this piece is newly finished I can’t say how it’ll hold up long-term, but Annie Sloan Chalk Paint works great when painting over fabric (with a little water sprayed on- no water on the leather though). I have some blogging friends who have used Chalk Paint over leather chairs and they’ve held up just fine. Also the Tough Coat topcoat that I used is really strong to help protect it.

      Reply
  29. Ivory
    July 19, 2017 at 9:37 pm (2 months ago)

    OMG, this desk is rockin hot. I love it!

    Reply
    • Jen
      July 24, 2017 at 11:09 am (2 months ago)

      Hahaha, thanks so much Ivory! 🙂

      Reply

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