Thursday, March 27, 2014

Art Deco Waterfall Desk

While scouring Craigslist last week for some unique finds, I came across this waterfall desk that I just HAD to have. It looked too vintage to not buy it! I didn't/don't know much about this style of furniture, and I'm still not sure when these were made (1930s? 1940s? Does that mean it's antique or vintage??) but I do know that this is the "waterfall" style. See how the front looks like water could fall right off the edge?

Of course, it needed a tiny bit of work to fix up before I could actually paint it. The top right drawer was missing it's "stop" tab that keeps the drawer from pushing back too far, and the bottom left footer piece had a 1/2 inch gap above it. Luckily, I just needed to tap bang this piece off, and nail it into it's proper place and fill the holes with wood putty!

Once that was all together, I mixed up a custom color of chalk paint and got to work! I had bought a sample of Sherwin Williams' color "surf green," which looked like a beautiful and bright (but not too bright) teal green. I had pondered for days over what color to paint this desk, and finally chose this color (which looks a heck of a lot like 15 other colors just like it, but not exactly like it.... do you ever have that problem??)  But after opening the can, the actual color was too bright! A little black paint mixed in and we were good to go! Muted teal! Perfect! See the difference in the colors?

Two coats later, some distressing, and a coat of clear wax and I'm in love! The hardware is original, except for the center knob because one of the handles was broken. However, I did spray paint the maroon part of the handles-- can you even tell they are maroon? They are, and they looked too retro for my liking. So they are oil rubbed bronze now! I left the gold part untouched (except for some TSP soaking to clean off the grime!) but they looked old and distressed and I liked that.

What do you think?

Hubby says it looks like it belongs on a ship. I say it belongs in a coastal house or bed and breakfast. Or in a Pottery Barn styled room for a pop of color! Either way, I wish I could keep this one just like all my other pieces, but there's only so much room in this house! You can find it for sale in my Etsy shop!



  1. You have ruined a beautiful art deco piece. I can't believe you covered up all that wonderful wood grain color and depth, which you could have easily brought back to a gorgeous luster with Restore-a-finish or something similar. I have a deco dining room set which I did that to years ago, and it's still the nicest furniture in the house. Oh well, maybe someone will buy it and strip off the dumpy-looking fake-antique paint.

    1. Hi, thanks for stopping by the blog. Yes, I could have easily brought back the original luster of this piece if that's the look I'd been going for. Everyone has different taste, and that's what makes all of this so fun and unique. I trust that your dining room set is beautiful, but I also trust that it matches your style and taste. I happened to LOVE how this piece turned out, and I found a buyer who was ecstatic to have found this piece just the way it is. "Different strokes for different folks"

    2. I LOVE IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
      Why be boring when you can make ART? Right

  2. I think this is beautiful. I am about to start working on a similar waterfall desk, and stopped by to see what type of top coat you used. Sorry people are so free with their opinions. I love antique wood furniture, but I also appreciate a well painted piece when it is done in good taste and offers an improvement on the original. Sometimes dark wood can be dull. You did a beautiful job!

  3. Hi - I love this look. I'm not sure why some people believe that wood grain is the only beautiful finish there is?? Also incredibly rude to just give you his/her opinion when I don't believe you asked for it!! When I wanted to have our oak trim painted (arthritis keeps me from doing that big of a job myself), two different painters told me that I 'couldn't' paint my oak trim... My answer? I paid for it, it's mine - I've enjoyed it for 17 years, and I can paint it! I really like the waterfall desk - I think I'm going to search for one myself. Nice job on the distressing also.

  4. I recently just purchased the same desk and was unable to find out who it was made by and was wondering if by chance it had said anywhere on your desk who the desk was made by?

  5. Absolutely LOVE what you did with the piece. I actually just picked one of these up from a yard sale today. It needs a little bit of love, but in no time I think it will be beautiful. I'm sticking to the wood, as it fits with the decor I'm going for in my house, but I love the way handles look. (Mine doesn't have any.) I'll have to keep an eye out!

  6. I have this desk in good original condition. Original finish. It should be a crime when people choose to paint a heritage piece a "pretty" color rather than refinish and restore. LAZY! Go waste those efforts on fake Adirondack chairs and "charming" bird houses. You have ruined a part of history.