Sunday, February 19, 2012

Antique Imperial Desk Restoration

The phrase “One man’s trash is another’s treasure” is the perfect introduction for the piece I’m going to show you today.  I found this desk via a Facebook acquaintance, who was giving it away… for FREE!
I was more than happy to take if off her hands, because I could tell this was a diamond in the rough.
photo (1)
The veneer was badly damaged, the feet were in need of repair, and the wood was screaming for moisture… but structurally the desk was in great condition, ALL of the original hardware was still with the piece (the ones missing in the above photo were tucked away safely in the drawer), and the desk even came with a custom-fit glass topper!
I would love to take credit for the amazing restoration you’re about to see, but the props all go to my hubby… Mr. Home.Made.  This was his baby, all the way.   (Seriously, he begged to have this one all to himself… so I let him.  Am I a good wife, or what?!)
He meticulously removed all of the old chipping veneer, sanded the wood until it was soft as a baby’s bum, stained  and sealed it, and cleaned off years of grime from the hardware.  All of his hard work turned this old, neglected desk into this gorgeous piece of furniture:
Is that not the most beautiful desk you’ve ever seen?!
My hubby really enhanced the beauty of the wood grain by doing a darker stain on the larger wood fronts and a lighter stain on the framework.  Does that hardware make you as giddy as it makes me?  And yes, there are even pull-out writing ledges… on each side.  *swoon*
The desk was made by the Imperial Desk Company, which is no longer in business.  We aren’t quite sure of the exact age of this piece, but our best guess dates it to the early 40s.  The locking mechanism is quite brilliant – when you push in the middle drawer and lock it, it locks all of the desk drawers.  Crazy.
 
I love the custom-cut glass – that alone would’ve cost over a hundred dollars!
I could not be more proud of my hubby and the beautiful job he did with this desk.  It was so much fun working side-by-side in our garage – sanding, painting, staining, and transforming – giving new life to a piece that was on its way to the dumpster and stirring up ideas for a home-based business.
Even better though?  Seeing this piece of furniture shine as it was originally intended… isn’t that why we all do this anyway?


Linking up!

29 comments:

  1. What a beautiful desk- great job!

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  2. What a labor of love! A wonderful rehab. I know how much work that took and I applaud you both! It is beautiful! Now the chair right?

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  3. holy moly!!!!!! you really saved that piece and made it shine again! it looks good as new!

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  4. I am so in LOVE with this desk! It's amazing! Stopping by from Primitive and Proper. :)

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  5. Well done on a gorgeous restoration! Love it.

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  6. Wow! He did such a great job restoring the desk. It is truly beautiful!

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  7. Wow, what a beautiful restoration. Great work!

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  8. Wow, this is a beautiful desk! And the before was so sad - I probably would have given up on that wood and painted it but it looks so great restored. Your hubby did an amazing job.

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  9. This is gorgeous -- totally worth the hard work! Thanks for sharing that he chipped off all the veneer and was able to stain it and have it look good! I've always wanted to do that on a few pieces but was really nervous about it.

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  10. Your husband did a fantastic job. What an exquisite treasure!

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  11. Amazing transformation! I would love for you to share this project at my Linky party via: www.ourdelightfulhome.blogspot.com

    Mrs. Delightful
    www.ourdelightfulhome.blogspot.com

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  12. Wow! I would love to see this process. It is beautiful, Lori

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  13. Gorgeous and inspiring!

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  14. Gorgeous!!! I too would love to see the process, or at least know the tools, stainers, etc. required. How long did this take? I inherited my grandfather's 1910s tallboy dresser and it is in badly need of a makeover of the natural kind. I cannot afford to have it done by a professional, and I would hate to just remove the veneer and paint over it!

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    1. It took him an afternoon to chip off the veneer, using a chisel. There were some stubborn veneer pieces left so he removed those using a sharp knife. He then sanded the wood underneath using an orbital sander (there are inexpensive versions of these at hardware stores).
      He used CitraSolve to strip the crackling varnish from the top and sides of the desk, then sanded those lightly. The side panels are generally much thinner than tops, frames, drawers, so be gentle - it's sometimes best to hand sand these parts.
      Stain is MinWax, available at Home Depot and then MinWax poly, two coats.

      Hope this answers your questions!

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  15. looks stunning. a very manly desk. did he not zip-strip them first? just sanding?

    i did something similar but zip stripped per suggestions from friends.

    http://generalworks.tumblr.com/post/12290342693/night-stand-end-table-refinishing-project

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  16. Absolutely GORGEOUS! WOW WOW WOW! I too would love to know if y'all sanded it only (before staining and such) or if he did more. I am soooo impressed (and inspired!)
    Did i already say WOW?!!!
    WOW!
    :0)

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  17. WOW! I love it so much. You did an amazing job! Enjoy! Megan

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  18. How did you fix the missing drawer handle?

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  19. WOW!!! I can't believe this transformation!! I'm featuring you on my blog tomorrow. Thanks for linking up this week!

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  20. Wow. I need a step by step guide on how to do this. I'm raiding second hand stores right now to replace our furniture. It's expensive but I do come across items like this that are cheap. This desk is absolutely gorgeous and your hubby is a genius.

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  21. It's amazing! I have several pieces in my basement waiting for me to get the guts to tackle a real refinishing project. So far I've only painted old furniture -- never repaired, stripped, and restained it. Your desk is lovely, from the pulls to the two stain colors. Nice job by Mr.Home.Made!

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  22. Fantastic idea. I don't have a Lack desk, but I'm sure I could use this on my worn out dining room table that's still got life in it but needs a facelift.
    white marks furniture

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  23. I am in love with that desk! The feet, the character it has, and the fact that you didnt just paint it. Great job on your husbands part. :-)

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  24. That desk looks great! I recently picked up an older Imperial desk, also for free, and it came without keys for the center drawer lock.
    Where did you get the lock? It looks like the same style and size as mine would use.

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    1. I I thoroughly enjoyed seeing this blog. I just found you today. I can tell this was a labor of love and you will both enjoy the benefits for many years. You now have a treasure that can be handed down to younger generations in your later years. Though you probably have no intention of parting with it any time soon.�� Beautifully done!

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  25. How did you find the missing pulls? Are they original to the desk? I too found a desk I am in LOVE with, also made by imperial, it is complete except missing 6 copper rivets? Any idea how to find something like that?

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