Sunroom Secretary

I’m feeling artsy-fartsy today. Handsy-wandsy if ya know what I mean. I think I’ll play with some of this milk paint I got from my friend, Marian, a.k.a Miss Mustard Seed

Kev and I picked up a sweet little secondhand secretary for the sunroom a few weeks ago, and it’s just beggin’ for a coat of something fun!

At first, I thought it was missing a shelf (which was totally fine), but upon further inspection, I discovered that the upper shelf had just fallen, and is actually sitting on top of the lower one right now.

I’m not sure if I’ll use both shelves or not though. I kind of like the idea of using some tall things on that lower shelf.

I’ll probably replace the drawer pulls, but keyhole hardware will stay…

I love that it came with its original key. There’s something so magical about those old-timey ones, don’t ya think? I love the feel of them…and using them to open things. It makes the whole experience so much more…Narnia. Ya know what I mean? I’ve locked and unlocked that sucker probably fifty times so far. Never gets old!

Here’s to magic and milk paint…and (hopefully) a fun adventure with both, today!

PS- Did you know Marian released a book this month? I just ordered a copy and I’m so excited to read it!


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  1. Krystal says

    I can’t hardly stand it! I am so anxious to see what colors you choose for every room in yall’s new cottage! I don’t mind if you want to just email me the color choices ahead of time and do the reveals later…that would be totally cool with me ;-) hehe. You guys are so creative and talented!
    What color milk paint did you choose? I have a secretary that is stained a bit darker than yours that belongs to my in-laws but gets to spend the days and nights at our house. Been thinking about begging them to let me change it up….eeekkkk! Fingers crossed!!

  2. Donna says

    I can’t WAIT to see what you do! I’ve been wanting to try that paint myself! But I’m a big chicken . . . Go get um Layla! :)

  3. says

    Love this piece! My grandparents have a dark cherry secretary that is almost exactly like this one. Can’t wait to see what you do with yours.

  4. Harbormom says

    When I was a wee little girl (I’m 70 now), my grandmother had a secretary with all of those little slots, some slide-out compartments, and even a little door that opened to reveal a little cubby-hole! I used to pretend it was a doll house and would play there for hours. My daughter gave it a coat of white enamel and used it in her nursery when her first daughter was born, I have seen them used in bathrooms, kitchens – all over the house. You’re gonna love it!

  5. Jake's a Girl says

    That one looks almost like the sister to mine except mine has the original wooden knobs. Also the key. Don’t have the guts to paint it but i’m almost use to the orangey color. ha. After I see what you guys do with yours I may change my mind. I’ll try to send a pic.
    We just purchased another one from Craigslist for our son’s house as an early Christmas present. It is dark mahogony with claw and ball feet. I love it, too. Maybe he’ll trade?
    The sunroom is going to be lovely and am excited to see the end results.

    Jake’s a Girl.

  6. says

    We had that exact same desk growing up, only, we never had the top. i didn’t know it came with one. I’m sure yours will look great after it’s overhaul!

  7. says

    I have been searching for just such a secretary for a wall in our living room. The search continues for an affordable one that has character and perhaps, yes, its original key. I do so love the old skeleton keys too! I can’t wait to see what you do with yours! I use Annie Sloan paint but have been thinking of trying MMS Milk Paint!
    oh and P.S. our living room is painted in Cloud Nine!

  8. says

    We just moved that exact secretary from my mother’s home into the Fairfield House! Look forward to seeing her twin after the makeover!
    Your Friend,

  9. Mary says

    I have that exact same secretary! I bought it from my aunt and uncle’s estate several years ago.

  10. Samme says

    I have an OLD Belgium dining set that includes a china cabinet. It has a beautiful, old key to open its carved doors. I love the clinky sound the locks make and think about its original owners and their families in a bygone era.

  11. Liz VanKirk says

    Everyone was talking about Marian’s new book so I made a special trip to our local Barnes & Noble and purchased one. I’m about 3/4 of the way through and am really enjoying it.

    Can’t wait to see what you decide to do with the secretary cabinet.


  12. says

    You crack me up with the old skeleton key. Those are super cool though. I love them, too. I have an old pie safe that has the old key hole, but alas, no key… sigh. That will be a fun paint job.

  13. says

    I love old keys. We have a dresser with a lock like that that we use in the living room – what fun! I can’t wait to see what you do with your piece. I have an old desk that is similar to yours minus the hutch top. It was my grandpa’s so part of me doesn’t want to mess with it but it also could use some TLC. Maybe you will inspire me to new imaginations : )

  14. says

    I think they usually take excess shelves off cabinets to make it easier for shipping, etc. I thought the same thing when I bought a china cabinet a little while back.

    I can’t wait to see what your secretary looks like with a couple of coats of Miss Mustard Seed’s milk paint!

  15. says

    Can’t wait to see how it turns out – I’ve been wanting to try Milk Paint but haven’t quite gotten up the courage. Maybe this will inspire me to give it a try!

  16. Judy B says

    You and Kevin are adorable! It’s fun following your journey and seeing how God orchestrates (Peru) your plans. Really enjoy your makeover’s. I want to “redo” a piece of furniture with milk paint. Is it really as easy as it sounds? Anxious to see your results! I’m so proud of how you stepped out in faith for the Peru trip ! I dread flying too, and it’s a leap of faith to travel. God is faithful.

    Merry Christmas from the Pacific Northwest!

  17. Lisa K. says

    Looking forward to seeing your final project!

    I ordered Miss Mustard Seed’s book and when the UPS man delivered it in the morning I read right through until I had to make dinner for my family. :-) So….quick…finish your painting before her book arrives. ;-)

  18. says

    I’ve recently discovered your blog and LOVE IT!!! After debating for @ a year, you have inspired me to paint my kitchen cabinets. Lovin’ your kitchen! I’m thinking black! Stay tuned…I’m going to do a blog post soon about this oh so fun adventure. Can’t wait to see your newly painted secretary! Thanks and Blessings, Layla!

  19. says

    Awe!! I love that secretary. My grandmother has the EXACT same one in her house, little key and all. She’s stores these little house figurines in it and has since I was a little girl. What a beautiful piece… Can’t wait to see what you make of it. Milk paint = fun!

  20. annie says

    hey layla cant wait 2 see the finished project, im sure it’ll b darling…on a side note do u remembr june 2011ish mentioning a light biscotti color on a house u & kevin n saw in 1 of your favorite neighborhoods? i remembr loving the grey/green door w/that light biscotti color & as soon as i saw your new house i instantly thought of that color combo :) dont know your plans but thought your house wold look sweet in them! take care, annie

  21. JolieAnne says

    I just got Marian’s book and I love it! I am taking it slow as I don’t want to get to the end of it! I am so happy for her to have this kind of success and reward for her hard work and making it happen!
    I love your secretary and that key makes me smile, what a great detail. The wood isn’t a bad color but I bet you are going to change that! Can’t wait to see what it looks like after you get

  22. tina says

    I’ve already read the book. Couldn’t wait! LOVE IT!!


    Can’t wait to see the secretary redone!

  23. says

    I just inherited a similar secretary from my Dad….and was thinking about doing the same thing…painting with milk paint….I think I will wait and see how yours turns out =) {Ps. would it be sad to paint it from its original stain….I want too…but I worry family members will not be happy…both my parents have passed so it’s totally up to me….what say you?

    • Layla says

      Hey Teresa!
      I’m loving the way it’s turning out (I ended up using a combination of Milk Paint and Chalk Paint), and I think that’s the most important thing.- to love it! Original stain or painted finish…as long as you love it, it’ll be perfect in your place! :-)

  24. Marianne in Mo. says

    I’m so jealous! I’ve been dreaming of a Secretary for months! Can’t wait to see what you come up with for it!!

  25. Ter'e Crow Lindsay says

    So glad to see you kids home and posting. It’s been lonely here, with all us Commenteers, just waiting to drool over your next project. I was THRILLED to see the old Secretary!!!! It is so much more “you” than your original thoughts and pictures. I know you will turn this into a wonderful re-do. I really am thrilled with your choice (not that it matters) —– GREAT GREAT choice!!!!!! Oh boys – happy days are here again. Another LayKev design in the works. Oh wait….I better change that name………how about KevLay Project?
    :-) Bit by bit – one piece at a time – slowly we go. I can’t wait to watch this house transform!!!!!
    xoxoxox Ter’e

    • Layla says

      Hi Ter’e!

      Great to see you here today! We actually decided to use the chippy old cottage-y corbels in the next room over- so even though they won’t get used here, I will get to use them after all! I’m really excited for you to see them, and the surface they’ll support. Very cottage, very me! You’re right though…one thing at a time! Off to finish up the secretary! :-D

  26. Mary In Alpine CA says

    Funny, I have 2 different dressers from the same exact furniture collection. They were my mother-in-laws. One has been refinished with a stain and the other is still in the original condition. They are very well made. Can’t wait to see how your desk turns out!

  27. says

    What a great little secretary! I have been scouring Craigslist for a while looking for one. I can’t wait to see how yours looks all painted up. Are you going to tackle all those little cubbie spaces on the inside?

    I have Marian’s book on my Christmas list! I feel sure it will be every bit as wonderful as I imagine!

  28. Erin Dasher says

    I can’t wait to see how the secretary turns out. I have the EXACT same one and have been thinking oh painting it! Post pics soon :)

  29. says

    Yay! You got a secretary! That was my vote. :) The key! I’ve seen lots of secretaries in flea markets, and never even thought about the key. I had an antique secretary in my bedroom growing up (did all my homework in high school there), and I loved it. As soon as I read about your key, I immediately imagined locking and unlocking mine and the feel of that key in my hand. I haven’t thought about that in years! :)

  30. Jennifer says

    ohhhh! it’s almost just like the one i picked up and painted with chalk paint. can’t wait to see what you do with yours. i painted the outside aubusson blue and am planning to paint the inside of it old white. procrastination…:) everything you do is lovely. do you like milk or chalk paint better? i paint everything that sits still, so i’d love your opinion!

  31. says

    I saw a glimpse of the result on Instagram and it is gorgeous!!! I’ve heard such good things about milk paint…I’ve got to try it. Awesome job as always!

  32. Elizabeth says

    I cannot wait to see what drawer pulls you choose! I have a dresser and high boy that match your secretary and want to update them. I am so looking foward to this project of yours so I can get some inspiration!

  33. Leila says

    Like other posters I have a piece almost just like this and I’ve been searching for a posting from someone that re-painted, either with milk or chalk Paint. With all the nooks on the inside I’m curious to see and hear how it was handled and see the finished product. Hope you will be posting the finished piece soon.

  34. cheri says

    OOOhhh! Can’t wait to see what you do with this beauty! I have a secretary, passed down from hubs’ grandma… and I’m considering (painting!) it. (gasp) ;) It has locks, but the key is long gone. I’ve put Marion’s book on my Christmas list, so I’m hoping! Love your blog, Layla. Thank your for sharing your life, thoughts, and talent with us!

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