I love vintage solid wood furniture. They can create a collected and curated look without spending a fortune on antique collector’s pieces.
This little kidney-shaped writing desk has been in our home for over a decade and holds a special place in my heart. It was a gift from my best friend, whom I’ve known since we were sixteen. It traveled with us from South Africa.
This dark wood is called imbuia, which was as popular in South Africa as walnut is in North America. The ball-and-claw feet and curved detail were popular before the cleaner mid-century modern lines took the design world by storm. The vintage sofa I gave a makeover is in the same style.
The finish on the writing desk was starting to look dull, and I decided to refinish it, hoping to get rid of the reddish stain color.
Sanding the Wood
My trusty sander made light work of sanding the wood bare, and I (almost) finished the job in an afternoon.
The carved detail on the feet took a bit of extra time.
I was surprised to see the bare wood was so light! Once I cut through the reddish finish, the dust was yellow! How awesome that the desk could now be golden brown, I thought to myself.
Did you notice the autumn leaves in the background? This was done in October but there is a good reason I’m only sharing it now, in June. Bare with me!
Feeding Wood Furniture
The naked wood was extremely dry, and I wanted to give it a bit of nourishment before applying a permanent finish. I tried out Dixie Belle’s Hemp Seed Oil for the first time.
I used an applicator sponge which made it super easy to feed the desk in no time. This hemp oil is a fantastic product. It’s like magic seeing how the wood comes to life.
Surprise, surprise – the wood returned to its original color in an instant! I did not see that coming!
I wanted the oil to penetrate the wood as much as possible, and reapplied a few more times over the next 24 hours. After each application, the wood had a gorgeous gloss but soon slurped up all the goodness and looked nourished but not glossy.
Even after a few weeks, with no trace of oil in sight, the wood was saturated so well that water drops would just float on top. That made me decide to leave it like that for quite some time.
Permanently Sealing Wood Furniture
If this were an antique piece of furniture of high value, I would never do anything to it apart from oiling regularly – for the rest of my days.
This piece might be valuable to me, but it is not fine furniture, which is a good thing because I am too
lazy busy to oil the table regularly.
With kids and cats and real life, I thought it could use a little extra protection. And a bit of extra shine while I’m at it.
I used Dixie Belle Clear Coat in a gloss finish to seal the wood. It is such an easy product to work with and dries in no time.
After 24 hours, I gave it a second coat of sealer.
Just look at that shine! I’m in love!
Since I had to remove all the solid brass hardware, I used the opportunity to clean and shine them up with Brasso.
After all is said and done, the little writing desk might not look all that different, but I am glad I refinished it. The color variation of the wood might not be the most glamorous, but it looks alive and fresh.
The glossy finish will show dust sooner than when it was just oiled, but it will also be easier to clean. Not everyone is equally worried about dust, though. Even the famous designer Mario Buatto voiced his opinion on the matter.
I hate dusting. I think of dust as a protective coating to fine furniture– Mario Buatta (aka The Prince of Chintz)