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

Sanding away stain on a writing desk

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.

Wood furniture sanded bare

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.

Applying hemp oil to feed wood furniture

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!

A solid wood desk treated with hemp oil

I wanted the oil to penetrate the wood as much as possible, so reapplied it 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 it 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.

Protecting wood furniture with a coat of sealer

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.

Gloss sealer on a solid wood writing desk

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.

Refinished wood furniture

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)

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12 Comments

  1. Carol Karl | Living a Real Life caro says:

    Wow! This piece turned out so beautiful. I was surprised also that it returned to such a dark colour after you applied the oil. What a wonderful piece.

  2. OMG, how terrible about your accident. Hopefully you’ll heal up quickly and it will be back to 100% in no time.

    You did a beautiful job on this desk, love how it turned out. You’ve inspired me to finish a desk I’ve had sitting in pieces in the garage forever. I just can’t decide what to do with it. The person who gave it to me originally painted it a gawdawful color (brownish gray if you can imagine). The top is sanded down but the legs need to be stripped or sanded, not an easy task. First, though I have to deal with a plumber and some kitchen sink issues!

    1. Thanks for the well wishes, Suzie! It sounds like you have a busy weekend ahead. I’m so glad you feel inspired to finish your desk. please share a photo when you are done.

  3. This writing desk is a beautiful piece of furniture and deserved the pampering!! Your love for unique furniture and solid wood shines through. May it bring you much joy.

  4. Oh I forgot to say glad your accident wasn’t any worse! Wow scary situation please b careful, stupid to say I know but…

    1. Aww, thanks, you are the sweetest. I will definitely be even more careful from now on.

  5. I think it’s beautiful 😍 you did a fantastic job! I love it

    1. Thanks, Debbie! It’s always great hearing from you!

  6. Glad your accident wasn’t more severe. Rather scary. The desk is gorgeous, love the shape of it. And once again I was wondering about your rug. It’s light, bright and just the right amount of colour. Is there a source for it?
    Thank you.

    1. Hi Barb! Thank you so much! You are right about the rug, the colours are perfect, and it is silky soft. Oh, and it’s the only rug my cats don’t scratch!
      It is linked on my “shop my home” page. https://homewithmarieza.com/shop-my-home

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