My Nana gave me this desk recently as she was downsizing her house and no longer had room for it. It lived it’s life in a shed and had definitely seen better days.

This is where we started……. 1x solid Rimu circa 1950’s style desk, a little beaten and sad-looking.

P1010630      P1010633


I loved the proportions of it and the potential so we brought it home and got to work.

After two days of hard work sanding, staining, painting, gluing and varnishing we had this.


P1010699  P1010701


We brought the black steel fittings and pressed full leather hide from a fire sale. The leather was white and had smoke damage in the form of discoloration so was priced at just $21 (2 metre x 1 metre total size). The black steel fittings were from the same fire sale and undamaged the whole lot came to $40.

The stain, varnish, glue and leather paint were more expensive and if you add in all the sandpaper the TOTAL costs are just under $200 excluding labor which was 2 days worth.

All in all, I think it worked out as another thrifty DIY project that is worth a lot more than invested.


We are very happy with the outcome……… so far.

Quick thrifty tip:

Don’t buy wood putty to fill in holes. Use a small amount of PVA and sawdust from the job you are working on – mix it together to form a dry mix and fill in the holes with the mixture. Don’t worry about the colour of the mixture – it lightens as it dries and be generous when filling the marks/holes. Also don’t worry about the mess you can sand it off later and best part is the colour is a closer match than the generic putties ever are….. and this way if you are intending to stain the piece (as we have done here) the sawdust in the homemade bog soaks up and holds the colour of the stain!! refer to the next couple of photos for reference.


When I get some more time I will look at designing and applying a small gold leaf monogram to the front centre trim  of the desk and antique brass tacks to pin the edges of the leather in place and stop them lifting over time. Then the project will be complete.

Thanks for dropping by, let me know what you think!! Smile



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  1. I love the hardware you chose, it pays a sort of “homage” to the origins of the desk but the finish is wondefully modern! Please post pics with the gold leaf, I can just picture the contrast in my head and it’s amazing. lol Just to throw a thought out there, if you are looking for ideas to use, I found a great place for vintage clip art and the like at “The Graphics Fairy” (not affiliated, just love what she has :)) oh… and as a fellow blogging diy-er, I just have to add… it’s freeeee. 😉


    1. ‘The Graphics Fairy’ – thanks so much for the tip. I have just pulled her blog up and ‘pressed it’ onto my project tutorials and free patterns blog – CREATIVE REVOLT.

      I’ve read your other comments and it seems you are a kindred spirit, so you should totally check out my other blog. It acts like a personal DIY ‘pinterest’ for me. I ‘press’ project tutorials and patterns (inclusive sewing patterns), free to use or cheaply priced for later reference/use. It’s of everything I like or find interesting… Let me know what you think.

      You can check it out here: http://creativerevolt.wordpress.com/.


      1. I’m pausing my click finger only long enough to say thank-you for the link, lol. Glad you liked the “Graphics Fairy” and thank-you (again… still?) for the compliment. I *am* a kindred spirit in true Anne of Green Gables style and since I took my KS button off to polish it, and you still caught on, you must be one as well 😉


  2. This looks awesome. Putting in the work can make things that are worn look beautiful once again. We did the base of our marble tables. It was a lot of work, but the end result is usually worth it.


  3. Amazing! I just bought an old teak sewing table from a garage sale for $40. It is just beautiful but needs a bit of work. Your tips will come in handy, thanks for sharing!


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