A Hand-Crafted Empire Secretary Dresser/Desk

Hey friends,

It’s early at the Tate home as I type. I’m sitting with an open laptop, a eucalyptus spearmint candle lit, the cool fall air blowing in from the north, and a box of Puffs VICKS-infused tissues by my side (these are heavenly by the way). Between the bipolar weather and absolutely overdoing it; my body has officially shut down for the weekend. Closed-for-business. Sneezing, coughing, and lots of ickiness in the nose region are my sidekicks for this cloudy day.

I must confess that building a business has me feeling both exhilarated and exhausted. Mentally and physically energized and drained. I’m constantly burning the candle at both ends, and today I just ran out of gas.

And you know what? No one is mad about it. No one is making me work. That work-horse that never lets me stop is actually just my pride -so I’m giving myself a break. Sometimes we have to let go in order to slow down and just enjoy life.

This cold has thrown a wrench into my weekend retreat plans with some incredible friends, and my marathon training. Who wants to run 14 miles with a sore throat? But in a way, it feels like a blessing in disguise. I haven’t spent a weekend at home with no plans or taking care of someone since the beginning of August (in the midst of moving, working, and a trip to TX -so possibly even before then). So if anyone is looking for me, you can find me snuggled on the couch, just being present in my home. I may possibly go buy some mums for my front porch, binge watch a show on Netflix, and actually finish a project or two around here for my sanity.

And on that note, I finally have time to share one of the many projects which had my attention this summer/early fall. This hand-made Empire Secretary Dresser. Absolutely a work of art with stunning hand-detailed craftsmanship and beautiful solid wood. Take a look.

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Vintage Empire Dresser Meets Mint Chocolate Chip

When I stepped back from my glaze work (the brown finish) on this dresser, my stomach began to growl. I think the chocolaty-brown glaze over my Persian Blue milk paint turned this piece into a green mint-chocolate-chip dream and it made me have nothing but ice cream on my brain.

I’m joking.

Kind of.

I scored this piece off a Facebook garage sale group from a kind man who owns a moving company. When I saw his photo, I was hoping to restore it with a dark java stain, but I ended up painting it because the veneer wasn’t in the best of shape (this is what happens when you buy furniture in the dark).

-Funny side note, I picked this dresser up at 9:00 p.m., but right before that my GPS led me to  his neighbor’s home. When I asked his neighbors how much I owed them for the dresser, they looked at me like I was a CRAZY woman. -_-

So, I really did want to restore it originally. But once I looked at the piece in the light, I realized it wasn’t going to happen. Sometimes, it’s okay when our ideas crash around us; because the challenge the crash creates makes us dig a little deeper into our creativity to find a solution. Which I did!

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Beth’s Buffet

I was gifted this wonderful buffet during my sophomore year at Texas State University. Having absolutely no furniture, I thought it was gold! The buffet graced my first home as an entertainment center, my second and third home as a tea bar, fourth home as a tea and COFFEE bar (everyone starts drinking coffee at some point, right?) and its fifth home in my dining room as a tea and spirit cabinet. I have loved this buffet since the day it was given to me six years ago, so this restoration was special and long overdue!

I’ll shut up and let you meet its beautiful self!

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Disclaimer: I don’t think the buffet was in this bad of shape when I got it. Having survived many moves and many, many morning coffee rushes when either myself or one of roommates were late to work, it’s a trooper to say the least!

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Every cup ring has a story! 😉 You can tell how much life is lived around and on this piece of furniture!

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The finish was in pretty bad shape all the way around… just felt like stating the obvious.

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The veneer was chipping all over the doors, drawers, and sides.

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I started by cleaning and sanding everything down. I then repaired the broken wood and veneer. I primed with Zinsser Shellac spray paint. I painted the base with two coats of Rust-Oleum’s Linen White Chalked Paint (which I love), and stained the top with General Finishes Java Gel Stain. I protected the paint with General Finishes High Performance Top Coat and the stain with a MinWax polyurethane . It took me about a week to complete this and I’m so glad it’s done! Take a look:

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I slightly distressed the details, but even with the antiquing she looks as good as new!

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This buffet had earned the time and care I put into it!

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It was fun distressing this piece because it really highlights all its unique details!

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The top is now durable and beautiful. I love it!

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All the gold accents were used as decor on my cake table at my wedding! I love the memories… and I’m living on a budget.

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If you’ve been in my house for a meal, or a movie night, or a party, you’ve probably used this buffet as well. I love that it allows me to serve people yummy food and my friends to make a hot cup of tea or mix a drink at the end of the day. I think that’s why it holds such a special place in my heart, it helps me gather people I love for drinks and conversation.

If you don’t have a buffet I highly recommend one. They are such versatile and fun pieces of furniture that will allow you to serve in an array of ways. Keep a lookout for one at a decent price on Craigslist or at a local thrift store, you never know what you might find!

I hope you enjoyed these pictures as much as I did. I would love to know what you think. As always, if you’re in the Annapolis, Maryland area, I’d love to do some custom work for your home!

Until next time,

-Beth