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I’ve started work on 2 bureaux, 1 oak, 1 mahogany.

The oak bureau was kindly given to me by a customer who purchased a painted bureau from me. The ply back had seen better days, so has been replaced with a new one, and the bureau is now undergoing some minor repairs before I get underway with priming.

Oak bureau

I love the rustic hinges. The bureau top doesn’t have a handle to lift it down and because it fits flush to the carcass, it’s tricky to pull down. I’m thinking of putting some rustic twine or ribbon on the edges to provide handles, but the bells and whistles will come last, after the prep and painting.

I sanded back a little of the varnish on the inside to see what the natural oak looks like. Here it is, a little dusty, but under that dust is some very nice graining.


nice graining under the dark varnish

 A little embellishment to the inside of the bureau, with some blue rose fabric and ribbon trim.

Fabric paper rest added to match the paintwork

I also added some handles made out of the same fabric, so that the drop top can be pulled down a little easier.  


The other bureau has a flame mahogany top, but it’s lost its lustre, and after a careful appraisal, I decided to sand it back to paint. It’s a shame, but the veneer was beyond repair.

mahogany bureau

As you can see, this one is a completely different style to the rustic oak bureau. It has curvy Queen Anne legs and a scalloped plinth. The leather paper rest is rather worn, but very pretty, so I think I’ll keep it ‘as is’.

leather paper rest and ink wells

There is a pen rest and 2 ink wells, which are both in good condition, so plenty of nice things to build upon.

I think the drawers will be kept unpainted. They need a little tlc, the wood is a bit tired, but I think they will come back to life with some elbow grease.

bureau drawers

I used a new primer on this bureau. It’s an American product that bonds, seals and undercoats all-in-one. It’s very peculiar to work with as it’s quite watery in the can, but goes stiff very quickly when it’s painted on. I had to prime small areas at a time because my brushstrokes dried so quickly that I found the brush dragged if I attempted to paint too much at once.

I’m hoping to get cracking with painting tomorrow, but have yet to choose a colour. I’d planned on Designers Guild ‘Doeskin’, but their ‘Duck Egg’ is oh so pretty. I’ll sleep on it…


Well I did sleep on it, for several nights, and a little later than planned, I went for the ‘Doeskin’. Here it is, looking a bit sorry for itself. Designers Guild paints don’t have great coverage, so the first coat always looks a bit awful.

Designers Guild 'Doeskin' bureau in progress

I might just get a second coat on before dusk.


Due to the death of my father-in-law, the ‘doeskin’ bureau didn’t get finished quite as soon as planned, but here it is: