Entry Progress: A Bright Red Secretary

The entry on our parlor level is pretty small. There's a coat closet across from the powder bath and a teeny tiny little bump out next to the front door and that's about it. Here's what the space looked like on move in day.


Not pretty, I know. We've since had all the walls painted Farrow and Ball's Cabbage White, which is bright and fresh, and the doors were painted Pitch Black. We still need to do all the trim work in here, but we had the small floor boards painted BM Decorators White.

When I was trying to figure out how to best use this space, I sort of fell in love with the idea of a secretary (a really narrow one), so there would be a place to throw mail down, but we'd also have lots of hidden storage. The issue was finding a secretary that was less than 23" wide so that the door could open all the way. Not easy!



For a while we kept the vintage vanity desk from this post in this spot because it fit and it was a place to put things down (you can see it peeking out in this post), but I definitely was left wanting something taller with storage after a couple months of that. Then one day at an antiques store in the burbs, a vintage Thomasville beauty presented itself. It wasn't in perfect shape and the dated-looking fruitwood needed to be painted out, but the size was exactly perfect and the price was right at $175. (Especially compared to the inspiration pieces I was eying on 1st dibs! yikes!)


I knew I wanted to paint the secretary a fun color (aren't you surprised!?) because the entry is pretty bland and it needed some cheer. I went to Home Depot to get a color mixed and I stumbled across and ENTIRE GALLON of my beloved Safety Red, formally known to me as only-available-in-spray-can-form-Safety-Red. It's been a four year love affair, so I couldn't not try it, right? 


I expected it to smell as horrible as the other Rustoleum oil-based paints (like this one), but this paint smelled more like linseed oil and less like fumes. Sort of like the Ben Moore Advanced line. It had an interesting, very thick consistency too. The finish was great though (smooth as glass), so I can't complain.



You're probably wondering what happened to the glass here. I have plans to get mirror cut, but I decided to paint out the glass from the inside so no one could see the things I have stored inside. (it's a whole bunch of vases and it looks really sloppy). I'm not completely minding the white actually, but I think the mirror will help to brighten up the space. (I was going for this and this look.)


I'm really loving it and am just aching to get that moulding up now!



I did put down a small rug and that helped too (seen here formerly),



And I hung the peacock mirror on the wall next to the kitchen. I need to put art on the wall to the left of the kitchen though and I think that will help even more. 



But, it's progress! And just in time for holiday dinner parties (thank you so much for your votes, by the way! If you haven't had a chance to pop over, the $500 contest will go through the 23rd. xx)



PS A little tip about painting mirrors or cabinets with glass panes without using painter's tape.

52 comments:

House@heart said...

This is truely great transformation. The door looks super modern and classy painted black and that secretary is an excellent choice!! Also, love the red!! Perfect for an entrance with lots of character!!
Ozana
houseatheart.blogspot.ro

Sadie + Stella said...

Love the red gloss! It looks fabulous!!

Siren London said...

Wow wonderful. Another great post. I should have use the brush version before I painted mine!

Siren London said...

Wow wonderful. Another great post. I should have use the brush version before I painted mine!

Rachel said...

The red color really pops over the cabbage white. As an alternative to mirror insets, the insets could be covered with a (small scale?chinoiserie?) fabric.

Happy holidays!

pve design said...

ho ho ho..I love it! It might be fun to use wallpaper or wrapping paper where the white is....or even sheets of aluminum or heck even chicken wire.
pve

marie b said...

I love it! I love how it pops against the blue-ish white of the wall!

Did you personalized the inside too? If you have left overs of your office wallpaper, I would use it to wallpaper the inside of the secretary.

Kristin Jackson said...

Love the safety red secretary! Great find & transformation as usual Jenny!

Sami said...

Looks bright and lovely. I too would put mirror in the door panels as it would reflect light.

Sami said...

Looks bright and lovely. I too would put mirror in the door panels as it would reflect light.

Anonymous said...

Do you not have a railing on your inside stairs? I hope your girls are careful!!

Bridget said...

Jenny it looks great! Would you do a post about where you shop in the burbs? Im so curious where you get your great finds!!

Alex said...

Oh my goodness, this is perfect timing. I have plans to have mirror cut for old french doors, but have been nervous to start the project and unsure of where to have the glass cut. (I live in south brooklyn too.)
Will you use silicone caulking to install it into the frames or just glue it to the glass? I know that reading your step-by-step and seeing your results will give me the confidence I need to tackle my own project!

lc | rebuild said...

Looks great! Perfect size & scale for that spot. Great find.

Anonymous said...

There are more important things going on in our country than DIY projects.

Cecily said...

I want to paint a dresser high gloss gray... I am curious- did you prime the secretary first, and then use the Rustoleum? It looks fantastic but I never would have thought to use that product as furniture paint and I'm a bit nervous since I am less experienced at this than you! Thank you!

Margaret F said...

Wow! The red really makes such a statement! Great transformation.

Alli said...

I have a secretary that is really showing its wear. I've been thinking of painting it, but it's the inside that scares me to death. Did you paint all the cubbies? If so, how? Or leave them wood?

ellen said...

I have one kind of like that; maybe I need to paint it red too!

Brittney said...

Fantastic! I love the red. I think the mirrors will look great too.

Anonymous said...

The secretary looks really cool, and I think the mirrors will really look great. One (unsolicited) question: did you try positioning it so it faced forward as you walk in the door? The pictures may be deceiving, but I think it could be a better fit facing that way....

Megan @ Rappsody in Rooms said...

Oh me likey!! That paint is awesome. It actually looks like lacquer, which is definitely a score. You have inspired me to go out and paint that old wood furniture that I feel like I am ruining my paint.

smidge girl said...

Oh, now this is just phenomenal!! That red is gorgeous. Who knew a secretary could look so modern. And the peacock mirror... drool city. Wow!

Dishes, Runways and Briefcases said...

I love love love this color red... I am inspired to find something to paint red!! it's all looking quite lovely :)

Design_Fluff said...

I think it should now be called Show Stopper Red. This is truly Wow factor! L.O.V.E this! The peacock mirror was a perfect accessory.

Ashley Hurt Callen said...

Love the secretary. I want to paint my front door using Rustoleum paint since reading your post about your blue door & now this one. I love the safety red, but I'm looking for less orange but no brown tones. Any suggestions?
TIA, Ashley http://naturalelementsbyashley.com

Michelle @ Sweetsuite10 said...

I'm so completely jealous that you were able to find a secretary for that price - I've been looking for one myself, and so far I haven't had any luck :(
Congrat on your amazing score, and I LOVE the red - it's amazing!

Jenny at LGN said...

Anon- I totally agree with you about how there are more important things than DIY projects going on right now - 100%. I hope that it doesn't come across as insensitive to post today. I wrote a little bit about my feelings here:
http://littlegreennotebook.blogspot.com/2012/12/taking-pause.html

I thought a lot about it, and I think, for me, I'm ready to move forward and feel less fear and anxiety and helplessness, so I'm trying to make my life feel normal again by working. And it's helping me a lot, and truly, I only posted this project today in hopes that it might help others to think of happier things.

xx

Jenny at LGN said...

marie b: I painted the inside too, though I'm working on some additions, so stay tuned!

Anon- the wall that I have the art hanging on is stair rail height, though we have plans to add a second rail. No falls here so far. Thanks for your concern.

Bridget - I got this one at an antique store in Larchmont I think? I can't remember the name exactly, but I think it was something like Chatwick Auctions?

Alex - if you search for Joanna's armoire in my search bar, there's a post where I already did this. I took off the doors and had the glass shop install the mirror for me. I used Bernie's Glass shop in BK and they were by far the cheapest I've found.

Cecily, I didn't prime first, though you totally could if you felt moved to. Oil based enamel is a whole different thing than latex paint. It is super hard-wearing and takes a major beating. The down side is it is often very fumey, it takes several days to dry and the clean up is a nightmare. I usually just throw away the brush I used. Be sure to wear gloves too!

Alli - stay tuned for the inside post! I'm going to do something fun I think.

Anon- the secretary is super shallow in depth. It's almost twice as wide as it is deep, so it wouldn't fit going the other way. It's a small nook. And actually it fits better than what I have shown in the photos here. I was able to move it over about another two inches and it looks better now.

j

Jenna at Homeslice said...

I love it, what a great red!

Crystal said...

It looks amazing, and is just perfect for that little space.

Laurie Jones said...

Love love love how it turned out! What a pretty transformation! I don't know how you do all these projects!! I have a secretary too that was actually one of the first pieces I bought when I moved out of my parents home, recently instead of pitching it I painted it white and took out the glass and installed mirrors like you are thinking about doing! My husband actually likes the piece now! Here's the link if you'd like to see! http://housetoyourhome.com/2012/02/29/keeping-it-real/

the gardener's cottage said...

anon - if there are more important things going on right now - then why aren't you out there doing them? why are you here reading lgn? maybe trying to escape the bad news? just like jenny?

jenny love this and thank you for brightening my day.

Michele Koulentes said...

Do you ever get concerned about bringing home something with bedbugs? I had a bedbug scare this summer and now am afraid to buy anything from a secondhand store.

angela said...

I hate grammar and spelling police....but when you used formally in this post did you mean formerly (as in previously?) or formally, the way it was written, like the opposite of casual? Not to be nitpicky, just because it would make a difference in what the sentence meant. Love the color!

Susan said...

Quick question. Now that you've done this with both spray paint and the oil based paint. which is better? I'm looking to do something similar and don't know what to choose?

Jenny at LGN said...

Angela! Ugh! *cringe!!* I meant formerly! Thanks for the catch. I try to proof my posts, but I know lots of errors slip past my tired eyes :) Fixed it in the post.

Susan, I think there are benefits to both. If the weather's nice out and if I was doing something easy like a desk or a dresser with no glass panes, I would probably opt for the spray. I'm about 50/50 though all things considered. Can't go wrong with either. :)

Elizabeth @ The Little Black Door said...

I love that you love red as much as I do!!

author said...

When I first saw the secretary I really liked the original wood and thought, "Oh no! Not another piece of painted furniture. Why does everyone feel the need to paint furniture?" But after I saw it, I really, really love it!!! It looks especially good against the whitish walls and near the black door. The original wood wouldn't have looked good at all.

Kelly Ruggeri said...

Love the red you chose- it adds so much character to the small space! You are totally inspiring me to get out and thrift!

Kara said...

Is the hardware the same? I like it so much better on the red! Did you paint it too of just give it a good cleaning?

Thanks so much for posting this today. Nothing like a great before & after with an amazing color to brighten my day :) It really is about finding joy in the little things, especially when things are so sad right now.

Jen said...

I love this project. Great job. I look at your sight everyday. I do have a question about your honeycomb mirror. I know that you've bought it awhile (and unfortunately I wasn't reading your blog then) but do you have suggestions on where I could source a similar mirror now? I too have been obsessing over the Domino spread that featured this. Thanks.

Portland Sunshine said...

love love! http://portlandsunshine.blogspot.com/2012/12/paint-it-red.html

Tara said...

Love the red, what a brave choice! And if you're looking for art, please check out my website, I paint using oils and metal leaf on panels: www.taraandris.com would love for one of my pieces to find its way into your beautiful home!!

kristen said...

This secretary is fabulous! What a transformation - it's amazing how cheery that little nook is now :)

Quick Question - I'm planning on painting my kitchen cabinets soon (probably a classic white or gray) - would you recommend using this rustoleum enamel for that type of project? Or would it be best to do the traditional primer + high quality paint for the job (similar to your own kitchen cabinets)? I'm looking for the most durable option, and since you're a DIY paint expert, I was hoping you could offer your suggestion :)

Thanks so much, Kristen

Jenny at LGN said...

Kristen: The Rustoleum enamel is super glossy - probably not the look you are going for with kitchen cabs. I would use the Benjamin Moore Advance line and then you get to choose an exact shade. Good luck!
x

grtescp said...

This looks fabulous, and reassures me I am not mad to want to paint a 1950s cabinet I picked up recently that is in pretty bad shape. I was beginning to have second thoughts, now I am going to go for it!

elizabeth said...

Love it! Any ideas on what to do with glass panes in a cabinet for a two year old's room? He started climbing out of his crib, so we're switching to a big boy bed. Love the cabinet, but I don't feel safe with him loose in a room with glass.

Siren London said...

Wow, I've been following your blog for a while, it is one of few times I glanced onto the comment page. I got to say, admire your effort to reply as much comments as possible, and you got to be the most gracious blogger I've seen! Keep up with the amazing work! Merry merry Xmas!

jackie jade said...

ahhh love this! and i was so inspired by your safety red credenza that i painted a goodwill find the same color. would love if you checked it out! - http://jackiejade.blogspot.com/2012/11/credenza-reveal.html - it looks sorta pink-y in my pics, but love how it turned out in person - thanks for the inspiration!!

sarah welsch said...

i love the pop of color!

Sarah

www.etsy.com/shop/owleyevintage

A Pearl In The Making said...

Jenny,

You mention in your post it smelled more like linseed oil, but then in one of your comments you said something about "fumey". I have a metal cabinet I need to paint to protect it from rust and since the weather has gotten colder I can't use the spray paint.

Smell is my biggest pet peeve in all paints, but I need the rust protection. I am thinking of doing it in a back room I don't use and with fans. Do you think it would be to bad that way?

Also, how long did you let the coats dry. I am notorious for not waiting long enough and I want to make sure I'm patient enough.

Thanks,

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