A Sweet Little Leggy Desk

Our small projects in the Butler’s Pantry continues! We’re going to add tile underneath the mirror and glass display in the Butler’s Pantry, pretty much because I love to tile and it’ll really finish that space off nicely. Since we’re going to add tile, we want to be able to see it and love it, which means that the rolling cart – which was the whole reason for that nook in the first place – and we built the room around it – is out.


Funny how that works! But, it’s what the space needs. And wants. I’m sure of it.

Never fear, though. The cart will move into the kitchen, and take the place of the table in there, which we never use. I’m on a personal mission to bring the formal dining room back. I’m fully aware that I will lose that misson, but nonetheless. We never eat in the kitchen – it’s either in the dining room, or in front of the TV. I know that eating in front of the TV is a terrible thing to admit, but we don’t really watch a ton – it’s usually just a show during dinner. Anyway, long story short, the cart will be better off in the kitchen, and so now, I needed to find something for the nook – something light and leggy to allow you to see the tile work that we have planned.

I found the perfect piece on Craigslist – an antique desk. The scale and size was perfect, and I loved the legs. It needs some work, but not too much, and the wood tone will add some warmth to the Butler’s Pantry. I debated painting it black to match the cabinets for about 15 seconds, but dismissed it. If it had been REALLY chippy, maybe, but the finish was too nice to consider it.


It’s pretty solid, and really just has wear and tear and scratches.

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But let’s be honest : I completely love it for the legs. I’m completely okay being superficial in that regard. AND THE CLAWFEET!

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This side is the worst, but it’ll be against a wall, so a simple touch up should be fine.


There’s a decent amount of small storage, and the top folds up to reveal the desktop.

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I love refinishing furniture, but I’m not a big fan of stripping things all the way down. I like the idea of patina. I don’t mind some scratches and wear. I love when a piece can tell a story, and I don’t want to get rid of that. Sure, I could’ve stripped this down and added a new finish, but then it would have looked, well…. new.

Doug spent time this weekend helping friends with electrical work in their 1920’s farmhouse, and so I used the chance to get started on this piece!

I gave it all a good cleaning with TSP, and used some mineral spirits to clean up some bubbles and wear. After that, I used some Restor-a-finish over the whole piece, and finished with a layer of wipe-on poly. That was it!

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The insides of the drawers just got a good cleaning. I debated about spraying the hardware silver, to match the hardware on the cabinetry in the Butler’s Pantry, but I ultimately decided to the the piece the way we found it in regards to hardware.

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I posted some pictures on Instagram of the piece, and some people asked me if I knew what type of desk it was, specifically if it was a Duncan Phyfe piece. I’m not good with identifying furniture types, so I have no idea. The only mark on the piece was this, under the large center drawer. The tiny bit of research I’ve done shows Phyfe desks to look similar to mine, and they weren’t usually marked, so maybe it’s a possibility? But I have no idea. If any of you have an idea, I’d love to learn more!


Here’s the finished product! It’s perfect in its imperfections. I love preserving the scratches and dings and not completely eliminating them (even if I cleaned them up a lot). Maybe a love letter was written here. Maybe homework was avoided here. Maybe someone read – or wrote – a book here. I like imagining that – which is easier to do if you can see the age.

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My initial idea was that this would just hold something in the pantry – maybe some linens or silver, and just function as another serving space. But as I worked on it, I’m really leaning towards keeping its purpose as a desk. After all, the Butler’s Pantry has the library of cookbooks, and I was already thinking of adding a chair by the window. Why not turn the weekly chore of planning menus and grocery lists into something a bit more lovely, and use this as a spot to look through cookbooks and plan weekly dinners, and menus for dinner parties?

Yep. I think that seems like a really fun idea. Tiling is next, and then we can move the desk in!

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