This bow front leather inlay desk refresh has been on my radar for years.
Although I absolutely love the shape of this desk, the dated reddish orange stain was not my favorite.
I also love the inlaid leather panels, but they intimidated me.
I had googled and searched Pinterest for ideas.
The only suggestions I found were to paint over the leather and paint the entire piece.
I did not want to lose that leather inlay aspect of this unusual bow front desk.
Then right after Christmas, I had an epiphany.
Why not just paint around the leather?
Maybe I could pick a paint that has fantastic contrast so that the leather pops.
And, that is exactly what I did.
This DIY took me 1 1/2 days to complete.
I could have completely it more quickly, but I was also putting up Christmas decor.
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Keys to my Success
The key to my success with this desk involved two elements.
The first is the paint I chose.
General Finishes Milk Paint is a phenomenal product. I have used this milk paint of three different projects.
The first project I tackled with this paint was our outdoor rocking chairs.
The second project was also outdoors – our worn out, falling apart adirondack chairs.
And, the third project is my daughter’s four poster bed. Here, I applied a high gloss topcoat over the milk paint to give the bed a high sheen.
I could not be more happy with the high quality, durable, brush streak free finish on all of these projects.
The second key to my success with the leather top is the tiny detail brush I used to complete the entire project. This short angled brush allowed me to paint around the leather with extreme accuracy.
In fact, I had so much control with this brush, I was able to paint next to the leather without taping off and without getting any accidental paint on the leather.
General Finishes Milk Paint, color Lamp Black
180 grit sanding block
Lint free rags
- First I mixed up a solution of 50/50 denatured alcohol and water in a spray bottle.
- Then I removed the hardware from the desk drawers and cabinets.
- I spray the mixture on a lint free cloth and wiped the entire desk down liberally, while avoiding the leather top.
- Then, using a 180 grit sanding block, I lightly scuff sanded the entire piece to give the paint something to adhere to.
- I then repeat the process again with the 50/50 denatured alcohol mixture.
- After allowing the desk to dry, I painted on the first coat using the Wooster Brush.
- I allowed the first coat to dry for two hours before applying a second coat.
- While the second coat was drying, I took the hardware outside and spray painted it flat black.
- After, the hardware dried, I liberally applied Antique Gold Rub and Buff using an old makeup brush.
- I allowed it to dry about an hour before buffing the hardware with a lint free cloth.
- Then, I applied a third coat of milk paint to the desk as the legs are very detailed and I realized I had missed a few places.
- I decided not to use a topcoat as it is not necessary and this desk is not used regularly.
- After the paint dried, I put the hardware back on the cabinets and drawers.
I love the leather top desk refresh. The outdated orange is gone and the leather looks fantastic against the flat black milk paint.
- You can put a topcoat over milk paint if you want a sheen or more durability. I suggest going to General Finishes website and researching all of the available options.
- If I had painted this desk I light or white color, I would have applied a General Finishes Stain Blocker first, so that the red/orange stain would not bleed through.
Photos of the Process
Before Vs After
Pin For Later!
So tell me below, what do you think of my bow front leather inlay desk refresh? Do you like the new look?
Shop The Look Above
Looking For More?
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Try my Apple Roses.
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Lemon Meringue Cheesecake anyone?
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Renae FreyJanuary 12, 2022 4:29 pm
The desk looks amazing! The leather really pops! Well done.
JanetJanuary 12, 2022 5:48 pm
OMG That desk is absolutely beautiful. You took an ordinary looking awesome desk and made it look fantastic. Great job. Pinned!
CindyJanuary 13, 2022 9:37 pm
This desk is beautiful. Very professional job!
Kippi OhernJanuary 17, 2022 3:24 pm
Your desk refresh turned out amazing. I love how the leather refreshed looks with the new paint!
Happy New Year,
Lynne ZemaitisJanuary 17, 2022 11:39 pm
Wow! What a fabulous project, Jennifer! The color you chose is gorgeous with that unique leather top. Well done! Pinned!