Raw & Rustic Desktop With French Stenciling

I'm so happy to share my first furniture project of the year with you!  After a whirlwind December, it felt SO GOOD to paint again!

My client felt her antique French writing desk was too much dark wood so the original plan was to sand down the top and restain in a much lighter shade than the base.

But, fate had different plans, which sometimes work out better than original.  Once the finish was gone, I realized the top was crafted of poplar wood.  Poplar wood works best with paint because of its streaks in the grain but it can be stained with the proper technique.  

Poplar wood desk top with stencil.jpg

After seeing a picture of the unfinished poplar top, my client LOVED the variation in the wood so we decided to leave in its natural, raw state.  Since it is a French writing desk, we chose a Paris postage stamp stencil and lettering to add even more character.

It's funny that sometimes the bump in your plans turns out to be better than you imagined! The black lettering really pops against the wood grain.  The raw top looks perfectly weathered and rustic.

The bottom of the desk only got a thorough cleaning as the client wanted to preserve the original finish. After stenciling the top, I applied three coats of polyurethane for durability.

The lighter, variegated grain top adds so much more dimension to this writing desk and breaks up all the dark finish. I'm so happy our plans took a detour because I'm thrilled with the outcome!