This year’s project

Just so it’s not kitty kitty kitty quite all the time, I’ve started a new project.  I’ve decided to share some in progress … stuff.

I have an old secretary — at least I think that’s what it’s called.  The front flap folds down and becomes a writing surface and there are lots of cool cubby holes inside.  One pane of glass in the doors has been broken for a year or two.  I’ve had this piece of furniture since 1975 and it was in my ex-husband’s family before that.  You’ve seen it many times in videos, I’m sure.

Secretary, front view - before

Secretary side view - before

I’ve been eying it for well over a year with the thought of giving it the same treatment I did my old 1970’s rocking chair and end table lamp:

Rocking chair, painted in 2005

Table lamp, painted a few years after the rocking chair

Table lamp with the leaves unfolded (Sahara in foreground)

Current state of the secretary – drawers out, doors and hardware removed and everything moved out to the garage and laid out on saw horses and workbench.  The entire project has already been sprayed with several coats of gray primer.  Currently it’s receiving glossy PURPLE paint which will be on the interior of the cabinet and inside the drawers.  Gloss is tedious to paint over, so the surfaces to be painted with designs are masked off.  By the way, I’ve actually remembered to move my car out of the garage for each spray session, so it is still red, however the weather has been very warm here so I’ve been wearing my flip flops and shorts.  The tops of my feet are purple, but things could be worse! 😀

I considered bringing the whole thing back inside for the design painting, but then it would have to go back out for varnishing, so I may do all of the painting in the garage.

I have no idea what kind of designs will go on it.  I’ll likely make much of that up as I go, but it often helps to use Photoshop to see how things might look as I decide, so I’ve used the before photos to block out the secretary and will play with ideas on the computer.  Basically this it just one very large doodle art.

Image in Photoshop


23 responses to “This year’s project

  1. Molly
    Are your designs influenced by Navajo/American Indian art and/or the Californian landscape? They’re so full of colour and pattern and very lovely. I salute your energy to do this whereas I, (I’m guessing about same age as you) just simply attempt to keep the house tidy and reasonably clean. It must give you great pleasure to beautify the things around you in your own original way.

    • Hi Wendy,

      I think that these particular pieces are most inspired by Mexican folk art – I just love it. By the time I start painting I will have downloaded pages of it to use for inspiration and ideas.

  2. Molly
    I am utterly gobsmacked , both by your energy and ambition, and the beauty of the ‘models’ for such an undertaking. If I owned (or had room for) such a piece of furniture it would be lucky to be occasionally cleaned and dusted, far less revarnished, FAR less redone from scratch in any way whatsoever. But I am a lazy so and so without any artistic or practical streak . The only streak in me is the bacon sandwich.

    As you can see, Molly, I am speechless (nearly).

    The only regret I have is that you are undertaking this in the garage, away from prying eyes. I fully understand OUR attention is diverted on Kois and Buglets and suchlike, but I remeber with awe and delight how the artwork on the playroom floor took shape and colour ‘before our very eyes’ and to our great amazement and amusement.

    Wish this could take place likewise. And, naturally, you would get much (unwanted) ‘help’ and advice from us and the kitties.

    Good luck in the venture, Molly and thanks of telling us about it. More please later (of course)? BobintheEnvious

  3. What Bobin said!! Very impressive. Can’t wait to see the finished product! You have such good taste! I was also interested that you have a red car, as do I. And I think I recognize the kitty on the bottom right in the shelves! Have fun!

  4. What they ^ said ! Awesome undertaking.
    I would be exhausted after buying all the
    supplies ! LOL Love the purple !

  5. Hooray!! Another great artistic Molly undertaking! I look forward to seeing the finished project. Honestly, I don’t know how you’ve been able to abide having such a colorless piece of furniture in your house for so long! I also have an old secretary, as well as a gate-leg table I’d love to “embellish” in this way – ah, but where’s the time to do it??? My latest effort is cleaning the garage of the studio house so I can set up a dyeing studio, to create my own fabric. I’m also trying to develop my fabric painting and marbling chops, along with finishing a few of my more adventuresome UFOs (unfinished objects.) I could probably do some furniture painting… you know, squeeze it in somewhere between the quilting/dyeing/painting/beading/gardening/cat care/husband maintenance, etc… but then, when would I sleep? Or make music? Or watch birds? Or bake? Or play around on the internet???

    Oy, vey… life’s so short…!

    • ANOTHER QUILTER … extraordinaire, I might add. Those of you who haven’t seen Francie’s work, be sure to cruise over to her blog. And now dying and making your own fabric!! You are right, Francie – so little time!

  6. Ditto what Bobin said! I’m sure I will love whatever you do with the secretary as I love all of the painting you’ve done on the walls and on objects in your house. Of course, it helps that my favorite color is also purple! I so envy and am amazed by your talent! Are the two kitties pictured Sahara and Josephine?

    • Yes, that’s Josephine under the rocker. I still had her sister, then too – Daisy. Sahara is in the end table photo and got her in January of 2008. I vaguely remember her being fairly young in that photo, so I guess I finished that project in 2008. Covering the lamp shade (something I’d never done before and had to download instructions) actually took longer than it took for me to paint the table.

      • Your house, with all of your amazing hand-painted decor and furniture, is like my fantasy house! I would imagine covering the lampshade was quite complicated. Was it that much less expensive than just buying a new lampshade?

      • Oh, probably more expensive than a new lamp shade… but I couldn’t find one of the same shape, size, etc….

      • It’s so frustrating when you can’t find exactly what you are looking for. I had unique lampshades that ‘died’ but I couldn’t even attempt to redo them myself, so I had to settle for something different.

  7. Molly this project looks amazing cannot wait to see the finished ‘Bureau’ (which is what us English would call it) I am sure it will look beautiful and of course everything else bobin said 😀

  8. Everything is very beautiful in your house! I expect photos of Gypsy Rose and the little beauty! Kisses to you all of me! Love and Beauty! Love and Beauty! Love and Beauty!!!

  9. Molly, your talents always astound me. I wish that I was artistic but I neither have the talent nor the patience. I look forward to seeing the finished project.
    Bye the way….. have you not heard? Purple feet are all the rage this year!! Lol!:D

  10. Molly, I never saw you do the floor “cloth” did you save pic’s that I can see of you doing it. After I saw it, was sorry to not see you working on it. 🙂
    I love your color imagination, its “wild” but goes together so well, and I’m so envious of it all.
    Only other fun thing I’ve ever seen was a friend had bathroom painted in bright blue with a large red arrow going around the walls saying Exit that led to the heat register cold air return. LOL
    Val in MI

    • If you go back in the blog, I think Molly documented the floor ‘project’. She also documented when she redid her bathroom several months ago, which was fascinating to see!


    Your sense of color and design is truly inspiringly excellent! (hmmm, i guess ‘inspiringly’ is not a real word.} =P

    I grew up in a house where my mother painted furniture with bright yummy colors. Everything had intense color. I think one of her favorite things she painted was my father’s guitar…. after he left us. Therapeutic, perhaps.

    I showed my mother some of your videos. Of course she is crazy about cats, but she also mentioned the ‘beautiful furniture’. =D

    Have fun!


    • DC…I grew up in a house full of off-white, peach, and tan. Our current house is the same, but with the addition of mint. YUCK! I am the COMPLETE OPPOSITE! Now that I am back to living with my parents, you can definitely tell which is my room, with my light blue walls (not my choice), bright purple curtains, multi-color (greens, blues, turquoise, purples, pinks) comforter, etc! My artwork on the walls is all Peanuts-related, which is, again, all bright colors. White I didn’t choose the light blue for the walls, it coordinates well. When my parents bought this house my nephew was a baby, so my mom painted my room, which had a crib in it, blue for Andrew.

  12. I actually made a lampshade once, myself, using fabric over a metal frame. The local quilt shop sells various sizes and designs, carries a great pattern, and offers classes (only way to go!). It’s hard to clean off dust, though, but sure looks nice. It has both the feature fabric outside, and plain muslin lining inside. Lots of gluing! I didn’t finish in class, so once I was home, I really forced myself to not set it aside for “awhile”, which you all know could last 20 years easily! I finished it within about a week or so after class.

  13. Dear Molly
    20 years ago I and my husband drove across America from Boston to San Francisco (+ many places in between) We will never forget it – it was the trip of a lifetime. Your designs remind me of hot, dry, vividly coloured landscapes and, as you say, folk art and pattern. We couldn’t bring many ‘souvenirs’ back (couldn’t carry them) but the visual memory and feel/smell of places still remain. It’s lovely to see something of America once again through your blogs (art and cats!)
    Very best wishes – Wendy (UK)

  14. Oh, also, just thought – beautiful vibrant Mexican designs – very Frieda Kahlo x

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