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Bureau Desks

bureau desk #9

Bureau desks emerged in France in the late 17th century.  The term “bureau” is actually French for office and its origins are Latin i.e. burrus, meaning red.  It was traditional to drape a piece of red cloth across a desk.  Bureau desks are the practical combination of two forms: desks and chests of drawers.  These desks are valued for their space-saving aspects, the privacy they afford and the wonderful cubby-holes and secret places found in the desk area. There are many fine examples of chalk painted bureau desks on Pinterest and the internet, so I was happy to find this small one for sale.  What attracted me was the interesting detail.  It has a back-piece and carving on the front that is somewhat folky or primitive-looking but it also has carved paw feet.  I decided to refinish the interior desk part and the fronts of the drawers. They are stained with a mixture that has some English Chestnut in it-hence the reddish colour.  I don’t think that paint of any sort is all that practical on a surface that will be written on and the wood in this desk was good quality.  The desk is either solid walnut or mahogany, even the insides of the drawers.  The rest was painted in a tinted-white chalk paint and sealed with wax.

bureau desk #2bureau desk #4bureau desk #6bureau desk #7bureau desk #8bureau desk #10

The desk had shiny newer brass knobs but I replaced them with some other brass ones that I had on hand.  I really didn’t like the colour of the brass so I added copper gilding paste to them.  I have done this a few times before and I find that the copper really blends well with the reddish wood.








7 thoughts on “Bureau Desks

  1. Love the look of the stained wood and painted finish together! The desk has such pretty feet to it, too. What an inspiring piece of furniture to be able to sit down to write or pay bills….hmmm…maybe we don’t need to be inspired to do that second one, but you know what I mean 🙂

    • Thank you, Jamie. It’s funny but I think of writing at it as well but who really writes anymore. Fortunately, lap tops are pretty small these days. I’m glad you liked it.

  2. I love how this turned out. My mother has a similar desk and has used it as her spot to pay bills for years. I’ve offered to paint hers and give it a new look several times. Perhaps I’ll show her how great yours turned out to give her some inspiring ideas.

  3. I love that you left some of it wood. What a nice contrast :0) Even if I didn’t use it as a desk I’d have it just because it is pretty! Well done!

    Thank you for joining in on Making Broken Beautiful this week and sharing your inspirational piece! I hope you join in again next week as well!

    Have a great day!

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