Napoleonic Floral Upcycle!


The Piece:

So I managed to acquire this piece via Gumtree but it wasn’t in a good way.  Not only was it hoarding god knows how many years of filth, but it had hinges missing and was generally unloved.  Having been abandoned in the back of someone’s garage!


img_1371 img_1361

It needed a seriously good clean up, so this is where I began!

Then came the most difficult task of trying to find replacement hinges, not an easy feat for furniture this age as I found out!!
The Plan
Then the fun bit, the planning!!


Firstly I knew that I wanted to have a clean finish on this piece, so I didn’t want to go to town with distressing.  I also liked the idea of having something unassuming from the outside with a bit of a “pop” when you open out the drop leaf.  So I started to play around with colour schemes and fabrics.  I prefer to line the drawers with waxed fabric, my opinion is that it gives a piece interest and makes it feel more “plush”. I planned to follow this fabric detail onto the drop leaf table as the original leatherette wasn’t salvageable!


I always start a piece by removing all of the hardware.  I do this even if I’m keeping the original fittings, for neatness when painting and waxing.  The original metal drawer handles were really unusual and pretty, but they had gone rusty and lost their lustre.  After removing the rust (I have a few techniques for this) I gilded the handles with gold gilding wax, applying a couple of coats then buffing, to ensure even coverage and maximise emphasising the unusual pattern along the metal.


I used Annie Sloan’s Napoleon Blue chalk paint for the body of the bureau and I mixed a coral colour chalk paint for the inside of the bureau including the inner sides of the drawers.  I’m in love with this coral colour and feel its a striking contrast to the rich deep blue of the napoleon blue!  For me, it warms it up a touch!



I chose a fabric by Prestigious Textiles – Somersby, co-ordinating with the napoleon blue paint, but with a feminine contrast, to line the drawers and cover the writing desk.




img_4983 When I’m working on a piece, whether I’m going for a distressed look or not, I always sand the paintwork smooth.  I know that this loses the look that Annie herself advises, whereby brush strokes and direction create texture and interest.  Don’t get me wrong, I love this look, but for me, tactility wins over texture.  (I will share with you on another blog post, about paint layered techniques I have done, where this process has worked, without loosing the layered look!!)    I guess for me,  it emphasises how soft and luxurious the wax is.  I always apply at least two coats and buff like woman possessed!   Not only does it give the tactile feel but it gives such a great sheen to a piece!


I’ve got to be honest, it’s one of my biggest bug bears when I see people up cycling without touching the inside!?  I don’t get it??  Friends of mine have even bought pieces like this……………I wouldn’t!  img_4971

It may be one of my many neuroses, (tip of the iceberg!) but this even crosses over to such things as hand bags for me.  If a hand bag or purse has a lining to die for, then I just have to have it.  Sorry to any men who may
be reading this!!  I do get a bit disappointed if a bag catches my eye in a shop and I open it to realise it either a) matches the outer colour but in a naff fray-able (think I made that word up??) cotton, or b) its beige.    I mean, beige.  Need I say more?

So it may be a bit of that weird behaviour which has crossed realms into my up cycling world, who knows?  All I know is, a job wouldn’t be done without doing the inside, so
it at least made me smile when I opened it or surprised someone else!

I feel I may have digressed.

So I was going to say; This is another reason why I like to incorporate fabric into my projects.  Which I always wax.  I like there to be a feature inside.  A Bureau like this is a perfect way of doing that because it can be appreciated when the drop leaf is used.  Having said that, I still like doing it with drawers, cupboard doors etc because, it’s your piece of furniture, you know it’s there, it feels nice and why not??



The Final Product

And here it is……



With Love,








Leave a Reply