A hub for all things to do with design, furniture painting, photography, style, event planning [and some foodie bits for good measure].  

Combining Mid Century and Industrial: Gray Desk with Brushed Black Wax

I always get SO excited when I come across a mid century piece of furniture I can work on!  I was on the hunt for a client who needed a desk. She will be working from home more and though she wasn't picky about what the piece would look like, I had a good sense of her style and knew this one would fit perfectly in her space. 


In previous design conversations, she showed an interest in industrial style pieces and neutral colors. We never discussed mid century, but I had an image in my mind of bringing that gritty, industrial style to this clean cut desk. 


I combined two Annie Sloan grays, Graphite and French Linen. It's a go-to mixture for me, since it creates a perfectly balanced gray.  I initially thought I'd paint the desk in Graphite alone, but I wanted the black wax I'd add later to contrast with the base paint color, so I opted for a lighter gray.


I didn't do much in the way of distressing with sandpaper on the desk, I simply sanded it with a fine grit paper to get a smoother finish and knocked the edges of the drawers and top a bit. I gave the piece texture by using a coarse bristled brush to apply black wax to it. I wanted the lighter gray base to show through, so I opted to apply clear wax BEFORE going over it with black wax.  The clear creates a buffer between the paint and the tinted wax, so it allows you a bit more control over that deep black wax.


When the light hits it, the contrasting gray and black blends together, but in darker settings [her office is on the darker side], it shows the detail of the wax finish nicely. To add even more contrast, I applied the black wax heavily to the tapered feet, to accentuate their mid century style. It's actually my favorite little touch to this desk!


Since mid century and industrial styles can feel masculine and linear, I added some organic textures with a collection of plants, my favorite Rifle Paper Co. calendar [it goes with EVERYTHING!] and a woven wall hanging. 


I paired the painted desk with a vintage wood chair. It adds warmth to the overall look. I'm still working on finding her a wood chair [this guy is from my personal chair hoarding stash!], but often I'll see single chairs similar to this at thrift stores and antique shops, so it's just a matter of time before the right chair presents itself!


This desk was in great shape, but if you come across a piece that has some imperfections, using this brushed on black wax technique does wonders for furniture with flaws. It adds an intentional grittiness, and makes the piece feel aged and worn, but in the best way possible.


She loved how I styled the desk for these photos, I'm planning on styling the desk much like this in her office! There are a few key bits to creating this eclectic but simple styled look. I'll be on the hunt for a few vintage books with colors that will contrast with the gray desk. I'll probably source a lamp from Target, because they have a great selection of affordable lamps in all sorts of design styles. The one I used for this shoot is a Target lamp with a felt gray shade and a light wood base in a modern cut. 


I'll also try to find her wall art and art for the desk top. She'll be using this desk for work, so I won't place too much on top of it, but a few bits make all the difference and will create a work environment she'll want to come to each day. 


AH! I nearly forgot to mention the drawer knobs on this desk. It oddly came with a set of knobs shaped like Chinese characters, so I ditched those and found these simple oval pulls from Home Depot. I'd have liked to find something more mid century, but I would have had to special order them, and these ended up working beautifully. 


I can't wait to see how this desk looks in her space when it's all styled and ready to be used as her home office space! If you're looking to restyle your home office [or any room in your house!], let's chat!