One day about a week ago, I walked past it and all of a sudden "saw" it painted glossy white with cobalt-blue glass knobs. It would be perfect to store my fabric.
Doug suggested that we simply get rid of the cubbies if I wasn't going to use the piece as a desk. "Let's go down and take a look at it," he said.
As a side note, I just want to say that we have passed up way too many opportunities for before-and-after pictures of treasures and renovations. Recently, we vowed that from now on, we would be more diligent about documenting our work.
So we went downstairs to "take a look" at the secretary, and the next thing I knew, Doug was wielding a hammer, and wood was flying around the basement and hardware was bouncing off the concrete floor.
Hmmm, so much for a before picture....
Anyway, here is an intermediate shot with the dividers knocked out:
Doug also got a little over-zealous with the hammer and knocked out the trim piece that goes in front of the top drawer. But we salvaged the parts, and he managed to glue them back together and reinstall the strip.
I found a great website that sold repro antique hardware and ordered the knobs.
Then I set to work with a can of glossy white paint. Five coats later (I should have started by using Kilz--lesson learned), I was satisfied. The knobs were making their way across the country from Portland, Oregon, to Newark, Del., but we moved the dresser into place, and Doug used all new hardware to reinstall the drop-down piece.
Uh oh.... His repair had made the fit too tight, and the section wouldn't close.
He went to the garage for a plane to shave it off, but progress was too slow. Now I had a pile of wood shavings on the rug.
Uh oh again. Out came the belt sander. Dust flew all over the room, but he finally got everything to fit. Then we realized that the sander had rubbed against my gorgeous paint job. So I got my paint can and brush out again and repaired that problem.
The knobs finally arrived, and I think all of the fuss was worth it.
The open cubby is perfect for larger pieces of fabric:
And the drawers hold smaller pieces:
Overall, Doug did an awesome job of helping me give new life to an old piece of furniture. I just have to watch out for him and hammers.