Last week I set out to replace the existing desk in the new office for my better half, having first painted his room top to bottom in Farrow & Ball railings. More about that in a different post (to come). The existing setting was a glass top desk (the remains of a John Lweis glasstop and pedestal desk, where one of the pedestals had broken off during a move) with IKEA legs (I think, but can no longer be sure). The legs were black and I had just painted them gold to check if they would look any better.
The problem was that with a light desk such as the glass top one, every single cable would be visible against the wall and I. Just. Hate. Cables. So the only good option would be to "hide" those ugly tentacles and what better way than behind a pedestal desk. Given that the wall was already dark, I was hoping to get something antique but french polished and was very particular about the colourway. I wanted a rich colour but not mahogany; still, with red-ish hues in it.
I had been looking on EBAY and my local antique shops for some time, with keyword searches such as "antique oak desk", "pedestal desk", "mid century desk". I also had to ensure that whatever finding we came up with, it could fit through the narrower than normal door to the room. So it had to be able to come apart. Most pedestal desks do actually come apart in 3 pieces, which makes them ideal for transportation.
Antique desks can vary in condition. You can get them refurbished by the previous owners, in need of restoration (which means anything from stripping to french polishing to changing their leather top if one is available); and you can get them lovingly restored by professionals like Lee Rose. More about Lee below. First let's take a look at the stunner of a desk I discovered on Ebay.
And here is a photo of the desk before it was restored. The leather top was beyond repair and the front of the desk was badly worn. The colour was faded. The desk had a stamp in the front central drawer with "1958" but Lee believes it is much older.
About Lee Rose
Lee Rose has been a French polisher for nearly 30 years and has run his business since 1991. Lee took over from his father, who took over from his Lee's grand-father, so Lee is the 3rd generation in his family to French polish. The desk restoration business has been running for about 2 years. Desks and other office furniture can be purchased on eBay (click here to go directly to his online Ebay shop) or at his works unit:
Wick Farm Place
Lee's business on Ebay ("Stunningly Restored") has been around since 2003 and has 100% positive feedback. That says it all! Here's what buyers have to say about Lee's work. When you've spent anywhere between £185 for a filing cabinet to £495 for a pedestal desk and you come back and leave this kind of feedback, it means that you have received top service!
Lee proudly claims that "WE WOULD GO AS FAR AS SAYING EVERYONE WHO HAS VIEWED ON SITE HAS PURCHASED!!" and that's a statement I truly believe given the work above which speaks for itself.
Lee has a leather lining craftsman who works in his unit, so each desk has brand new fitted leather. Having searched online, replacing the leather top yourself for this size of desk (1.20m minimum) would cost you in excess of £100 plus you would have to fit it yourself. So Lee's price is already very competitive. That's why he has regular clients who require polishing items from scratch as well as strip and re-polishing.
I was able to negotiate a little on the price as I bought outside Ebay, and so Lee took a generous 10% off which is what he pays Ebay in the Antique furniture category. I know, I checked. So I know that he went as low as he could while keeping his profit margin. The work he produces was in any case worth it and I know I would not be able to find a similar desk in a better or similar condition for a better price. The desk is solid and will last decades.
In terms of service, the communication was fast (I initially messaged Lee on Ebay to ask specific questions on his items and he responded promptly; when I texted him to ask whether I could buy offline and negotiate on price he was also quick to respond. I paid via bank transfer to save him the Paypal fees and he brought the price a little further down for the delivery. Had I bought on Ebay, this would have cost me £395 + £60 shipping. Outside Ebay, I paid £400 inclusive of shipping. So I got more or less 10% off the asking price and £15 off the shipping cost. Which is no doubt going towards some other decorating cost around the house.
Product Quality: Extremely happy
Would recommend? Absolutely
If you liked what you read and are looking for an antique/ vintage/ restored desk, please do give Lee some consideration. You will not be disappointed. And feel free to ask a question or leave a comment below.