A Bit of a Brit : A Union Flag Bureau

After: Union Flag Bureau

I’ve always been in love with the British flag.  Even before I married an Englishman probably even before I visited during my Junior year abroad.  I love the colors, I love the stripes, I love the pomp and circumstance of all things British.  I remember my mom waking me up before the marriage of Princess Di and Prince Charles and watching it along with a royal breakfast – I was 4.  We did this very same thing with our kids last April when Prince William married Katherine.

I’m so proud of Britain and my family and friends there.  I am so proud that my sons are half English.  I thought it would be nice to bring a part of Britain to our 5 year old’s room.  This bureau was mine growing up.  It is an old Ethan Allen maple – probably 40 years old and very heavy.

There were scratches on it and wear and tear from age.  John also got hold of a sharks tooth and, for some reason, decided to scratch his name on the front.

Can you see those scratches above?  Anyway, I decided that this piece would be a perfect candidate to be repainted with the Union Flag.  I’m saying Union Flag because a Union Jack is only on Navy ships, as my very proper English husband has taught me.
I started by painting the top and sides in three coats of ASCP in Napoleonic Blue.  It is a beautiful, traditional, regal blue.  It is almost like lapis or that perfect type of sapphire, you know the very blue one.  Then when it got time for the front, I was a little scared.  How do you go about paint the Union Flag?  We found this great site on how to draw the Union Jack accurately:
As you can see from this site, the red on the diagonal stripes is not in the center and this is what makes it so difficult to draw or paint.  The Union flag is a superposition of the flags of Saint George (for England), St. Andrew (for Scotland) and Saint Patrick (for Ireland).  I don’t like measuring much so I called on my very accurate husband to help me with all the tape (and we used a lot of tape).
First we did this.  This was just to paint the blue.
I did three coats of blue:
The he re-taped and I painted the white stripes.  I used ASCP in Old White.  I decided to do all the areas, under the red, white because the ASCP Emperor’s Silk is thin and I wanted a base of something underneath:
The the diagonal stripes:
Then he re-taped for the red stripes:
The taping was hard and intricate and I used a lot of paint.  Four coats of the red.  To finish I added two coats of clear wax on the front and top and one on the sides and buffed it.
Here is a close-up of the finished bureau:
I decided to leave the knobs wooden to match his bed and the wooden mirror above the bureau.
And here is a view of the side:
A bit of Britain in America for my little guy.  I asked if he liked it and he gave it “100 thumbs up”.  Now I just need to keep that sharks tooth away from him!
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  1. says

    I love all things British too! It never occurred to me to marry a British guy, however, so I married a Norwegian. lol You might enjoy seeing my Britain Travel Journal. I’m definitely going to look around here to see which item could use the Union Flag! Looks great on that bureau!

  2. says

    Well, this British person thinks you have done a great job, and lovely to hear enthusiastic comments about the UK !
    The Union Jack is on loads of furniture over here – I guess it was the recent royal wedding that brought out the craze, but it really is so effective. A friend asked me to paint one on a wall, but at an angle. That’s going to be a tricky one.
    Following from justpaintitwhite.blogspot.com and hoping you may pay my blog a visit. Thank you Fiona

    • says

      Fiona, what a nice comment! Thank you so much! I simply love all things British. I lived there for 5 years and really miss Cadbury mini eggs, curry, good fish & chips… you get the idea. Oooh, good luck with your Union Jack project! I’m now following your lovely blog!

  3. says

    Hello!! I was linking up with Miss Mustard Seed and I am one link behind you so this was the first thing I saw. Oh, I am in LOVE!! You did a FABULOUS job on this! I am going to make one of these one day, but yours just turned out great. I love the shape of the original dresser and the fact that you left the knobs original, I would have probably painted them but after seeing this, it was a great call.


    • says

      Kristal, thank you so much for your lovely comment. It was a lot of work and a lot of paint, but I’m so happy how it turned out. Yeah, I was trying to decide what color to paint the knobs and then just put them up to it once it was painted and loved them as they were.

    • says

      Kelley, thanks so much! No, I think if you did it one it would come out great. I’ve linked up to your party and I’m now following your blog.

  4. says

    Awesome piece! And I’m so impressed that Luke will help you out! My husband is in charge of anything electrical, all the rest is up to me, and if it’s at all related to painting, he’ll hide until it’s all over!

  5. says

    I am in love with your project. In fact, I just picked up a laminate table that sort of has a union flag effect on it. I purchased it specifically to stain the union flag onto it. Upon my husbands further inspection after I brought it home, he informed me that the table is Formica and cannot be painted. I saw a table top that you painted blue with ASCP. He keeps telling me that the finish will scratch easily since it is a table. Do you know if that’s accurate? How can I deter massive amounts of scratching on a table by using ASCP and the finishing wax? Any advice would be greatly appreciated!! Thank you so much for the great tutorial. :)

    • says

      Thank you! I painted this for my son over a year ago and he still loves it :) So, Annie Sloan says you can’t paint formica but I tried it on a table and it worked for me. I’ve had luck with laminate but the paint doesn’t do really well on glossy shiny laminate. The old formica table I painted I did in a rustic finish and did clear and dark wax. It didn’t scratch off. But if you are going for a really clean look with the union flag I’m not sure how it will come out. I don’t know how much you paid for the table if you’d be willing to experiment…. Sorry I can’t be of more help.

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