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Decorating an Office Desk with Vintage

The decor on the top of Mr. SP’s roll top desk has been the same for years and I had grown very tired of it.  

I saw a picture on Pinterest that was actually a mantel but the design inspired today’s post, Decorating an Office Desk with Vintage.

Decorating an Office Desk with Vintage

A roll top oak desk is decorated with vintage with a masculine and cabin theme.

I’m going to share today how I used a look that I found on Pinterest as inspiration for decorating this space and I’m going to share how I shopped thrift shops, my house, my neighbor’s yard, and my friend’s house to get this look.

My good friend from Vermont, Ann of Dabbling and Decorating, is also sharing a Pinterest inspired look that she created by shopping for bargains at thrift and antique stores in Vermont and Maine.  Ann and I both love vintage and we both enjoyed creating a Pinterest inspired look.  More on Ann’s porch later in this post!

My Inspiration

We have a stone fireplace at our lake house and while browsing Pinterest for mantel ideas to use there, I saw this picture from Bass Pro Shop. 

I liked the cabin and rustic look and thought it might be something that I could copy for our fireplace at the lake.

Bass Pro Shop Inspiration Picture

After staring at it countless times, I realized that this idea would be perfect to copy for the top of Mr. SP’s desk because there’s already a deer head hanging over it.

Shopping to Achieve this Look

How to Copy a Look on Pinterest - Picture labeled with have, borrow, or shop

I started my decorating process by examining the picture to decide what I already had and what I needed to either shop for or borrow.

  • Deer Head – Already hanging over my husband’s desk.
  • Brown Container with Pine Branches – I thrifted a very similar container, spray painted it a similar color, then dropped it and broke it.  
  • Pine Branches – Substitute Pampas Grass fronds from my neighbor’s yard.
  • Other Pottery – Borrow from my friend who collects Pottery.
  • Amber Bottle – Have
  • Books – Have
  • Canteen – Have a similar one.
  • Deer Figurine – Thrift

When I went thrifting to find what I needed for this look, I focused on pottery containers and a deer figurine since I either had the rest or could borrow it.  Both were easy to find!

My Version 

I never share our office on our blog because to be honest, it’s a constant mess.  I blogged about it back in 2010 and a few things are the same but many of the items have been moved to the lake. 

I now have a huge desk of my own that I love.  It’s an old teacher desk that I found at Goodwill and restored, and it’s extra special to me since I was a teacher for 26 years.

Desk decorated with a cabin theme including a deer head, old books, and pottery.

I really like this desk’s updated decor and guess what?  It inspired Mr. SP to promise to clean up what you can’t see under the roll top of the desk.

A Bass Pro Shop mantel used as inspiration for a man's desk decor.

Here’s a side-by-side comparison of the inspiration picture and my version:

The Desk

Mr. SP had this desk and the chair in this spot when I met him in 1993. 

A roll top oak desk is decorated with vintage with a masculine and cabin theme.

The desk was purchased for him when he was in high school and when he moved to Lynchburg from Chicago, his parents had it shipped to him.  Every nook, cranny, and drawer is in use.

Desk Decor Details

Now I get to tell you about each of the items that you see that I’m using to decorate the desk.  Like always, I’ve got a story to tell about many of the items.

The Deer

Mr. SP started hunting soon after we met.  My brother hunted, my cousins hunted, my uncles hunted, his friends at work hunted.  It didn’t take my Chicago born and raised husband long to catch the hunting bug.

A roll top oak desk is decorated with vintage with a masculine and cabin theme.

He got this big boy in Bedford County, not far from where we live.  

Mr. SP stopped hunting after my brother was accidentally killed by his boss on the last day of hunting season in early 2002.  My niece had just turned two.  It was a very dark time for our family and the pain of his death is still there.

Pampas Grass and a Vintage Clorox Bottle

I thrifted a vase to use on the left side of the desk similar to the one in my inspiration picture.  I spray painted it a similar color, then I dropped it and it broke.

Pampas grass in an antique crock with an amber Fleecy White Clorox bottle and a pottery jar from North Carolina

Luckily I had an even better vase, an antique one that was my grandmother’s, in use in another room of my home.  I borrowed it to use here.

My mom gave me the vintage Clorox bottle long ago.  Isn’t it a shame that Clorox doesn’t come in a pretty bottle like this nowadays?

Pottery and Vintage Books

Fleecy White amber Clorox bottle, pottery jar from NC, 1929 The Classroom Teacher, 1918 Inorganic Chemistry book, and a late 1940's Holy Bible.

My good friend collects pottery and loaned me this pottery jar.  It’s made by Leicester Valley Clay in Leicester, North Carolina.

The books are all old and belonged to family members.

  • The Classroom Teacher – This 1929 edition belonged to my grandfather.
  • Modern Inorganic Chemistry – This 1918 edition belonged to my grandmother’s cousin.
  • Holy Bible – This was my dad’s.  Inside is a written message:

Presented to Freddie Ahalt from The Primary Department, Vinton Baptist Church, Promoted to The Junior Department”

Canteen, Pottery, and More Books

Growing up I was 100% in love with horses.  In 7th grade I signed up for a long distance trail ride with the 4-H club.  

1980's Canteen from Army and Navy, Pitts pottery mug,1896 copy of School Algebra, and a 1928 edition of Irving's The Alhambra

My dad bought the canteen for me to take on the ride.  I think that was the only time I ever used it.  

My grandmother had a small collection of pottery.  The mug was hers and is marked Pitts.  The potter Pitts was a relative of one of her good friends.  

The pottery piece on the books was borrowed from my good friend who found it at an estate sale in town.  It’s marked, “Martha Owens”.

The books:

  • The book on the bottom of the pile is an 1896 copy of School Algebra.  My mother gave this to me and I don’t know where she got it.  Inside it says:

Geo.H. Doty, Feb. 4, ’97, Cambridge, Ms.

  • The top book is a 1928 edition of Irving’s The Alhambra.  This is another of my grandfather’s books.

Avon Deer After Shave Bottle and More Books

Avon Ten-Point buck Wild Country After Shave Bottle, a 1964 Virginia History Textbook, and yearbooks from Roanoke College in the late 1920's.

A deer figurine was to complete this look was pretty easy to find.  We stopped in a Vermont antique shop and when I spotted this Avon after shave bottle deer, I knew he would be perfect to use.

Avon Ten-Point Buck Aftershave Bottle

Here is Mr. Buck on the shelf of a Vermont antique shop.

Hillbilly Recycling near Woodstock, Vermont

The name of the shop is too funny not to share.  I could have bought a lot more here but our car was pretty full.

Avon Ten-Point buck Wild Country After Shave Bottle and a 1964 Virginia History Textbook

Being a child of the 70’s, I remember how popular these bottles were.  The bottle’s label says, “Avon Ten-Point Buck Wild Country After Shave.”

Under the deer are these books:

  • 1964 Virginia History book – My mom gave me this.  Vivian Lea Pollard’s name is written in the book.
  • 1939 The Black Swan yearbook from William Byrd High School in Vinton, VA  – This belonged to my grandmother’s cousin, Freeman Funk.  I leafed through the book and saw that my grandfather, Paul E. Ahalt was an English teacher and Assistant Principal of William Byrd at the time.
  • 1928 and 1929 Rawenock yearbooks from Roanoke College – Both my grandfather’s.
Avon Ten-Point buck Wild Country After Shave Bottle, a 1964 Virginia History Textbook, and yearbooks from Roanoke College in the late 1920's.

Are you wondering why I have old yearbooks?  When my aunt was emptying my grandmother’s house to sell after Granny moved to a nursing home, my aunt couldn’t bear to throw a giant pile of yearbooks out, so I took some and she took some.  Now a giant pile of yearbooks is in my attic.

History to the Left of the Desk

A roll top oak desk is decorated with vintage with a masculine and cabin theme.

On and over the oak filing cabinet to the left of the desk is more history, some that I’ve shared here, and one item that you’ve never seen.

The item that you’ve never seen is this painting by Emlyn Edwards, a former art professor at Randolph Macon Woman’s College, now Randolph College.

A stack of his work was once for sale at Estate Specialist downtown and Suzanne and I (the friend who loaned me the pottery) each bought a few pieces.

Emlyn Edwards painting with Ahalt distillery in Middletown, Maryland whiskey bottle and bank receipt.

Mr. SP and I made frames for the two painting that I purchased and this one hangs in our office and another hangs in our hall.  Our neighbor down the street has one of his paintings over her fireplace.

Pampas grass in an antique crock with an amber vintage Clorox bottle and a Emlyn Edwards painting.

Items that you’ve seen before include the three items that I took to the Antique Roadshow in June:  an Ahalt Pure Old Mountain Spring whiskey bottle and two more treasures that relate to Ahalt whiskey.  

I love how this project turned out and it’s so nice to look across the room as I type to see the new decor in this space.

See Another Pinterest Inspired Project

Ann from Dabbling and Decorating is also sharing a space that she decorated using a Pinterest picture as her inspiration

I met Ann through Instagram and tapped “follow” as soon as I read that she lives in Vermont and that she loves vintage.  Those two V words are high on my lists of likes.  You can check out Ann’s Instagram account here and mine here.

Ann also helps to run the Creative Vintage Darlings Facebook group that I’ve told you about before.  If you love vintage, we’d love for you to join us over at Creative Vintage Darlings.  

Porch Decorated in a Cozy Style with Vintage

I hope you’ll visit her today to see all of the lovely details of her Vermont porch.


  1. You amaze me with all of your collections and special pieces. I always love how everything has a story. Your version came out beautifully and it sounds like you had fun putting it together! Great job!

    1. Thank you, Shelley! I should have taken a before picture of the desk to share as well. Now I need to tackle the other side of the office where there are two more desks. We have this room packed to the gills!


  2. I have recently started following you and enjoy every bit of your vintage stories and especially your authenticity.

    1. Thank you, Rhonda! I am so glad that you discovered my blog and that you are enjoying my vintage stories. It is a pleasure to share all of my vintage!


    1. Thank you, Rita! This space needed an update and I love how it turned out. Now if I can get him to tackle what’s under the roll top…:).


  3. You did a great job with your design —my husband hunts so I have to find creative ways to decorate to make it vintage instead of tacky. LOL I saw your link up on the imparting grace party. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thank you, Amy! Thank goodness he displayed this in our office and not over the mantel. It would be very hard to decorate around if it was hanging in a main area of our home.


    1. Thank you so much, Laurie! I think most men in the 70’s were gifted an Avon bottle at some point or another. I remember my dad had one that looked like an old car. I guarantee you that my mother still has it.


  4. I love your Avon deer and the stories behind all your vintage pieces. My dad was an avid hunter and I’m surprised he didn’t have one of these since my mom ordered Avon as long as I can remember, I’m surprised he didn’t have one of these. Thanks so much for sharing this with us at Farmhouse Friday!

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