Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Build Your Own Desk

It's Thursday and that means DIY fun at A Soft Place to Land and Transformation Thursday at The Shabby Chic Cottage.

We have been wanting to give our home office space a makeover for awhile now. The paint color was too purplish tan and not as much warm, happy tan as I wanted. The desks were cheapo particleboard and were getting a little worse for wear. There was too much furniture and clutter and something needed to be done.

The main component of the office makeover involved our desks. We had been hunting for desks that we both liked for long time. Like 2 years. I like things white and light, hubby wants darker furniture. Hubby was insistent on a corner desk. I wanted something straight and simple. We looked everywhere including craigslist and IKEA, but just couldn't find what we wanted at a price we liked. So we decided to build our own.

After only one trip to Lowe's, and two to Home Depot, we managed to gather all the necessary supplies. We are not carpenters. We do not have special woodworking tools beyond a circular saw, cordless drill, and a power sander. But we were able to put something together that works.

We purchased 3 sheets of 5/4" birch. I think it is birch. I can't actually remember. It was $25 a sheet and was wrapped in plastic and called crafting wood or something like that. Hubby did some measuring and cutting to make a corner out of two of the sheets.

desk 002

We used table legs purchased at Home Depot. The smooth legs were $8.15 each, the curvy ones were $8.45. We needed 4 of one kind and 5 of the other, which worked out to be exactly the number they had left. Hope no one came to Home Depot after us looking for legs. We purchased these metal bracket things to hold the legs on. I think they were $1.50 each. After the desks were assembled, hubsters gave them a good sanding with our new power sander.

Then came the staining part. First I applied a wood conditioner since our wood was more porous and a conditioner gives you a more even finish. I applied it with a simple foam brush. I'm all about the cheap disposable brushes when possible. I hate cleaning up paint and other messy, sticky stuff.

desk 039

Then it was staining time. This time I used a nicer brush to get a smooth finish. I used a stain that contains polyurethane also. I'm all for cutting corners and skipping steps when I can. The color was the second darkest they had and was called "Antique Walnut." The sample and the color on the can looked dark and rich. Or so they claimed...

desk 040

So I applied one layer of stain:

desk 036

After waiting overnight for it to dry,(dry time is 6 hours), I gave it a light sanding, wiped off the dust, and got ready for a second coat. Because the first coat looks nowhere near "Antique Walnut". It looks more like an oak-maple hybrid wannabe.

desk 031

And I decided I didn't really like the wood toned legs. I have pale legs and I didn't want my desk legs to feel different. Ok, I just really didn't like the way the stain settled on the indentations of my desk's curvy legs. And the whole look was a little blah.

desk 030

So the legs got a coat of primer and white paint. And another coat. And one more. While the tops had their final and third coat of stain. I'm still not completely happy with the color because I wanted it darker, but I was tired of staining and sanding and wiping and staining again. However,I think it still came out pretty well for my first ever wood staining job. (And the walls are not this weird yellowish-green color, it's just bad lighting and camera usage. Also ignore messy tangle of cords.)

desk 008

Hubby's desk:

desk 020

My desk:

desk 009

The brackets that hold the legs on:

desk 027

desk 022

Here's the cost breakdown:

3 pieces of wood for desktops: $75
5 plain table legs: $40.75
4 pretty table legs: $33.80
9 bracket thingies to hold on legs: $13.50
Wood conditioner: $6
Wood stain: $12

Total Cost: $181 for two desks. Not super cheap, but not bad I guess for two solid wood desks. And now we can pretend to be talented carpenters and DIYers even though we are winging it half the time. We still have a lot of organizing and decorating to do in our office, but the desks are the first start. I will have more pictures when the room is more put together.


  1. these turned out great & for an even better price!

    i host a goodwill party every week, stop by and link up! :)

  2. Great job! I have thought about refinishing a desk, but I have such a small space, maybe I should use this idea and make my own! It looks terrific!

  3. Congrats on your desks...they look fab! and we bet you feel super proud...don't you???

  4. Looks good; I saw this site with some useful info on Discount Furniture Store. Hope it helps...

  5. Oh, it is such a good feeling when you do it yourself. So much more satisfying and fun than picking one at the store! I think they look great! I especially like your desk! : ) Thanks for visiting my blog!

  6. I love the desks! Except for the storage situation I think it is something I would like.
    I like the white legs and darker top and that you incorporated both of your personalities with curves and straight legs.

  7. great job! looks like they are exactly what you needed!

  8. I sure like the legs you used for your desks!


  9. Very similar to my table! Should have had the hubbie just build it from scratch. Thanks for checking out my blog!

  10. They were fun to build, I might have to come up with more furniture to creat.

  11. Great job you did here...Luv the look!


  12. Q: When you bought the wood top (for your desk, specifically) was there any further cutting involved? I ask because we don't own a saw, and if I made this (LOVE the legs!) I would want to buy, assemble, stain, period. Thanks!

  13. No, there was no cutting involved for the rectangular desk. It was all one piece of wood. I did sand it lightly to smooth it before staining.

  14. I really loved your desk. Could you tell me what was the measurement of the desk that you bought?
    We want a similar desk like yours(not curvy ones) ,straight but twice the size so that 2 can use it. This is our idea and hopefully it will work...a big flat desk measuring 3 by 8 ft or so with four corner legs and a cabinet in the middle...hope you get the idea. Or maybe even no legs but 3 cabines, two on the end and one in the middle..Thanks.


I adore comments, thanks for visiting.


Related Posts with Thumbnails