Designing a Desk

You’ve probably heard that I’m attempting a simple, low-cost makeover of our multitasking-superstar-in-need office/closet. The piece de resistance, the crown jewel, if you will, of the makeover is going to be a brand new, DIY desk I have designed (and am currently building) myself. Fun, right? Yes, I do have a skewed view of a good time.

The current/soon to be old version of the office has a hulkin’ desk on loan from Mike’s company, and while it is super nice of them to let us use it, the piece isn’t exactly (what’s cookin’) good lookin’. The countless notebooks and binders shoved under there doesn’t help much, either.

Because we can’t alter (read: paint) it in any way, I figured, hey, why not build our own? Again with the skewed view of a good time. What can I say, I’m DIY crazy ;).

I’ve never designed a piece from the ground up before, so this has been a new process filled with trial and error, and plenty of ‘oh yeah, I forgot!’ moments. I started by trying to figure out the general gist of what I wanted in the final product and whittled the requirements down to:

- Corner desk (for better use of space)

- Incorporates the small file cabinet and printer (to visually reduce clutter)

- Relatively easy to build with the tools we have (for obvious reasons)

- Relatively inexpensive (again, for obvious reasons)

I focused on deciding on a surface for the top first, since that would probably dictate what the cabinets should look like. After throwing around a few ideas, I settled on this $60 8′ butcher block counter top from Ikea. That’s a lot of block for not much buck! (har har) We’ll eventually cut it so it spans the corner.

Originally, I was going to go the cheaper route and use a few 2x10s attached in a plane kind of like this one from Young House Love, but Mike draws lots of maps for work (how cool is that?) so any less-than-perfectly-flat surface was a no go.

With the countertop decided, it was on to the cabinet design. And let me tell you, it included a whole lot of what can only be described as what my grandpa would call “figuring.” Figuring clearly goes better when snacking on Tostitos. You can thank Mike for thinking to capture this real moment with my calculator iPhone camera.

The sketching, calculating, considering board dimensions, the dimensions of what will fit inside, and available board sizes took a good while. There was a lot of scribbling and dramatic scrunching up and throwing of papers on the ground, but I eventually came to a design I was happy with.

There will be two cabinets, one holding up each end of the desk, and a table leg holding up the middle/corner. The main design element is the side panels of the cabinets, which are based on the panel construction seen in this sideboard.

I liked the style, and easy adaptability to meet our size needs. Statue of Liberty Bear says hi, by the way.

Supports are used to connect the two panels of each cabinet together,

and the backs and bottom shelves are just MDF (a cheaper plywood alternative). Oats also says hi.

The door design is still a work in progress. Again, a lot of trial and error involved in designing on your own, but for now I’m happy with the fact I took an idea swirling around my head and somehow translated it to a pretty good looking box. Crazy!

Details on the construction process and my own design tips coming up. Stay tuned!

  • Maria @ FH

    Hi there! I'm a grad student, wife, and doting owner of the cutest dog you've ever seen. I love organizing, gardening, and taking on projects I only later find out I'm wildly too impatient for. Read along as I try to accept it's about the journey, not the destination, especially when it comes to DIY. Welcome!

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