Monday, January 27, 2014

DIY Custom Work Desk

The biggest project of my home office makeover was making a custom work station that spans the length of the room. I wanted and all-in-one, wall-to-wall desk with plenty of space to fit my computer(s), sewing machine and tools, with room left for crafting. I thought about it, researched and planned quite a bit before settling on purchasing two IKEA cabinets and building a wood top to fit. I considered finding a large desk on Craigslist, making one out of metal filing cabinets, purchasing kitchen cabinets, using butcher block, searching for old office conference room tables, you name it, I think it crossed my mind. But nothing seemed quite right (or it was more than I was willing to spend).

I was hugely inspired by the wall-to-wall desk that Young House Love assembled

They were inspired by the desk that Lindsay built in her basement office. I was too. Her step by step process gave me the courage and how-to to give it a try. 

I made a quick little "blueprint" to build my desktop. It was extra tricky because there's a 31 inch vent that juts out from the wall. I had to select 2 different size planks of wood and cut them to fit around this. 

Here's my handsome handy man, helping me pick out the perfect pine boards and transport them home. We used a total of 3 boards to make our desk top. 

At home, we cut and stained them. We had stain leftover from refinishing our staircase, which was the perfect color. I love when that happens! 

Selecting the right pair of cabinets to serve as the desk base was also a little tricky. They had to be the right hight, wide enough and strong enough to support the desk top, provide storage and not be outrageously priced. The IKEA "AKURUM" white base cabinets fit the bill (without the legs). The only problem - I don't live near an IKEA. This has been a problem for quite some time. Shipping was more than the price of one cabinet - yikes. Dear Swedish shopping wonderland, if you're reading this, please open a store here. I can give you an Excel spread sheet a mile long, listing your eager customer base, just waiting to be loyal shoppers. The solution to my dilemma - my sweet Father in Law, who lives near an IKEA, drove there, picked them up for me and gave them to my husband during one of his visits to PA, and he drove them home to me. They are both my hero's!

I was excitedly determined to assemble them - all by myself. How bad could it be? Actually, despite IKEA's notorious reputation for difficult furniture assembly, these were fairly easy to put together and took no time at all! This probably looks worse than it was. That's just my giant cat investigating. 

Once the cabinets were in place, it was time to assemble the top. 

We basically lined them up and used large and medium size metal brackets to screw them together tightly. The cabinets are wide enough that they rested perfectly across. 

Here's a look inside. There's so much storage space! It's fantastic. I added brushed nickel cup handles and bar pulls on the doors (they didn't come with any). 

On the left, is my computer work station (with my printer underneath). 

On the right, is my sewing machine and craft area. 

This is my Singer sewing machine that my Mom got for me when I was in 8th grade. It doesn't have any crazy patterns, programs or bells and whistles, but it's always worked so well. I learned how to sew on it and I've been using it ever since. 

I love how the wood top turned out. It's got it's own character and grain. I'm so proud that we made it and it's one of a kind. I also like accessorizing and arranging things on it. A milk glass vase from my girlfriends to hold pens and pencils. A glass dish from a thrift sale. A live succulent I got at Peddler's Village. Old books. Mason Jars. Things that make me smile while I'm in this room. 

I'm so happy and thankful for this work/craft space. The end result was even better than I imagined! 

If you're considering building a desk like this or something similar, I definitely recommend  you try it. Don't be afraid to do it yourself - get out those tools and make it happen! You can customize it to fit any room, big or small. You may even surprise yourself - and save some money while you're at it! 


  1. this is amazing! awesome job!

  2. Just revisiting this post, as I'm looking to do something similar. Luckily I live not too far from an IKEA. Great job Sarah, thanks for the inspiration!


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