DIY 12-Foot Long Double Desk

February 9, 2014

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Last week I shared our recent office makeover, including the DIY 12-ft long double desk we built. Today I’m here to give you the how-to so that you can build your own.

This really is a pretty simple DIY project (especially compared to our DIY Old Door Console Table that we built from scratch), that even the less-DIY-savvy of you can do pretty easily.

I had been thinking about this project for a while, so I already had an idea of what I wanted (here are some similar desks that I used for inspiration: thisthis and this), so I measured our space to see what would work best and then made this quick sketch to show Drew. He was on board immediately (he was ready to overtake the room that had long been only my office) and we came up with a plan.

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We started with a trip to IKEA (the closest IKEA to New Orleans is in Houston, TX, so we made a weekend trip of it), where we purchased three of these BESTA bookcases, along with these feet for the bottom of them (the BESTA bookcases have a variety of feet options, so you can change up your look if you want something different).  ***SEE UPDATE AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS POST FOR UPDATED INFORMATION ON THE BESTA PRODUCT LINE & LINKS.

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Once we were home, we cleaned out the room, painted it, and then put our bookcases together and placed them where we wanted them in the room. The spacing of our room turned out perfect for these! We set those couple boards on top to mimic the desktop, just to make sure the height would be okay. It really depends on the height of your chair, but for me, the desktop is a touch higher than I would have made it for myself. However, I’m sharing this desk with my husband, who is a big guy, and the height is perfect for him. (I’ve been sitting on a pillow in my chair, which makes it the perfect height, but I’m going to look for a taller office chair at some point.) You might find that you don’t actually need the legs on them to be the right height for you. (The BESTA Bookcases without legs are about 25 1/4 inches tall, with legs ours are 29 1/4 inches tall.) With the desk top attached, our desk turned out to be a total of 31 inches high.

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Next, we made our final plans for the top, measuring to see how long we wanted our desktop to be. Our wall is about 12 feet long and we wanted the desk to be slightly shorter than that, to give it room to actually fit in the space (it is a free-standing desk, not a built-in, so it doesn’t need to be completely flush against both walls). We decided 140 inches long would be perfect for us. We made a trip to Lowe’s and bought three 2x8x12 untreated pine boards and had them cut down in-store to 140 inches. When choosing boards, make sure you lay them flat on the ground in the store and pick ones that are as flat/straight as you can find. (We had some issues with one of our boards being warped because we didn’t check them well enough in the store!) After we got them home, we gave them a good sanding to smooth the surface and also to remove any stamps/marks on the wood. Make sure to also wipe them down and remove any dirt/dust before staining.

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We are still really happy with the finish of the top of our Old Door Console Table, so we used the same method and same stain for this project as well. We used Minwax Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner, 2 coats of Minwax Wood Stain in Dark Walnut, and (later, after the desk top was attached) we gave it three coats of Rustoleum Water-Based Polyurethane in a Satin finish.

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I would recommend staining your wood outside or in some other well-ventilated area. Since we live in an apartment, we were forced to do this inside (with the windows open and a fan blowing the smell out), but it was still pretty stinky. After the stain has cured for a day or two, then you can start attaching the top boards together.

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We used these long metal connector bars that we found at Lowe’s. We used 4– one on each end of the desk and one in each open space (where our chairs go). Make sure you pull the boards together as you screw these in, to prevent large gaps between the boards.

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Once we had the top boards connected together, we measured out our bookcases, put them in the right places, then set the wooden top on top of them. We left a couple inch overhang on each end and each open chair space is 32 inches. The bookcases are only 15 1/2 inches deep, whereas our top is 22 inches deep, so there is a 3/4 inch overhang on the front lip of the desk and about 5 1/2 inches of space left behind each bookcase (which has turned out great for storage of art materials!).

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Once we had everything situated where we wanted it, we used these small L brackets to attach the top to the bookcases. There is a slight gap between the bookcases and the top on ours to accommodate the curvature of the wood (no wood is perfectly flat!), but when making your own, you might find that you don’t end up with as big of a gap there (one of our boards was slightly warped). The weight of the wood also holds the top down, so we didn’t think it needed more attaching than a few of these on each side of the bookcases.

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After everything was attached and together, I gave the top 3 coats of Satin finish Poly and let that cure for a few days.

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So happy with how it turned out! It is the perfect space for Drew and I to work. We each have plenty of storage space in the bookcases and lots of work space on top (with plenty of space between us so we don’t bother each other while working either!).

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It also makes the perfect use of the space in this room. It might be a 12 foot long desk, but it doesn’t feel like it takes up very much space in the room! I still have room for my easel/art stuff on the other side of the room with plenty of open floor space to spread out in the floor if I’m working on a crafting project.

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See more images of the room, here.

Budget Breakdown:

IKEA (BESTA Bookcases ($46.75 x 3 = $140.25) and BESTA Legs ($8.50 a pair x 6 = $51.00) family discount pricing + 15.78 tax) : $207.03
Wood for desk top (3 2x8x12 boards at $7.43 each): $22.29
Metal Connector Bars (4 at $2.80 each): $11.20
Metal L Brackets (3 packs of 4 at $2.27 each): $6.81
Stain/Wood Conditioner/Polyurethane/Foam Brushes: already owned (but would be around $30 to purchase if you didn’t already own these)
Screws, Sandpaper, etc… already owned (but would be around $10 to purchase if you didn’t already own these)

TOTAL: $247.33 

$250 isn’t bad for a 12-foot long desk for two! Plus we sold Drew’s old desk on Craigslist for $100, so that brings our out-of-pocket cost down to under $150!

One of my favorite projects that we’ve done together and we are already getting a ton of use out of it! Yay for pretty projects that increase our productivity!

P.S. We did plan ahead and made sure that whatever connecting methods we used (the metal connector bars and L brackets) could be disassembled rather easily in the future to move to a different house. We also thought ahead before we bought our 12 ft long boards and measured to make sure that we could even get them in the house. Some things that you also might want to consider before building!

***UPDATE 12/3/15: Several people have asked if IKEA still carries the BESTA bookcases, since my original links above don’t work. IKEA still does carry them, but they have changed a bit. When we bought ours, the frame and shelves came together as a “bookcase” that you could choose to add feet to, but now they come in different parts so that you can customize/build the exact piece you want (they have doors and drawers available instead of just shelves!). You buy the frame, shelves, doors, drawers, feet, etc. separately. I believe this frame is the equivalent of what I have: here are some other helpful links:

Frames (different sizes):
Doors and Drawer fronts (different sizes):
Interior fittings:

Office for Two

February 2, 2014

The last time I shared photos of my office/studio, it looked like this:

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It continued to look like this until about a week and a half ago. Now it looks quite a bit different (but we’ll get to that in just a second).

The room was great before. It was pretty. It was functional for storing my things. But I felt a little like that was all it was being used for. Just a room to house my stuff. During college, it was great to have this space to myself. I needed a quiet spot to write papers and do homework. However, now that I’m out of school, I found that I didn’t really use the space as much anymore (only when painting). I still work some from home, I still blog, and I still spend a lot of time on my computer, however, I found this space to be too quiet (and lonely) for me to work in very often. Since Drew and I both work away from home during the day, we only get to spend time with each other at night and on the weekends. If I spent all that time working in here, with him working in the other room, we would never see each other. So we would both end up bringing our computers into the living room where we could work together.

So we decided to give this room a little makeover. One that would make it work a little better for both of us. Now it looks like this:

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I’ve always loved the look of double desks (especially since Drew and I both do a lot of work from home that we need office space for) and I’d been envisioning one for this room for a long time. This wall is just the perfect spot for it. (Inspiration: this, this, this, thisthis and this.)

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We built the (nearly 12 foot long) desk ourselves using Besta bookcases from IKEA (outfitted with these legs) and wooden 2x8x12 boards that we stained/sealed/and put together. A longer post coming soon about exactly how to DIY one of your own. (We did a few things differently, but our process was very similar to this one.)

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We ended up painting the wall behind the desk with chalkboard paint (Valspar from Lowe’s) and it is one of my absolute favorite things about the room. I’ve always admired chalkboard walls and I love the functionality of this one (inspiring quotes, to do lists, etc.) and the gorgeous statement it makes (I’m so into high contrast these days!). It took about 3 coats of paint to cover our wall and even though our walls are bumpy plaster, it still works great. If you do this in your own home, remember to “season” the entire wall with chalk dust before using (it makes what you write on there easily erasable without leaving an impression of what you wrote on the wall), but I will warn you that it makes a huge mess! Totally worth it in the end though.

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The other walls in the room are painted in Grey Ghost (Valspar from Lowe’s) in a satin finish. I love the contrast of the black chalkboard wall with the lighter grey walls and the white bookcases, etc.

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I’ve found lately that my style is changing quite a bit. I’m into really high-contrast and neutral spaces (black, white, grey, gold, and wood), with just smaller bits of color (and I would even like a little less color in here, but I’m working with what I’ve got — LOVE this office), patterns, abstract art (when wasn’t I into that though), elegant but with a more casual feel (love the imperfect to do list and the art taped right on the wall), contrasting textures (matte black wall with satin grey on the other walls, smooth white bookcases with an imperfect wooden desk top), a little old with a little new, and a little bit of quirk. This is definitely my favorite room in the house.

See more of my office/studio inspiration on my Pinterest board, here.

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The room feels so much bigger now! Not only is it such a better use of the space in our small apartment, and more functional, but it also provides so much extra storage and organization. It is so nice to have a desk with shelves. I didn’t even know how much I missed that before with my open desk. The small gap behind the desk bookcases, between the wall, is also great for storing art paper pads, unused art frames, etc! A nice little accidental perk!

This room has come so far from the before pictures in this post!

Now I’m on to the search for a larger rug for this space!

****UPDATE**** Want to build your own DIY Double Desk? Check out the how-to, here



My desk chair is from World Market, Drew’s wooden desk chair was thrifted, baskets on the built-in shelves and the middle desk shelf are from Target, other smaller baskets on desk shelves are from Michael’s, rug is from Target, curtains I made out of sheets from TJ Maxx, easel is from Craigslist, pink curvy glass lamp is from Home Goods (got it on vacation years ago in Charleston, SC), standing lamp is from Target, shelves DIY built-in out of IKEA Extra-Deep Billy Bookcases, Painting Taboret is IKEA kitchen cart, big white ornate frame with painting inspiration pics is thrifted and turned into bulletin board, big ornate gold frame is thrifted, elephant print on bookshelves is from this Etsy shop, Live Simply print from this Etsy shop, small purple/yellow print on bookshelves we got in Portland, OR but is Old School Stationeersgreen elephant piggy bank is from Urban Outfitters, glittery gold frames on wall are from Michaels, prints in them are prints of my paintings, wooden abstract painting on desk is by me, two taped up paintings on my side of the desk were bought at an estate sale and painted by Pierce Jonassen, taped up painting on Drew’s side is by me, crewelwork embroidery in gold frame was thrifted, white ceramic turtle is from West Elm, gold plant pot was thrifted, silver desk lamp is from IKEA, and rose window print is from here.

My Desk

June 30, 2011

One thing that I really needed in our new apartment was a desk. I needed somewhere to be able to do my homework and study during the school year and a space for my computer to go while designing things and writing blog posts. I knew from the start exactly what I wanted it to look like. I wanted a dark wooden desk with plain, simple lines. I didn’t want it to have any drawers or anything because I knew if it did, it would be way too heavy and hard to maneuver up the stairs to our apartment by ourselves.  We had more than enough issues trying to get Drew’s desk into our old apartment (read about that, here) and then we ended up having to get rid of that desk when we got to our new apartment because it was too big and too heavy for the stairs.

So anyway, usually I have a hard time finding anything that fits my mental vision of what I want for a room. However, in this case, I must have struck gold. I found exactly what I wanted and at a really good price too! Enter IKEA’s INGO dining table. Solid pine, straight, simple lines, not too heavy or bulky, the perfect size and only $69.99! The only problem however, was the fact that New Orleans does not have an IKEA. :( This is a very unfortunate fact because there are always little things that I find that I want from there and they usually have such great prices.

However, I wouldn’t have taken the time to bring you this far into a post, if it just stopped there. Enter this service. If you checked out the link, you will see that there is this company in New Orleans that basically just travels to the IKEA in Houston every week to buy things for people that want them but that don’t want to travel all the way to Houston, Texas just to go to IKEA. There is a 20% charge added to all orders that are under $1000 and a 15% charge added to all orders over $1000. Which is obviously more expensive than if there was an IKEA in New Orleans where I could have just gone and gotten it myself, but isn’t that bad really since shipping would have been more than that (if IKEA even offered shipping or sold hardly any of their products online).

I found out about this service through Drew’s former landlords whom I also babysit for and we have done a couple web design projects for. They were planning on ordering stuff from IKEA to furnish Drew’s old apartment in their house, so they offered to let us also add whatever items we wanted onto their order as well. (getting us the 15% price charge instead of the 20% charge). That made my table $69.99+$10.50 for the service charge + tax. Still, not a bad price for a solid wood desk. (Plus we also got some bookcases for the hallway while we were ordering things)

Therefore I ended up with this in my office:

You can just ignore all the clutter and the million other projects that I still need to do in this room. I don’t have any other furniture for this room yet, so I don’t have any place to put the things in those boxes and on the floor.

It was just what I always wanted. Except that it was a little naked. I wanted it to be dark (I like dark wood, plus it covers up pencil/pen marks and scratches better than lighter stains or paint colors)

So off to the foyer it was. We have our foyer closed off from the rest of the house right now since it just has storage in it anyway so that we aren’t cooling it. I opened all the windows in there for air circulation and got to staining.

Two lovely coats of stain later and I had this:

The stain was still a little wet in that picture, so that is why it looks so wet and shiny. It also isn’t quite so red in real life either. I decided not to add polyurethane or any kind of coating to the top because I didn’t want it to be shiny. I wanted a more natural look that sort-of would look weathered over time. I might change my mind later, but for now it is fine.

I love it! It will obviously look better once the rest of the room looks nicer as well. I’m loving that I have a space to work and blog at now! I really, really love the size of it. It looks kind-of small in the picture, but it is really actually quite big for a desk. (it originally was a 4 person dining table) I love that I have room for my computer and papers and everything on my desk all at once. Yay! :) (Now Drew is jealous because we still haven’t gotten a new desk for him since getting rid of his old one)

Oh, and if you live in the New Orleans area and are interested in IKEA products but don’t want to travel to Houston, Blue Bag is a really great service as far as my experience with them goes! (My desk originally came with the holes missing in two of the legs to connect them to the table top and they switched the legs out at IKEA the next week.) I would definitely recommend them and plan on placing an order with them again soon!


January 24, 2011

I mentioned in my last post that I was working on my trousseau (collection of things for my house once I’m married). Well I guess that is partly true, and partly it is that Drew and I are constantly collecting things we aren’t necessarily saving for the future, but stuff that he needs for his house (well apartment) right now. It has come a long way since last year. It was just about this time last year that we were shopping for a mattress for him because he had slept on an air mattress for the entire first semester of living in New Orleans. It wasn’t even one of the double ones, it was one of the thin ones (for camping) that he got at Walmart for like $14. (Not comfortable. I sat on it one day and my butt was touching the tile floor!)

So anyway, this year he has a bed, a small dining room table, and chairs! (for a while he didn’t have those and if I wanted to sit at the table I had to sit on boxes. The boxes wouldn’t hold Drew, so he couldn’t sit at the table.) Mainly, we’ve been collecting kitchen stuff though. I live in the dorms at my school, but I’m over at his house pretty much everyday to make dinner because I love to cook. Cooking relaxes me and gives me something that I can do for a little bit other than homework. This summer we (when I say “we” I mean “he”) bought a nice set of stainless steel pots and pans and since then we’ve added in some utensils, a casserole dish, a tart pan, salt and pepper shakers, a coffeemaker, dishes that he couldn’t break when washing, and other various kitchen items. It is really coming together. Well, not aesthetically, but as far as functionality, it deserves an A. We haven’t spent much on decorations and stuff yet. The walls are plaster coated concrete or something incredibly hard, so I can’t get any artwork to hang. :(

Anyhow, I said all that to say this. Lately he has really been needing a desk. He has his own web design business, and also works for two other technology based companies and so he does a lot of work at home. He had been sitting on the bed (the only real piece of large furniture in the room) but that wasn’t working well. I really wanted him to have a space in the apartment just for work, so it would be easier to separate home from work. (or at least I think it would make him feel more productive to have a better working space) So we decided to go visit the various used furniture stores to see if we could find a nice sized wood desk that we could fix up. At the first several ones, we had no luck. They want a lot of money for crap in this city. Just as we were about to quit and head home, we saw a thrift store. We weren’t even sure if it would have furniture, but we decided to give it a try just in case.

That was the nicest thrift store I have ever been in. It was clean and everyone was super friendly, and it just had a cool atmosphere. They ended up having a lot of furniture too. They had it all arranged and staged to look like little rooms too. I found this really cool big rug I liked, but they didn’t want to sell it because they used it in the displays. Drew found a desk, that wasn’t the exact thing he had in mind, but the size was perfect for him and made of wood. It was one of those big executive looking ones with drawers on one side and it was stained in a mahogany color. Even better, they only wanted $50 for it. Drew told them he would take it.

They (Drew and the people at the store) loaded it up in the car (Drew’s Escape). That was kind-of a challenge. We had to fold down all the seats and ride home with part of the back of the car open and my lap full of junk from the backseat. The biggest problem however, was once we got home with it. We take it for granted that at home (in Illinois) we have dads, brothers, friends, neighbors and lots of people around to help us move things or help with things, and in New Orleans it is just us two. Plus, I’m not much of a heavy lifter. We didn’t have anyone else that we could call and ask for help, so we had to figure it out on our own. Well, I won’t take much credit. I didn’t really help much. It was cold and the desk was heavy and I was stressed about how we were going to fit it in the house, so I went inside and started taking down the Christmas Tree to make room for it, and left Drew outside to figure out how to get it inside.

The desk easily weighed at least 200 pounds. I’m not really sure how he got it out of the car, but he did it by himself. He then somehow made it across the yard and to the door by scooting it around and pulling and shoving and lifting, and I’m not even sure how he did all that, but he made it to the door. Now this is where the real problem arrives. There is no way this desk is going to fit into the skinny apartment door. We spent a good couple hours pushing and pulling and turning and lifting and trying to get the desk through the door. Drew tried to take it apart, but it was made well and wasn’t budging. At one point we got it stuck in the doorway and couldn’t get it in or out. Drew was on the outside and I on the inside. I had to take the apartment door off by myself to give us a little extra room. It still wouldn’t come in. I got stressed again and went to clean the kitchen, start dinner, and I even washed the dishes to not have to help with moving the desk. After I had ran out of other things to do, I went back to see what Drew was up to. He had unscrewed the drawers and taken them out because they kept falling out of the desk when he was moving it. We had both kind-of lost heart that it was going to fit through the door. It was too wide on all sides and we could get half of it through by turning it, but the frame part for the drawers wouldn’t fit through. We had already scratched up the sides of the desk even more and scratched half the paint off of the door frame.

It got to the point that we debated just leaving it on the curb for someone to pick up. We didn’t know what else to do and the house was getting cold with the door being off. Finally I told him to break the drawer part off completely. If he took that apart or broke it, then we could at least get in inside and wouldn’t have wasted $50. We could maybe put the drawers back on later, but it was either no desk at all, or a desk with no drawers. He was a little sad to get rid of the drawers, but at that point, we were both stressed and exhausted.

It took a little bit, but he got the drawers off, we got it inside, we put the door back on, cleaned the apartment and rearranged. I don’t know if the drawers will go back on or not, but if we want to get the desk back out the door at any other point in time, they might just have to stay off. The house feels better rearranged and Drew now has a whole office space with his nice, big desk. It looks pretty professional, minus all the scratches all over it. Whew, I’ve never been so happy to see a piece of furniture inside before. I would rather have had other people to help us, but in the end, there is satisfaction in knowing that we were able to figure it out on our own. It makes us feel a little more independent.

So anyway, the house & trousseau are making progress. :)