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.

The last time I showed my office was in the November House Tour post. It was really sad and messy looking then:


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There was no mistaking that it had room for improvement. In my defense, these pictures were taken in the midst of my senior year of college, and this room was essential for working/studying/writing/painting, etc. and the decor was not the most important thing on my mind. Now that college is over, I’ve had a little bit of time to work on improving the space.

Honestly, I didn’t even really do a lot to it. I made some different curtains, added some DIY built-in shelving, and did some rearranging and organizing. That’s mostly it. Most of the pieces in the room are the same. It looks like this now:

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I feel like the curtains really made a big difference. Going with something soft and neutral (love this grey/white pattern) sets a better and more sophisticated tone for the room and hanging them high and wide makes the room feel so much bigger. The three curtain panels only cost $30 (total for all three!). I made them from a queen sheet set I found at TJ Maxx. I cut the flat sheet in half for two of the panels and then made a third panel from the middle section of the fitted sheet. A great deal for that much fabric! (and that length!)

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My favorite part of the room is definitely those built-in bookshelves though! Drew and I put them in ourselves. We used two IKEA extra-deep Billy Bookcases and then just trimmed them out with wood boards and trim. I painted the trim Valspar (by Lowe’s) Dove White, which is a pretty good match for the IKEA white of the bookshelves. I still need to perfect the styling, but I LOVE the way they look and the storage they provide! (still need to get some baskets to put all my fabrics in so the sun doesn’t fade them)

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That little nook space of the room was just perfect for the size of the bookshelves + trim. I had wanted to do this project for a while, but it took a while to commit to it since we live in a rental. Its hard sometimes to put money into things like that in a house that you know you can’ t take with you when you leave. We debated for a while on whether it was worth it to spend the money, but in the end we were excited to tackle the project and we knew it would provide much needed function to the room (look at the top of the post at the before pic! This side of the room was a messy dumping grounds for stuff!). I’m okay with spending a little money (within reason of course) to make our current home, however impermanent it may be, perfect for us. No use waiting around dreaming about all of the some-day projects! I’m so happy we went for it with this! It looks so great! (Side note: If you live in a rental, you might want to check with your landlord before you tackle a project like this. Ours is really lenient and is all for any improvements to the property we want to make.)

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This side of the room looks pretty similar to before, except for the larger painting (that fills out the space so much better than the previous one!) This is a painting I did as a final project in my Abstract Painting class at Tulane. You can’t really tell in this picture, but the canvas itself is a quilt top I made from a bunch of neutral patterned fabrics and then stretched and painted and embroidered on top. That back corner is a little bit of an eyesore, but it is the only place I have to store frames/art that need to be hung, some art supplies, in-progress projects, etc.

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This weekend, I finally found an easel (thanks, Craigslist!), so I turned this corner of the room into a painting area. The painting taboret is a kitchen cart from IKEA. So happy to have a dedicated spot to paint! It is such a pain to drag out all those supplies when I want to use them, so I can’t wait to make use of this space! (I relocated the chair and “reading nook” area that was previously there to our bedroom. Works much better there, so win-win!)

I know everyone loves before and afters, so here are side by side comparisons:

before after looking into room

before after bookshelf side

before after back corner side

before after painting area side

Feels so much bigger, brighter and cleaner!

Left to do in here: get baskets for built-ins to store fabric in, maybe hang nice wooden/bamboo blinds instead of the cheap white ones?, and I really, really want to paint this room a soft warm grey color instead of the yucky tan/skin color it is now. We’ll see though.

Here are sources for anyone interested (let me know if I missed something):

My desk is from IKEAdesk chair is from World Market, white bookcase is from IKEA, baskets are from Target, tufted pink chair is from World Market (in before pics), rug is from Target, curtains I made out of sheets from TJ Maxx, white pedestal side table is from TJ Maxx (in before pics), small easel is from Hobby Lobby (I stained it darker), big 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 is thrifted and turned into bulletin board, big ornate gold frame is thrifted, tiered cake stand was made out of thrifted vintage plates for our wedding, elephant print from this Etsy shop, Live Simply print from this Etsy shop, small purple/yellow print we got in Portland, OR but is Old School Stationeersgreen elephant piggy bank is from Urban Outfitters (in before pics), jewelry stand was a Christmas gift from my little sisters years ago (was from Urban Outfitters), glittery gold frames on wall are from Michaels, top print in those is from Katie Daisy (The Wheatfield), and the big hanging artwork is by me.


Painting for my Office

November 14, 2011

After being so inspired by these abstract paintings and our TNASA (Tulane Newcomb Art Student Association) painting workshop, I finally decided it was time I quit telling myself that I didn’t have the time to paint and just get out my paints and get to it. I already had a canvas that I had ready for a painting for my office, so I didn’t have to do any prep work. I just sat down and started painting. I had a good idea of what I wanted to do and the final product went in almost a totally different direction, but I really like the way it turned out. Here is what my office looks like now with the addition of my painting:

I figured this was also a good time to share more updates about my office. I think the last time I shared anything about it was when I shared staining my desk, here. It has definitely changed since then! I love this room and it is such a great place for me to be able to work in. I still love my desk. It is the perfect size to spread out my papers and books on to study, to clear off and be able to work on drawings or art projects for school, and it functions wonderfully as a sewing table as well. I love the way it looks and I haven’t had any problems with it or complaints. I would definitely recommend it if you are looking for a great (and inexpensive) desk. You can find it at IKEA, here.

I love, love, love my tufted linen office chair. I fell in love with it the moment I saw it and knew it would one day be mine. Unfortunately, World Market happened to be out of stock with them all across this half of the country and I had to wait over 3 months for them to get any more in. I stalked them rather frequently just to see if maybe more had arrived. They did finally come in and I brought mine home (with some discounts too for using a coupon that they had e-mailed out). I absolutely love the look of it, the fabric, the tufting, everything. It is also so much more comfortable than my old wooden office chair as well. You can find it online, here. (Although online you can only buy them in sets of two, in the store you can buy them individually)

Last, but not least, I am really pleased with my white shelving unit from IKEA as well. It was inexpensive, easy to put together, and is well made and looks really nice. It is the perfect size for what I needed and it is great for holding all my office supplies and other crafty stuff. I originally wanted some kind of a wooden dresser for storage in here, but I am so happy with this instead. I love that it is lightweight and will be so much more practical to move out of this second story apartment whenever we move. A big wooden dresser would not be so much fun to move. Plus with a wooden desk, I’m happy with the white shelves. You can find it at IKEA, here. The baskets are from Target and I really like that they carry over the wood tones from my desk and I love that they came with linen fabric liners already in them.

We also put up some wall shelves on the other wall for additional storage, although you can’t see them in the pictures above. We also added a longer curtain rod. It bothers me that the curtains I have in here are too short, they were from my dorm room, but they work for now. We added the shelves to the closet in here, and we also put up a towel rod on the back of the door for me to hang my scarves on. We’ve still got a few more things to do, but so far I love this space! :)