Ever since I moved to the US, my desk and work/craft space has been a hodgepodge of crappy Ikea furniture. The first apartment we moved into was not much more than 520 square feet, so the first desk I bought was tiny and focused on storage space above, to maximize the space we had. As my jewelry business grew (and we moved apartment, twice more) I needed much more space but, knowing we would be moving again, it seemed pointless to invest money into a nice setup. Instead I just added to the furniture I had, with pieces that served their purpose but didn’t necessarily go together.
After I stopped making jewelry I was able to clear out and get rid of quite a few of the ugliest pieces, but the apartment lease we have now is a temporary one (the owner plans to move back in once she graduates) so it still didn’t seem a priority to get nice furniture to fit a space we wouldn’t be able to stay in. Sofas and beds are one thing – you’ll always have space for those – desks are less likely to fit elsewhere.
Anyway, now I’m back to spending all my time in my home-office, I started to gradually clean out and reorganize more and more of the space. My husband was so enthusiastic about the changes I started to look into ways to finally make the space attractive, without wasting a lot of money on furniture I might have to get rid of when we move again.
The result was this desk, which cost under $200, was really easy to build, and which is made of solid, quality materials which should last as long as a more expensive piece would. Admittedly, it is a 6 foot long desk, so the chances of it fitting into a new place are slim, but, with the purchase of a saw and a sander, I can fairly easily cut it down to size to fit whatever space I have in the future.
I figured a table-top would be easy enough to make or find, but decided it was the legs which really make or break something like this. Mid-century modern isn’t really my style but these hairpin legs are both simple and rustic/industrial so I decided they would be perfect. I found them on eBay for around $50 (including shipping) but you can also find them new and the prices don’t vary a great deal. I went with the 3-pin version because I wanted to be sure they’d be strong enough, I have no idea if that was necessary or not.
I was planning to make my own tabletop but then I discovered these solid-wood, butcher block countertops from Ikea. They’re under the kitchen section which is why I’d never noticed them in the past. 6 foot is the shortest length they do (for $140) but, since it’s solid wood, it can be cut to any size.
A simple paper template made it easy for me to line up all the legs the same distance from the corners of the countertop and the mark through the holes of the leg frame, so I’d be certain I’d be drilling in the right place.
I really wanted the construction and appearance of the finished desk to be as simple and sturdy as possible. I guess the standard way of attaching legs is to screw up from the bottom with screws which aren’t quite long enough to stick out the other side, making them invisible from above. That just didn’t sit well with me, so I decided to turn the hardware into a feature instead of trying to hide it. I drilled all the way through the top so I could put bolts through, intending them to be visible from both sides, and making it more sturdy.
I don’t have a workbench so I just put the countertop on my dining table (which was shorter than the top). The weight of the solid-wood top meant it didn’t move around so it was easy to drill and hammer without risk.
I chose carriage-style bolts because I figured the smooth, rounded top would prevent me accidentally catching my hand or arm on them. Standard hex-style bolts look good too but I’d prefer to avoid bruises! Using the remnants of my jewelry-making supplies, I oxidized the tops of the bolts so they would match better with the legs and not look so obnoxiously shiny.
Carriage bolts need hammering into the wood so they sit flush with the desk top, and bite strongly enough to allow the nuts to be screwed on tightly.
The view of the top and underside of a leg. Simple and clean and adding a little extra interest. Below, the finished desk (before I piled all my stuff back on it!). I love that it has space for my sewing machine and any other crafting I might do, as well as finally having a statement desk that makes the office area look good!