A Twelve Foot Desk (And Other Things My Office Needs)

If I was the kind of person who did things in the right order I would wait until after I publish the 14 gazillion word post on my “themes” for 2013 that is currently in my drafts folder before I show you the twelve foot long desk that I built (in 90 minutes, for like $50), but I’m too excited about the desk to wait.

Suffice it to say, instead of resolutions I’ve picked twelve themes for the year (one for each month), and the theme for January is “Get Your Shit Together”. Because this is what my life looks like right now…



Temporary workspace with home laptop:


Temporary workspace with work laptop (and assorted googly eyes… don’t ask):


Clearly the problem here is that I just don’t have enough horizontal spaces in this house on which to set shit, and not that I’m an organizational trainwreck. Clearly.

I decided what I really needed was a desk that spanned one whole side of my office/workroom (making it twelve foot long) that had two “workstations”, one where my computer can be set up, and one where I can go old-school and take pen to paper if I feel like it, or, you know, pay my bills.

Now, you know I’ll take a few weeks to build some fancy, well-thought-out piece of furniture, right? This Pottery Barn inspired vanity I built for the Memorial House being prime example. But I’m drowning in my own clutter here, and I don’t have a couple of weeks to build a desk, so the question was, what’s the quickest, easiest way I can get this done, and still have it fit with the room?

So here’s what I did… I bought 6 2×10’s (just regular pine lumber) and a couple of 2×4’s, and spent about an hour in my twenty-degree workshop banging the parts for a desk together.


The “parts” basically consisted of one support that looks like sawhorse.


This is not a complicated design. I could have lapped these joints (like I did with the picnic table) or, you know, actually used a pencil while building this thing… but I did not.


The legs of the sawhorse are cut at a 15-degree angle, and it’s about 25″ from tip to tail.


Then I set it in the middle of my office, and laid the 2×10’s across the top (resting on the chair-rail that runs the room at exactly the right height for a desk.)


Voila! Desk.

Well, actually I had to trim down the sawhorse a bit because I built this on the fly so I didn’t take into account things like the baseboard heater in my measurements, but after that and a couple of coats of paint (the same white in satin that I used on the trim)…


I mean we’re not talking about some fancy Edwardian desk here, but then again, I’m not exactly Queen Elizabeth.

It took me about 2.5 minutes after it was dry to have it half-covered in junk.


I mean, you know I had to make a little sawdust in here, just to christen the thing, right?


That little hole is for the computer cords. I’m going to rig something up with zip ties to fasten the surge protector under the top of the desk, eventually.


You might notice that both my PB inspired pinboard, and pallet filing crates made it out of storage… at least temporarily. This is far from a finished area, but I can’t even tell you how nice it is to have a spot to work. Originally I expected this to be a temporary desk (for a year or two) until I could loop back around to this room and build something “for real”, except even after a day this thing is already growing on me.

Up next will be chairs, shelves, and some other storage solutions. I’m polling the cat for his opinion…


Because if he disagrees with any of my decor decisions, he may bring a live bat into the office and release it so that I have to go all Neo from Matrix while trying to catch it in a basket. Oh wait, he already did that…


(Good news, it was not 3 AM like last time, and the bat was fine… he totally flew away after I snapped this picture.)

Anyway, the other thing about those chairs is that, I plan to use two machinist stools (also in gunmetal with the wood seat) around the workbench…


And that might be a little matchy-matchy for me in this room.

Jury is still out on the seating situation.

Since there is plenty of room under the desk as well as on top, I’m also thinking about getting one or two of these filing cabinets from Crate and Barrel, that will fit perfectly underneath.

And then there’s going to be all sorts of shelving going on the walls on either side of that oddly off-center window. So I’ve got some figurin’ to do before my workspace is fully set up and functional, but the desk was the first and biggest challenge. And, even better, I got to check another thing off my list…


16 Responses

  1. That’s a slick idea. You also could have done essentially the same thing (and had a more finished-looking end product) with a cantilevered shelf covered with Formica. Or built it out with braces fastened to the wall and the countertop. Or just did what you did. It’s pretty slick.

  2. Last time I saw one, the quality on the EKBY ALEX shelf was not up to the $50 price. Since we didn’t need drawers, just compartments, we bought some some 1×12 pine and brackets and danish oil and built our own. About the same price, but solid dead tree in any colour I wanted.

    Speaking of IKEA, the quality of materials on the $30 LAIVA shelves is terrible…but it’s a great lesson in structural engineering. They wring a lot more stability and loadbearing out of that lot of sawdust than I would ever have expected.

  3. Nice work area. Efficient, clean (for now), and looks like it fits the house well. Usually the surge protectors have holes on the back to slide over a couple of screws. The question is, how could you not mention the Crocodile Dundee movie?

  4. I LOVE Ikea stuff. In my artist studio, I have the Vika Artur Trestle legs with one of their table tops and also the Alex Drawer unit on casters. I have numerous other pieces which are now discontinued. Yes, they may not be fine furniture, but for the price, their pieces work well for me. I save my money for art supplies, not furniture!

  5. I’m so jealous of your desk, it’s fabulous. Have you already ordered a chair? On etsy search vintage office chairs. They have several that look like your style. I have one and being able to roll comes in handy and saves the floor. I think you need a butterfly net for future critter encounters.

  6. I slept with a bat fluttering around my bedroom one night. Had to fall asleep under the covers as I was paralyzed with fear. Woke in the morning to find him stuck to a window screen in the laundry room. I was able to release him/her unharmed. Bats are no longer a problem in the house…..THANK GOD!!!! Love your new desk. Looks great.

  7. Best line ever: “I have to go all Neo from Matrix while trying to catch it in a basket” Still laughing. Handsome guy didn’t laugh as much as I did. But, he’s always been conveniently out of town EVERY time I have to deal with a bat. I totally get the Neo thing!

  8. Looks good. I actually really like that sneaky shelf for the printer in the middle. That might just be the nerd in me though.

    1. It might be a little bulky right there, but it works for now. I’m thinking about gettting (building?) a small shelf on casters for it to roll under one of the sides….

  9. Great work! Nd you gave me an idea of having a long table for my workplace, good thing I have a 12foot long table that we are not using. I have to rearrange my house tomorrow and put all of the things that I need.

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