I think I might Pinterest myself for this project. Here’s the back story: we moved our bedroom upstairs to we wouldn’t have to navigate stairs in the middle of the night to take care of Baby Z which left us with a fairly large room on the main floor, just off the dining room, to convert into a guest room, an office, a craft room, a family room, etc. We decided to make it into a craft/office/play room so that all of the living in our house happens on the main floor and all the sleeping happens upstairs. I really like this idea of keeping everyone together, having the computer in a public place, encouraging hanging out no matter what you’re doing (sewing, working, playing, etc).
But I didn’t have a big enough desk. We had a traditional, small-ish desk which meant that when we brought grading home from school, we often used the dining room table. Since we don’t have a kitchen table, all of our available table space was then gone. Hence the desire to have a big[ger] desk. I hadn’t found anything I like on Craigslist and we don’t have the money to buy something new from Dania or someplace nice like that (I feel like I’ve grown out of Ikea plus we live in a 102 year old house so Ikea pieces often look silly with the crown molding, you get the picture). Last constraint (which is a great thing actually) is that the room we were planning on putting the office in is huge for an office, like I was saying above. So the desk needed to fit the space (again, big!) which meant I either needed huge table legs and a huge desk top or something else sturdy as the base and something as the top.
Which meant I got to make/create something. Which I don’t exactly complain about.
Brainstorm moment: what if I used two drawer file cabinets as the base? That meant I needed to find a desktop. I have always loved the idea of using an old door for a table/desk top but then I still needed to buy acrylic or glass to put over the top (which is expensive – we have lots of old doors around here so that wasn’t the problem) so that was out. Thankfully on a Craigslist search I came across an insurance company that was relocating and had gotten all new office furniture so they were selling off their cubicle components. I got two big desktops (30″ x 66″ and 30″ x 60″) for $40…awesome!
Then how to cover these ugly things? I was going to ModPodge the tops with wrapping paper or something like that until a friend suggested doing the same thing but with fabric. Genius! Thanks Kay. I hurriedly Googled “decoupage fabric table” and this post about a desk came up as well as this post about a dining table. Taking these ideas, I went to work.
I gathered my materials, including this super fun fabric I found at a little quilt shop in Snohomish called Mary’s Quilt and Fabric Center. My lovely assistant Maya also wanted in on the fun…
Prior to the ModPodge-ing, Ben graciously painted the file cabinets for me with chalkboard paint. I like the clean look of black but I also like the idea of handing kiddos chalk and letting them do their thing, knowing I can just wipe it off when they’re done (again, encouraging family fun time all together even if Mom or Dad needs to be on the computer or something).
I layed out the fabric, trying to make the “lines” of flowers as straight as I could from left to right and poured on the ModPodge. I used a brush to spread it all over the place and pressed it down with my hands from the other side.
Once I had gotten the initial glue coat done on the top, I left it to dry so I could do the edges and corners later, after the top had dried. P.S. Very important tip: wash the fabric first before you do this project. There is a decent amount of water in ModPodge and you’ll get funny stretching going on if you don’t. Actually, you still get funny stretching but that’s cuz it’s fabric. Just start from the middle (why you see my fabric folded down the middle with the glue on one half of the desktop) and go out either direction from there.
I did the edges and corners with their glue coat and the next day I started doing coats of ModPodge on the top. After 4 coats of ModPodge, I decided it was time for the sealant. I (ok, Ben) used Polycrylic and brushed it on. I was 37 weeks pregnant at the time and though Baby Z was just fattening up and strengthening her lungs, we decided it would be better for Ben to inhale the fumes instead of me. He did 4 coats of that to give it a finished feeling as well as a durable and wipe-able surface.
It was finally time to bring it inside! Hooray!
Then I loaded up the desk with the necessary items (free printer from Ben’s school – they were going to throw it away!), our desktop computer (we also have a MacBook Pro that travels around the house but it will live here when it’s charging), office supplies (yes, I put the little things in a cut-out egg carton…there aren’t any drawers so where else are you supposed to put your paperclips and post-it flags?), and a cascading rack for folders (of which I am still looking for my pretty colored ones but that’s another project for another day) of things to do/file/pay/etc.
All in all, it was a super fun project, I love the way it looks/feels/functions, and it has already made the rest of our house so much more useful. Long story short, with our master bedroom renovation, we’ve been playing musical rooms with our stuff and furniture since February and, with 11 days to go until Baby Z’s due date, our house is almost to the way we want it (until we do a total remodel of course). While I am excited to meet you face to face, please don’t come early, Baby Z!