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If you told me a few months ago that I, a math-insecure, ADHD-having, handy-but-never-actually-built-anything handywoman, would build an entire desk come November, I’d probably believe you but probably assumed it would’ve been with Jake’s help.
And here’s where I tell you that nope! It was all me! Just me! I’m typing it in so many ways because I am still like, how in the actual hell did I do this?! I have never built anything on my own other than my art ledge I put in my guest room. And so this is not only my One Room Challenge reveal, but also me telling you that there was once a time when I didn’t think I was capable of this, and it took actually doing the thing to prove to myself that I can.
I had someone reach out to me on Instagram and say that they’re inspired, but they’ve never even used a drill. Well, guess what?! There was one a time when I had never used one either. Get some scrap wood, some screws, and a good cordless drill and get to practicing. This desk looks great, but like all of us — it’s got its less-perfect bits too. It was the biggest lesson I could’ve had in building things: how to do practical math, how to double and triple check measurements, how to ensure everything is square, learning what “square” even means. But guess what? I did it. And I’m proud, ugly parts and all. I always say, if you’re trying something new, set the bar of expectations on the floor and don’t pick it up.
So without further ado… please enjoy some pictures of this birch beauty.
Obsessed with that light. Here’s the link if you want a disco ball flush mount too.
Call me a romantic, call me an enneagram 4, call me a proud mama, but the way the shadows play on the square shapes in here makes my heart melt. We went with 12″ oversized minimal drawer handles, and since the drawers and doors are all oversized, it’s a perfect match. Getting them center wasn’t exactly a cake walk since none of the doors or drawers were a clean standard size, but it worked out in the end. Thank you, math.
Speaking of math, my math skills actually ended up being pretty reliable once I got the hang of calculating measurements. This was made easier too, thanks in no small part to googling “what is 11 5/8 minus 3/16” (take that, teachers of the past who said we won’t always be carrying calculators — we’re carrying entire computers). But really, take it from me, a former English major and eventual college dropout: math isn’t that bad if you have a little patience.
That doesn’t mean I made no mistakes. Because, uh, I sure did. I’d be remiss not to show you my biggest OOPS. Please enjoy:
Let me describe what you’re looking at. I had previously and what I thought was victoriously attached and glued my drawer boxes together, only to realize the next day (after the wood glue had dried and begun to cure) that I had assembled them incorrectly and they needed to be taken apart, pocket holes re-drilled, and re-assembled. Cut to me in my basement, karate-kicking these drawers apart, praying the plies don’t come off so much that I can’t salvage the pieces. So, what you’re seeing here is excess wood glue, ripped exterior bits of plywood, excess pocket holes, and some screws poking through since the plywood was thinner in this area post-deconstruction. Ahh, the joys of DIY. ALL of my drawers look this way. But when they’re closed you can’t tell! So whatever! (I’ll let you in on another secret: if you look at the double-door cabinet and on top of the adjacent drawer cabinet, on top but under the countertop, you’ll see some shims I cut because oops, I cut the cabinet carcass poorly.
But it all finds a way of working out in the end, because look — ya girl built functional drawers.
Notice the ripped plywood edge here too. But, ah, c’est la vie. These drawers are monsters — they’re roughly 14×32″ and wowowow it’s so nice to have all of that storage space. The right side houses my Etsy stuff, my camera and computer, my iPad, and a few other things like our mail scale. The lower drawer has enough space to house all of our business paperwork, the double door cabinet houses both my thermal printer for shipping and my home printer, and the entire left side’s drawers are dedicated to Jake’s love of 3D printing. We can store probably 25 spools of filament in just one drawer!
I also had to find a new place for my cat Gracie’s food bowl to go. It used to be perched up on top of our old desk so our dog Jet wouldn’t get into it (he loves a good snack session), but she’s a messy eater and I didn’t want her to make this brand-new beauty into her personal Pizza Hut buffet, so I took some scrap wood and I built this spoiled little grandma some stairs where her food now lives. I built it entirely out of scrap wood and it’s not the most beautiful, but it blends in nicely and it gets the job done. Plus, our dog Jet is so timid that he won’t even dare to climb them. At least not yet, anyway.
And oh, did you catch that glorious vintage rug? I won that bad boy on eBay. Buying vintage eBay rugs has been a weird hobby of mine for the last few years. One winter, my friend Joe and I spent a majority of the Super Bowl watching eBay rug auctions instead of the game and I wound up winning a rug or two for a fraction of what they’d cost at a rug gallery. Plus, I’d much rather buy something vintage versus something brand new anyway, especially when it comes to artistic details like this.
There are still a few things I want to accomplish before I say this room is officially “done”. If you notice, there still isn’t baseboard trim in this room. Jake, while loathe to do a project, still wants to install the trim himself. That’s the perfectionist in him coming in full-swing. I’m cool with it.
I also have quite a bit of art to frame that’s currently sitting on top of the desk. Of course, all of the unframed art is odd-sized, so I special ordered a few custom frames from an Etsy shop I discovered and am now thoroughly obsessed with. Especially these days, when small businesses are suffering and as a small business owner myself, I would much rather spend a little extra to get something custom than order through a big online retailer.
I’m feeling super energized, inspired, and proud of myself. This year, our house has seen a major glow-up with our guest bedroom makeover and now the office makeover and both feel luxurious and fun. Although this office strays away from the bright, bold murals I’ve been known to do, this feels much more work-friendly. Both Jake and I have found ourselves using the office way more than we were before and I’ll chalk it up to functionality as well as how it feels in here now. It’s a grounding and energizing space to be in.
I know it sounds silly, but I’ve begun to envision what this room can provide for us. I’ve always wanted to write a book, and I said to Jake “I’m going to write a book at that desk one day” and I got kind of emotional about it.
Before and After:
BIG thank you to Shara from Woodshop Diaries for this incredible tutorial she has for how to build your own plywood cabinets (she uses hickory — swooooooon). Her recommendations led me to two of my favorite tools for this project that made the process seamless: the Kreg rip cut tool and the Kreg concealed hinge jig. The style Shara built and the style I was going for are very similar, so almost all of what she did translated easily into my build. I also really enjoyed this tutorial from Wood Magazine for building the fundamental cabinet carcasses (yes that really is what they’re called). I shifted gears away from the traditional cabinet fronts outlined in this tutorial an went for a more modern look like Shara’s in the first tutorial, but it was still very useful.