On to the next phase of the playroom to office transformation. Cabinets were complete, but I had alot of trouble finding a countertop that I liked and could afford. So, I took a leap and made my own. Here's the step-by-step of that process.
Here's where we left off. Check out this post to see how I turned stock kitchen cabinets into a custom office wall unit.
As with all my projects, I have an aesthetic in mind and then have to find a way to make it affordable and try not compromise my dream too much. The desktop for this unit was a big hiccup in that department. I looked at pre-fab countertops. Decent price, but felt that they looked too kitchen-y. Really wanted butcherblock, but was not able to find an affordable option. IKEA recently discontinued a perfect option, so that was out. So, back to the drawing board...make my own. Our neighborhood has a property manager/maintenance person on staff whom I have befriended. He has been a great mentor to me, popping by to check out my projects and offer tips here and there. So, Larry was my first stop when I started brainstorming this idea. I explained my plan and he gave me a sanity check and helped tweak where I needed tweaking. Thanks SO much to Larry!!
Back to Lowe's and the lumber department. I needed 10' lengths in a variety of widths, which I would attach together to form a 26" deep desktop. I went with 10", 8", 6" and 4" wide planks. I was not in the habit of buying lumber, so Larry helped me realize that even though these boards say 10" wide, for instance, they are actually a 1/2" less than that. So, all of mine did equal 26" wide, not 28". A convoluted system, if you ask me.
Once home, (I am lucky they did not snap in two when I shoved them in the back of my CRV), I laid them out in the order that I wanted them and marked the back and left/right sides of each board.
Fast forward a few days later...then came the tricky part. I had to move very quickly, using strong wood glue to attach the boards to each other (without letting the glue seep out) and then clamp them securely together...but not too tightly as I did not want them to buckle. Once glued, I had to attach cross-braces to the underside (as shown in the next to last photo below). I did one in the center, and one about 15" in from each end. Again, thanks to Larry for those tips.
The wood was not perfectly cut at the mill, so there were some differences in thickness in some areas as well as a few small gaps in between boards. I had to use wood filler on some areas to minimize those. Here's the raw surface.
I hated the next part. I had to use an orbital sander to try to get a more even and smooth surface. This process creates SO much dust..and I did not have a mask on. So I coughed for the remainder of the day and am convinced that this exacerbated a cold that eventually turned into bronchitis. Lesson learned.
I finally got it as smooth as I was going to get it and then started the staining process. I wanted a rustic look..kind of a golden oak color that would not match, but would complement the maple floors. I used a wood conditioner first, then applied the stain in sections, and finally 3 coats of matte polyurethane.
I like the color of the finish. I don't like the way that it highlights the sections where I used wood filler, but I had no choice with that.
Update: These were originally made in 2012. Had I made them today, I might have chosen a stain with a little more of a neutral brown tone. But it's all fine, so no regrets.
The open desk section in between the two lower cabinets in fairly wide, so I had to figure out a way to support the weight so it didn't sag. Again, Larry suggested the ledger board, which is screwed to the studs in the wall. The back of the desktop rests upon that. I had planned to do a post to support the front, but didn't like the look of it once I got it all put together. I elected to do a bracket from the back wall instead. It's not a perfect amount of support, but I think it will work. The boys know not to sit or stand on the desk.
Here's the finished unit, with hardware, baskets and stools. Since completion, this room has evolved from kid craft space to my office work and storage unit. It houses my design supplies as well as photo albums, party supplies and stationery.
Stay tuned for the next post for details on the paint treatment, some accessory favorites and how this room evolved into my happy place!
Thanks for visiting! I hope you found some inspiration to tackle your own DIY dreams!
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