Thursday, December 26, 2013

Merry Deskmas


We've started something. Two years in a row, John and I have designed and built Charley's main gift from us. So I guess we'll be designing and building her Christmas presents from now on. I hope she likes her wooden car with square wheels we'll build for her on the Christmas when she's sixteen! I'm sure she'll be thrilled!

So this year, before I got this crazy desk idea I had planned on buying Charley the IKEA easel.


Cheap at just $15, and Charley would really like a place for her art. I'd even decided to put it in our office in this one empty corner. Then, a friend of mine shared this desk her similarly aged daughter received for her birthday. 


I really liked everything about it, especially that she could sit down and do her art, except one major thing: it was plastic. I didn't want a plastic desk because it was going in our home office and I didn't want that room to also be kid-i-fied. Then the wheels started turning. 

"We could build her a desk with an easel top like that! We could attach it to the wall so it looks built in and paint and hang things on the wall to go with it. I could find cute containers for all of her art supplies and, and, and, and, AND!"

I told John my idea when I got home that evening and he agreed it was doable. I first checked Pinterest for DIY Toddler desks and found next to nothing! I was shocked...especially since there are so many DIY kitchens on there. No worries though. I could come up with something myself. I began looking for things to make up the desk at resale shops since yard sale season was practically over. I didn't want to spend a lot since I knew that I could spend very little on the bones of the project and still have it come out cute, like last year's kitchen.

I ended up finding two white squares at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore for $5 each. I had no idea what their prior use was, but maybe shelving of some sort. They were white, they were wipeable, and they were the right size. Sold.

I recalled also that earlier in the year I purchased several stair spindles from a yard sale 4/$1. I liked that they had some shape to them and had held onto them for possible future table legs if I ever needed them. The need had arisen, so I grabbed the spindles to use as the tables legs. The tabletop pieces and those spindles then sat in the corner of the office for the next several weeks. I picked up some other things as I found them (IKEA!) and stashed them in a closet until we were ready to put it all together.

December 21. It's time to start working on this project. John begins to assemble what we've got and hits a snag. The tabletop pieces are particle board on the inside and are cracking when he tries to drill into them....or something. He tells me something along those lines and I start to panic so I sort of tune him out. We've got to come up with something else in the next um, 3 days. Plennnnnnnnnnty of time, right? Heh. heheh. I am sure that we are going to end up with a flat piece of wood across the top and four straight and boring 2x2s as legs. We're doomed.

My mom has a few pieces of furniture in her garage that never found a home inside her house. She invites me to "shop" there first to find something for the bones of our project. Almost instantly I see it. A foyer type table with a pretty rounded tabletop and non-stick-straight or boring legs. It even has a cute little drawer that is lined with cute little flowered paper. This is it. My Mama saves the day!


It didn't even require that much work. It was dirty and needed paint of course, and the legs need to be shortened to Charley size. We also needed to come up with a way to make that easel top I'd wanted to do. But, this tabletop is much smaller than the other one we were going to use, so the roll paper holder I purchased at IKEA wasn't going to fit. We struggled to come up with a way to make it work AND look good.

Eventually I suggest not using the roll paper holder and John gets an idea. He builds a little box to go at the back of the table against the wall to hold the paper. He cuts a slit in the top of it for the paper to feed through. The paper can then be pulled across the desk for when Charley wants to draw or paint on it, but it doesn't have to be used if she's just playing with Play-doh or something. He quickly constructs it, attaches it, and then primes and paints the whole thing. It's now Christmas Eve. And, no, of course I didn't take any pictures of the whole process up to this point.

The paper slot and the added piece. Not the best handiwork in the world, but come on, she's 2. She's fine with a seam here and there. And maybe we were a bit short on time.

I had worked on a couple things earlier in the day for the desk. I didn't want the desk to look too kiddy, so I knew I wanted colors that would go with the decor in the office for the most part. I chose the same off white the builder used on our walls for the desk color (since I know we'll repaint in the office soon, and, hello! It was leftover and therefore FREE!) I also decided I was okay with just a couple of fun little accents of color, so I used modge podge to adhere some scrapbook paper onto the drawer front and onto some wooden magazine files also from IKEA.



At 9 something on Christmas Eve night, John taped off the wall and started painting the chalkboard up. It said to wait 4 hours in between coats. He wasn't interested in waiting that long so used a hairdryer to speed up the process. Painted a second coat, removed the tape and called it a day. It's extremely likely that we'll have to repaint the chalkboard paint really soon. 

He then installed this other IKEA item I'd purchased: a bar and storage cups for her art supplies. I wanted this hung out of her reach so that she wouldn't be able to reach markers at any time of the day to then go draw all over walls and furniture when we weren't looking. The great thing about those cups is that they come off of the bar really easily and can be set down on the desk for when she's using them AND she's being supervised. And when she's done, back out of reach they go.



The shelf was something we used at our old house but had been sitting in the dreaded decor room ever since. Those jars were in there as well. The chair is also IKEA, but was something I got for $5 at a yard sale a while back. I just relocated it from her room to her new desk. I may paint it something other than red at some point since it doesn't really go with the room.

We framed some of her recent artwork, hung up a hook for her smock, and tied a couple of balloons to the desk to get her attention on Christmas morning.


I also have a piece of molding (another yard sale find - $1!) that needs to be installed to frame out the chalkboard so her chalk drawings stay where they belong which I assume we'll get to over the weekend. It was getting late on Christmas Eve and we didn't want to risk waking her by using the nail gun. She was listening for bells after all, not nail guns.

And that's that. She absolutely loves it and the office is getting close to being our next completed room. I love that Charley now has her own place in there as well.


And just because we're already on the topic of the office, here's where we're at with the office right now. Lots of things to be hung, painted and created. But it's up next on the docket so hope to be able to share the rest of it with you soon!


image  image


The Beane's said...

Adorable! You guys are awesome!

Laura Diniwilk said...

I love it! My favorite part is the marker bins - Lucia has drawn on our walls three freaking times now. I think she hoards crayons and hides them to use the second our backs are turned.

Heather said...

Love the desk! Charley is so lucky to have handy parents like you two! I enjoyed the recap because when you first posted a pic on IG I was having trouble envisioning what it looked like. The details are great. So creative!

k said...

Pretty much everything about this post cracked me up. From the wood car at 16, to the panicking and tuning out your husband to the fat cat on the desk at the end. Love it all.

Mama Tully said...

Oh my gosh, this is AMAZING! What a lucky little girl you have :)