Building my own home office furniture
Just over a year ago, when my family moved into our first home, the big question was "where to put my home office?" As an entrepreneur who runs her own business from home, I needed a place where I could work on projects for my clients as well as keep all of my family stuff organized.
In our little 1950's rancher, there isn't a separate room on the main floor for me to use and I love sunshine - so carving out space in our unfinished basement wasn't appealing. There is, however, an awkward length of wall in the kitchen that didn't really serve much of a purpose. So the wheels in my brain started turning and after a few months of thinking and planning I came up with an idea for a few pieces of furniture that I could build to make use of the space. The biggest challenge was working around a 4' wide air vent that protruded from the baseboard. This meant that the desk had to either be wider than 4' or mounted to the wall to "float" above.
So I chose the floating desk! Here is my sketch for the floating desk and 2 bookshelf/drawer units I decided to build.
A few years back I had decided to learn how to use basic power tools so that I could build shelves and simple furniture for my home. I talked with family members who had these skills and looked around on Pinterest; where I discovered Ana White. She's a blogger who shares her experiences and plans for building simple home furniture with basic power tools (no fancy table saws or planers or other stuff I know nothing about).
My toolkit consists of a circular saw, a drill, an orbital sander, sawhorses, a tape measure, a metal framing square, a few clamps, and a mini Kreg jig.
I wanted to incorporate some sort of drawers into the base, but I wasn't sure how good my skills were, so I came up with a creative solution. First, I purchased a pair of "some assembly required" metal drawer units from Target.
Then I incorporated these into the base of the bookshelf units I planned to build. I liked the size of the drawer unit but the cheap looking MDF tops had to go. I also didn't want to clutter up the design with wooden feet designed a simple base tall enough to lift the shelves above the existing baseboard. I also installed leveling feet because I would never assume that the floor in my kitchen was perfectly level.
All of the lumber was basic stock at Home Depot, and was 1 by in dimension. I cut shelves to length and joined the boards using my Kreg jig to drill pocket holes for screws, and glued the boards together for the wider pieces. All of the wood was sanded - first with 80 grit, then 120, and finally 220 grit before being stained and sealed with polyurethane. The top surface of my desk was sealed using a special triple thick polyurethane product for extra protection.
For the vertical supports I purchased 1" steel angle iron from my local metal/recycling place and had them cut it to length for me. I had to buy a special carbon drill bit to make the holes for the screws to hold up the wooden shelves. The holes came out perfectly, even the one I accidentally put in my hand.
The metal corner braces wrapped over the top of the pre-made units for stability and a uniform look. I also used a metallic finish spray paint on all of the metal components to make them match.
Once I had everything assembled, I mounted a brace piece to the studs of the wall to hang the floating desk unit, and hung the desk with a bookshelf/drawer unit flanking it on each side. As you can see from the diagram below, I used plenty of screws.
The desk is hung at 36" above the floor (countertop height) so I can use one of the stools from our counter height dining table in the adjacent room and not have a desk chair cluttering up the kitchen when it's not in use.
This unit is in my kitchen, and I doesn't have a lot of storage space, so the shelf on the right of the desk gives a bit of extra storage for things like bread, a fruit basket, and a space for my family's collection of lunchboxes and water bottles. I also have a shelf dedicated to my rarely used cookbooks.
On the left of the desk is the shelf unit dedicated to my home office. Below are all the supplies like pencils, post-its, scissors, envelopes, a stapler, and my 3-hole punch. All of these things have to be stored in containers with lids because I have a toddler. The first night I started to put my things away he proceeded to take out all the pencils one by one and deliver them to my hubby in the other room. They all are in lidded containers now...
The upper shelves house my files (one box for family, one box for business), a few reference books, and a bill paying basket with my checkbook, stamps, return address stamp, and a space for current bills. Now whenever a bill comes in the mail it ends up where I can see it instead of in a heap on the countertop or dining table.
On the wall to the left of this shelf is my "command center" with a collection of dry erase boards for our family calendar, a grocery list, a weekly menu, and a holder for dry-erase markers.
The wall above my desk houses a large bulletin board nestled into a gallery wall of artwork and decorative accessories to make this space more pleasant to be in.
So, because life gets busy, and I needed to use this desk right away (so my family could have it's dining table back) I didn't get my "after" photos taken until 6 months later, and you can see how packed these shelves are, bit it works for me.
To the left of my desk is our home's main entrance (since we don't use the front door). Although there's almost zero space, I was able to use a rail system from IKEA and a few robe hooks I found at Home Depot to create a catch-all zone. Using my favorite dark metallic spray paint I was able to make the whole area tie together.
I hope at least some of you will be inspired to try your hand at building your own custom furniture. Don't think it has to be perfect the first time (just ask my hubby about my "leaning" shelves in our basement - I swear I used a level!)
Just get out there and try to learn something new. There's a ton of inspiration and free plans out there. You'd be amazed what you can do with a saw and some 2x4's if you just try.