If you saw my last post, you’ll know we recently completed a DIY renovation of my tween daughter’s bedroom. When deciding on decor for her room, my daughter stated that she wanted to add a computer desk as part of her room renovation so she could have a place to do some of her schoolwork and to store her computer (mostly I think she wanted to feel like a big kid since she was moving on up into the double digits! ). Since she has a tendency to add stickers and her own type of “decor” to her furniture (in the form of markers, paint, DIY slime that seems to permanently adhere to anything it touches, nail polish, or other non-removable additions), I didn’t want to spend a lot of money to purchase a brand new desk for her room or spend the time and effort it would take to build her a desk. So, the best solution was to find used solid wood desk through Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace and then complete a DIY Wood Desk makeover.
DIY Desk Makeover Ideas
I spent several days searching through desks for sale on our local Facebook Marketplace. I knew the space we had available in her room was just slightly over 4 feet long so the desk I was looking for had to be 48″ or smaller in length. I also knew that I wanted a desk with a hutch to store some of my daughter’s books and knick-knacks. After several days of searching, I finally found the perfect desk for our DIY desk transformation!
A local mom was selling a solid oak desk for $75. We went to look at the desk and noticed the top was a bit dinged up and there was some damage to the back board on the desk, so we offered her $60 and she accepted. So we loaded it up into our truck and brought it home to begin the transformation!
How to Update an Old Desk
Here’s a picture of the desk before I started the makeover process.
As you can see in the above picture, instead of a drawer, the desk had a pull out keyboard tray and the front section with the pull handles would fold down flat to crate a flat surface for typing. My daughter has a laptop, and has no need for a keyboard tray, so I will be converting that tray into a storage drawer, which will be much more useful for her needs. But more to come on that further down in this post.
First step, was to remove the hutch, the door, and the keyboard tray and any associated hardware. I did this using a drill/driver with the correct bit to remove all the screws on the hardware.
Next, I removed the damaged back board off the hutch. I was able to pull the old back board off with a little force, but the original back board had been stapled on, and many of the staples remained in the back of the hutch once the back board had been removed. I used a hammer and screwdriver, and a pair of pliers to remove any remaining staples.
I purchased a 4×8 sheet of beadboard from Home Depot to replace the damaged backing. I measured the width and height of the hutch, and then used my circular saw to cut the beadboard to size.
Once the new beadboard backing was cut to size, I used wood clamps to hold the beadboard in place on the back of the hutch. I then used my Ryobi Airstrike Nail gun and 1″ brad nails to permanently attach the beadboard backing to the hutch.
Next, I used my orbital sander to sand the top and sides of the desk to remove any stains and to smooth out any scrapes in the wood surface. I then used wood filler to fill all holes and gouges in the top of the desk.
While the wood filler was drying, I used the time to convert the keyboard tray into a usable drawer. Since my daughter uses a laptop, she has no need for a keyboard tray. However she does have a need for a drawer to store pens, pencils, writing tablets, and her journal.
The front board of the keyboard tray is 2 1/2″ in height. To match this height for the back and sides of the drawer, I purchased one 8 foot long 1×3 board.
I then cut two 1×3 boards to a length equal to the distance between the back of the front board of the keyboard tray and the back of the keyboard tray. I adhered those boards just on the inside of each side of the keyboard tray using wood glue and my Ryobi Airstrike brad nailer and 1 1/2″ brad nails (nails were shot up from the bottom of the keyboard tray into the 1×3 boards through the bottom). I then cut a 1×3 board to the length between the two side 1×3 boards and again adhered with wood glue and 1 1/2″ brad nails through the bottom of the keyboard tray. I also shot some nails through the sides of the left and right 1×3 boards into each side of the the back 1×3 board, and through the front of the keyboard tray into the left and right 1×3 boards.
I still had a gap between the front of board of the keyboard tray (now a drawer) and the bottom board of the keyboard tray/drawer. Since I wanted to have a location to store pens and pencils, I decided to use that space to create a slot for writing devices. I had spare trim board measuring 1/4″ thick and 3/4″ wide. I also had some leftover cove molding from my DIY Media Center/TV Stand build. I cut both to the same length as the width of the drawer. I then used wood glue to attach the 3/4″ trim board immediately behind the front drawer board to cover the gap. I then used wood glue to attach the cove molding directly behind the 3/4″ trim board. This created a perfect pen/pencil slot at the front of the drawer.
Once the wood filler I used on the desk was completely dry, I again sanded the desk to create a smooth surface. I then moved the desk and hutch indoors for painting. My daughter wanted the desk to be white, so I chose to use Heirloom Traditions paint in Cashmere color. This paint is on the pricier side, but I have had good success getting a smooth, non-streaky finish with this brand of paint, so for me, it is worth the extra cost. I have also found that once it completely cures, it has a sturdy finish. To date, I have used this brand of paint on several projects, all with great results: (DIY Cricut Cabinet, DIY File Cabinet Makeover, DIY Desk Upcycle into Storage Drawers).
To get a smooth finish with this paint, I apply the first two coats with a 4″ paint roller with 4″ foam applicators. The final coat is applied with a large chalk paint brush using the stippling technique shown on the Heirloom Traditions website.
I first painted the hutch (with the help of my daughter).
I then painted the base of the desk along with the drawer front and the cabinet door. I had purchased new drawer pulls, and once the final coat of paint was dry on the desk, I attached new new hardware.
Once the paint had completely dried and the drawer pulls were attached, I reassembled the desk, putting the drawer rails back on, and inserting the drawer, and attaching the door hinges and reattaching the door. I also made sure to attach the hutch to the base using the metal bracket that was already on the back of the desk when we purchased it. This keep the hutch from falling over and possibly injuring someone.
The DIY wood desk makeover now complete, we then moved the desk into its spot in my daughters renovated bedroom.
DIY Desk Makeover Before & After Pictures
DIY Office Desk Makeover – Shop the Look
The total price to complete this DIY kids desk makeover was around $150, including the paint, paint supplies, and new drawer pulls, which is still much cheaper than if you were to buy a new solid wood computer desk. If you need an idea for a simple desk makeover, this one is pretty simple to complete and looks amazing once it’s completed! With many of the kiddos currently completing the school year virtually for now, this DIY desk transformation is a great quarantine project that anyone can do!