It was a little bittersweet to see the piano go. I liked plunking out songs on the piano with the kids, but in truth it took up way too much room and we didn’t use it enough to justify keeping it around, so I Craigslisted it. I got $20 bucks for it and the family that bought it moved it out without any help from us. Considering the condition the piano was in (it desperately needed a tuning and about 10 keys were super sticky) I would say that we got the better end of the deal but Shhh… don’t tell them.
Tim has been nagging for me to get rid of the piano for a while and it took a project plan for me to finally post the ad on Craigslist. We had been using an unsteady table in the middle of the room as a place for the kids to do some coloring or serve us a meal of felt and plastic food but the table was shaky, small, and in the way. Tim’s decor theory is “less is more”. I agree (to an extent but not to Tim’s extreme) but in practice that doesn’t always happen. To meet in the middle, both literally and in the name of compromise, we decided to leave the middle of the room open for dance parties and duplo towers. We still needed a place for the kids to do homework that wasn’t the kitchen table.
Tim and I came up with the idea of a huge desk against the wall. We wanted it simple with lots of desk space. It was near impossible to find something that was big enough and at the right height for the kids. So when you can’t buy, build. Ana taught me that. This is what we came up with.
And this is what we built entirely out of scrap wood from previous projects except for the 1×2 boards we had to buy for trim. Yes we had a 85”x27” scrap of plywood lying around. It was left over from the dollhouse. I wouldn’t let Tim throw it away because I knew we would use it eventually. Same goes for the plywood used for the stack. It was left over from the coffee table we built a few summers ago. Tim wanted to throw scraps, I wouldn’t let him. I was right, which means he was wrong. Note it. I win!
I sketched out a plan and for the storage stack that would support the one side of the desk top. I designed it around the Pluggis storage bins from IKEA. The bins are marketed for recycling but they looked deep, washable, sturdy, white and only $6.99 a piece. They were perfect. Tim worked out the angles for a middle brace using his mad math skills.
Michael made sure everyone stayed safe and that the stacks were level.
It turned out really well and it is super sturdy. Originally I wanted legs in front for support but Tim’s angled leg is surprisingly strong. Math… who knew?! It works out great not to have the dividing legs in the front because it allows for more freedom in chair placement. It is nice. I can sit next to the kids and scoot in to help with homework, and the boys can spread as far apart as they want when they are fighting over legos or crayons.
Patrick, some serious wood glue, and our nail gun helped us trim out the desk in 1x2s to make it look more finished and to save me from the endless task of sanding, filling and finishing raw plywood edges.
Elise helped in the design process too.
I painted it white with our cabinet paint that we have used on everything. I swear that bucket of paint will out last us all. I like the glossy white cabinet paint because it washes clean so easily and withstands the daily battering of the kids. The outside and inside panels got 3 coats of chalk paint. I broke my usual, hope for the best attitude and actually followed the directions on the paint can. It took over a week to paint all the coats, let it cure and then condition it and wipe it down and condition again. It is worth it though. Not only have Michael’s OT suggested that he practice writing on vertical chalk boards (it helps him to feel the resistance of the chalk and makes him go slow and work harder) but it looks so cool. I couldn’t find the flat black finish when I went to Menards so I ended up feeling disappointed having to buy the tint-able paint and have it tinted a slate gray but in the end I love it. The gray worked out great and I think the black would have been too contrasting to the white.
In a perfect world the $20 I made on the piano would have been enough to cover the cost of the new workspace area but it didn’t. It covered the cost of the actual desk (the 1×2 trim was under $20) but then I went to IKEA and started accessorizing and my $20 budget was blown.
We put up two FOTO lights. The only light in the room currently is a lamp by the window. When the sun shines into the room in late afternoon this is the best room in the house to be in. Any other time of the day it is pretty dark. We bought 2 BYGEL rails for $3.99 a piece and a handful of the 99 cent hot pink BYGEL containers from the kitchen section of IKEA to act as easy storage but also to help keep clutter off the desk. Not from IKEA, but definitely worth noting is the awesome Dr. Seuss Alphabet bulletin board set I found on Amazon. The kids and I love it. I love that there are the arrows pointing the correct way to write your letters.
I also bought a few of IKEA’s cheap frames to hang on the wall above the desk. I have some fun art projects planned for the kids to help fill the frames down the road (read: after the crazy holiday season is over). We have another project up our sleeves for the chunk of wall where the advent calendar is now, so I will post about that project later. But for now, this is where we are and I am so excited about it. (The newspapers are a placeholder for the frames. I am still not sure how I will arrange the frames.