How To: Make a Desk from a Dresser (with wallpapered drawers!)

Last week, I showed you all my “new” sewing desk. This little space was born our of a need for a few things: 1) a more (visually and functionally) streamlined work space, 2) a lower place to setup my sewing machine (it used to sit up on a counter), and 3) a free, blank, sunlit space to take photos. This simple little space does all of those things, and if I can say so, I’m pretty impressed with our ingenuity to make it happen on the quick and the cheap!

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The “ingenuity part” came from using a dresser for the base/drawers of the desk. Some of you (ok, probably most of you!) recognized the dresser from my Ombre Pink Dresser makeover a few months back.

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Truth be told, when I bought this dresser, I thought it would make a great island with a desk coming off of it. (Not the direction I did for this project, the other, wider direction.) In fact, that was my plan for the “next house.” But when we consolidated the counter leaving me no place for my sewing machine, AND we had no place for my sweet little pink dresser, I realized I could rotate my original plan and make a desk version that would work in our current space better. We picked up a pre-cut panel (24″x72″) and two table legs to test it out. It was pure luck that with the leg plates (hardware used to attached legs), the legs and the dresser were the exact same (and right!) height!

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Let me preface this part of the project with a disclaimer. Greg and I are not woodworkers. There are bloggers out there who can make amazing stuff with wood and screws. We are not them. When I have a vision, we can usually figure out a way to make it happen, but I am SURE there are better and more “proper” ways to execute them. All that said, if you are a DIYer like us, you know how to use your power tools, and you don’t care too much about the “proper-ness” of a project, this is how we made the table top:

  • I started by priming both sides of the wood panel and the table legs with Zinsser 123 Primer (sprayed for the legs, rolled on on the panel).
  • Once dry, I spray painted the legs with Valspar white spray paint.
  • We then determined the placement of the legs on the left side of the board and mounted them to the wood panel using standard mounting plates. (Note: When deciding on your placement, allow space for the wood edging added in the next step!)
  • We then bought and cut down 1x2s to fit the length of the front of the desk and the depth of the two sides. The back of the panel does not have a 1×2 edge.
  • We secured the 1x2s around the three sides of the wood panel with wood glue and L-brackets, using clamps to hold everything tightly in place until dry and secure.
  • I then filled the seams between the desk top and the wood edges with wood filler and sanded everything smooth. This required several rounds of filling and sanding.
  • I finished off the desk top with four coats of Benjamin Moore Advanced paint in High Gloss Super White (same white I used on the pink dresser)

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With the paint dry and fully cured, we brought the desk top in and placed it right on top of the dresser. We originally were going to bolt the desk top to the dresser along the back, but we found it wasn’t necessary…it doesn’t budge, even with the sewing machine running! Adding the 1×2 edge along the perimeter really helped give the desk a less homemade look, hid the leg mounting plates, and fully covered the top edge of the dresser so the whole thing looks more seamless. The dresser essentially nestles right into the table top. I especially love that we can lift off the desk and still use the dresser in any future homes!

So here she is, all done and oh-so-pretty. I was SO smitten with her all pink and white…bright and happy. My little pink dresser had found a home and I had a sewing desk. The end.

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Not so much. I love that pink dresser SO much, but let me remind you what the rest of the room looks like. This is the office side

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And this is the far wall!

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The pink dresser with all the turquoise accents in the room was NOT working for me. Suddenly, I found myself brainstorming ways to make it all work. I started looking for a fabric or paper pattern to unite the turquoise, pink, black and white…but that wasn’t really jiving for me. Then I started considering making all the turquoise accents in the room pink (which, by the way, there are a lot of of turquoise accents!!!) All of a sudden, I was facing a complete office overhaul, and this was right after we found out we were moving. WHAT?!?! My husband was all “Just paint everything pink, and you’ll feel better,” but it just seemed ridiculous, even by my crazy I’ll-paint-anything-on-a-whim standards. If anything, it made more sense to paint over the pink drawers, but I just LOOOVED them so.

Then I was writing my 2014 recap post. You might remember me gushing over my wallpaper-covered lamps and saying “I pretty much want to wallpaper everything in sight.” At that second, I literally had a lightbulb moment!

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Yes, friends. I covered my pink ombre drawers with more of Spoonflower‘s wonderful removable peel-and-stick wallpaper! The drawers are still pink, but with about an hour’s worth of effort, they now work in our space, and I can stop stressing about an all-pink/last-minute makeover.

Here’s what I did!

I spent too much time looking for just the right pattern on Spoonflower – it is both wonderful and awful that there are so many incredible choices! Greg and I ultimately decided that a black and white pattern would work the best and decided on THIS one. My drawer front measured 36″x7″ each. I didn’t feel like matching patterns vertically across the dresser, so I just ordered a 48″x24″ custom cut and hoped I could make it work!

I cut down my 48″x24″ roll down into three even 8″ strips using a rotary cutter and clear ruler.

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I then emptied the drawers and removed the hardware. I started by laying the wallpaper flat against the very top edge of the drawer, completely covering the pink paint. I pulled off the paper as I worked across the dresser top, slowly pressing out bubbles as I went.

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I then flipped the drawer onto its end (with some help from Greg) and pulled the paper taught down the front of the drawer face. I smoothed bubbles and pressed everything down firmly with my craft brayer.

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I then creased the paper and folded the bottom of the wallpaper down over the bottom edge of the drawer. This is where I knew I was stretching the limits of my 8″ strips. I strongly considered trimming the wallpaper to stop at the edge of the drawer (instead of wrapping under it), but I worried I’d see pops of pink peek out if I didn’t cut perfectly straight. Because I skimped on paper a tad, I only had about a 1/4″ to wrap under the drawers.

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With the top edge, drawer front, and bottom edge now covered, I only had to attend to the sides. I slit the corner with a small, precise scissors and then folded the small flap inward. Once both corners were trimmed and folded in, I could fold the top down to fully cover the side edge.

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Next, I re-installed my hardware. I punctured small holes in the wallpaper right where the old holes were and re-attached my flowered pulls with our cordless screwdriver. They aren’t the perfect pulls for this pattern, but again, I was just trying to make this dresser work in here for now. The last step was to fill the drawers back up and slide them into place.

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So, you are probably wondering how has this held up?

I will start by saying, again, that this wallpaper is nice and thick and super easy to work with. The adhesive is strong but it’s super easy to manipulate, re-position and work out creases or bubbles. The paper has not bubbled or ripped and honestly hasn’t budged since we put it on. Yet again, I could not be more impressed with this product and am brainstorming ways to use it more! #notsponsored.

Second, we are pretty certain that this dresser is homemade. The drawers themselves don’t slide super smoothly and butt up REALLY tight against one another. If you have a store-bought dresser that the drawers slide in and out without rubbing the frame or each other, this technique will work perfectly. My paper kept getting caught on the bottom edges when I pushed them back in (remember, I only had about a 1/4″ folded under.) To remedy this, my husband suggested covering the bottom edge of the drawers with clear packing tape to hold the paper down and allow the drawers to move in and out easily. It has worked like a charm! The sides and tops have no problems with catching and have stayed perfectly in place.

All in all, this has been the perfect solution to making over these drawers…for this space…for now!

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I was so super excited to share this idea with you guys for a few reasons. For one, if you are like me and move around a lot, sometimes a piece of furniture just doesn’t work in a space but you don’t want to get rid of it or re-paint it. I just couldn’t bring myself to paint over those pretty pink drawers. Covering it with removable wallpaper is a great way to change up the look of a piece “just for now” without permanently altering it! Or maybe you are dying to change up an old or tired piece of furniture but you or your husband(!!) doesn’t want paint anywhere near it. This is such a great solution – the paper really does peel off leaving no residue behind, and my paint job is perfectly in tact! If you give this a try, I strongly recommend applying wallpaper to pieces with straight lines and easy angles (curves and bevels may not turn out as well!). Lastly, this project is a quick one! It literally took me longer to select the wallpaper pattern than to apply it. Even with stopping to take pictures, applying the paper to all three drawers took about an hour!

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I’m really proud of this furniture transformation! Not only did we take a sad, dresser and breath new life into it (twice!), but we re-imaged what it could be by adding a table top with legs. This project was definitely a lesson in thinking WAY outside the box and finding solutions that aren’t necessarily complicated or (even better!) permanent but turn out to be the perfect answer for us for right now!

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I hope your week is off to a great start! On Wednesday, I’m going to be sharing a quick crafting tip I use all the time – I think you’ll like it! See you back here then!

Megan

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8 Responses to How To: Make a Desk from a Dresser (with wallpapered drawers!)

  1. Hey, a blogger action shot! 🙂

    You might have me sold on trying Spoonflower. My kids have the IKEA MALM dressers which are awesome but boring and I want to jazz them up… but I don't want to "wreck" them. This removable wallpaper might just be what I'm looking for.

  2. When I first saw the picture of the new sewing desk with the pink ombre dresser, I was in love (I been in love with the pink ombre dresser). Then, I saw that you were covering up the pink and my heart sank. However, it is gorgeous!! The wallpaper design is absolutely beautiful and looks stunning in your room. Love it!!

  3. Love this idea for a sewng table and storage all in one. I would like to know if you made the acrylic table surround for your sewing machine and if so could you please share.
    Thanks, Joyce

    • Hello, yes, I would be interested in learning how you made th acrylic piece that fits around your sewing machine as well. Might this be a tutorial we will see soon?
      Thanks for considering.
      MesaMom

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