I love everything about baby’s first birthday–baby in the highchair eating fistfuls of cake; mom opening all baby’s gifts and baby playing with the wrappings; family cooing over the birthday baby, who is pretty much oblivious to it all. I love it the whole thing–and I miss that time with my kids, too. So, naturally, when we realized that my niece’s first birthday was coming up, we really wanted to do something special.
I absolutely fell in love with the idea of a floor desk. We loved the Holden Desk from Pottery Barn Kids, but we didn’t love the price… $54 on sale + shipping. Ouch! No thanks. Then inspiration struck. Remember those cabinet doors I rescued from the curbside trash pick-up? You know, the one I made into our cute snack tray?
Well, I just happened to have a few more in the garage. So, armed with some left over wood from the never-ending stash and my trusty Kreg Jig, I made a desk frame for one of those rescued cabinet doors.
I used 2×2’s cut at 18″ for the legs. Then for the aprons, I used 1×2’s. I measured the length of each side and subtracted 4″ (to account for a 1/2″ inset on each side and (2) 1.5″ wide legs). So, for example, my cabinet doors were 22″x27″. I cut my aprons at 18″ and 23″ respectively.
Then I drilled my pocket holes and used glue and screws to attach everything. I used leftover wood from another project, so my pieces happened to be cheap pine. Because I didn’t feel the legs were sturdy enough on their own, I added a brace to the bottom on three of the sides. I left the front open so my niece could still slide her legs under it if she wanted. If you used popular or a higher grade wood, you could probably skip this step.
And then, because I knew I wanted to make this a chalkboard desk, I had my husband (yes, I was too scared to do it myself) use the plunge router to make a recess to hold the chalk.
Then I sanded it up, gave it a coat of primer, taped off the center, and gave it a couple of coats of this cute pink color. I love this spray paint from Rustoleum. It covers really nicely, and it has a nice wide spray pattern. Oh! And it’s cheap! Gotta love that!
After I painted it, I scuffed it up a bit. Then I used a paint pen (Minwax Early American) to darken any exposed wood. The raw wood on the legs was quite a bit lighter than the cabinet door, so this helped to even things out. Just use a dry rag to wipe off any excess stain.
From here, I finished it the same way I did the snack tray. I used Ralph Lauren glaze to distress it, and once that was dry, I applied Minwax Finishing Paste to get a nice hard topcoat.
Then I just taped off the pink frame and sprayed it with chalkboard paint. Once you let the paint dry for 24 hours, you can season your chalkboard and draw away.
Now, I did have some of the white primer show through when I distressed the pink. The stain pen helped to hide it somewhat, but there was still some white peeking through. If that’s a problem for you, you may want to consider skipping the primer on the frame only. The chalkboard will absolutely need to be primed first.
I’m thrilled with how it turned out. Here’s the breakdown on what it cost me:
Cabinet Door: Roadside find $0
Lumber: Leftovers from other projects – $0
Primer: Zinsser Cover Stain – $6
Paint: Rustoleum Sweet Pea – $4
Chalboard Paint: Leftover from other projects – $0
Grand Total: $10
That’s a far cry from $54+shipping, and we were able to customize it to match Lucy’s room. And that’s what I love so much about DIY. I can do it MY way and save a little money while I’m doing it. It’s like having my cake and eating it, too. (…and now I’m hungry. Good thing I know a good place for cake… )
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