Wednesday, July 27, 2011


A couple of weeks ago I showed you a tiny, fuzzy phone picture of our new desk. You might have wondered why on earth I would replace the cute seating nook with a desk so soon after painstakingly recovering the ottoman, particularly since I keep talking about how I'm poor and am not going to buy any more furniture. Well, sometimes functionality gets in the way of my decor plans. In this case, the functionality issue was instigated by a computer crisis. 

My fiancĂ© has had a series of crappy, bulky PC laptops, each of which have contracted a virus and died after a couple of years (my Macs, meanwhile, have happily lasted for years on end). His latest one finally bit the dust last month, and he realized that he should rethink the idea of buying another short-lived laptop that would inevitably reside on the dining table. He'd been eyeing some Android tablets at Best Buy but didn't think he'd be able to use something so small exclusively. And I, meanwhile, had been dreaming of a desktop computer with a screen big enough to easily peruse all my files and favorite blogs. So we made what seemed like a perfectly intelligent decision: we would buy one of the inexpensive and highly portable tablets, and also find a used Mac desktop computer on Craigslist. 

Two days later, mission accomplished! We had ourselves a cute white iMac (which came with CS4 and Final Cut Pro!) and he was happily playing with his new toy on the couch. The software alone was close to what a new iMac would have cost. F
ive days later, the situation turned out to be indeed too good to be true. The logic board (aka motherboard) on the iMac died. Entirely kaput. It would cost $800 to repair.

One of the only good things about being a broke early-twenty-something from a middle-class family is that when you have a financial crisis, your parents will sometimes take pity on you and bail you out. While my parents aren't in a position to do that, his are, and after telling us not to stupidly buy any computers from Craigslist even again, they offered to pay for the most cost-effective replacement we could find. So we thanked them profusely, decided to get a Mac Mini and a random monitor (from nerd heaven), and the whole debacle finally sputtered to an end.

...Which finally marked the beginning of the fun part. We had less than $200 to spend the desk and accessories, so I returned to an idea I had right after we moved into our apartment. My original intentions for the bedroom included a desk, before I realized that the ottoman wouldn't fit in the living room and decided to use it for a reading nook. This design board that I made last summer includes the desk that I ultimately ended up creating:

I had the idea of combining Ikea's Vika Lerberg metal trestle legs with a clear glass desktop (which Ikea, annoyingly, doesn't carry), and spray painting the legs gold. Incidentally, I saw the same exact idea about a month later on Matters of Style, executed beautifully! After patting myself on the back for independently coming up with an idea that made the blog rounds and was later featured on Apartment Therapy, I filed it away in my mental "someday" folder. When we realized that we'd need a desk to house our new desktop computer, I knew exactly what desk to get – and the price was right! The legs were only $10 each, and we found a beautiful 3/4" thick glass desktop on Craigslist for less than $100. 

I assembled the legs, then took them outside and sprayed them with primer and this metallic gold-toned spray paint. I COULD SWEAR I took pictures of this – because I know I'm bad at posting "before"s on here! – but I cannot find them for the life of me. 

The after:

Yes, I'm going to do something about those cords. 

Because I have to deal with the ugly black monitor (and keyboard, and mouse) I decided to find accessories in black and gold that might make take the attention off the monitor and make it fade into its luxe surroundings. I've always loved Semikolon desk accessories, but spending $40 for just two boxes seemed silly, especially since I planned to cut a hole in the back of one of them and use it to house/hide the Mac Mini. When I found this set of 5 at Adorama Camera, one of which will fit the computer perfectly, I decided to splurge. Yes, I spent $50 on cardboard boxes. Fortunately, I didn't need to buy much else: I already had a pencil cup and a frame (from John Derian's Target line, formerly in the bathroom and my nightstand, respectively), a pretty magnifying glass (from HomeGoods), and a glass display box that also used to sit on the nightstand. All I needed was a lamp.

I embarked on an exhaustive hunt for a cheap lamp, searching multiple thrift shops, HomeGoods, and every Ebay keyword I could think of. And still couldn't find the perfect lamp (actually, that's a lie. I found it, and it's on sale for $600). Eventually, I bought one at HomeGoods; its positive aspects include a pretty metallic linen shade and a $25 price tag, but as soon as I brought it home I realized that it's smaller than I was hoping for. It's going to stay for now (I upended the key bowl from the entryway and am using it as a booster seat to give the lamp a little more height).

Another thing on my list was a new duvet (ours was getting kind of gross after a few years, and we didn't feel like it was worth paying to get it dry cleaned). I found this one at the same HomeGoods as the lamp, and I liked it enough to keep it. I know the bright white isn't ideal with the cream-colored chair, but the trim and ceiling are white – and need to stay white – so it's not alone. I just need to find a way to iron it properly without destroying the synthetic fill. The frames that I added to the wall still need to be moved toward the window and filled with something interesting – I'll update you when that happens! 

What do you think – was my DIY desk a success? 


  1. This is really amazing! Great choice in fabrics you have in your home! ;)

  2. Thanks, Erin! I LOVED your house tour (we both love us some Dwell Studio fabric, haha) - you have so many of my favorite fabrics in your home, and your styling is just beautiful!

  3. I just ran across your blog; I love it! You might try steaming the duvet. I LOVE your desk; it's so streamlined and glamorous! Great idea, beautifully executed.

  4. Total success!!! You have a gorgeous home! Absolutely obsessed!

  5. Hi!! Yes, I think it as a success!! I just found your blog when I visit Kirsten's blog!

    Visit me at

    let me know at you think!


  6. I would sooo spend 50 bucks on cardboard boxes...because they're awesome! I found some on amazon too but I don't remember how much they were. I plan on using some like these for my desk area too, so thanks for the source! I found you through 6th Street Design School and I'm so happy I did. Love your style!

  7. Huge success! :) Found your blog from Design Manifest's post today. I did the same thing but kept the white Ikea top. Also my sister bought the end tables in your Baltimore craigslist post - random!

  8. how did you attached the legs to the glass top?

  9. LOVE the Ikea desk hack! How did you secure the glass top to the legs? Is it just resting there? Or did you use a special kind of glue?