This is the story of a door turned desk turned tinier desk. When Clara came down with a case of the coloring bug a few weeks ago, it became clear that she needed an alternate surface for her artistry than the floor. You know, just in case she didn’t feel like tummy-drawing.
We talked about a few fun play tables over on BabyCenter a couple of weeks ago, but finally found the inspiration that we needed to DIY one right in front of our eyes. And no, it wasn’t this leftover-plywood-slash-side-table combo that Sherry rigged up in about 30 seconds of “hey, maybe this will work!” Sorry, Sherry. #playtablefail. Back to the drawing board…
Actually, this was our inspiration. The desk that we built with an old door for our first house’s office, that’s been getting the cold shoulder ever since we DIYed a newer, bigger desk for our current house’s office (which made this one look oddly tiny and cramped). It had been sitting at the opposite end of our dining room for a while – just waiting to somehow be repurposed (or craigslisted).
Well, this was its lucky day. It was too tall and too long, but since it was something that we cut to size the first time around, we figured… why not tweak it again? So we set off to create a miniature version of it. But we had a few requirements for it (like for it to be able to be used while Clara’s sitting or standing like a true activity table, to be big enough to seat a few other kiddos, to be sturdy and solid and safe, and to not be too precious – so it wouldn’t be the end of the world if Clara broke out a permanent marker on it one day). After chatting about a game plan with Sherry for a while (to figure out the right width for a few kids and the right height for standing & chairs), I lugged it down to my basement workshop and starting disassembling it.
Then I used the miter saw to cut the legs down a few inches.
Then I had to cut down the tabletop (aka, the old door). For this I broke out my beloved table saw.
With my top and legs trimmed down to kiddy sizes, I just had to cut down the support pieces (aka: the aprons) and screw everything back together again.
Oh and I did have to patch the open end of the door this time (when it was our desk we just left the end open because it faced the wall, so nobody saw it – and the room was so tiny that no one could get back there). But that wasn’t going to fly with little wandering hands around. So I cut a thin strip of spare plywood and nailed it into place. Once it’s all painted, it should look pretty good.
So with that (and zero dollars spent) Clara’s new coloring desk was complete. Well, mostly.
It still needs a fresh coat of paint. And we’re leaning towards (can you handle this?) white, so that we can make the $5 yard sale chairs the colorful accent instead of the table itself. Although Clara has done some crayon scribbling on the top that’s so cute it makes us want to tell her to go nuts and then use some sort of clear sealer to keep the doodles around forever. So we’ll have keep you posted if/when we make a decision…
There’s something really charming about the fact that it was made from an old linen closet door from our first house (where we brought Clara home from the hospital and raised her for her first seven months of life). That’s one sentimental table. And we love that Clara now has her own pint-sized parson’s desk when our adult-sized one (from West Elm) sits on the other side of the living room. It’s like a mini-desk for our mini-me.
Oh and you may remember these yard sale chairs that we scored back in the summer. We actually used them to build the desk at the right height for those chairs (and for playing while standing too – you know we like things that multitask). So it’s nice to have two chairs that already work. You know so if Clara’s baby BFF’s drop by we’re ready (we can also pull the desk away from the wall if kids want to face each other or we want to add more chairs in the future).
They don’t look half bad as-is (one has been stained yellow while the other was stained an evergreen color and they’re both pretty worn) so they might stick around like that for a while. We did debate painting/staining them someday, but it doesn’t seem to matter to Clara either. She fell in love with her new spot from the first second she laid eyes on it. Must be nice to wake up from a nap to something that was custom built just for you.
But seriously, look at that face. Does it not make you want to build something for her too?
We’re leaving the desk here in the living room for now because it was an empty spot and it’s convenient for her to color while we
relax work on the couch/clean up/prepare dinner in the nearby kitchen, etc. But we made sure to keep the desk small enough so that it could also slip into her room, the future playroom, the kitchen, or just about anywhere else that we may want to place it as she grows.
Wanna know the best part of this project? Besides it being 100% free, we got the entire thing done in one day. From concept to completion. Man did that feel good. Especially with a certain other project that’s taking several months (cough…thekitchen…cough…cough). Although now that this is done, it’s back to cutting trim and sanding wood putty. More on that stuff for ya tomorrow.
Regan @ RenovatingRothenbergers says
So sweet! :) The desk looks great in that room, and those chairs are fantastic! I love the yellow and evergreen worn out colors.
Kristen @ Popcorn on the Stove says
The desk is so cute! I love that you guys made it Clara-sized! I’m on board with a white desk (it always looks crisp) but make sure you seal it well in case there’s any spillage or coloring outside the lines. I’m also digging these old-school chairs (they’ll match the stools in the kitchen perfectly!).
carmen p says
Happy Holidays, I have lots to do, cooking, mostly baking and traveling to see family members.
Great job! Have to say I LOVE the chairs just as they are!
my honest answer says
You guys are so clever reusing stuff like this! First a door, then a desk, now a kid’s table. Most people would have thrown it out once it stopped being a door!
Robin Helm says
Aw thanks guys!
Hi guys! I havent tuned in for a few months (shame on me) and I am SO surprised and thrilled to see all of your progress. First off – that pic of the new desk with the two trees on it looks like it should be in a magazine! Clara is getting SO BIG! And it looks like you’ve done wonders!
I’m up in NO. VA and last time I was in Richmond, my buddy was showing me homes she was looking out, and I was avidly searching for your cute home along the way.
Hope you all have a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS.
Aw thanks Bethany! So glad you’re back!
Jill Stigs says
OMG……that is so precious! Love it.
Wow, it looks great!!! So cute and so modern. Love the chairs with it too. As for paint, have you seen the new Dry-Erase paint? I saw it briefly last time I was at Lowes. Seems like it might be a good surface for her table (and white too). :)
That could be fun! My only worry would be that she might think it’s ok to color on every table and not just her table… maybe when she’s a little older?
Susan D says
If you have her color it, you should do her hand print and date on it before you seal it. If you don’t you could have her do a “secret” hand print on the underside. I love finding hand prints in concrete at my family members houses, especially itty bitty ones. I bet she would love finding that some day!
You two are so inspiring! I wish had more time (and more importantly – more talent!). What a great table, I took the easy way out, Ikea lack table (at the time it was $7.99) and two chairs – two years later it’s still going strong, but your set is way cuter!
Those tables are really cute though! We included a lack table and chair set in our BabyCenter round up of play tables since they’re priced so well and built to last!
Shannon @ Bungalow960 says
What a wonderful idea! I always feel like the children’s desks and play tables aren’t constructed the best. Now Clara has the space to become a creative genius like her parents!
That table is so cute! And it looks like Clara loves it! I really like the idea of letting her color on the table and then sealing it up.
Love it! Call me (color me?) weird but I sort of like the chairs as is!
Meg @ Keeping up with the Jenks' says
Love this!! Such a great way to repurpose a item that was so sentimental for ya’ll. Maybe I can talk the hubs into this one day…
And, yes, that face is the best. Makes you want to build her the world!
So cute. And I like the chairs as is. At least from the back they look so vintage, awesome!
Great job, love the table. I really love those chairs too. Clara will love playing there.
Maureen @ This (Kinda) Old House says
Love it! I also made a desk from an old door for my office area. I really love those chairs, and honestly love the colors that they are already. I would just spruce them up a bit maybe. Also, we just bought that same table saw (for $69 bucks at Lowe’s on Black Friday. Woot!)and I saw that yuo have it on your workbench. Do you have it permanently anchored into it? We were debating whether or not to put our on our bench or keep it on the legs it came with.
Yes, we screwed it in at the back to keep it secure.
I am just “crazy” over the kitchen progress…and in the month of DECEMBER no less! You, two are amazing!
A typo..”.we we” in the third paragraph below the first desk needs deleting. A great project that Clara will enjoy for many years!
Have a good one!
Thanks for the tip! Off to fix that!
Love this! Our daughter is almost the same age and so I am getting lots of ideas from you all when it comes to the kiddos! :)
Oh man oh man oh man. I love it and I love the chairs the way they are. Mismatched, vintage, and the colors really seem to go with your Sue color pallete. Did you think about chalkboarding the top of the table? I thought of it when I saw the pictures of you adding that small piece of wood on the end–totally looks like the tabletop is black for some reason! One tip if you do go with chalkboard paint–use a roller, not a brush! As if I even need to tell you that…
Haha- thanks for the tip! We’re not sure what we’ll do to the top but that’s definitely another option. We’ll keep ya posted!
Dee Dee says
thats a cute idea! or maybe build a mini chalkboard out of the other half of the door/table top. would be really cute in the future playroom.
There’s an idea! Love it!
Lovely! I love the chairs as is. They’re so authentic.
I love this little table. It’s great that it has history, made from a door from your first house, built by daddy for mommy and daddy to work on, then rebuilt by daddy for baby. Adorable. :)
You could let her scribble all over the top of the desk, and keep the legs and trim white, that could be a nice little surprise. Though, I do love that it mimics the adult sized parsons & how the artwork that is on the table will shine while she’s colouring.
Also, I know you’re going to shine those chairs up and make them beautiful when that day comes … but I LOVE LOVE the ol’ weathered look of them.
I LOVE it!
And just from looking at the photos I would keep the chairs as they are, they look absolutly adorable :) We have always had an activity table for our kids in the living room/office area of the house and that is a great solution. The kids want to stay close to the parents at that age!
Have a very merry christmas!
Did I miss something? Where is the bright green rug and where did that ottoman come from!?? I’m lost! :)
Haha, check out this post from a few weeks back: https://www.younghouselove.com/2011/12/living-room-cha-cha-cha-changes/
Honestly, I would leave the chairs alone. The angles you showed have a vintage, pre-loved look to them + no worries if Clara gets creative on them :) Merry Christmas!
Clara’s smile is too precious!! I love the table…I especially like the idea of sealing over her coloring–could be fun to look at for years. I’m a big fan!!
Oh my goodness. That last picture of her melted my heart! I bet all DIY projects would be so much more fun if that’s the reward you got at the end. Great job on the table you guys. Such an excellent idea!
So cute! I love the idea of letting her doodle on the top.
Adorable! Clara, mostly, but the table and chairs as well.
Julia @ Chris loves Julia says
This is so sweet! I am surprised you didn’t put a big bow on it and make it a Christmas present…although, I am sure it feels like Christmas to her.
Haha- we have something else that we’re planning to build her (within 5 days- ahhhh!) for Christmas! We’re crazy.
A mini kitchen?
Haha, you never know…
5 bucks says it’s a play kitchen!! :)
Haha- you guys might be onto something. Shhh, don’t tell beansie!
Melanie @ Mailbox Journey says
It is so adorable! & I love those chairs paired with it.
Brandi @ His Shabby Her Chic says
Clara looks so happy coloring at her very own desk! What a terrific idea.
I love the school chairs!
Amanda Nowak says
Obviously, you should change the chairs if you don’t like them, but I love them. :)
Haha- that seems to be the consensus! They don’t bother us either (although in person they look a little more “worn” than in the pics. Maybe they’ll stay that way for a nice long time though! We’ll call them “authentic.”
awww! love it :-)
I agree with commenters above – I kinda like those chairs the way they are already.
On another note – when did you guys switch out the coloured backgrounds in your art over the couch (just noticed in that last photo they are all plain)? – I actually prefer it like that, kinda seems to draw you in to look at the pictures more closely. I am madly jealous over your new rug/ottoman combo by the way ;-)
We mentioned those in the rug/ottoman post, but have been planning to do an up-close post so folks can see what we did (we used fabric behind them). More on that soon!
Love it! She is so cute and excited in that picture! I actually really like the evergreen and yellow mismatched colors of the chairs! It all looks awesome up against that white brick.
Kate @ Twenty-Six to Life says
So cute! That photo of her smiling at the table is precious!
I sort of expected to see Clara at her new desk with a small mini-me laptop :) She’s becoming Sherry more and more :) Also, it’s so sweet to see those two little chairs one next to each other. First I envisioned little Will sitting near her, and next it is sooo similar to your old work space (I wonder why!?) – the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree as they say, and in the good way! This was such a sweet post :)
that face totally makes me want to build something for her!
Jen A says
I love the chairs “as they are”. It’s easy to have new shiny things but not easy to have loved worn things (like the lovely wrinkles that are starting to appear on my face.) “worn” has a story. :o)
Great job. Reminds me of the time I built a secret room for my stepdaughter. The look on her face when she discovered it was ridiculous. She exploded with such heartfelt glee that my husband and i cried. Sheesh.
I love it (especially the sentimental value)! I could see it being used as an adorable kid’s table for holiday meals too!
I love it! It looks fantastic over next to the fireplace and I actually LOVE the chairs with it just as they are – I think you should leave them alone! I think the slightly beat up/rustic look contrasts perfectly with the rest of your polished living room!!
Super cute! You guys make me want to have babies, but I think I need a husband first, and before that, I need a boyfriend :)
Also, I believe you meant wandering hands, not wondering hands?
Yes, wandering! Off to fix that.
Erin @ One Project at a Time says
Those chairs are an amazing find! They are so cute… and work well with the school supply stools in the kitchen. You’ve got a slightly industrial vibe, with a hint of old school nostalgia going on. Love it!
Keep the chairs, they are so unique! I love them.
Lindsey @ arkadian belle woods says
SO CUTE! I love that picture of her in the footie jammies coloring! Such a great idea! Looks like she’s loving her new area! She probably feels like a big girl since she has a big desk like mommy and daddy!
[email protected] Mamacita Spins The Globe says
She looks SO happy! Totally worth every “non-penny” you spent on it!
Diana @ Boy + Girl says
I L.O.V.E those chairs – just hey way they are! And mixed with your kitchen stools you have a real school house vibe happening! Super charming but cool at that same time.
What a great idea….and very cute. I too like the chairs as is.
Love Clara’s expression!!
You guys seriously leave me in awe with your master repurposing!! I love that table and those chairs are totally perfect for your bean! Great job, can’t believe you’re tackling another project before Christmas!