Friday, February 06, 2009

Desk Makeover: Plans

This photograph (from Domino) shows exactly how I intend to make over my office desk to look more appealing!  The photo shows a table covered in linen (with side pleats and lacing) and then topped with glass.  How gorgeous is that?

Our office desk (shown below, in an old photo) is actually an old kitchen table.  It really needs a makeover.
I prefer to re-purpose it as a desk instead of buying a new one because:

(a) it's a comfortable height, a little lower than standard desks (those are too tall for typing, for me, unless there is a keyboard tray)
(b) it's available and
(c) it's free!

Plus it has lots of width for sitting things and piling books (as I am wont to do).  And we have an extra leaf that I will probably add to make it longer.

The only trouble is, it isn't terribly attractive and David forbids me to paint it (it's from his bachelor pad days).  So I was feeling a bit hopeless until Joni, the decorating goddess from Cote de Texas, saved the day by suggesting that I cover it in fabric and put a piece of glass on top.  

When she mentioned covering it in fabric, it instantly occurred to me that I had seen this charming linen-covered table in Domino!  So I hunted down all my issues and spent about 2 hours flipping pages until at last (literally) I found the photo!

Isn't it a lovely idea?

But before I even started fantasizing, my cheapskate/practical side decided to get a budget quote on glass.  So far, I have estimates from $110-160, so it's quite reasonable.  The more expensive quote is for a bevelled edge.

The trouble will be sewing!  I have a machine but don't recall how to use it, and I am not a great seamstress to start with.  I don't have a cheap tailor and the decorating stores charge a small fortune. I figure if they charge $700 for a slipcover, this weird custom job likely won't be less than $300.  It's a few straight lines, but still, they take their time and have to charge for it, and the pleats add some complexity.

So, I'm going to try to source some fabric (linen, and I'm thinking similar to what I used on the bulletin board, or perhaps beige with a white stripe) and see if I can do the sewing myself.
If I do, it will need to be very rudimentary since I can't do pleats - simple hemming is bad enough!

But if I take the fabric across the front, I will need a center cut (open pleat) to make it possible to sit comfortably.   So maybe I won't bother to cover the front, in which case I need more of a wide runner just to cover the top and the ends.  Not as elegant, and not as much coverage, but at least decorative and more practical.

Lots to think about, but the plan is in the works!  Sometimes I think I should just get a new desk and call it a day.  

What do you think?


  1. I think that fabric and glass would be beautiful, but since you don't sew, the amount of money you mentioned is a lot to spend on something that sounds like it won't be exactly what you want in the end.

    I looked at Craig's List in your city, and for $50 you can get this table and paint it any color you like
    and for $150 you can get this dining table with a big drawer, to paint what you'd like and 4 chairs as a bonus for some other project.
    xo Isa

  2. I love the idea. Not only does it hide the table, but any nasty cords as well. The sewing is the tricky bit. Do you have a friend, co-worker or a family member that is good at sewing? Perhaps you could pay them or take them out to dinner for doing it for you? Maybe even a dressmaker could do it for you?

  3. Great idea Terri. Was thinking about your dilemma, totally sympathise. I'm no expert on these things but instead of side pleats which your not confident you can do; how about you put a split in the middle front - top to bottom, then put a panel of fabric behind the split to create sort of a box pleat effect. That way it should look smart, but still let you sit at the desk.

    Best of luck!

  4. I think it is a great idea to cover it with fabric since you can not paint it. But it could look a bit unfinished if you do not have fabric all around. And if you do have fabric on the front it will not be comfortable to sit there. And it would not look nice to have a chair there all the time. Vanya's advice is a good one but could be difficult to make if you can not sew.
    Can you not persuade David into painting it?
    xo Poppins

  5. This is what I the look and I know for a fact that it can be achieved with a wonderful piece of painter's cloth for under $20. If you must have the ties. you can easily create the look. The you really need them to get "the look"? I'd give the funds to the glass. And that's my two cents for what it's worth.

  6. Just gonna add that the tablecloth that you can see on one of my recent posts is made from painter's cloth. If you click on the picture, you can see what the weave looks like up close. I think it looks better than many linens I've seen for a much higher price.

  7. I was wondering what Joni's desk idea was, since you had hinted about it in your last post. I like it! I do wonder about the practicality of having the fabric where your legs go (the domino picture seems to be a side table), but I can see how pleats could help. It is kind of like how some people have a tablecloth on their dining room table.

    Often dry cleaners have alteration people who can do a variety of easy sewing projects for much less than an fabric store. And, you could always get a free estimate from an upholsterer to see what kind of price they give you.

  8. That's what we did in the olden days... covered boxes for side tables... even if we just tossed on a little table cloth.. lol...

    but, seriously... have you checked IKEA too Terri?? The good thing there is you can buy table and chairs separately. I got a dining type table.. 55 inches long, 33 inches wide with two 15.5 inch it extends to a great length and fits perfectly in my space for it.. a bump out for the windows in my craft room. My table is black because that was the colour I had been searching for to go with my other desk and barrister bookcase... .but, there were one or two other colours if I remember...and I'm sure it could be painted if I wanted to do that. Sorry I don't remember the cost either... but, IKEA>> usually pretty reasonable. And, my husband (the ever critical) was impressed with the construction and overall sturdiness of it.

  9. Thanks everyone for the suggestions. I am really hesitating to buy a new table because we have this one, and I have another one in my basement (also part of a set, so I don't want to paint). I really don't want any more tables in my life. But I might check IKEA.

    The glass and fabric idea is my favorite because it also looks very pretty. So I will figure out how to do it as cheaply as I can. Will keep you posted!!

    Isa - thanks for the Craigslist tip - now there's where I could get something CHEAP!

  10. ah, that-s a great idea! the glass and the slipcover makes a different table without having to paint it, very nice.
    Of course, the sewing is something maybe somebody can do who you know is good at sewing, you could maybe do a paintjob in return, or buy them a giftt :-)

    have a nice sunday,


  11. what you can do - attach the skirt with velcro in front - that way you can open the front for your legs, but that shouldn't bother you - I have a skirted table.

    think about burlap - washed!

    it's not the table - it's the look you are after!!! the slipcover IS the look.

    You MUST have a friend who sews!!! offer them a $100 to do it at your house.

    I just think the skirt will soften the room and make it look so cute! don't give up on it just yet.

    I mean - how hard can it be to sew it yourself with a machine? It seems easy - if you don't do anything fancy!!!

  12. oh yeah - and "decorating goddess" - I am SO cracking up!! You should see me right now. In my do-rag. ahhahha!!!

  13. FYI - I just discovered a talented and inexpensive seamstress (a lovely menonite lady). Sounds like a job she would do for much less than $300 given that she hems pants for $5. If you are interested I could ask her - it is just simple sewing (unless you want piping around the table edge which would be gorgeous). Let me know if you are interested. a