I know I’ve mentioned it before, but I’m a work-from-home mama. I started freelance writing and editing in January 2015. This ended up transitioning into running my own small business and now working remotely for a start-up company out of California. And it’s safe to say I needed a space of my own to spread out, be productive, and feel inspired. And that’s where this DIY mid century modern desk idea came into play.
I used what is now Leo’s bedroom as my office before he was born. It was the perfect setup, across from Isla’s room so I was close enough to keep an eye on her during her nap but I could also shut the door if need be. Eventually, this turned into Leo’s nursery, so my office space transitioned to the guest bedroom upstairs.
I hated it. I always felt like I was so far away while working up there. If I needed the space when someone was visiting, it was unavailable. It felt drab, not my style, and didn’t feel cozy or inspiring. I knew I wanted to find somewhere in our house that was better suited for working, and working productively.
For months I scoured the internet to find desk and small office inspiration. Our house is a good size–a little under 2,500 square feet. That being said, I was still really struggling to find a place that felt close enough to the kids (but still like my own), that I was comfortable working in, and that made sense to me. We didn’t have a lot of places left to put a desk, but we used to have a buffet table next to the dining room table when my in-laws lived with us. After they bought a new house, that space sat empty. I never really thought of it being used as a workspace until endlessly searching through Pinterest for small offices spaces. Eventually, I realized it would be the perfect little nook with great lighting. I also already really enjoyed working in this room.
DIY projects are near and dear to our heart. We recently made a West Elm-inspired bed, an industrial coffee table, floating corner shelves, and the list goes on. I knew there was no way we weren’t going to DIY my workspace, so I started searching for some Pinterest inspiration on mid century modern desks.
I ended up landing on this one, as shown over at Remodelaholic. It became my inspiration, though I knew I wanted hairpin legs, a simpler design, and a warm, gray-washed wood. I also wanted it to be multipurpose and double as a buffet table when we had people over for dinner. Additionally, we needed it longer, narrower, and taller than a normal desk because I wanted it to fit our space comfortably and be aesthetically pleasing. I came up with a design in my head, measured the area, and got started. Below is how we made our DIY mid century modern desk. I’m kind of obsessed. Enjoy!
WHAT YOU’LL NEED FOR YOUR DIY MID CENTURY MODERN DESK:
- One 16 x 52″ paint-ready pine board
- Three 5.5″ x 52″ premium pine planks
- 34″ hairpin legs (we ordered these)
- Matte black spray paint for metal
- Miter saw
- 1.5″ screws
- Wood glue
- Brad nailer
- 1″ brad nails
- Stain color of choice (we used Minwax Weathered Oak, available in stores)
- Dry cloth
- 220 grit sandpaper
- Minwax satin polyurethane coat
- 2″ foam brush
Use your miter saw to cut your paint-ready pine board to predetermined measurements. The board we bought was already 16″ wide, and we wanted it half an inch narrower than our pine planks put together because it would be fitting on the chair rail (which has different heights) against our wall. (You can see this in the bottom left side of the desktop in the step 2 photo below.) We went for a long, narrow desk and cut the pine planks and pine board to 52″ long. Our pine planks were already at the correct width.
Attach your pine planks to the pine board. We put wood glue on top of the pine board and attached the planks on top of that, clamped them together, and allowed a few hours to try. After the wood glue dried, we used our brad nailer to nail about 50 billion nails through the bottom of the pine board. (Be sure not to nail from the top, as you don’t want the nail holes to be visible.)
Spray paint your hairpin legs and allow to dry overnight. Our legs were made and delivered as raw, uncoated steel. Because of this, we used a matte black spray paint made for metal to paint them.
Use your sandpaper to quickly rough up all surfaces the will be stained, then wipe off the dust with a paper towel/towel. Next, use your dry cloth to stain all sides of what is now the top of the desk. I ended up doing three coats of the Weathered Oak stain. Once you have received your desired shade, allow to dry overnight.
Once the stain has dried, you can add the polyurethane coat. We used a foam brush to apply the poly coat to the top and edges of the desk and allowed several hours to dry.
Once the polyurethane coat is dry, you can attach your legs. Using our drill and 1.5″ screws, we attached the hairpin legs to the bottom of the desktop. When you finish and place your desk upright, make sure your legs are even. (Two of ours were slightly uneven, so my husband unscrewed them and added in thin washers between the legs and the desktop to achieve the desired height. He then screwed them back on.)
That’s it! Your DIY mid century modern desk is finished!
This has to be our easiest project to date, and I am completely in love with how it turned out. It definitely achieves the look of a mid century modern desk, but for a total of about $150 instead of the high price tag a midcentury desk usually carries. It’s the perfect workspace, and once our chair (I ordered this chair from PB Teen to complete the space) is delivered at the beginning of October, it will be complete. I will update photos once it arrives!
I love this space. It’s bright and airy but still has a mid century modern feel. It fits our home and tastes so well. Even better, its sturdy 1/2-inch heavy duty hairpin legs will allow for it to double as a buffet table when needed.
Thanks so much for checking out my DIY mid century modern desk tutorial! If you have any questions please feel free to get in touch or comment below!