Sunday, April 8, 2012

A DIY Project Table for DIY Projects

Cross another goal off the list. The DIY Project Table is done-zo.

Ahh, the idea of having a home for my craftiness. Meaning I would not have to drag all of my gear out to the living room and take over the coffee table anymore? I like it. I am sure I am not the only one who has stared longingly at the Bedford Project Table from Pottery Barn. To put it in perspective, I'd be going from this:
 to this:
So how to tackle this table in DIY world? I saw several good options online, from bookshelf ends to old doors for tops. My own spin on the table came to me while dismanteling my IKEA Malm bed at our old place. Knowing it wasn't going to survive the move, I assessed the headboard piece. I liked how wide it was, which would allow for plenty of workspace. The wheels started turning. . .
The next step involved figuring out what to use for the sides. I knew I wanted the table to be a bit higher off the ground, taller than a regular computer desk. I started searching for shelves that would hit at a little less than 40" but were also relatively inexpensive. With little luck, I figured I would have to settle for something a bit shorter when another idea we had solved two problems.

Our second bedroom was going to be the project table's home, but when we do have people stay with us we need some flexibility with the room to fit in a temporary bed. If we put the project table on wheels, we could move it over to one of the corners easily, creating some wide open space. One one of our IKEA trips we picked up 4 sets of casters and the Expedit shelves that would now be the perfect height. Taking into account the 2" thick tabletop, the workspace would end up at about 37" off the ground.
For months, the shelves sat holding all of my craft stuff against one wall in the second bedroom. Hosting family and friends several times since moving in last fall meant we haven't had the right window of time to dismantle the twin beds and start re-purposing the room. 
While the beds worked well in our last place, they currently take up a little too much room - not even allowing us to pull out the chair to the desk where our future Mac mini will live.
So, the concession of losing a permanent guest bedroom is made up for in my mind by giving us a room we can use every day. We are still deciding our best option for a Queen-Sized bed: fancy aerobed? Murphy bed? Pull out couch? We'll start doing our research and see what comes out on top. My challenge with the pull out couch is how much room it will take up, but it would be nice to have some additional seating in the room.

Okay, back to the table! A couple weeks ago (basically after the behometh that was my rug project finished up), I flipped over the Expedit shelves and Bob helped me attach the wheels. We grabbed the headboard from our storage area where it has been collecting dust for six months and threw it on top. Can you already see it coming together?
Living in a condo in the city means having a space to work on major projects is limited. In particular, the task of spray painting a giant headboard. We headed out to my sister's house in the suburbs and took over their garage! A suburb trip was going to be necessary no matter what as you cannot buy spray paint in the city of Chicago. We scoured the shelves at Lowe's for the perfect glossy white and I thought we were in good shape with 1 primer and 2 bottles of white (I should also mention we were  also spray painting an old shelf that weekend).

Apparantly, spray paint does not go very far when you have fairly large pieces! We had a couple return trips to the store over the next week as we realized this. It was also funny when we asked the Lowe's guy for suggestions on what type of spray paint to get and when he asked what we were painting I said, "IKEA" and he said something like, "oh, so fake crap?" Even after sanding, I think the material we were painting didn't take as well to the paint which made us use a lot more.
The headboard is one inch less wide than the Expedit shelves. To alleviate this gap, we picked up a 1"x2" piece of wood at Lowe's.
After cutting it to size length-wise, I was surprised to find that it was much less than 2" thick. Bob says that lumber will run that way. I say false advertising.
 We screwed it onto the edge of the headboard, and in the end we like the gap that it creates on the "front" of the table.
Bob had originally suggested I cover the headboard with laminate to protect the surface and create a stronger work area, but after doing a little bit of research into cost of laminate and acrylic pieces and the implementation work that would be needed, I decided to just stick with painting it. I did not seal the top after spray painting, but would suggest doing so. It may be a future upgrade to the project. I have horrible spray painting form - Bob had to take over for me after awhile. I'll point to Young House Love's post on tips for good spray painting as opposed to sharing any of my own methods.
With a newly white headboard in tow, we headed back home, slapped it back on the shelf ends and drilled 3" screws from the inside top of the Expedit shelves into the headboard. Bonus: cheap IKEA wood is very easy to drill through. 
The white paint is a little different color than the shelves, and the extra piece of wood is also a different shade, but I think the differences make for a little character. The wheels can lock into place, but it doesn't even seem to move around too much on its own with all of the weight now in it.

I restocked the shelves with my craft supplies and added a few pieces to the top including our self healing cutting mat and the OttLite Task Lamp I received for Christmas and have not had a chance to use yet.
You can get a sneak peek of my DVD shelf turned craft shelf in the background of these photos. I love how the white pops against our blue walls. Stay tuned this week for a write up of that project!
Cost Analysis:
2 Expedit Shelves - $80*
4 Expedit Casters - $60
Spray Paint and end wood piece for tabletop - @$10
*We did get the shelves and casters on an IKEA run where we used a $25 coupon from our recent move. However, we definitely bought a lot of other stuff to make up the difference!

Not bad considering the $1000 price tag on the Pottery Barn table!

The only thing left is to find a stool or high chair and we're good to go! Just in time to start putting together all of those wedding centerpieces. . .more on that later, but check out the bowl of yellow yarn balls on the tabletop to give you a hint!


  1. Love it! Thanks for the inspiration! Pieces like this are insanely expensive. Lucky for me, my hubby is handy & I can spray paint like a demon. IKEA is a short drive. I see a trip in our near future...

  2. This is a really nice project.

  3. That thing is fabulous! I love having rolling storage - I bought this metal mesh roll-y cart to store my fabric: (it was sixty bucks when I bought it, making it much more economical than it apparently is now), and that cart plus a bunch of Container Store simple clear boxes has improved my ability to know what fabric I own IMMENSELY! Plus, since my studio is quite tiny, one big cart that I can move out of the way definitely trumps a zillion ziploc bags in storage bins all over the floor! Great tutorial!
    ~~~the Art of Inclusion~~~

  4. Fabulous! I saw the same desk on the Pottery Barn website, and I was going to do the same thing! Great to know that it turns out so well!

  5. thanks for the comments - the table has already been getting use as I work on some wedding projects! Stella, I totally agree with organization - the colored bins that you can see in my photos are also Container Store. I just put a label on each (blank cards, paint and glitter, etc) for easy access.

  6. You could always get a cutting board surface for the top...

  7. Out of curiosity since I'm also a living room crafter with storage in a different room: Do you really use the spare bedroom for your crafting, or do you find yourself still bringing stuff to the coffee table so you can be social or watch TV or whatever while you craft?

    I've made noises about organizing my storage area to the point that I could actually work there, but I think I'd be lonely ... :)

  8. Thanks for the question, Aviva! 3 months after completing the table, I can honestly say that I use it all the time! I bring my iPad in and set it up on the table. I have watched a lotta HBO Go and Netflix :-) We have been working on a ton of wedding projects, so for some of them my fiance pulled up a chair on the other side of the table and we worked together which was a lot of fun. We're also getting a pull out couch for that second bedroom, so it would be more comfortable for others to be in the room with me if that needs to be the case.

    I'll still work in the living room if I don't need a solid surface, but for a lot of my projects it has been great to make the space for it with this table.

    hope this helps!

  9. Hi Lydia: I'm getting ready to build something similar. I like the idea of using a 9 cube case but the wood in most 9 cube cases is much thinner. How tall with the casters did the craft table come out to be? Did you have to get a higher stool rather than a desk chair?

    Your advice is appreciated!


  10. Hi Eve! The table ended up at about 37" tall, including casters, shelves and tabletop. The tabletop/headboard was 2" tall. I do use high stools - kitchen stools that I stole from our island. I am probably due for an update post on how its been working for me - I'm in there almost every day working on some project!

    I started looking at some 9 cube cases from Target, but I'd agree with you they looked a little flimsy for me. I was a little nervous how stable they'd be.

    Good luck - would love to be linked to photos when you are done!

  11. You did a good job in remodeling your house. I can definitely get some tips in here when we remodel our kitchen place next month.

  12. Finally, something I can do to make use of that old table we have lying around. I'd probably use this to keep the extra books I'm planning buy in the future.

  13. I need to get one of these. It looks like a really convenient table/cabinet/desk for someone who needs to do a lot of stuff but doesn't have the right tools or accessories to do so.

  14. Now there's an idea for a multi-purpose table. Now all I have to do is head for the local appliance shop and start looking for the right pieces to put together.

  15. Looks amazing, I like the your touch on the table the casters made it more easy to move around.

  16. This is awesome! I'm thinking of making something similar but need to know if the Ikea cube storage will hold 12 x 12 scrapbook paper. Do you know if it will?

  17. Yes, the cubes do hold the scrapbook paper size!

  18. Traditional Murphy couches didn't exactly fit into the space and they are lavish.Find Pins about murphy bunk ikea on Pinterest.

  19. Hi Lydia,

    I just found your project and LOVE it! I also have a Malm bed that may be able to be repurposed. What size was your headboard?

  20. glad you stumbled onto here - it must have been either a queen MALM, can't recall how they make them. So that must have made the headboard just over five feet long. Sad to say the project table has been dismantled and the expedit shelves repurposed . . .but for a good cause: that room is now the nursery!