Converting a Console Table to a Computer Desk – ORC – Week 3

For the third week of the One Room Challenge, I will be refurbishing a vintage console table, and transforming it into a computer desk. I’ll be refinishing it and then retrofitting it to have a drop down drawer front, and slide out keyboard drawer in order to maximize the functionality of the piece to work in such a small space.

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One Room Challenge

If you haven’t heard of the The One Room Challenge® before – its purpose is to encourage and support each other in finishing a room. The spirit of the ORC is solely to celebrate interior design in a positive, supportive environment. The ORC is not a competition, but rather a celebration of creativity, inspiration, and original ideas.

Over 8 weeks, I’ll be a guest participant in the One Room Challenge & you will be able to following along with me every step of the way as I transform an extra bedroom into a multipurpose retreat for my husband, Garrett.

See my previous ORC post here:

Designing an Elevated Sports Lounge & Multi-Purpose Space – ORC – Week 1

Successfully Installing Wallpaper as a Novice – ORC – Week 2

Small Space Solutions

As we know – the space that I’m converting into a multi-multi purpose room (Gym, Office, Sports Bar / Lounge & Guest Room) is fairly small at roughly 12′ by 12′. The two key pieces of furniture in this space will be a Sofa Bed on the largest wall & a desk, that will be perpendicular to the couch, in front of the windows, on the adjacent wall to the right.

Our needs for a desk were quite specific – we needed something wide enough to fill out double window, which is about 70″. I wanted something very narrow, so that it wouldn’t protrude past the couch when it’s in a sofa bed position. My husband envisioned a very deep desk, that could hold multiple computer monitors, as well as his keyboard, mouse and a place to put a notebook. We both agreed that the desk shouldn’t break the bank, and should be a vintage style with a very dark espresso colored wood tone, that would fit into a clean & classic Ralph Lauren style.

The Console Table

We found the perfect option on Facebook marketplace – it was a cherry console table that was only $80! The dimensions & size at 68″ by 16.5″ were perfect! It also featured an arched shape, so it will create a more open & natural flow between the couch & desk. It also has one large drawer in the center with a brass key, and faux key hole drawer pull.

I knew that this piece would work perfectly if we changed the color & could figure out a way to modify the drawer to function as a drop down, keyboard drawer. By changing the drawer, it would be able to hold a keyboard & a mouse, and make the desk feel as if it had almost double the depth, which would appease my husband, without changing its small footprint.

Refinishing the Desk

This console table had quite a few scratches on the top, and the color wasn’t the dark brown color that we were hoping for so I decided to refinish the table by sanding it down, and applying a darker color of stain.

As this table had all straight lines, it was fairly easy to sand with the power sander, that I borrowed from my Father-in-law. Once it was sanded & cleaned with a tack cloth – it was ready to be stained.

This table actually came with a card that described the quality of wood that it was crafted from. It read “This piece of fine furniture that you have purchased is made of solid, premium grade cherry. When cherry wood is first exposed to air and sunlight, it’s red tones will intensify for the first six months or so. Over time, cherry develops a beautiful patina. You can expect this piece to become even more beautiful as the character of its unique wood grain matures”.

As we really wanted a cool, dark brown color stain that would offset the warm undertones of the cherry, we selected the Minwax PolyShades in Tudor Gloss. Per the suggestion of the lady at the hardware store, we opted for a stain & poly in one. If I did this again, I would NOT go this route.

After two coats of stain, the quality of the stain looked amazing, and the natural wood was looking fantastic, but the color was not what we had envisioned. After all that work, it looked almost exactly like the color we started with.

We decided to do three more coats of stain to achieve our desired color. Doing five coats of poly stain did impact the quality of the woodgrain in a negative way. The multiple coats also left small imperfections on the finish, and showed drip lines. Had we only done stain, and then a poly coat at the end, I think the quality of this table would have turned out much better. At this point, I’m very disappointed with the final product, but as I’ve already invested a large about of time into this piece, and it wasn’t very expensive, we’re just going to keep it. In real life, the flaws aren’t as noticeable as they are in the photographs.

Modifying the Drawer

A few pieces of hardware and a few cuts on a table saw, were all I would need to create a functioning drop down drawer front, with slide out keyboard tray.

Every piece of furniture is different, and the construction can vary piece by piece. I was very fortunate that this particular table was built in a very simplistic manner. The drawer itself was built to fill the entire drawer box, and would sit flush with the front of the table when closed.

I was able to remove the drawer front by hammering near the front joints, from the inside, until the sides popped out and the drawer front fell free. Then I removed the nails.

I was left with a drawer that had a bottom, a back, and two sides. The bottom of the drawer needed additional support, now that there wasn’t a drawer front holding everything together. I used wood glue to really bind the bottom of the drawer to the two sides. This created a much more secure drawer that could function as a keyboard tray.

As the drawer is not on a track, it needs to be pulled evenly from both sides in order to function properly. I discovered these cabinet drawer pull tabs, that not only look sleek, but they feel quite natural, and allow you to easily open and close the drawer evenly.

The new drawer tabs meant that the drawer front could no longer fit together like a puzzle. In order to accommodate for the additional hardware. I brought the drawer to my father-in-law’s house and he used his table saw to take about 3/4″ off the depth of the drawer to accommodate the drawer to fit behind the drawer front.

For the front of the drawer, I knew I would need it to fold down from the bottom. I found these 90 degree stop hinges, and secured them to the inside of the drawer cover, and the front side of the bar that runs across the bottom of the table. When the drawer front falls forward, it automatically stops, so that your legs can still fit under the desk.

As the drawer front needs something to hold it closed, I purchased some mini magnets & will be using superglue to apply them to hold the drawer in a closed position.

For the interior of the drawer, I originally attempted wallpapering it, to match the room, but it didn’t turn out well, so I removed it and just painted the inside of the drawer “coffee table” by True Value, which is the same shade as the bead board & trim in this room.

Total Cost & Time

This entire project ended up being $166. As I bought most of my supplies at a local hardware store, the prices are a bit higher than you’d find at a big box store. The entire project took about five days totaling 15-20 hours. It was one full day of disassembling the drawer, sanding the table & cleaning everything. Three days of staining which took about an hour per coat (not including dry time), about 2 hours to paint the inside of the drawer, and about 2 hours to cut the drawer and add all of the hardware.

Console Table – $80
Sandpaper – $8
Steel Wool – $6
StainBrush & Tack Cloth – $36
Drawer Pulls – $13
Hinges – $14
Magnets – $9

Fun Fact About the Manufacturer

Upon completing this post, I was uploading the photos of the care instructions and came across the name of the furniture manufacturer of this piece – Niermann Weeks. I decided to give them a google, to see if I could find out what this table initially cost. Low & behold I find that they still carry this exact console table and they refer to it as the Frascati Console table. The price is listed as $9,960!!!!

Did I really just ruin A TEN THOUSAND DOLLAR console table with beginner level DIYs?! Let me know in the comments below if you think it’s fine because it’s now going to function in our home, or if I should spend the money to have it professional refinished again!

Be sure to follow me @HousewifeHospitality on Instagram as I continue working on this room as part of the One Room Challenge!

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