25 May 2014

Project: IKEA Desk Makeover

When I started taking distance learning courses at the Harvard University Extension School, I needed a desk in my room so I could have a place to do my schoolwork. I had only a small space available and didn't want to spend a lot of money, so I got a Laiva desk from IKEA with the intention of refinishing it to better match my decor. Because painting the desk would be tedious and potentially problematic due to the smooth finish of the wood veneer, I brainstormed ways to cover the desk without paint and decided to go with a look inspired by old-fashioned skirted dressing tables:


To make the desk skirt, I bought five yards of inexpensive white muslin from Joann Fabrics--about double the total perimeter of the desk so I could gather the fabric. The muslin came 36" wide, which worked out perfectly to cover the height of the desk plus provide a 6" flounce at the top. Because I wasn't cutting the selvage edges of the fabric, I didn't bother with any hemming. I simply folded the fabric down as long as I wanted the flounce, pinned it in place, and sewed a 1" pocket.


The biggest problem I encountered was getting the desk skirt to stay around the desk without sagging. I wanted the skirt to be removable for washing, so I didn't want to glue or staple anything in place permanently. In the end, I threaded 3/4" elastic through the skirt pocket, using  about 6 feet of elastic to go around the 8-foot perimeter of the desk. The skirt still sagged a little, so I tacked it in place using white thumbtacks and a small hammer. The tacks will make the skirt a little harder to remove and replace, but they keep everything secure and neat looking:


The desk top was the simplest to do. I bought a sheet of decorative paper from a brand called Rossi, in a pattern inspired by writing and typing. I trimmed the paper to fit and put it on top of the desk, then topped it with a custom-sized piece of Plexiglass for protection:


To finish everything off, I added a small lamp, a faux-crystal bud vase with a faux sweet pea flower stem, and a collection of jam jars holding pens, pencils, and art supplies. The jars from St. Dalfour are the perfect size for holding writing implements, and they fit really well in the recessed area at the back of my desk.

This was one of the biggest projects I've ever completed, and while it took a little troubleshooting to get just right, I'm happy with the end result. It's both pretty and practical, which is exactly what I want out of a desk!

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