Turning a repurposed desk into a new piece of furniture is so much better than throwing it out. I'm sure you've seen a lot of repurposed desks into nightstands. But have you ever seen the two drawer sections stacked?
UPDATE! I painted this piece, and I love the new look . . . but FIRST let's take a look how I built this unique chest out of a desk!
My favorite repurposed desk had been the one I repurposed into a kitchen island. But now I have a new favorite.
Grab something to drink and/or a snack folks—this is a long post!
The desk enjoyed quite the life back in the 90’s:
While my daughter Jamie was still playing with Barbies. 🙂 However, it had been stored in the basement for about ten years.
Does your desk have missing drawers? See how to work around a desk with missing drawers.
Let's see how I repurposed this desk into a tall lingerie chest . . .
Perfect Repurposed Desk Candidate
The vintage desk had definitely seen better days. Unfortunately there was some water damage on the bottom trim. In addition, you can see there is some separation of the knee-hole board in the back.
To begin, I removed the top of the desk, and all of the bottom trim pieces, stacking the left side on top of the right side to see if my vision was really going to work.
Add Base to chest
It's a good idea to test your fun feet before moving forward.
How to add legs to furniture
Indeed, I thought they would work. I got busy attaching them. I first drew circles around each of the four feet. The bottom and top of this cabinet are pieces of MDF I had left over from when I built my media center.
TIP: Drill four pilot holes inside each of the circles. Gorilla Wood Glue was used for extra hold with the screws.
Drilling the pilot holes is a must to get the screws successfully into the feet.
Add trim to lingerie chest
In order to get the crown molding to clear the drawers, I had to beef up the top of the new lingerie chest. (I later filled those large holes with some wood putty and then spackling)
I cut some 1x’s down to size, and attached them with pocket holes using my Kreg Jig.
Need more details on using a Kreg Jig? See my article How to use a Kreg Jig Pocket Hole System
Using the original drawer sections of the repurposed desk, you can see that had I put the MDF directly on top of the drawer tower that I would not have had room for the crown molding trim?
Attach two drawer sections to one another
I used some of the original holes and added some pocket holes to attach the two pieces together to change the repurposed desk into the lingerie chest. However, the two pieces were still a little unstable.
Add a Plywood Back
You know how that cheap furniture has cardboard backings that you tack on with those little nails to keep is “squared up”? I decided my tower needed a little strength in the back.
In other words, I used a piece of thin plywood to sturdy it, and keep it squared. It worked perfectly!
Primer and Paint Lingerie Chest
Time to start painting. Oh-do you see those two pieces of Gorilla Tape on the drawer front? I filled all the original drawer pull handles with wood putty.
TIP: To prevent seepage, use tape to keep the putty from coming through the back side.
Painter’s tape was used to hold plastic in place. I didn’t want to paint the drawers, because I wanted them to slide in and out easily, and they were still in pretty good shape.
I used my HomeRight Finish Max Fine Finish Sprayer to apply some primer to all the pieces.
After a coat of primer I saw that I still needed to do some patching. I used spackling for this.
Sanded and another coat of primer. Looks better, but not as good as I would like, hence the nickname “tower of terror”. (in hindsight, I wish I had put luan or bead board on each side of the repurposed desk chest)
After the first coat of black paint.
Embellish with stencils
Way back when, I received some great products compliments of Plaid/Martha Stewart. These awesome stencils were part of that selection. I’m trying to figure out which stencil I wanted to use. I decide this one (far right) is too small.
The larger version seemed like the best fit. I used some of Martha’s craft paint, it was a very light shade – actually a shade of blue. An aged gray look was the end goal.
After I painted on the first sheet of stencil, I decided it was too “stark”. I was looking for more of a faded (aged) look. I didn’t want to sand back the drawer, so I actually used a damp paper towel and sort of scrubbed/scraped off some of the paint that I just painted. No pictures of this step—sometimes time is of the essence and a blogger doesn’t have time to pick up the camera! I laid the chest down on it’s back to do this step. Doing it this way I didn’t have to tape my stencil. I used my hem guide to make sure that the space was equal on the left and right side.
After I painted the stencil, I marked the drawers with painter’s tape so that I would easily get them in the right order when I moved it in the house.
Step 9 Install Glass Knobs
Time for some knobs! I loved these pretty glass-look knobs.
How to use a Hardware Jig
If you’ve ever tried to center hardware and get it the same on each drawer, you know how difficult it can be. This handy Jig from Rockler makes it easy.
The block on the left lines your hole from left to right, while the plastic piece centers your hole top to bottom. The automatic center punch “dents” a little hole which acts as a guide for your drill bit. LOVE it!
You can see how adjustable this hardware installation jig is. It is very helpful.
The knobs were installed in no time!
You can see that although there are actually SIX drawers from the original repurposed desk. I like the fact that the two very deep drawers appear to be two drawers instead of one. Therefore I put EIGHT knobs on this chest.
This repurposed desk turned into a lingerie chest can be multi-purposed. I’m not sure which room it will land in, nor what I will actually use it for. It can be used for office/tax papers, lingerie, or even jewelry. If used as a file cabinet, the deep drawers could hold file folders. If used to organize accessories, the smaller drawers could hold belts, while the deep drawers could hold handbags or boots.
What would you store in the “tower of terror?”
Edited to add: I have placed this beauty in my bedroom. The larger drawers hold some boots. The smaller drawers hold all my blog stationary stuff like business cards, stickers, etc. The top drawer holds my orphan socks...you know the ones the dryer didn't eat!
Okay, now for the update! I still use this upright storage in my bedroom. It seriously doesn't get any better than this for storage. All that drawer space, with such a small footprint!
Black Lingerie Chest made from a Desk
I still love this storage solution as much as ever, but I built it in 2011!
This is my current throw rug in the bedroom. It's from IKEA, but they probably don't have it anymore. I keep things for years and years when I love them.
I posted a few days ago on Facebook asking what color I should pull from the rug. The choices were dark blue, gray, or off white. Weeks ago, I decided to paint it Polo (navy blue) but as I started working on it, I was having second thoughts. Many, many people said dark blue. I think gray came in second.
So, I stuck with my original plan of Polo. After all, I bought a quart for this project, I should use it, right?
Easy Paint Makeover
It's always bothered me that the "joint" where I connected the two drawer sections was so visible. Well, I guess it didn't bother me THAT much, since I've never done anything about it.
In this photo, you can see I've already patched the side, and started painting the drawers in place. Because it was so hot outside, I opted to paint this lingerie chest in my bedroom.
Honestly, when I started with the drawers, I still wasn't 100% sure I was going to go with blue. I use All in One Paint from Heirloom Traditions. To get the best look, I always do a very light first coat after prepping the piece. I sanded the stenciled drawers lightly to keep the flowers from showing through on the final coat. You can see they are still visible after the first coat.
Foam Roller for Painting Furniture
I used my small foam roller for 99% of the lingerie chest. A small paint brush was only used in the corners.
Second coat of Polo on the drawers of the lingerie chest. You can see I sanded the seam, and it's almost ready to paint.
After the drawers were dry, I removed them so I could paint the facing and the rest of the lingerie chest.
If you remember, the top is MDF, so it doesn't paint up very well. Notice the parchment paper under the feet to keep paint off the floor. It's time to let the paint cure a little before doing one more coat on the top and sides. The small drawers got 2 coats and the larger drawers got 3 coats.
Now, the makeover is complete!
Blue Storage Chest Made from a Repurposed Desk
Personally, I think the lingerie chest looks right at home now, much better than it did before.
Items atop of the tall chest are a couple of favorites from a trip I took with my daughter Jamie. On the left is a keepsake shadow box I made with mementos of the trip. On the right is a postcard I picked up from an artist in Nantucket. The small perfume bottle is left over from projects I made back in 2009.
What do you think of the new color? I'm seriously ready to make another project out of a repurposed desk, what about you?
Related Content: More Upcycled Desk Ideas
Gail Wilson is the author and mastermind behind My Repurposed Life. She is obsessed with finding potential in unexpected places and believes that with a little hard work and imagination, any old thing can be made useful again, including herself!
Gail reinvented herself during a midlife crisis and has found purpose again. She hopes you will find new ideas for old things and pick up a few tools along the way.