{DIY} Built-In Chunky Desktop

Hey friends, and happy Monday! I loved reading your funny responses to Friday’s pillow post, and was shocked to learn we’re pretty evenly split on whether or not to chop our pillows. I guess if I ever visit your house, I’ll have to repress the urge to go Jackie Chan on the sofa!

Today’s project is really simple, but was time consuming due to all the steps and dry times. We finally finished this weekend, and I’m thrilled to share it with you….the new built-in desktop for our nook (no association to Barnes & Noble *har*)!

hi sugarplum chunky desk

To catch you up, we ripped out the old wet bar in our Family Room, and enclosed the pass-thru. Then the TV moved to the mantle, which meant we needed space for the components. So we built distressed shelves. Instead of all built-in shelves, we decided to use the spot as a work space too, which meant we needed a desktop. I wanted a chunky look to go along with the distressed shelves, but couldn’t find a large enough piece of wood with the thickness I wanted. (Are you kidding me right now?! TWSS!)

No worries, we can fake it around here (like Babygirl’s crown molding!). All we needed was a thin piece of wood, cut to the desired surface size, and another one as wide as your desired shelf’s thickness. That sounds confusing, but the pics will better describe it.

hi sugarplum chunky desk (1)

We wanted it to match the distressed shelves, so we used these steps to get our desired look. This time I brought in child labor. Didn’t take much convincing to get these boys to swing hammers!

hi sugarplum chunky desk (2)

After sanding down the splinters my over-eager helpers created, I gave the wood several coats of Dark Walnut stain, wiping off the excess each time.

hi sugarplum chunky desk (3)

Here’s where the Faux part comes in….once dry, lay the large piece on a flat, sturdy surface where it can live for awhile. Then, using wood glue, attach the smaller piece to the front. This was a messy, hectic step for us, as glue was leaking out everywhere, and the wood was slipping. It certainly helps to have an extra set of hands.

hi sugarplum chunky desk (4)

Once the glue sets a little, use painter’s tape to hold everything in place like a clamp. Make sure to clean up any glue seepage on the front of the wood before it dries.

hi sugarplum chunky desk (5)

We let it cure for a few days, then gave it three coats of a satin poly to seal the wood.

hi sugarplum chunky desk (7)

To install the desktop, use the same principle as the shelves…attach small dowels, cut shorter than the top’s depth, to both sides of the wall.

hi sugarplum chunky desk (6)

Then just slide the desktop in, allowing it to rest on the dowels.

hi sugarplum chunky desk (8)
hi sugarplum chunky desk (10)

Looking at it, you’d think it’s a 4-inch thick chunk of wood, right? I love how substantial it looks, but is lightweight to handle.

hi sugarplum chunky desk (9)

There’s still work to do in this dark little corner, but I couldn’t wait to stage it a little. The mirror is perfect for reflecting light from the parallel windows.

hi sugarplum chunky desk (12)

And who doesn’t like to gaze at themselves while working on the computer? I’m not exactly sure what this space will evolve into, but I’m envisioning a little office nook.

hi sugarplum chunky desk (11)

Now let’s zoom out from my strategic cropping, and show you the big picture. The shelves are getting a coat of poly, so the top one is in the backyard. And we still have to deal with that mass of cords. Turtle Baby steps. I’m also adding ‘Paint the Mantle’ to our To Do List!

hi sugarplum chunky desk (13)

But today I’m enjoying the progress! Did you get things crossed off your list this weekend?

hi sugarplum chunky desk
(click links to see project)

Mount TV & Hide Cords 
Paint Mantle
Find Desk Chair
Hang Art Over Sofa
Paint/Stain/Replace Sofa Legs
Re-Hang Art Over Chair
Decide Fate of Rugs
New Light Fixture
Window Coverings
Decide Fate of Matching Tables

***I shared this project with Sarah,
the best link party in town!*** 

Leave a Comment


  1. i love this, cassie! i love the look- i see a collaboration for me and sawyer and some mallets in the future.

    Posted 9.10.12 Reply
  2. You got me! When I first saw the photo I thought, "Where do people find wood like this?!?!" Hahaha!

    Posted 9.10.12 Reply
  3. René wrote:

    I really like where this is going! Could have used those boys & hammers last weekend when I was working on my kitchen shelves ;).

    Posted 9.10.12 Reply
  4. Ohhhh, that looks awesome, Cassie!!

    Posted 9.10.12 Reply
  5. You have some great helpers! These shelves look so great!

    Posted 9.10.12 Reply
  6. That's so cool! I never would have guessed that it wasn't a really thick desk top!

    Posted 9.10.12 Reply
  7. Those look great! I really thought it was a big chunky shelf. Sarah

    Posted 9.10.12 Reply
  8. I love how dark and rich looking these are. Nice work. I love checking things off the list!

    Posted 9.10.12 Reply
  9. LOVE! It looks fantastic. Boy we were having a similar weekend! Did some of that as well. What a great place to get some work done.

    Posted 9.10.12 Reply
  10. Love that you created something so thick and "rich" looking from simple materials. A 4" solid piece would be so heavy I'd be nervous it would fall off the wall. Great solution!

    Posted 9.10.12 Reply
  11. I hope you don't mind but I'm pretty sure there's a big copy cat going to take place at my house very soon. I lllllove these shelves and desk.

    Posted 9.10.12 Reply
  12. Nice! I like the distressing…you had good helpers. 🙂

    Posted 9.10.12 Reply
  13. Love the color of stain you chose! I can't wait to see what you decide to do with your mantel! I'll be posting about a dresser/tv stand re-do that I accomplished this weekend soon! I'll let you know when I get the post up! Happy Monday Cassie!

    Posted 9.10.12 Reply
  14. Totally pinning this. I have a nook in our new guest/office room that this just might work for. Thanks! 🙂 And Happy Monday!

    Posted 9.10.12 Reply
  15. Check you out! I love that cosy little desk space you created. Great job! 🙂

    Posted 9.10.12 Reply
  16. It looks so good! What kind of wood did you use if you don't mind me asking? It looks like plywood from the side but I didn't think plywood stained very pretty haha

    Posted 9.10.12 Reply
  17. love it! how clever to make it look chunkier!

    Posted 9.11.12 Reply
  18. Aubrey wrote:

    You are always so clever! Looks great!

    Posted 9.11.12 Reply
  19. Amanda wrote:

    I am crazy in love with this girl!!! Genius!

    Posted 9.11.12 Reply
  20. Looks really awesome, Cassie! I never would've known it wasn't a chunky old piece of wood (twss)!

    Posted 9.11.12 Reply
  21. Awesome! It looks great. I love that picture of the boys going at it- hilarious!!

    Posted 9.11.12 Reply
  22. Oh wow this is fantastic! Great idea and great look!

    Posted 9.14.12 Reply
  23. Donna wrote:

    That looks wonderful! I love it.

    Posted 9.16.12 Reply
  24. [Pretend like I wrote this two weeks ago when the post went live… sorry for the late comments!] Okay, smart cookie… it really does look like a big, thick slab of distressed wood! I'm bookmarking this so I can remember later. Thanks!

    Posted 9.24.12 Reply
  25. Cassie I love this!!! It looks awesome!! haha and the picture of your "child laborers" cracked me up!

    Posted 10.3.12 Reply