Secret Projects

by laura.johnson

Last week I mentioned that we’ve been working on a few big (ok big to us) projects around our house, but knowing they would take longer to complete I’ve been totally keeping them a secret from the world wide web. I know shame on me, but trust me in saying that if I had kept everyone updated as progress continued, you’d be totally bored and wondering why we are such slackers.

With that dramatic introduction are you ready to know what our top secret project is, A DESK! Some may remember that I mentioned last January that we’d love to update our desk situation, and then like most resolutions haven’t uttered a word about it since. But that doesn’t mean our project wheels haven’t been spinning!

Here’s the skinny on the desk we have right now. My mother-in-law graciously lent us her sewing desk from many years ago, and really it does the job quite well. It has extra deep drawers, with two sides that can flip up, which is super functional as a two person desk, plus easy to move around whenever I’m in the mood to rearrange furniture, which kinda happens a lot.

All spring I had been dreaming up ways to update our desk look without loosing the uber functionality, but bridging the gap to incorporate it into some of the other Danish Modern furnishings we already own. I had a lot of ideas, but honestly not many good ones.  After running painting scheme #47 by Cody, he suggested that he could just build us one. Before ‘Oh yes please’ came tumbling out of my mouth, I calmly asked if he really wanted to take on such big project over the summer. After all, as much as I wanted a beautiful desk in our little home, I didn’t want my husband resenting me all summer because of a huge project that he really wasn’t committed to. However, I couldn’t talk him out of it. Cody’s reasoning was good, after all he did had summer break coming up, (gotta love that teacher schedule), and while he had conferences and work commitments throughout the summer, he still had a lot of free time to take on a project.  So the dreaming began!

I think those initial stages of a project are my favorite. It’s kinda like the beginning of a dating relationship, endless possibilities and dreaming without the need to settle down or the fear of commitment staring you in the face. I searched for vintage mid-century designs I loved, contemporary classics, like the beloved Parson’s desk, that would blend well in our apartment, and even a few beauties that I wasn’t sure I’d love, but I still wanted to show Cody. Of course keeping track of these bouncing ideas in my head on Pinterest:

However, even though each of the desks we liked, there were always elements that we wanted to change. After several rounds of ‘what do you think’ Cody looked at me with a genius plan. Why not model our new desk after the one piece of furniture we are absolutely in love with, our fish tank.

Bingo!  Let the planning began, we toyed around with different lengths we wanted, researched hinges, joint techniques, and matching/complementary woods until we were blue in the face.  From there Cody started to work up drawings to help him think through the different stages of the process, this was the drawing we ended up liking the best.

Now all we had to do was buy the materials and make it, easy peasy right? Wrong.  Cody grew up working in the shop with his father, building bookcases, a beautiful trunk we have at the foot of our bed, tables and, lots of other projects.  But it’s been about 10 years since Cody spent a significant time in the shop and instead of his father as a helper he had me, which I’m far less insightful than my predecessor.

Summer came and went working on our project together when we could, and putting in afternoons apart when schedules conflicted. Finally the weather cooled enough that the glue (and us) stopped working in the cool shop, and we eventually moved the desk to our kitchen, which is why recently our kitchen table holds more toxic chemicals than food.

The good news is that our desk is all built and we are in the final stages now. Cody has been spending his mornings and evenings sanding, staining, varnishing, sanding, varnishing some more, our most recent research says that the ribbon mahogany we used for the top of the desk will require 7 coats of varnish to give it a proper seal.  *sigh* So for now our kitchen will remain 1/2 workshop 1/2 kitchen and I will enjoy our pretty curtain just a little bit longer.

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