House Tour: Living Room Corner {Desk}

A. We’ve lived in this house for almost five years and we’ve never solved the “where to put the desk/have an office” dilemma.

B. Our living room is confounding, it’s a long bowling alley style room, and there’s no obvious place to put any of the furniture.

C. In the living room, there a little alcove off the main entryway.  Technically it’s the fourth corner of the living room but mostly it’s a useless space because anything that isn’t tucked right up against it protrudes out into the pathway to the dining room and the rest of the house.

In lieu of a better situation we stuck our desk in random places that never really worked and we put the kids toys in an Expedit in the alcove in the living room.  This was not the greatest solution because kids toys were all over my living room all the time and because it felt odd to have their play area confined to a tiny corner of our house.  However, because there was a twin sized bed and a crib in the kids room, there was no room for the Expedit in the room.

The second I felt like Dubs could sleep in a big girl bed, though, I had that crib taken apart and donated, we bought a bunk bed and I moved the Expedit and all the toys into the kids room where the crib had been and LO THE ANGELS SANG.  Best day ever.

However, then we were left with this sad, sad situation of sadness in the living room. Please be aware that I am only posting this Picture of Shame because of how much better the After turned out to be.


My step father was coming to town and he’s really good at building things, so I asked if he would help me with a shelf desk project for this corner.  We had a lot of fun emails back and forth before he arrived about how all the things I had pinned on Pinterest were either impractical or shoddily constructed.  Basically I wanted a long floating shelf/desk along this wall that Eli and I could both sit at together, and I didn’t want legs on it, and I wanted to be able to put my orange filing cabinet underneath it so that everything was together and I didn’t have to cross the room to the filing cabinet every time I needed a paper clip.

I know I already posted these pictures on Instagram but J Town requested a source list so I shall attempt to put that together although pretty much you can just assume “on clearance at Target” for practically everything.

Anyway, here is the after, isn’t it beautimous, I love it soooooo much, and we all use it all the time now and it’s just so very great.  Although it could some more lighting so I am still thinking of having a chandelier installed. But it’s just so perfect for the space, I can’t get over it.  This corner is so useful now! And so pretty. It’s my favorite thing in my house now.

DSC_0399-001 DSC_0419-001

The shelves are actually four stair treads from Home Depot that my step father cut down to fit inside the stainless brackets, which are from IKEA.  I sanded and stained them and then poly-ed them with a rub on satin polyurethane.  The stain I chose is called “New Gray” from Minwax. (They do sell shelves at IKEA that fit these brackets but I did not care for them.)

We painted the wall back to white, it’s Behr “Moon Glow” in flat enamel.


The orange filing cabinet is from Pottery Barn, but it’s one of the first things I bought when we moved here, so it’s not available now. Erik thought I was TOUCHED when I insisted we go buy a $200 file cabinet before we did anything else to the house, but it’s one of my favorite things. Everyone who comes here to buy the crap I put on Craigslist always tries to buy it from me.

The giant ampersand was a random serendipitous find, it was the last one on super clearance at Target, and I thought “Hmmmm. Maybe” and threw it in the cart, and it’s just the thing. I love that it’s sort a graphic represention of “Eli & Elizabeth” since we each sit on either side of it. And I think if it wasn’t there I would have cluttered up that wall with all sorts of hoo ha and now it’s just simple and a little industrial and perfect. Also Eli suggested we could put a hamster in it so now we call it The Hamstersand.


The notepad and notebook are from Home Goods, the little jar is from Anthropologie and holds my Vitamin D, and the glass cups were candleholders on clearance at Target.  The pencils are Mirado Black Warriors, the pens are my beloved Pilot Precise.  The notecards are from Target and I love having them out where they can remind me to send thank you notes more often.


The chairs are vintage Herman Miller Eames chairs, I bought them on Ebay a few years ago.


I was originally going to fill both shelves with STUFF because we lost some storage when we got rid of the old desk, but at IKEA they had a desk display set up with pictures on the top shelf of a set of floating shelves and as soon as I saw it I knew that’s what I wanted to do.  So the top shelf holds pictures and the lower shelf holds all the storage boxes and things.

The vase is from Jennie, the Eli photograph I took, the little orange card is a tarot card I found on the ground the day we took Eli home from the hospital that says “When I am patient, I am able to sustain an intention until it is realized.” The piece of wood is my test stain board for this project.


The white Snap and Store box came from Target, the Bigso box is from Amazon, and all the other boxes (except the magazine files) are from Home Goods.  You can use the internet so I assume you know where to buy washi tape.

DSC_0480-001 DSC_0485-001

I bought the turquoise Snap and Store magazine files from Target, and now you can’t find them in turquoise ANYWHERE. It’s very annoying.  You can buy them in white or black a lot of places, but no more turquoise.  BOO.


I think the Anne Shirley print is from Fab? You can get it on Etsy too though. It’s my favorite thing in the whole world. The lightning sign is from Etsy also. (We called KW Lightning before she was born.)


I was not allowed to have a desk with NO legs because apparently that’s fundamentally nonsense if you don’t have two supporting walls on either side of your desk, so we have ONE stainless steel leg, also from IKEA. I really barely notice it, in fact now I think it would look weird with NO legs. And the file cabinet scoots right under there!


You can see in this picture how nicely the desk fits right into this little corner.

The desk lamp is from Target as well, but also on super clearance.


Look how it barely sticks out into the room. Perfection!


I saw the galvanized magazine holder on a blog years ago and searched desperately from one. I looked everywhere.  (It was originally sold at Pottery Barn and IKEA, I think.) I tried to have one shipped from Cleveland. I tried to have my brother buy me one from Chicago Craigslist.  I YEARNED for this magazine holder.  Then one day I walked to a garage sale around the corner from my house and there it was, leaned up against a tree, ON SALE FOR FIVE DOLLARS. I had to bite my lip from convincing the owner not to sell it, that’s how much I couldn’t believe anyone would part with such a treasure.  But it became mine and I love it so.


The desk top is made from a solid birch door that I stained the same gray as the shelves and that that my step father cut down to the correct dimensions.  You can see here how it’s attached to the wall – there’s a little lip made of pine boards screwed into the wall and then the desk top sits on that.

DSC_0511-001 DSC_0517-001

We drilled two holes in the desk top with a hole saw for cords, you can see one of them to the left of the pencils.

Let me just say that very rarely do I have projects in this house turn out so magnificently and I am just so pleased with this. It is a perfect use of the space and it is just what I have been dreaming of for so long. I could not love it more.  Questions? Holler.


11 Responses

  1. No questions! But as a lurker I just had to say — I like it! Very nice!

  2. This looks so fabulous!! Yay for handy step dad’s and ALL SORTS OF AWESOME ideas!! Love, love, love.


  3. That is fantastic!

  4. I looove this.

  5. It is AHHHHMAZING!!!! I actually had palpitations over it when I scrolled down. That before and after is KILLER. 🙂 Also, I giggled out loud over the Hampstersand and the Lightening sign.

    I’ve been having very deep thoughts over how our decor has evolved with life experience – life handing us things like that tarrot card – which is so much more interesting and comforting than some mass produced Van Gogh print or whatever. Life is interesting.

  6. perfection

  7. Good use of space. Love it.

  8. Love it! And the use of turquoise and orange, love love!

  9. First thing, it looks AMAZING.

    Secondly, I can’t decide which sentence I like more:

    “You can use the internet so I assume you know where to buy washi tape.” or,

    “Also Eli suggested we could put a hamster in it so now we call it The Hamstersand.”

  10. Delurking to say this looks wonderful! I love your house!

  11. It looks fabulous! You must be so happy with it. My favorite is the hampstersand and all the orange.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: