Introduction: Home Office Conversion
An idea to transform an unused dining space near the kitchen into a home office turned into a 4-week project, but the results are amazing and the level of organization at home has skyrocketed. Files, office supplies, printers, scanner, home server, router, and more were scattered throughout the house before we undertook this room conversion. After a bit of down-sizing, clutter removal, and shredding of unnecessary paperwork, we sketched our plans and located a local supplier of unfinished furniture.
We were able to order the individual office furniture units we wanted in the exact dimensions we needed. All hardware and fasteners to assemble the units were included. Especially important to us was having a long table surface that could be used for a wide variety of projects.
Step 1: Sand, Stain, Varnish
Thirty-one unfinished pieces of furniture and support posts were sanded by hand with 3 grades of sandpaper. First, 120 grit paper, followed by 220, and finally 400. Each piece was carefully cleaned between each sanding procedure with a tack cloth to remove all of the dust.
We stained only the outside of each piece of furniture, and all sides of the desktops and support posts, using stain matching the existing wood trim in the room.
The varnish we used was a high build polyurethane clear semi-gloss product, and we applied three coats of varnish to every piece of wood. Proper ventilation is crucial as both the stain and varnish produce very strong odors in the room. We thinned the first coat of varnish using a mixture of 50% mineral spirits and 50% polyurethane varnish. We wanted this first coat to completely soak into the wood, saturating every surface, corner, and seam. The second and third (final) coats were full-strength varnish.
Staining all of the wood took approximately 6 hours. Immediately after staining the last piece, we began applying the thin-coat of varnish to the first piece of wood that we stained; no drying time is required after staining. We allowed a minimum of 1-day drying time between each coat of varnish, waiting a longer amount of time if the wood was still tacky. After the final coat of varnish dried completely, we were ready for assembly.
Step 2: Installing the Furniture
After the varnish was completely dry, we installed the drawer and door hardware, then brought the first section of pieces to the room for installation.
We wanted to strengthen the two long desktop sections since they would be supporting the weight of several pieces of office equipment, so we bought 2 pieces of 1-1/4"x1-1/4"x1/8" angle iron, cut to length, painted them, and installed them in place along the inside edge of each desktop front trim.
Step 3: Happily Finished!
What started as a dream turned into a very useful and functional reality. Finding a supplier of unfinished furniture who worked closely with us was key to our success with this project, but I was able to locate this business within 30 minutes of starting my internet search. A neglected, unused space has been converted into a room that is an integral part of our daily lives.