Introduction: "Throwaway" Steelcase Desks Made New

About: Father of 5 sons, and step-dad to 2 daughters and a 6th son. We are constantly creating projects and developing solutions to our day-to-day living. Also a 20+ year Marketing Design Solutions firm - AdJourney.

We have a local used furniture store in Carthage called DAK's. They had 2 Steelcase corner desks - both had tops that were messed up and edges in bad shape. The desks were marked down to $25 each. These desks legs can be lowered and raised with a simple Hex screw. Having built desks before - I knew I could not get a set of desk legs (materials alone) for $25... and the Steelcase desk new is nearly a thousand - so, a no brainer for me. I picked up both desks.

I had 2 themes I wanted to do. One in matte black base with stained wood top. One with an ombre blue base and industrial gray & orange top. Here is how we did it.

Step 1: Remove the Top

The tops of both were in pretty rough shape. Removing the top was simply use of a drill to take out 8 screws (4 to a side). I taught my boys that whenever you remove screws - put them in a ziplock baggy for safe keeping!

Step 2: Plank From Lowes / Pick Your Colors...

My main office desk is one I built with a 2' x 6' plank (stain grade wood) - so, I knew I could get a plank to use for the 2 desks. I picked up 2 planks that were 2' x 4' each.

We have been building a supply of spray paints (see my son's channel - Wes-The-Mess - who has done a hydro-dipped dirt bike among other things.) We also have some options in the stain category - but my step-son Melson had a certain wood look he was going for - so we picked up the stain and clear coat he chose for his.

My boys Mat and Wes wanted the industrial look - so we used the same gray and orange I used on the bunk bed for painting the desk top.

Step 3: Paint the Legs

We had 2 looks we were going for on the 2 desks. For the "wood top" - we wanted a matte black base. Easy enough! I painted it with 2 coats of matte black.

The second set of legs we wanted a color fade from a deep medium blue to bright brilliant blue. 2 cans of paint and intentional splatters - the base looked great!

Step 4: Drill the Hole for the Turn Screw (to Raise & Lower)

I determined the position I wanted the desk top to sit on the leg base - and measured, marked and drilled a 1/2" hole in both. This allowed the top to straddle the hex-turned screw to poke through the wooden desk top plank. I painted the plastic insert for the wood-look desk - black, and the insert for the industrial desk - gray.

Step 5: Stain & Finish for a "Wood Look"

The desk for Melson (to be used with his computer) we stained with 3 coats (for a deep walnut color). Once it dried well - I did a light sand with steel wool - and painted a gloss coat. I applied 3 coats of clear, light sanding between each coat.

Step 6: Paint the Industrial Desk Top

I brushed the entire top with 3 coats of gray to ensure a complete coverage - then attached the dried desktop to the base. I taped the edges so that I could paint the sides and a strip along the top with the bright, industrial orange accent. The orange took about 5 coats before it was solid and opaque.

Step 7: Set the Desk Up...

The wooden top desk looked great in the space. I spray painted the hex screw to have a bright, easy to find key for lowering & raising the desk height. He has since loaded the desk with a computer monitor and accouterments.

Step 8: The Industrial Desk Finished Nice!

The bold orange stripe on a clean gray base, stacked on the blue legs... turned out GREAT!! The youngest 2 boys have this in their shared room and LOVE it. We turned a desk lamp into a matching light for the desk with an ombre blue color scheme accented with orange. That is one of the COOLEST things about doing things yourself... you can color coordinate perfectly - because you have the paints to begin with!

Trash to Treasure Contest

Participated in the
Trash to Treasure Contest