Introduction: White 'Vintage' Corner Desk

About: I'm fan of electrical bicycles and cars and like to do DIY with Arduino.

I was looking for a new desk into my daughter's room, but I couldn't find one meeting our requirements. So I was left with two options - order a custom built desk from wood workshop or make one. And because I like making things, I gave it a try - how hard can it be anyway :-).

The idea was to use the whole available space in the room corner to create sufficient work space for her homeworks and hobbies. Two containers with drawers would support sides, there should be storage available below the desk and some fancy shelf on top of the desk. And it all should be in white vintage style.



We had an old desk available, so I decided to reuse it and save some money.

Most of the material was cut to measure MDF and wood from OBI, more details in each step.


I don't think it makes sense to list them all here, but I mention few main ones:

  • Router
  • Electric drill / screw driver.
  • Anything to cut wood
  • Confirmat screw drill bit
  • Doweling jig

Step 1: Planning

SketchUp is a great tool to visualize ideas and I use it to create multiple alternative designs to pick one I like best as well as to present to it to the end user. Sometimes it is a brute force checking multiple combinations. In this case I drew 10 alternatives with different furniture placement, different desk types, different bed position, with and without small make up desk, with and without armchair etc. Attached result is a design accepted by the end user and his manager (daughter and of course my wife :-) ).

This way I got the rough dimensions of the resulting product and could proceed to details of different components.

Step 2: Drawer Containers

I started with adjusting the left side drawer container to desired size. I used a small circular saw, but results with these cheap tools are not good enough for furniture applications, so I ended up cleaning the cut with a router and the dado/straight router bit.

In next step I used doweling jig to drill new dowel pin holes to install side and back panels back.

Resulting pieces were then painted with white color paint. In this case the chalk paint gave best results for desired vintage look.

Step 3: Storage Boxes Shelf

For the storage box shelf I used old desk's top cut in two and a scrap wood I had from other old furniture for the side panels.

Again here I first used SketchUp to draw the design as well as to plan the cut of the old desk's top.

The main frame is bound together with dowel pins and confirmat screws. For inside panels I only used dowels.

Step 4: Desk-Top Board

Desk top is created of two glued wood boards 3cm thick. I chose to use Spruce wood because it is not so hard and I expected the woodwork will be easier with it. More appropriate for the use would probably be beech or oak wood - this of course depends on your woodworking skills.


  • 158x74cm glued wood panel (custom cut ordered from OBI)
  • 120x60cm glued wood panel
  • 2 standard bench-top connectors
  • sanding paper
  • walnut color wood stain
  • white glaze color paint
  • mat lacquer paint


  • join the table top boards together with the bench-top connectors (I didn't use any special connector here, but in next project I would most likely use tongue groove joint to fix the two boards vertically)
  • sand the top of the desk to level the two boards
  • use router to cut the edges of the desk top to your liking (I played with a set of router drill bits and scrap wood to test the end result)


  • as a base I used single coat of the walnut color stain, this way the wood is colored 1-2mm deep which is good basis for later sanding
  • on top of it I used white glaze color paint
    • since the table top will be lacquered, I used cheaper glazing color rather than much more expensive chalk color usually used for getting vintage look
    • after a single coat I sanded the desk top to give it vintage look
    • (I also tried to use different technique with using sponge to paint uneven layers of paint coat, but painting with brush and sanding it later gave much better result)
  • finally I painted three coats of mat lacquer paint to avoid wear of the desk top once it is used

Note: use scrap wood to test your painting technique to avoid surprises.

Step 5: Drawers and Storage Boxes

For the drawer cabinets I planned to use the cabinets with drawers from the old desk, but in the end I only used the cabinets and replaced the drawers with concealed fully extendable (undermount) drawer slides. And I was surprised how easy it was to install them (I believe much easier than it would be for any other type of slides)

To get correct size of the drawer panels, you will need to read the specs of the slides you choose. Slides come with documentation on the drawer dimensions on each side of the drawer as well as the depth of the drawer.

First choose the make and depth of the drawer slides. The slides length shoud be at least 3cm less than the available container space.

For the drawers I used 8mm MDF boards, but later I found out it would be better to use 10mm boards for all panels except the front one. This is to have sufficient width for screwing the slide locking devices to the drawer and drilling hole in the back of the drawer to lock it to slide runners.

Drawers were simply glued together with fixing them with nails. I used dremel to drill small holes for the nails as with 8mm MDF nails would split the MDF board which would be visible on the sides and potentialy cause problems when opening and closing the drawers. Drawers were glued together without the front panel which is added later once drawers are installed into the cabinet.

Similarly to drawers - storage boxes were glued together from 10mm MDF boards with few fixing screws also without the front panel.

Front panels for both drawers and storage boxes were again cut to measure at OBI. With the help of router I gave them nice vintage look and painted them first with walnut wood stain and then with chalk paint. By sanding the chalk paint with dark wood beneath the wooden structures became visible and gave the panels great look.

Step 6: Installing the Drawers

Before we proceed to installation, let me elaborate on how I got measures of the front drawer pannels. I decided to use 1mm as a space between drawer front panels + added 4mm space on the top of the container. So the height of the drawer panel would be (( container-inner-height - 4mm) / 4) - 1mm space below each drawer. The width of the front panel is outer width of the container minus 2 mm (1mm on each side).

Now we can proceed to the installation. I started from top to bottom as you can see on the first image. To set the position where the drawer slide should be, I used future front panels of drawers + appropiate number of spacers (these were wooden sheets from some kind of packaging, but can be anything else).

To install top drawer I put 4x 1mm spacer + 3 drawer fronts. Slide runner comes directly on the top of the top panel aligned to the front of the cabinet. I screwed it to the side of the cabinet and moved to other side. For the second drawer I used 3 spacers + 2 drawer fronts, for third 2 spacers and 1 drawer front and for the last one only 1 spacer at the bottom of the cabinet.

Once the drawer boxes were in place, I used two sided tape to fix the front panels. The tape together with the drawer handle were sufficient to fix the front panel in place. Before you begin, mark position(s) on the front panel where the holes for the handle should be drilled.

This time I started from the bottom:

  • put the tape on the drawer box evenly so it doesn't push any side of the front panel out (I put one strip along the top and one along the bottom of the box
  • put one spacer at the bottom of the cabined below the drawer front
  • align and push the front panel against the drawer box to get it fixed by the tape, make sure spacer is in place
  • once the front panel is in place - drill hole for the handle and screw it in to fix the front panel

This way continue on your way up adding spacer on top of each front panel. The result was for me surprisingly good.

Step 7: Desk Top Shelf

For this module I got an idea from the Swedish furniture store. I liked the design, but I wanted the wood of it to match the one used for drawer fronts + adjust the dimensions little bit to have perfect fit.

Again, it all started in SketchUp where I drew few alternatives with different dimensions and different combination of shelves. From the winning design I got the dimensions for wooden panels. With the shoping list I got it cut to measure once again by OBI.

All panels were painted same way like drawer front panels with walnut color stain and white chalk paint. After sanding the panels they looked great with all the wooden structures poped out.

Becasue I didn't want any screws to be visible on this piece of furniture, I had to put it together with dowels and a glue.

The top board was painted same way as the desk top. Later on I added LED light strip installed in an alluminium profile hidden in dado canal created with a router.

Step 8: The Result

And the result is just great :-)

Furniture Contest

Participated in the
Furniture Contest