DIY Nightstands from an Old Desk

September 17, 2012 § 16 Comments

Now that I finally ­­­­­­­­­­have my nightstands in a semi-finished form, I’d like to share with all of you how I did it.

Have any of you shopped for nightstands before? They’re EXPENSIVE. We stood in the middle of IKEA, ready to settle for the cheapest (and most boring, with no drawers and made of pressboard) nightstands that we could find, and we were still going to have to drop $100 on them. My husband and I weren’t quite in the same mindset then as we are now. When something is just too expensive, find an alternative to get what you want- even if it’s making it yourself. Nonetheless, $100 for cheap crap was still too much for us to part with, so we went home empty handed.

A few weeks later, John came across a DIY nightstand tutorial- Chopping an old desk in half. While this made me slightly nervous, we set out to find the perfect desk. It wasn’t long before we found one, a great one with pretty curves and solid drawers. The desk was actually a youth desk (which made the ends the perfect size!), which the old lady we bought it from couldn’t understand.  “Is this for your child?” she asked us nicely. “No, we don’t have kids. But… we… just… want it. Thanks.” We didn’t have the heart to tell her we would be sawing it in half. So, we bought the desk for- bum bum bum! $20.

Now since this was our first real furniture upcycle, we had some materials to purchase which I’ll include in the total price. John bought a circular saw off of craigslist ($20), borrowed my dad’s sander and bought the correct sand paper for it ($10), used a little wood filler to create smooth edges ($5), primed them ($5), spray painted them ($15), and purchased all new hardware for them ($15). I also added some scrapbook paper drawer liners since the insides were less than perfect ($3). The only thing we have left to do to them is spray them with a satin protective clear coat. I decided this was necessary after leaving a water cup ring on the top of it the other night- dumb me.

So that brings our total (with clear coat) to $80. That’s right, $80 for two,three drawer nightstands made of real wood. It’s exactly what I envisioned for our room, and though it took some time (and quite a great deal of sawing and sanding from my husband), I’d do it again in a heartbeat!

This old desk came complete with watermarks, pen marks, and scary hand drawn messages. It’s HEAVY too, which made our nightstands heavy, but you can tell it’s more solid than probably half of the furniture we currently own.

We first had to chop off the ends and re-create an edge to match the other side. John (husband) then smoothed the edges and filled in the wood blemishes with wood filler. Probably the most time consuming part was the sanding, which we found out later he over sanded it. We wanted to get every bit of the glossy finish off of the wood, when in reality we just needed to sand it enough to get the primer to stick.

After we primed it, we spray painted it with furniture paint. Very soon we’ll be purchasing a paint sprayer since it’s the obvious way to go when redoing furniture. But since we didn’t have that yet, we just bought the cans of spray paint. Only took two coats.

Adding the hardware just made it! Love the look of the brushed silver.

Our master bedroom is well on its way to being complete. We even purchased a dresser the other day that is decent enough for us to use in our room until we have the time to upcycle it. Soon I’ll show you what our bedroom looks like thus far and what the next steps are for completing our enjoyable room.


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§ 16 Responses to DIY Nightstands from an Old Desk

  • Jennifer says:

    Good job John! They look great! Can’t even tell they used to be a desk. Can he make some for us now?!

    • Sure! Someday, when I don’t have to work anymore, I’ll make it a full time job and create other pieces for people. I would looooove that. Oh, wait, John does all the really hard work though. 😉

  • Lia Ramsey says:

    Nice. You two did a great job.

  • Lisa says:

    What an ingenious idea. They look fantastic!! What did you use to make the cut side look the same as the other side? This is such a great idea that I (who is afraid of circular saws) might actually pick one up to try. Thanks for a great idea and blog. 😊

    • Sorry for my delayed response- I had to ask my husband! 🙂 When he sawed off the ends, he left extra from the top of the desk (on the side without a finished edge) so that he had wood to work with when he cut the edges. If you notice in the picture, the edges originally had a curve to them. He got rid of the curve on the three sides, then measured the angle of the sides (with a triangle) as well as the surface area (the edge from top to bottom so he knew how much should show). Then cut- and sand! He said honestly it was pretty easy to just eye-ball and took very little measuring. Since you’re working with the same amount of wood on both sides, you really can’t go wrong. Hope that answers your question! Best of luck!

  • Pat hitt says:

    There used to be a little store in Frederick Md that sold refinished painted furniture. In addition to painting them, they stenciled small garlands of flowers along the edges and on the drawers. I bought several of these pieces. Just a suggestion…it really adds to the look of the finished piece.

    • Love that idea. I actually created a larger stencil with scroll work that I was debating painting into the front of the drawers- but I’m thinking that could be a better option!

  • Love this! And I have an old desk just hanging out waiting to become a nightstand! So clever 🙂 Do you mind if I link back to/feature this on my blog? Would love to share it!

  • cakeladylife says:

    I’m getting ready to do this with an old vanity I found for $25! Each end only has two drawers, but its just what we need! Thanks for the info!

  • Doris says:

    My husband had a desk exactly like this when he was a child that we have been walking around for 20 years! We too want night stands desperately. I mentioned that we should use the desk so I googled desk to nightstand and behold found your site…You guys did a great job. Can’t wait to start ours.

    • Awesome! It really was super simple and to this day (this post is from over two years ago!) they’re still holding up and I’m still really happy with them. Best of luck with your endeavors!

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