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A hub for all things to do with design, furniture painting, photography, style, event planning [and some foodie bits for good measure].  

Before and After: Dining Table to Desk with a Wall Organizer

I love finding solutions to problems, especially when it comes to design.  Although I really love the concept of living minimally and living in small spaces, they certainly have their challenges. Things really need to be multifunctional whenever possible.  One issue I’ve heard from friends and clients with small spaces is they feel like they don’t have enough room to have guests over comfortably. Whether you live in a big house or a studio apartment, you should be able to entertain, host dinner parties and have as many friends over as you’d like!  

With my new work studio, I’m learning how to get creative with with how furniture functions in my space. I need a good bit of open floor space for any new pieces of furniture I may find and need to work on. That being said, I love to cook and entertain and would love to be able to start holding classes here, but until recently I didn’t have a large enough table to host a group. Not to mention, the studio, though seemingly spacious due to the open floor plan, is under 500 square feet, so every piece has to be compact or worth taking up a chunk of my creative space.

I’ve never had a drop leaf table, but when I saw one at my go to thrift shop, I saw some potential. The table is 44” wide and with its multiple leaves it expands to 104” long! I can easily seat 10 people around this guy, and even squeeze 12 if I’m feeling adventurous! This is huge for me [literally and figuratively!] since it opens up many possibilities for what I could do with my studio space. 

I could just remove all the leaves and close up the table whenever I’m not needing an expansive work or entertaining surface, but where’s the fun in that? I hate the idea of the extra leaves just collecting dust, so I figured out a creative solution for one of them: an organizer for a desk!

Anyone who’s creative or loves to be organized can’t help but swoon over photos of office organizer systems like these. Everything is perfectly in place immediately makes me want to fill up my calendar, position all my papers perfectly and write out impossibly long to do lists. 

I actually purchased the Pottery Barn wall organizer system for my house a few years ago, and though I love it and bought it when it was on sale, it was quite the challenge to install and all the components add up fast! Not everyone can or wants to drop hundreds on calendars and chalkboards and cork boards. There’s a much more affordable way to make this happen.  

I was at Target the other weekend, and in their bargain bin section, I stumbled upon all sorts of goodies, including cork boards, small chalkboards, white boards and clip boards. Some of them were clearly meant for kids in bright colors, littered in numbers, letters and shapes. Those are all good and fine, but I wanted a more refined look. I grabbed a few items that worked for me, and continued through the store.  I grabbed an inexpensive, but pretty calendar and figured I had all the essentials for a wall organization system. 

When I got home, I had to do a bit of work to the table to get it desk-ready by removing two of the swing out legs, along with one of the larger leaves. These older drop leaf tables look rather complex, but they’re well built and easy to disassemble and reassemble! This way, the majority of the time I can sit at the table and have it function as a desk. I slid the pair of legs underneath my bed and continued on. I painted the table top along with all the leaves [I’ll go over my painting process in another post because I tried a new mixture of techniques on this and LOVE it!] and opted to leave the legs stained. The top was a mess, but the legs were in great shape and just needed a cleaning and some Danish oil. 

Once the table was painted and sealed, I pushed it up against the wall and got to work on the wall organizer. I took that larger leaf from earlier, a few 3M velcro strips and fashioned all my Target buys onto the leaf. If you’re planning on having a lamp or anything large on the table with it, I recommend doing a test run and placing all the larger items on the table with the leaf leaning back behind it [as it is in the photos] BEFORE you fasten anything to the leaf. That way you can customize your wall system to what you’ll have on the desk and it’s best organized for your needs.

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Had I purchased a different sort of calendar, I could have used 3M strips for all the pieces, but for this particular calendar, I had to use a tack to fasten it to the top edge of the leaf.  It’s a tiny hole, and I made sure I placed it on the edge that would never be visible once the leaf was placed back on the table. The 3M strips are fantastic for a project like this, because they can easily be removed and don’t damage the painted surface at all! [Believe me, I actually disassembled the wall organizer after photographing it to make sure the paint was still in good shape!]

After everything is secured to the leaf, I propped the leaf up at the back of the desk, leaning it on the wall slightly. As an extra step to ensure I didn’t scratch the surface of the table, I added some tiny felt pads to the part of the leaf that touches the table.  I honestly don’t think you’d need these normally, but since I had just painted the table the day prior, I didn’t want to take any chances. Normally, if you allow the paint and wax to cure properly for a week or so, it’ll harden to a durable finish. 

All that was left was to fill out my calendar, place things on my corkboard, write out my to do list and add some of my favorite bits to the table. In one day I had a brand new, thoughtfully organized desk!

Unless I’m planning for a big get together or a large class, I really have no need for using all the leaves on the table.  To show you how much table I could get by simply pulling out one leaf, I styled a little wine and cocktail ‘happy hour.’ I pulled the wall organizer down, slid that under the bed, and simply had to pull the table out, flip it around and open up the other large leaf. Instantly I had enough seating for six and plenty of room for us all to eat and drink and chat. 

This sort of set up is perfect for small spaces, but it’s also a great idea for a rental where you’re wanting to avoid putting any holes in the walls. You can attach all your office organizing tools to the leaf like I did, or you can affix your favorite prints, photos, framed art and canvases [as long as they’re not too terribly heavy!] and lean it on your wall, and you’ve got an instant art gallery wall. This project has inspired me to get more creative with how I use furniture. If you’ve got a dining table at home that’s just collecting dust, consider trying this project out!