When we constructed built-in computer desks for our kids we didn’t do it with a pandemic and remote school in mind.
Our pessimistic nature really let us down on that front.
We just needed a place for our kids to realize their lofty career aspirations of becoming YouTube stars that play Roblox and Fortnite.
See how supportive we are?
Not supportive enough to give them cushy chairs to make them comfortable dabbling with this dream though.
We truly didn’t anticipate the office and those built-in computer desks becoming the hardest working space in our house besides the kitchen. The kitchen is always the hardest working space, right?
But then the world shut down and we were all working and schooling from home. Still are, in fact.
Pretty spaces are great. I love them as much as the next person who is endlessly scrolling through social media to distract myself from a global pandemic and, oh yeah, the kitchen that needs cleaning.
Pretty spaces that function well when real life takes a page out of a dystopian novel? That’s the holy grail of DIY and interior design.
We built the built-in computer desks for the kids about
three lifetimes 15 months ago. How have those built-in computer desks held up to intensive daily use?
Better than I hoped! If I was a teacher (feel like I’m one with remote school!), I’d give them a solid B grade.
Functionally, the desks have been great.
There’s a place for school supplies. Cords are mainly corralled. Screens are in view so I can see what’s going on.
My biggest complaint is in regard to the painted bases and that is really my own fault. There. I said it. Don’t make me say it again.
The desk bases were built with a combination of new lumber and repurposed drawers. I primed the heck out of the new lumber we used and wood puttied the knot holes, but it just didn’t do the trick.
I expect some bleed-through from wood knots after painting bare wood as I’ve never found a full proof way of avoiding this issue completely and I’ve tried them all. However, this particular wood has been next level annoying with the bleed-through. I need to switch to a different primer next time (this one).
I also painted the wood bases white, which might have made the wood bleed more noticeable.
You now what else was more noticeable with the white-painted bases? THE DIRT. From my children’s dirty, filthy feet. Not shoes. We don’t wear those in the house. Just feet.
That’s gross, I know, but I’m giving you the down and dirty details on how these built-in computer desks are functioning in real life after the pretty reveal.
My children are allergic to shoes. As it turns out, kids can’t run around outside barefoot and then come in the house and not expect the dirt on their feet to go somewhere. You’d think it would just be on the floor, but I guess my kids also put their feet on the wall behind the desks and on the trim surrounding the desks.
Don’t even try to tell me your family doesn’t have dirty feet. You can’t convince me dirty feet don’t happen, but perhaps we should be more diligent about the issue.
Since I was losing the fight on the white desk bases on multiple fronts, I decided to fight dirt and wood bleed with a darker color of paint.
By darker I meant one shade darker. I’m a lover not a fighter.
I painted the built-in computer desk bases khaki instead of white. It’s paint I had on hand for our kitchen wainscoting. I was committed to this battle, just not enough to go to the paint store for a super dark paint color.
The slightly darker paint seems to be working as a camouflage of sorts. Not perfectly because the paint isn’t teflon that repels dirt from dirty feet, but enough to keep my eye twitch in check in-between cleaning days.
I’d rather have kept the built-in desks white, but I don’t loathe this subtle paint color change.
The desk top is still in great shape. A stained top was a perfect choice to hold up well under daily use. Plus, the slightly rustic nature of the desk top complements our wood floors well.
I will say, the top is planked wood. It is not tongue and groove. I have noticed the wood has shrunk a little this winter and created some slight gaps between the planks. The only time this would be a problem is if you were writing on a single sheet of paper on the desk. The gaps will probably close back up this summer when the humidity returns.
I am on idly on the hunt for new desk chairs. Not cushy ones! Again, I don’t want to encourage my kids to spend more time playing Roblox. The current chairs are dining chairs that I had on hand and decided looked good here. However, they just aren’t well constructed and I don’t know how much longer we can keep fixing them.
I’m starting to sound like a Negative Nelly about these built-in computer desks, but I really don’t feel that way. Do you remember how this space looked when we first moved in? Let me show you…
Every day, especially during the pandemic, I have thanked my lucky stars that we have this space for school, work, and, yes, even gaming.
It is hard to blend new things, especially technology, into a house that was built before indoor plumbing and wiring were common. I think we managed to achieve that with these built-in computer desks. We took an awkward-sized space and made it functional for a modern family, but it doesn’t look out-of-place in this old house.
I’m happy to call that an old house win!
Khaki Color Paint on the Built-In Computer Desks: Khaki Shade by Behr in Semi-Gloss
Desk Top Stain Color: Dark Walnut by Varathane
Headphones (Great for Aspiring YouTubers who value sound quality!)
Art: Dun Laoghaire, Ireland, by Jim Scully
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Thanks for being here and reading today’s blog post. If you made it this far, bonus points to you! I’ll also suggest additional blog posts you might enjoy: