I recently finished a complete bedroom makeover for my teenage daughter. As I mentioned in that post, I created a special piece of furniture to fit her needs in the room. 

She had requested a desk to do her homework and a vanity to do her hair/makeup, plus she needed a small dresser for storage. But her room is not huge so there wasn’t enough space to put three separate pieces of furniture. My solution was to combine all three pieces into one. I unintentionally started calling it ‘the desker’ (desk + dresser) for lack of a better name.

This single piece of furniture allows her to do her homework, do her hair/makeup (she has a tabletop vanity mirror she uses) and store clothes as well as desk supplies, all while taking up a small amount of space in her room. Now please don’t think I’m claiming to have invented this piece of furniture. I have seen similar pieces in hotels before. This is just my own take on it.

My plan was to purchase an affordable used dresser and then add a wood top and side leg creating a waterfall effect. This would give the piece a clean modern look which would work well with the style I was going for in her room.

My first step was to find an affordable used dresser, but it had to have certain features…

  1. It needed to be about the same height as a desk (about 28″-30″).
  2. It needed to not be too large (30″-40″ long was ideal) so that proportionally it would look right and there would be enough space to fit the desk area on the side.
  3. It needed to have a minimal modern style.

Turns out it was harder than I thought to find a used dresser that matched that criteria. The few pieces I found were either way too expensive or very cheaply made and not very attractive. I literally looked for a dresser at various places off and on for a YEAR!!!!

Finally, last fall I came across this baby:

This is a Conant Ball mid century modern, solid wood dresser that I was able to snag for $80. I liked the clean lines and it generally fit all the dimensions I was looking for. I wasn’t expecting to find such a nice piece of MCM furniture and was actually a little hesitant to alter such a great dresser. There was a part of me that wanted to restore it to its original glory and use it somewhere else in my home. But it was not in the best condition plus I’d waited so long for a dresser that would work for my ‘desker’ project, so I moved forward with my original plan.

top of dresser

The dresser had an unattractive eggplant colored paint job that was not in good condition so I couldn’t just paint over it. Instead, I had to sand the whole thing down which took awhile because there were multiple layers of paint on there. Then I primed it and painted it white.

already looking better


So for my daughter’s bedroom makeover I wanted to add a built-in storage piece, but I wanted to keep it simple. I have seen built-in shelving installed between the studs in the wall in bathrooms, but I have never noticed it in a bedroom before. That’s probably because there’s typically only about 4 inches of depth between walls, meaning the built-in shelves can’t be very deep. In a bathroom, there are a lot of small things to store that can easily fit on a 4” shelf. In a bedroom, you often think of wanting deeper shelves to store larger items. But as I thought about it I realized a built-in bookshelf that is only 4” deep can actually store a lot of things in a teen girl’s bedroom.

You can easily store framed photos, art or inspiration. You could also display trophies and award ribbons. Small storage boxes, trinkets, piggy banks, candles, perfume bottles and decorative pieces also fit well on a 4” deep shelf. Really it was quite easy to fill her shelves with items we were already planning to put somewhere in her room anyway.

I think it would be cool to add a small ledge to the front of each shelf and use it to store picture books in a young child’s room. So really there are a lot of ways to use between the studs built-in shelving in a bedroom.

I built and installed this project all on my own and surprisingly, it went faster than I expected!

I started by using a stud finder to locate the studs in the wall and marked them with a pencil. I knew generally where I wanted the shelving to be along the wall, but it looked like there wasn’t a stud in both locations I was hoping for.

the large rectangle I drew on the wall is the desired overall size of my built-in

So I cut open the wall with a test hole. I didn’t want to cut a massive hole in the wall in case my plans for this built-in were not going to work. But opening up a hole allowed me to verify that there were no electrical wires behind the wall where I was going to be working. The stud finder indicated there were no electrical lines back there, but I wanted to be sure before I moved forward because if there were that would instantly nix the whole project.

I also got to see exactly where each stud was located and realized that the left stud was in a good place but the right stud was too far to the right in the corner. There is a way I could fix this, but it was info I wanted to know at the beginning of the project.

Also if you look at the photo above, you can see little nails sticking through the wall from the other side. That’s because the other side of this wall is the pallet wall that I made for our bonus room. I knew they would be there, but I wasn’t sure how many there would be or how easy they would be to trim down. So with the wall now open, I tested to see if my plan to get the nails out of my way would work and it did.

Which means I now had all the info I needed to move forward with the project and I expected it all to work out… All systems go!!

I measured out the overall opening I wanted in the wall: 4’ high x about 18” wide. Then I cut open the larger hole. I used a box cutter and drywall saw to cut through the wall.

With the wall fully opened up to the size I wanted, I went ahead and took care of all the nails sticking through the wall. I cut them mostly off with wire cutters and then hammered any remaining tips down against the drywall. Honestly, this is something no one else is likely to encounter. It was just my luck that the one wall that had nails through it was on the other side of the one wall I wanted to open up.

Since the distance between my studs was about 23” and I wanted it to be only about 18”, I needed to build out the studs. The left stud was right where I wanted it to be, but the right stud was too close to the corner of the wall so I added 2x4s to the right stud. I cut three 4’ long pieces (since that’s how tall my built-in will be) of 2x4s and slid them behind the drywall to attach them to the right stud one at a time using wood screws. I then ended up with a distance of about 18.5” between the studs. That was more like it.

Now it was time to build a simple wooden box that fit in the opening. I started by cutting a piece of plywood for the back. I cut it 4’x18.5”.


This month I am celebrating the third anniversary of this blog! I must admit I haven’t accomplished all that I’d hoped to at this point, but I’m chugging along doing the best I can. Thanks to everyone who has read my posts, tried my tutorials and contributed comments!! I appreciate it!!

I decided to use this opportunity to share the most popular posts from my blog over the post three years. So sit back, put your feet up, and enjoy perusing the site! (Click on each photo below to learn more.)








I’ve been doing some work on my daughter’s bedroom makeover and I finally have a project to share with you! One of the items my daughter specifically requested in her new room was a memo board. So I decided to make her a unique one that will fit with the mix of modern and traditional decor in her new room.

Here’s what I came up with…

I took this framed painting I found on Craigslist:


And turned it into this unique memo board:


I removed the painting, added some metal dowels in a grid pattern, and spray painted it all gray. This was a project that I kinda just saw in my head and figured it out as I went. Once I figured out the details, it actually became a really easy project.

I think there are a lot of possibilities with this memo board. It can be painted any color to match your decor, but I also think using a stained wood frame and just leaving the dowels unfinished would work great for an industrial or farmhouse look. You could easily paint the dowels one color and the frame a different color too. The style frame you choose can also change the look of the memo board, and you can try different patterns for the metal dowels (see some options in the directions below).

materials + tools

wood frame of your choice
1/8” x 4’ aluminum metal dowels (the number of dowels you need will depend on how large your project is but I used 4)
miter box
Gorilla Glue
spray paint/primer (optional)


back of frame

ONE. Start with a frame that’s made from wood. It can be a photo frame, but mine happened to be a framed small canvas painting that I found used on Craigslist for $20. The painting itself is boring, but I purchased it just for the frame. I love the ornate detail and the large size (overall it’s about 22”x26”)!

Remove the framed print, any glass and any hanging wire on the back so all you have is the wood frame.