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Posted by on Sep 14, 2012 | 3 comments

A Dining Table’s Repurposed Life

A Dining Table’s Repurposed Life

Ever since Leslie turned her daughter Ana’s closet into a work space, I’ve wanted to do the same with my son’s closet. But the thought of shopping for wood, measuring, realizing the walls are crooked and the boards don’t fit, re-measuring, re-cutting, drilling and finally installing was not something I wanted to do again. But then something heppened — a random curb alert cell phone pic from Leslie prompted me to change my mind.


Who could refuse this free table in a brilliant kelly green color? I sure couldn’t. Leslie was nice enough to pick it up in her station wagon and deliver it to my house. Since I don’t need a dining table, I figured the wood could be used for some sort of project and that’s when I remembered Jack had been asking for a desk in his closet.

The table was made with leaves, so by removing the sliders underneath, I could separate it into the perfect size for a desk. My original plan was to attach the table top to the sides of the wall like Leslie did, but the closet was 36 inches wide and the table top was only 34 inches. Instead, I decided I would use two of the legs for one side and then secure the other side of the table top to the closet’s back wall with a cleat screwed into the wall. My handy pal Mary helped troubleshoot this conundrum.

But before I could get stated, I had to take the table apart. Easy peasy.


The table had some rough cracked edges and I sanded those to make them nice and smooth.


I wanted to keep that grassy green color that originally attracted me to the table. I took one leg to the paint store, had it colored matched, and bought a quart in a glossy finish. Two coats for the top, sides, and legs and she was good to go.



Now, let’s head on up to the closet in question. Here’s what we were dealing with — a teeny tiny 36-inch closet in an 8×10 shared bedroom. I removed the closet door, which was always in the way, and stored it in the basement.


It was easy to clear out the closet — at ages 6 and 3 the boys don’t have hanging clothes, and most of the closet’s contents got the old heave-ho or were better organized elsewhere. For the dingy walls that probably haven’t been painted since the house was built, I went with bright white simply because the bedroom is a dark gray and I didn’t want the closet to be dark.

Helpers quickly came out of the woodwork. This one declared “I’m done” after 5 seconds of rolling — somehow I knew that would happen.


A little over an hour later, the entire closet and trim was a crisp white canvas.


To soften the floor (and to cover up my paint dribbles) I bought 3 carpet tiles (Flor’s Checkered Past) and used a box cutter to fit them in the space.


Then the tricky part: getting the desk in the closet. While I sat under the table, juggling it with my head, Leslie and I secured the legs. We also had to hold the table level while determining where the cleat on the back wall should go. More helpers jumped at the chance to help out in this critical moment — passing me the level, drill bits, extension cords, screwdrivers, bottled water — each one cheering me along and holding their breath that this would actually work. I’m not sure why I am smiling, this was pretty uncomfortable.

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After one miscalculation, we finally got this beast installed. Jack tried it out for size.


Ana jumped at the opportunity to help him decorate.


And we oohed and aahed from all different angles.


All in all, this project took about 6 hours — this includes table repair and disassembly, painting, light construction, and cleaning mixed in with being lazy, eating lunch, and taking breaks to enjoy a 70 degree, low-humidity Del Ray day. Since the table was a curb-side freebie and I already had the chair, my only expenses were the carpet tiles and the paint, all under $100.


But we’re not done yet. Though the table is sturdy (its weight helps with that), for added stabilty, I need to attach the top of the desk to the wall cleat (most likely with a couple flat head screws). We’ll also be adding shelves, a bulletin board, and figuring out lighting. I’ll just continue to gaze at this project for now. My, that green is pretty.



  1. I love it! I usually read on my phone in my reader but had to click over to comment on this :) What a clever use for the table – and I also love the kelly green color, not to mention the fact that you saved something from the curb!

    • Thanks Jane! I was also able to pass along the other half of the table to a neighbor who is planning to use it in a small eating nook. Now two households can enjoy something someone no longer could use.

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