Before & After: A Room With a View (and Some Unsightly Cabinets)

Before & After: A Room With a View (and Some Unsightly Cabinets)

Lizzie's upstairs bedroom came with a great view and some not so great cabinets. She's a renter, so removing them was out of the question, but she found a creative way to make the space work for her.

From Lizzie: We had two slightly tatty built-in cabinets either side of a Velux window. They didn't look great, and the space in the middle was wasted. It became a catch-all for junk. Because the home is rented, though, we couldn't make any permanent changes.

The bedroom is on the third floor and we wanted to make the most of the lovely view out of the window. We also needed an extra workspace, and this seemed like a perfect spot.

I wanted a solid wood slab for the desk top, to sit on top of the cabinets and span the width of the room. The room is 3.3 meters (10.8 feet) wide, though, and there are not a lot of places in the UK that stock wood that long. I did eventually find a timber mill a couple of hours away. To keep costs down, we compromised and had two planks cut from the same stock rather than one solid piece. One plank is straight, and we kept the waney (live) edge on the other. I don't think it detracts from the overall look to have a join in the middle, and it meant that we saved literally hundreds of pounds.

We had to wait almost a month once we'd ordered the wood, and delivery would have cost almost as much as the wood itself. Fortunately, my father has a van and offered to help get it home. Getting the wood up the stairs was another challenge! Once that was done, though, the rest of the DIY was super simple. The cost of the wood, including having it planed and cut to size, was £330 ($412). Additional supplies - hardware and Danish oil - added another £30, bringing the total to £360 ($450).

It has completely transformed the whole room! I work from home and I am thoroughly enjoying my new office - I spend hours up here now. We don't notice the cabinets anymore, just that lovely wood grain and the view!

This is a very straightforward DIY. The two wood planks are bolted together on the underside with screws and metal plates. They rest on top of the built-in cabinets on furniture pads, so the whole thing is completely removable. Once in place, I sanded the wood and added four coats of Danish oil with more light sanding in between each coat.

Lizzie's words of advice: eBay or even large DIY stores are good places to shop for live edge wood up to 3 meters/10 feet long. If you want anything longer than that, look for a local timber mill. The desk is made of sycamore planks, which are a lovely light wood tone. Sycamore is more affordable than oak, but still very strong.

Thank you, Lizzie! You can see more on Lizzie's blog, Emmerson and Fifteenth.

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