Before and After: A $1300 Pottery Barn Desk Now Has a $60 Doppelgänger

published Feb 19, 2019
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A talented DIYer bought this old desk for $11.25 and managed to transform it into a dead-on knockoff of a $1,299 Pottery Barn desk while adding a clever upgrade in the process.

Our intrepid DIYer needed a new desk, but wanted to spend less than $100:

I picked up this desk for $11.25 at my local Habitat for Humanity ReStore. At the time, the top was pretty scratched up, but it was the perfect size (large, but not executive desk-sized,) and was made of solid wood, so I knew it would be easy to transform into something else.

The original style of the desk was dated, so I wanted to refinish it into something more my style. Additionally, I wanted to house my computer in the cupboard of the desk, but this desk only had drawers. Therefore, I knew I would have to make some changes so this desk would suit my purpose.

Concealing a computer in a desk is a genius concept that should be a standard option by now. While many folks use laptops, plenty of people who work from home use desktop computers with bulky towers, which don’t generally enhance the decor of a home office.

Lindsay Fay of A Butterfly House now owns a beautiful desk inspired by Pottery Barn’s Aubrey desk, at a tiny fraction of the price. The drawers on the left side were removed and replaced with an open space to hold a computer, specially constructed with ventilation behind and below plus room to run cords through.

The beadboard paneling and lower molding create a much dressier, more finished look. The original desk, despite its damaged finish, had a charming, shape; it’s remarkable to see it completely transformed into a desk with a wildly different aesthetic. What once had a schoolhouse vibe is now formal and elegant. The white paint is fresh, glossy, and chic, and the gold handles add a bit of glitz that’s balanced by their classic forms. All of that was achieved, including the desk itself, for an astoundingly reasonable price:

The desk remodel cost less than $50, most of which went toward beadboard and molding. Time-wise, I spent 3-4 days refinishing the desk, most of which went toward painting.

If anyone has interest in tackling any similar sort of project—not necessarily a desk—Lindsay has detailed instructions on A Butterfly House, including explanations for how she approached this makeover and the reasoning behind all of her decisions. Seeing every step of this DIY reveals the creativity and skill that went into making it happen—and making it such a success.

The desk really is the perfect size for my space. It’s large enough that I have plenty of room to work, even with a computer taking up space, but still an appropriate size for my small office. I also love the look of the desk; the molding and beadboard look so classy!

If you’re considering remodeling thrift store or Craigslist furniture, just give it a try. The cost for these pieces is so low that even if it doesn’t work out, you haven’t lost much, and you probably learned what not to do in the future.

Thank you, Lindsay Fay of A Butterfly House!