DIY Gorgeous Industrial Farmhouse Desk

by Sarah
8 Materials
4 Days

Do you ever walk into your home office and feel overwhelmed? Like a paper tornado spun through your room and threw documents, receipts, and work supplies everywhere? Yep, that is basically how I feel walking into my husbands office. If you are like me, it causes stress and anxiety walking into that mess. And also, like me, I’m guessing you are struggling to find the right desk for your space to help you feel more organized? Read on, dear one, because I will show you how to build the perfect DIY industrial farmhouse desk for a small home office.


Length of time for project: weekend, maybe two

Cost: $125

What you’ll need:

2" x 2" x 8' boards (6)

1" x 10" x 10' (2) and one 6' board

1" x 8" x 8" (4)

pocket hole screws and kreg jig

Black paint- quart (satin finish)

Gray stain

Polyurethane (satin finish)

What I learned:

It is best to use two pocket holes on the 2x2s. It can be hard to get two pocket holes side by side on a 2x2, but if you don't the pieces will rotate with movement and it won't be super sturdy. Also, wood glue should be used at every connection.

Paint with a sprayer: saves time, money (less paint), and gives a great finish! This is definitely an optional step if you don't want to commit to a paint sprayer just yet. But if you've been thinking about it, I highly recommend!

Getting Started

Literally months have been lost on looking for the perfect desk. Combing Pinterest, online shops, yardsales; I’ve literally looked everywhere. Spoiler alert: It doesn’t exist! Not saying there aren’t hundreds of lovely stylish desks out there, but are they really perfect in size, design, color, organization for your particular space? Chances are, they probably aren’t.

Enter-the Instagram challenge. As a relatively new blogger and new Instagramer, I was scrolling my feed one day and came across an Instagram builders challenge. I was instantly intrigued. You know the moment when you read something and you are like, was this written just for me??!! And wouldn’t you know it, the builders challenge was a desk this go around. Instantly I knew I had to join and be a part of it.

The way this challenge works is they provide you with a plan as inspiration. You can take that plan and make it exactly to the list of specifications or you can make any modifications you like as long as they can still somewhat see your inspiration in the piece (i.e. don’t build a chair if they are looking for a desk). Our office needed an L shaped desk to provide more table space for my tornado, ahem- husband, to work and maintain an orderly space. Also, in order to maximize table space, I knew I wanted printer storage below the tabletop.

The Plan

The plans came from DIY Huntress and you can check them out here. In the original design there is a panel on the left side and three drawers on the right hand side. For my design, I swapped things around putting the panel on the right side and adding the storage section on the far left. In the middle, I added a L-shaped support piece to help support the corner of the desk while keeping the chair side free from any legs.

The plan called for a 2 x 2 wood frame and I stayed true to this in my design. The 2x2s have a bit of an industrial vibe (I think they mimic metal when painted black or stained dark), it is relatively inexpensive, and it is pretty light weight which makes it easy to work with and move around.

To start, I worked on building the side bases. I wanted a bit of overlap of my desktop over the sides of the base rather than flush like the original design. So after calculating my desk top measurements (which I discuss in more detail below), I used those measurements and deducted about an inch in order to give a 0.5” overhang all the way around.

Desk Base Frame

Side Braces

First I cut all of the legs to 29 1/4” Length. For me, there were 9 (2 for the right side, 4 for the left side with the shelves, and 3 for the corner section). Then I cut the side braces that go between the legs. For the right side I had two pieces at 22 3/4”. I decided to use those same lengths for the pieces in the corner to keep things looking balanced from the front (so cut 4 more pieces at 22 3/4”). Lastly, I needed the side pieces for the shelving braces and also the front and back shelf supports. So I cut four sides at 16.5” and six shelf supports at 20” (one on top, middle, bottom and same on the back side).


The desktop in the original plan used 1 x 6 planks. Sticking with the plank idea, I changed the size of mine to 1 x 10s in order to get the width I was looking for, and I staggered them to create a herringbone pattern. The front side is 3 boards wide and a total of 60” long. The left hand side is 2 boards wide and a total of 72” long. Each board was laid out, starting with the front outside board (60” in length), and followed by the left side outside board (64.75” Length: 72"(desired length)- 7.25" which is the width of the front board). I then went back and forth cutting the front and side boards and staggering them accordingly. They were then assembled using wood glue in between and pocket holes (again, hidden on the bottom).

Drawer Front

After finishing up the desk frame and the desktop I put it all together to stand back and admire my work. And you know what my first thought was? Boring. Sigh. It looked fine, but it really just needed something else, some detail to make it look complete. Knowing I didn't want a drawer, I decided to try to build a fake drawer front that could be opened and closed to cover up the top shelf. Sticking with the herringbone pattern on the desktop, I thought I would try to incorporate that pattern into the drawer front too.

First I started with a thin piece of scrap MDF I had lying around. I cut it to the size of my shelf opening. Then I marked it down the middle and started adding pieces of 1" wood strips alternating in a V shaped pattern to create the herringbone look. The edges are all 45 degree cuts and I just cut as I went to get them all how I wanted.

Once everything was cut, I attached them to the MDF using wood glue and then I put something heavy on it and let it dry. The gaps were filled with wood glue mixed with sawdust. Normally I would use wood filler but I was out, so I made due with this and it worked pretty well! Once it was all dry I sanded it a bit and added 1 x 2" strips of wood all around the edges to frame it out.

I stained the wood the same as the desktop (see below in the finishing step). For the back hinges, I needed to do a hidden hinge just like a cabinet door would have. There is a drill bit you can purchase to do cabinet door hardware and it was super easy. I bought two 3/4" overlay cabinet hinges and attached them first to the fake drawer front and then to the shelf. Lastly I added a little magnet to the top just to be sure it stayed closed.

Going for an industrial farmhouse vibe on this DIY desk, I knew I wanted to paint my 2x2 frame black. Yes, you can hand paint this piece with a brush and black paint. However, this time around I finally sprang for a paint sprayer and I will say this: YOU WILL NOT REGRET IT!! I found this sprayer on amazon for only $99 and it works like a charm.

Not only does it use less paint and give a nice smooth finish, but it also saves a boatload of time!!! I don’t even want to think about all the time I’ve wasted holding out on buying a sprayer and hand painting instead.

It only took two coats of paint. I did do a light sanding in between coats just to be sure it was smooth and there were no drips.

Side Panels

To create some additional interest, the side boards were arranged horizontally to mimic a shiplap style. The right panel consists of three 1 x 8 panels, 23.75” Length. I wanted a bit of overhang on my desktop rather than having the top flush with the base. The front section of the desktop is 27.75” wide. I subtracted 1” of that to create a 0.5 inch overhang on either side, then subtracted 3” (each 2x2 is 1.5 inches wide and there are two in this panel), which left me with my 23.75” L for the horizontal boards.


Similarly, on the left side, my width of the desk top is 18.5” and I subtracted 4” total from that side as well, leaving my 1x8 horizontal panels to be 14.5” in length. 2x2 supports were added on both the bottom and near the top of the shelving section to serve as shelf supports. The shelves were comprised of two 1 x 8s which fit perfectly into the 14.5” opening (just one of the reasons I decided to do an overhang....planning ahead ;) ).

The top shelf is 7.25” tall (the height of one 1 x 8 horizontal board) and the bottom shelf is the height of two horizontal 1x 8s (with a little of the underside of the 2x2 as well), so approximately 15”H, which works well for my printer. If you aren’t trying to accommodate a large printer, you might wish to make this a three shelf system or even add drawers like the original plan.

Long Supports

After assembling the side braces and shelving unit, you will need to cut your long support braces. These I cut to fit as I went. I made the left side one continuous piece and then kept the right side somewhat separate for ease of moving into the house. Once all the pieces were painted and brought into the house, I attached the right side to the left side. I also added a couple of middle support pieces just because I was a tad nervous about the length of the table top and didn’t want it to bow.


The side panels were attached to the frame using glue and finish nails. You could also use pocket holes but I didn’t want anything visible from either side and nail holes were pretty easy to fill with wood filler. The shelves were attached with glue and pocket holes, with the pocket holes on the bottom so you won’t see them.

All of my 2x2 pieces were attached with glue and pocket hole screws. Lesson learned here: It is difficult to fit two pocket holes in the end of a 2x2 piece. That said, if you can do it, it is well worth it! One screw just doesn’t keep things flush and I had a few pieces that felt a little wobbly and would rotate slightly with movement. Once the glue dried that helped, but if I could do it all over again, I would do 2 pocket holes per connection.


For the desk top, I first sanded it using a belt sander to really get the edges between each board nice and even. Then I sanded with a finer grit paper until I achieved the desired smoothness.

For staining, I tried a new grey stain that I had never used before. It is called Weathered Grey by Varathane, and I picked it up at home depot. Can I just say… I freaking LOVE it!! It is the perfect grey color leaving a little of the brown undertones. I do a wipe on wipe off method and one coat was perfect! Two coats I think might have taken away some of the nice wood grain coming through.

Lastly, I sealed both the top and the base with waterbased polyurethane. The top got about 3 coats and on the bottom I only did one. To be honest, you could probably get away with skipping the base all together because it won’t get much wear and tear, but I just wanted the sheen to match. Again, light sanding with fine grit paper in between coats.

Once I was able to move everything into the office space I could finish up assembly. The left side and right side bases were attached with pocket hole screws. I may add a couple of metal braces at these junctions just for added support. My preference would be to avoid glue on these pieces in case I ever need to disassemble and move to a different location. Then I used 2” spax screws to attach the desktop to the base by screwing up through the base and into the top.

Finished Product

I really love how it turned out! A little bit rustic, a little bit industrial, a lot functional! It is the perfect size for our space and fits our printer perfectly too! You really just can't beat making your own custom furniture to get everything you want for a price you can actually afford!

Check out my other post to learn how to add some killer office built in s to your home office as well! And soon we will be making a change on that god awful carpet you see! Stay tuned.

Best of luck making your own DIY industrial farmhouse desk!

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2 of 11 comments
  • Joanie Joanie on Nov 18, 2018

    Great work!! Nice looking furniture.

  • Heje Heje on Nov 23, 2018

    I love that weathered grey! Your project looks very professional. Thank you for sharing.