My New (To Me) Computer Desk

You can imagine, that, as a writer, I am at the computer a lot. However, since we moved to our current apartment, I have not had a computer desk. I've been using a dresser as my work station, which, to be quite frank, was not comfortable for me, as I couldn't pull my chair up under it, and it was too high for my hands, making typing at the computer annoying.

In this picture from my post about our super frugal home makeover, you can sort of see that dresser in the corner, near the door.

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Even more so annoying was when two important keys on my laptop keyboard broke off (the E and the Space bar) I had to start using a separate keyboard, which was even harder to use on my makeshift computer desk, and my hands hurt when I typed a lot.

I wanted a computer desk, and had told Mike that when we move to our new place (hopefully in December) I really want a computer desk in my office. I had seen a computer desk being sold at a moving sale recently, but that would have involved spending money, and it wasn't exactly what I wanted (it didn't have a pull out for a keyboard), and on top of that, I had no idea where I'd even put the computer desk, as the dresser we had was packed, and in our small house I didn't know where else we could put that dresser (and I had no intention to toss it, since I plan on using it in our bedroom in the new place as part of my wardrobe).

Then yesterday, Mike came home with a computer desk. He found it near the dumpster and brought it inside, and, quite frankly, I didn't understand why, since, as I mentioned before, it wasn't anything we had room for, despite my wanting a computer desk. It was in far from perfect condition- the top has seen better days, and the drawers and doors that must have come with it were gone. What it had going for it: a working pullout keyboard drawer, a space to pull in a chair underneath it, and a surface that was actually the right height for a computer and keyboard. Those benefits were enough to overshadow the drawbacks of the imperfect looking top and the missing drawer/door.

The biggest negative, though, as I mentioned- space! Not only did it mean needing to figure out what to do with our dresser, the computer desk was a lot wider than the dresser and it wouldn't fit into the same space that the dresser did. I thought bringing in the computer desk was a waste of time and space, much as I wanted one.

I went out this morning to run some errands, and while I was gone, Mike problem solved and figured out the first step of the solution as to how to fit this computer desk into our house without getting rid of other furniture we needed or cluttering the place too much.

In our bedroom, we have two wicker shelving units, and there was a pole hanging between them, upon which hung all our clothing that needed to be hung up. A makeshift closet, of sorts. At the bottom, between the two shelving units, sat a paper shredder. Don't ask. It's been a point of contention between myself and my husband. (He inherited it from his dad, and despite it taking up so much room, and us having no need for it, he is hanging on to it, since he thinks it is "cool".)
While I was out, Mike removed the paper shredder, and moved the wicker shelves apart, wide enough to fit the dresser in between them (just barely, but doable). He also went through the things hanging up and got rid of all the things that were there that he never wore, which eliminated most of them. This meant the pole was mostly superfluous.

Ok, so we had a place to put the dresser. But how to find room for the much wide computer desk?

Along the wall where there was the dresser, there was a little space, and then there were 2 bookshelves, that reached most of the way to the door leading into the bathroom. But not all the way. There were still enough inches to spare that we could potentially move the bookshelves to make room for the computer desk.
Slight issue- there was a switch on that wall to turn on our electric hot water heater, that would be blocked by the bookshelves.
We emptied off the bookshelves, one at a time, and moved them over as far to the right as we could. Mike then drilled a hole into the back of the book case to expose the switch, so it wouldn't be problematic to cover it. (I was a little hesitant to do this, especially since we'll be moving at some point in the near future and wouldn't need/want that hole there anymore, but it was a pretty small hole that can be covered by books, so at the end of the day, I decided it was worth it.

We literally moved the bookshelves as far over as possible (we measured first with a tape measure to make sure there would be room, but, you never know- mistakes happen) and realized that it couldn't go as far as we thought it might be able to- the ceiling juts out even before the door to the bathroom.

However, once the bookshelves were moved, we managed- the computer desk fit! Beautifully!

Where the drawers were supposed to be, I put my files, and some other paperwork. Hopefully Mike will build a door to put there, but in the meantime, I like the amount of space that I have to work with and it's already much more comfortable to write at the computer than it was before.

As for the dresser... Well, that was a bit of an issue. We took out all the drawers to make it less heavy to move, and we couldn't really fit the dresser into the prepared space. It should have fit, but the wicker shelving unit had a small part that bulged out that was getting in the way. Fortunately, with some finessing and pulling the shelves to the side temporarily, we were able to slide the dresser into the space and get it to fit.

We put in the top three drawers... and then realized we couldn't put in the bottom drawer. The bottom drawer was wide and heavy and didn't fit in the space between the beds and the dresser, and we were about to call it a draw. Then, I wondered if maybe we could find the room somehow. With a measuring tape, I realized we were ten centimeters short, and tried to see if maybe I could find those ten extra centimeters somewhere. On the other side of the bed, there were some things that had gotten between the bed and the wall, as well as some things I had stored there. I took it all out, pushed the bed over, and got my 10 centimeters, more or less. We tried to put in the drawer, but I didn't find 10 centimeters the entire length of the drawer, just on one end. However, by taking out one drawer above the bottom one, and those extra ten centimeters, we were able to fit in the dresser drawer!

On top of that, I put the mirror that had been hanging up previously, and now I feel like I have a proper bureau/dresser, and the best surface to use to get dressed/put on makeup and jewelry, and otherwise pretty up.
With the dresser in my room, we'll probably move around the contents of the drawer to make them more fitting to the location (and put what is in there into other places), but for now, I'm just excited that we found a space for the computer desk!

And as for the paper shredder... it's currently in the kitchen. You win some, you lose some, I guess...

Have you dumpster dived anything recently? What was it? Have to do any creative problem solving to figure out how to put new furniture into your house? How did you do it?
Do you use a computer desk or do you use your computer on a surface that isn't specifically designed for computer use?

Penniless Parenting

Mommy, wife, writer, baker, chef, crafter, sewer, teacher, babysitter, cleaning lady, penny pincher, frugal gal


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  1. We dumpster dived a dresser a year ago and we have been using to store my husband's papers. He is an elementary and middle school teacher, and he just finished his teaching degree, so he has a lot of papers.
    The dresser is awful because once we took out the drawers to move the dresser inside, we were never able to properly fit them back inside. I didn't label which drawer went with which slot, and that was a mistake.
    In our new apartment I built wall mounted shelves for our books, so once we empty our our bookshelves my husband is going to sort all of his papers into binders and put them on the newly emptied shelves, and then the dresser can go back where it came from!
    We have a bunch of other dumpster dived pieces that work for us much better and are holding on to: a show cabinet, bedside tables, and office cabinet. We are keeping those.

  2. kudos on getting ergonomically good, happy work station and making it fit.
    Seems no matter what making a changes requires many others!
    Reminds me of working through the alphabet.

  3. Yesterday, my husband found an antique dresser ( 1900's) that only needs one drawer repaired (bottom gone), has a crack in the top (dovetail loose) and I want to sand and refinish it (not really necessary) We plan on trading out my husbands dresser for this one, and then I get to remodel his other dresser to hold baskets instead of the broken drawers.

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