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8 Simple Steps to Repurpose Your Secretary Desk

8 Simple Steps to Repurpose Your Secretary Desk

|May 22, 2023

Have you ever found yourself deeply enamored with a vintage item but have no use for it? Well, a secretary desk has the potential to mend into many other pieces of furniture just by a little refurbishing. The excessive storage and hutch makes it a useful addition to any space.

We have compiled a list of eight steps to help you repurpose your old secretary desk into a contemporary piece of furniture and give your room a chic antique look.

What Is a Secretary Desk?

A secretary's desk is an underappreciated but highly functional piece of furniture. This desk with a hutch typically consists of a lower chest of drawers and an upper hutch or cupboard with shelves.

This towering, bureau-like specimen might easily pass for any ordinary cabinet. Yet, a hinged panel folds open or slides down to provide a solid writing surface—an ingenious addition to the design.

Secretarial desks can be either low or high, depending on the user's preference. A low secretary desk's components include a base with large drawers and a top that folds up and down on a hinge.

The high secretary desks typically include a bookcase on top that may be closed off with glass or wooden doors. The latter is great for concealing clutter and showcasing carefully selected show pieces, art, or antiques.

What Is a Secretary Desk?

What Are Secretary Desks Used for?

Secretary office desks are extremely adaptable, serving as storage units, workstations, and office decor. They are versatile enough to look good in the kitchen, the living area, or the bedroom.

Additionally, the secretary's desk has a leaf, revealing many hidden sets of compartments when opened. The desk owners have been making advantage of these little compartments for ages to stow away office accessories, from quills and ink to roller pens, paper clips, and external hard drives.

5 Modern Pieces That Can Be Made From Updated Secretary Desks

  • A dresser
  • A kitchen hutch buffet
  • Working table for home office storage
  • Kids’ art desk
  • A book/ crockery shelf

8 Steps to Repurpose Your Old Secretary Desk

1. Brainstorm Ideas

To get the most out of your DIY upcycled secretary desk, it's best to dig up the topic. The number of shelves and the presence or absence of a hutch on the secretary desks should be among the first considerations.

Second, to ensure the success of your DIY repurpose office desk project, visualize the final product and choose a secretary shelf that has adequate storage space and dimensions.

Brainstorm Ideas to repurposed secretary desk

2. Make an Initial Draft

Create a hand-drawn draft or use a drafting program like AutoCAD to figure out the precise joints and measurements once you have established the project's overall scale and approximate design.

It takes a lot of trial and error to figure out how to build a secretary desk with the exact proportions, joinery, and overall design. AutoCAD is useful for ironing out design flaws before committing to a project and discovering problems you hadn't anticipated.

Make an Initial Draft to repurposed secretary desk

3. Get the Foundation up and Running

As the starting point of your structure and the thing that holds everything else up, the base of your updated secretary desk should be as sturdy as possible.

The foundation may require slicing, pasting, and rearranging the previous secretary desk's components. As a result, if you're interested in doing any sort of DIY or refurbishing work, a mortising machine can be an invaluable tool.

If you don't have a mortising machine, you may use pocket screws or dowels to assemble the parts just as quickly with a Kreg jig.

4. Use Biscuit Joiners

You may construct wide panels or table tops from thinner boards with the biscuit joiner. It's not always useful to employ boards that are longer or broader than required for the final product. The boards being joined together must have positions marked on them before the biscuit joiner can be used to cut the pockets.

The final step is to glue the biscuits in place, attach the boards, and clamp them together to dry. When the boards are dry, you can trim them to size and square off the corners.

Use Biscuit Ioiners to repurposed secretary desk

5. Combine Everything

This is the most difficult step of a repurposed secretary desk because there will inevitably be some fumbling while working with many moving elements.

Ensuring the final assembly runs as smoothly as possible relies on ensuring the fit of the joints. Using a doweling jig, drill holes into the underside of the hutch, and then use marker pins to align the locations of the holes on the tabletop. This is the trickiest part. There may be some fussing involved, but in the end, the glued assembly will look flawless.

6. Get out the Glue

You can never use too much glue when building furniture, so begin with the legs and let the adhesive dry completely before proceeding to the rest of the project.

After the epoxy has dried, screw the tabletop into place (you shouldn't glue it, in case you ever need to remove it). Repeat this process for all the hutch's joints, securing the hidden-dado shelves before putting the unit together.

7. Buff it Out

The wood can be sanded to remove any scratches or dents that occurred while working on your newly updated secretary desk previously.

Due to the large surface area, it is best to use a large sheet of sandpaper, beginning with 60 grit to remove any major flaws before moving on to 220 grit, 320 grit, or higher if desired (but always double-check the recommendations of the finish you intend to use).

Standing Desks

8. Choose the Color

This upcycled secretary shelf will look as good as new with a little polish if wood and oak tones are your thing. However, you'll need to paint your repurposed office desk if you want to give it a fresh look.

Any color can help you enhance your desk; white or pastel hues look great on furniture for modern home office, and solid colors look great on patio or balcony furniture.

Additionally, you should choose a color that goes with the existing color palate of your space so that everything looks put together.

Final Note

When it comes to giving old furniture a new life, a little bit of imagination goes a long way. If you have the skill and patience to give an antique a makeover, you should try making a repurposed secretary desk which might locate the perfect spot at your home.

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