Working remotely for the firm I’m with has introduced a few ergonomic challenges in my ‘working from home’ office space. I bet many of you can relate. Don’t get me wrong, I’m used to WFH and spending time at my desk, but Holy Hannah these past six weeks have been hard! So that’s why I picked an easy DIY for this month’s Thrifty Chicks challenge. See how I turned a butcher block cutting board into a laptop stand for my home office, and find out why.
What a treat to be back with the Thrifty Chicks for another DIY makeover challenge. Each month we take on a new repurposing project based on a different theme, and this month we are turning cutting boards into new things. We hope you will be inspired by what you see! At the end of this post I will share links to all of our projects so you can stop by and take a peek.
Butcher Block Cutting Board Laptop Stand
Sacrificing a cutting board from our stash in the kitchen was an easy first step in this challenge. We have lots of different cutting boards in our household collection but as is so often the case, we stick to using just a few of our faves.
Normally I would thrift my way to finding the challenge’s theme piece, but these days our thrifts are closed. When you think about it, to repurpose a cutting board I already own and hardly use makes sense anyway.
Designing a Tabletop Stand for Your Laptop
When working remotely kicked in so quickly and unexpectedly, I had to mesh my office job and home office into one. This meant placing two laptop computers, a screen and a stand-alone keyboard onto my desk. I also needed to raise both laptops so I could position the screens for proper viewing. I only have one stand, so quickly improvised another by using a cardboard box.
It’s incredible how much strain we put on our neck and shoulders when we’re fudging the position of our screen, and especially when we’re working for hours on end at a desk.
To kick-start some ideas for this challenge I popped onto Pinterest and discovered some really neat designs for adjustable laptop trays. I’ve pinned this one for another day, because for now a flat surface for my laptop to lift my screen 5 inches higher is all I needed.
My butcher block cutting board is 1 inch thick, so that reduced the height needed for the legs to 4 inches. I had a few different ideas for constructing the legs and/or a base, but when I saw these little 4″ taper legs at Lowe’s, I decided to take the leap.
If we were in another time I would have scoured Re-Store and the thrifts for second-hand legs or maybe moulding I could adapt to fit. In the end I kept this project super simple because 4 inches isn’t much to get fancy with with.
My desk is a vintage Mid-Century Modern teak piece. Because the laptop table is a small, functional piece I wanted to keep the teak colour going. I wanted the table to blend with the desk rather than stand out. My go-to stain colour when I’m trying to create a teak match has always been the Minwax Gunstock option below.
I love a little industrial vibe mixed in with MCM, so I only gave the cutting board surface a light sanding to prep it for the stain. I really wanted to emphasize the cut marks and surface wear already in place. Since the chrome handles tip to a slightly modern edge I felt they would keep the overall look from feeling too rugged and rough.
The staining took a bit of time because I ended up diluting a darker brown stain and rubbing it on to take the red tone down a notch. When you’re working with different types of wood the stain will colour them differently, and that was definitely my challenge with this project. Once I got the colour match a little closer to that of the desk I left everything to dry overnight.
Fast forward to assembling the legs and my Mr. helped me by pre-drilling holes for the leg bolts. With this little piece we did not need to use screw plates. It’s always best to start off with a screw bit smaller than the bolt size and work your bit size up, re-drilling each hole until the bolt can be twisted in. This prevents making a hole that’s too big.
Once the holes were the right fit, a dab of wood glue was applied to the top of each leg and then screwed into place. The glue was just extra insurance because the leg bolts were not very long. I let the glue cure for 24 hours and voila, my butcher block cutting board became a laptop stand overnight!
Here’s a closer look at the cut marks and surface wear. It definitely looks a little worse for wear, but do you agree that the chrome handles give it a finished look?
The reason I didn’t get too caught up in the cuts and surface wear with the overall look is because I knew the laptop would be covering up most of what you see here.
What I was going for was a nod to the industrial vibe. I wanted to keep the laptop stand from being too matchy-matchy with the desk even though I used the teak colour to blend it in. I was hoping by highlighting the wear and tear and featuring the texture of the cuts, it would give the little stand a bit of definition. These marks were hard-earned after all and their roots are part of the story!
For this post I cleared my desk of all the extra equipment and things that aren’t normally part of my home office. I thought the new stand deserved a reveal that looked put together and I wanted you to see that too.
In case you’re wondering, the painting was done by my friend and very talented artist, Julie King. I’ve had this piece for quite a few years now and have enjoyed featuring it in different spots in my home. I like this piece because it’s adaptable for just about any space.
Keeping a work space looking nice can be tough. Let’s face it, computers can be pretty bossy and they’re not exactly decor. I recommend picking some of your favourite things but keep them to a minimum. Leave yourself some space to work.
I’ve picked an oval vanity tray to hold a Reed & Barton enamel bowl filled with my business cards, and an English pewter mug for pencils. All these pieces are vintage favourites, and you might even recognize the pewter mug from last year’s Thrift the Look: Cottage challenge.
I’m sure you’ve read it a million times before, but if you use a tray (or a plate, a dish, a basket, or stack of books, etc.) to corral and present your smaller things you will achieve a more cohesive look.
Keep scale and height in mind as well. Julie’s painting helps anchor the vignette because of its proportions, and the black frame can hold its own next to the computer screen.
The flowers will be swapped out so there will be different vases and bouquets, and some days my water glass becomes my coffee mug so this side is always changing. This is also my mouse side and I try to keep things in this area easy to move.
My desk actually sits in front of a window and I love being able to look out. If there was a wall in front of me, this would be a great spot for more artwork instead.
In the end this is my work space and ergonomics have to be fed. Ideally I would love to place my laptop right on my desk, but that just invites tension in. This little cutting board makeover gives me exactly what I need and it sure beats using a cardboard box don’t you think?
Thrifty Chicks Project Links
I promised I would share links to all the other projects, and you will find these links below. If you are looking for some DIY inspiration you too can tackle at home, click the links and take a peek. See what each of these talented ladies have been working on, because you might just find your next project idea waiting for you.
Left Top to Bottom:
- Linda ~ Itsy Bits and Pieces ~ DIY A Simple Farmhouse Lazy Susan
- That’s me! 🙂
- Kathleen ~ Our Hopeful Home ~ How To Stain And Whitewash A Farmhouse Pizza Peel With Shelf
Right Top to Bottom:
- Tania ~ Little Vintage Cottage ~ Vintage Cutting Board Makeover
- Tuula ~ Color Me Thrifty ~ Repurposed Cutting Board Sign
- Lora ~ Lora B Create and Ponder ~ Cutting Board Kitchen Printable and Simple Decor Ideas
How are you doing these days? Are you working remotely, or do you know someone who is? What are the ergonomic challenges in your home office space?
Thanks for stopping by. I’m so glad you did.
Photographs © Audrey Would! Vintage Home unless otherwise indicated.