Hey everyone! Last week I shared how I teamed up with Rockler Woodworking and Hardware as well as PureBond plywood to build a gorgeous Modern Farmhouse Murphy Bed for my office. Today, I’m continuing on from that post and sharing the free plans and tutorial for the desk modifications. It took a lot of careful thought and consideration to come up with the modifications for the desk. There were a few really important elements that I needed to take into consideration. The most important being the ability to fit the entire Murphy Bed unit in the room and still be able to open and close the door. After all, our guests would probably appreciate a little privacy. I also wanted to make sure that there would still be enough space to sit at the desk if the Murphy bed was down. Mostly because I know my kids will enjoy laying on the bed reading books or playing games while I work in the office. Plus our guests may appreciate a place to sit and use a computer or work on anything without having to fold up the bed in order to use the desk. This left me with a 20″ desktop, which is 4″ narrower than the average width, but still plenty big enough to work at. They will walk you through every step of the desk modification build. I’ve included affiliate links to products I used in this post for your convenience.
The printable plans are very thorough, but everything is actually really easy to put together. Let’s get started, shall we?
I started by assembling the bookcase. You can see the rabbeted edges to allow for the 1/4″ plywood backing to sit flush against the back edges of the bookcase. I added the middle fixed shelf first. Since I was planning to paint the book case but stain that shelf, I did not glue it when I added my 1 1/4″ pocket screws. I did accidentally glue it to the shorter cabinet vertical which made for fun times when trying to take it off to stain it. Thankfully it all came apart without any plywood breaking apart. The reason for it being attached now is to provide some stabilization until the bookcase is ready to be painted/stained.
Next, I attached the bookcase top and header rails. You can see that I attached it so my pocket holes would be at the top of the book case. This saved me from having to fill them later when it was time to paint.
The bookcases from both the original plans and my modifications went together quickly and easily. I think I had them both put together within maybe 30 minutes to an hour. As you may remember from part one of the Murphy Bed project, I modified the height of the middle fixed shelf on the narrower book case to match the height of the fixed shelf on the modified book case. The idea of them not being at the same height would have driven me crazy! It meant changing the size of the bottom drawer for both book cases, which wasn’t hard at all.
Once the book cases were built, I built the desk cabinet. I attached the fixed bottom with 1 1/4″ pocket screws and wood glue. The top of the cabinet bottom should measure 5 1/4″ up from the bottom of the cabinet verticals. The bottom moulding will be flush with the top side of the fixed bottom.
I measured cut all of my bottom moulding to size and then set it in place and attached it with 1 1/4″ brad nails. I really love the look of this DIY moulding. It was so easy to make and I can customize it to any height I need!
I drilled pocket holes into the top of my cabinet sides with my Kreg R3, attached the plywood backing, and finished it off with paint.
To build the cabinet doors, I needed to add a dado groove into the inside edges of the rails and stiles. I used my router with a 1/4″ straight bit to accomplish this. For the stiles, I plunged the wood onto the router table approximately 1 1/2″ from the end and then lifted it up before I got to the other end. This made it so I didn’t have any holes to fill later on.
I attached the cabinet together with wood glue and 1 1/4″ pocket screws.
I drilled the holes for the cabinet hinges and hung the door. These hinges make it easy to adjust the door once it is hung, in case it doesn’t go in perfectly the first time. I found that two pennies on the bottom and sides of the door worked great to get the right gap.
I replaced the baseboards in the office before beginning this project. I left it off of the wall the Murphy Bed was going on, but didn’t think to do that on the side the desk was going on. I pushed the desk cabinet up against the baseboards where it would be going and marked the cut area with a pencil, then cut them out with a dovetail saw. It was definitely one of those face-palm moments where you realize the baseboards should have just been added later.
When the desk was ready to be assembled, we installed the rear cleat into the studs and then installed the front support rail. You can see that we gave the rear cleat a quick coat of paint to match the wall color and camouflage it a little. Pay no mind to the fact that the cabinet door is swinging the wrong direction. I realized my mistake later and had to flip the door around. Nobody ever said DIYers were perfect:)
The desk was secured to the cleat, rail, and desk cabinet with 1 1/4″ pocket screws.
To keep the desk from sagging under pressure where it met with the fixed shelf, I added a 1×3 over the seam and screwed 1 1/4″ screws from the under side to keep everything tight and secure.
I built all 7 of the drawers from 1/2″ plywood and gave the edges a good sanding to round them off a bit.
I originally planned to install the drawers with side mount drawer slides, but couldn’t find any at Home Depot. Being impatient and just wanting to get it done, I didn’t want to wait to order some, so I bought 12″ undermount drawer slides. NEVER AGAIN! After fighting a losing battle with three of the drawers, I gave up and hopped on Amazon and found some 12″ side mount drawer slides at a great price and got Prime shipping!
Once all of the drawers were installed, I added the drawer fronts and hardware. To get the gap just right on the drawers, I found that 2 pennies and a dime worked perfectly to get me just what I was looking for. If I needed to make an adjustment after installing the drawer fronts, I was able to easily do so by adjusting the drawer slides a little.
I am pretty much in love with how it all turned out. Not only do I now have a gorgeous guest bedroom, but a completely functional office space! The desk came together just as I had hoped and gave me everything I was wanting as far as workable desktop space and enough room to move around, even if the bed is down.
While this was definitely the biggest furniture project I’ve ever built, it wasn’t the hardest, so don’t let the size intimidate you. The printable plans I drew up as well as the plans from Rockler break down all of the steps and are easy to follow.