Maybe your space and taste are less traditional and more modern. (Or maybe there's a man in your life who balks at pulling up a chair to a girly desk.) These sleek lines and cool colors suit an airy room.
This desk costs less than $200 and is big enough for a computer and the inevitable mess that materializes when you're working on a project. A large work surface, like this one made from a hollow-core door on two sawhorses, can get cluttered but still feel comfortable.
To make it, buy a 30-by-80-inch hollow-core door, two unpainted wooden trestles, 2 3/4 yards of coated linen (or canvas or denim), upholstery tacks, and the paint of your choice. Paint the trestles and let them dry. Cut the fabric so it is 42 by 92 inches (i.e., a 6-inch margin all the way around). With a staple gun, attach the cloth to the underside of the door in the middle of a long side. Stretch the fabric taut, and staple it in the middle of the opposite side. Repeat with the short sides, so there are four starter staples. On one long side, start pulling tight and stapling every few inches, working from the center outward. Repeat on the opposite side, then the shorter ends. Do the corners last: Tightly pull the fabric diagonally and staple; fold over the resultant side flaps and staple. Use a rubber mallet to pound in an upholstery tack every two inches around all edges. Rest on the bases. For a very easy bulletin board, wrap several industrial rubber bands around a panel of Masonite.
There's no need to put everything away when you reach the end of the day -- but just the middle of a project. This four-panel screen can be positioned to hide a slightly messy desk. To make the screen double as a bulletin board, paint some of the hollow-core door panels with magnetic primer under regular paint (use two or three coats of primer for maximum cling) and some with chalkboard paint. For the screen, buy four 24-by-80-inch doors and six 3 1/2-inch butt hinges (with screws). Paint the doors and let dry. Lay them on the floor in the order you want them, and use a pencil to mark where the hinges will go (about a foot from each end). To make the screen's zigzag fold, you'll need to screw the hinges on the back side between the first and second panel, the front side between the second and third, and the back side again between the third and fourth.
All of your office extras take on a unified look thanks to a can of stain, unfinished wooden crates, and a bench. Standard-size hanging folders fit perfectly across the large crate -- just the excuse you need to put your old filing cabinet out with the recycling. You can also screw wheels from the hardware store to the bottoms of the large crates so files and supplies can be easily rolled over to the desk area.