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Downtown Office




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.


The 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.


  • For the desk: 30-by-80-inch hollow-core door
  • 2 unpainted wooden trestles
  • 2 3/4 yards of coated linen (or canvas or denim)
  • Upholstery tacks
  • The paint of your choice
  • Staple gun
  • For screen construction: primer
  • Chalkboard paint


  1. Step 1

    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).

  2. Step 2

    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.

  3. Step 3

    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.

  4. Step 4

    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.

  5. Step 5

    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.

  6. Step 6

    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.

Blueprint, 2006



Reviews (8)

  • Caroline C 11 May, 2014

    Where are the small wooden boxes with drawers from?

  • Char59 21 Jan, 2011

    When I needed a dining room table top that would fit 8 comfortably (not the 4 - 6 that my 36x60 oval dining set did), we got a 36x80 hollow core door,a couple lengths of 1x2 for attaching it to the existing table, some bullnose trim to round the edges and a couple coats of clear sealer. Done in a few days and didn't cost more than $50 total. Didn't put a fancy top on it, because with a tablecloth nobody was going to see it; and bare, I could use it for crafting. One person can install it!

  • meebzilla 20 Nov, 2010

    This is great! Perfect to set my $3500 laptop on. It looks so good, I'm going to put it in the dining room and get rid of my dining room set. "Honestly," some people can be such snobs, lol!

  • leaavon 2 May, 2009

    My son wanted a new desk and this will be perfect, plus it so portable that he can take it off to college in the fall! I LOVE IT!

  • GwenHex 2 May, 2009

    honestly, i think this looks kind of crappy, for lack of a better word. i mean, i'd never set my laptop on something like that, it costs too much. i like some of martha's ideas, but this is just plain stupid.

  • odunahoo 10 Apr, 2008

    Our daughter didn't know where to get legs for her door-desk. Then she realized she could use her old text books or others' discarded ones.

  • JennStreyckmans 25 Nov, 2007

    We found a hollow-core door at our local Habitat for Humanity store and it was uncut and only $8. Hopefully you can find a good deal.

  • nicho 17 Nov, 2007

    I love the hollow-core door ideas, very inventive and cost effective. My small home office is begging for a new desk, but I'm not looking to spend a lot on something that doesn't meet my needs. Hollow-core doors come in all sorts of dimensions, so I can get a custom expensive-looking modern desk for a fraction of the price. I just love when that happens.