Antique Typewriter Desk Makeover

Sometimes houses contain weird architectural details that make no sense. Our house was built in 1981 and has several questionable choices pertaining to the layout. The thing that makes me scratch my head the most is our “Bridge to Nowhere.” At the top of the steps to the second floor is a landing. If you go to the right, you have the hallway that leads to the bedrooms, hall bath, and a linen closet. If you go left, there’s a short landing that dead ends into a five foot wall.

See what I mean? This landing is only about seven feet long, and is completely useless. Here’s another angle.

The white block at the top is where the ceiling starts to slope. You can see how low the wall is, so creating a doorway or some other functional use is out of the question. (The other side of the wall is a low area in the attic.). I am grateful that someone added an electrical outlet at some point.

An Inventive Use for a Questionable Space

So what the heck do I do with this space? I considered the following options:

  • A small sitting area. The main issue with this idea was that the landing is less than 41” long. I struggled to find a cozy seating option that fit comfortably in the space.
  • A reading nook. The drawback to this is that my daughter is the only one who would possibly use it, and she already has a beanbag chair in her room for that purpose.
  • A tiny office. Drawbacks? None. A cozy office in this area was the perfect idea.

The Perfect Desk

Finding the perfect desk for this space was more challenging than I thought it would be. Here were the qualities I wanted in the desk:

  • Two or more drawers for storage.
  • Aesthetically appealing.
  • Must be 40” wide or less.

The size was the biggest issue. I looked on Amazon and Wayfair for the perfect fit, but everything was expensive and boring looking. Finally, when I was shopping at the local antique mall one day I found the perfect desk.

Antique red typewriter desk

It was a little rough. It was dirty, and the handles were outdated, and it had a lot of chunks missing from the wood. But it was cheap, and it was solid wood. It fit the space perfectly and I knew I could make it pretty.

The Finished Product

After using a ton of wood filler, black chalk paint, some pretty craft paper, and Modpodge, here was what I ended up with:

It doesn’t even look the same as it did when I found it. The desk is nice and neutral when it is closed. When it’s opened, it’s feminine and elegant.

This desk even has a little shelf that pulls out for additional writing space. Of course, I decoupaged it to match the inside.

What is an Antique Typewriter Desk?

An antique typewriter desk is exactly as it implies– It holds a manual typewriter on the flat part of the desk that folds down. (In this case, it’s on the left side of the desk, on the large floral area.) The original desk had holes in that area so that the typewriter could be bolted down. When it wasn’t in use, the typewriter could be folded into the desk to keep dust off of it. I have no idea what era this desk is from. My best guess is this it is from the 1940s or 1950s. It’s easy to imagine a woman wearing an A-line dress with red lipstick and perfectly coiffed hair typing on it from an office inside a school or bank.

Updating the Details

In order to make this desk more useful, I needed to make it a bit taller. An old typewriter on top of this would add several inches to the height, but a modern laptop is too low to be ergonomic. To add height, I added casters to the bottoms of the feet. If you look at the picture of the original piece, there were none. This raised the height of the desk by almost two inches.

The next item on the list was new drawer pulls. I found these cute industrial-style pulls at Hobby Lobby and they work with the aesthetic perfectly.

The locks no longer work on the drawers, but the dark metal pulls add the perfect masculine balance to the feminine paper I used to decoupage on the desk. Even the sides and inside of the drawers look beautiful.

A vintage pot with a moss ball, an old Dundee marmalade pot to hold pencils, and a brass desk lamp were the perfect finishing touches for this makeover.

I’m a sucker for a good before and after with a happy ending. I hope you enjoy this makeover!

Blessings from the bluegrass,

Luci

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