Make a bureau on a budget |

Make a bureau on a budget

Even the lamp on Alex Fuller s office desk is comprised of parts with former purposes. Though the bulb and shade are standard, the base is made out of an orange oxygen bottle. My friend Dave made it for me as a gift after climbing Mount Everest, she says. (Photo by Anna Bloom)

These days, the most affordable new desks run somewhere between $100 to $200 even at discount outlets and big box stores, but Park City resident Kaitlin McHugh found a more affordable version. Instead, borrowing the old adage, one man’s trash became her treasure.

In need of a space to work, McHugh eyed the goods at Recycle Utah, zeroed-in on a discarded hollow-core door and claimed it as the surface.

"I try to do everything I can possibly do on a budget and with reclaimed materials, so, I was just thinking of a level, hard surface I could find reclaimed that had some structural value," she explains. "And what I thought was also great about the door was that it doesn’t have the bulk of a lot of office desks you might find at a store."

Made of light wood, the door has an open circle for a doorknob that McHugh used to sink wires from her laptop down to the wall socket.

In addition to the door, she purchased a metal shelf to use as a magnet board for bulletins and invitations, as well as extra wood scraps to construct the legs on one side. Total price tag: $4.

For the other side, McHugh scoured for-sale listings on She found a man in Draper, Utah, moving office supplies out of his house. The two-drawer filing cabinet determined the height of the desk. Total price tag: $35.

McHugh estimates the total investment amounted to less than $60, gas used for transportation and Home Depot screws included.

"It’s nice to buy something for a few dollars that’s probably headed to the landfill," she says. "It works for me because I don’t mind having second-hand stuff. I prefer it, actually. There’s no guilt associated with it: you saved money, and I actually like that it looks industrial, that you can see the components. Plus, you save money, you use something that was going to be wasted and it’s totally functional."

Alex Fuller, came up with a similar solution for her home office in Heber City. Instead of constructing legs out of wood, however, Fuller used two cabinets of equal height, one she owned, another she purchased at Ikea, as supports for the door. She also used Velcro between the door and the cabinets, instead of bothering with screws. "I’m only moderately handy," she concedes.

She found the door when a neighbor was remodeling. Total price: $45.

An avid re-user like McHugh, Fuller’s house is peppered with projects that re-appropriate found objects for practical and decorative home use. Downstairs in her living room, she uses a mid-20th century map she purchased at the Heber City store Tumbleweeds- one that likely once hung by a chalkboard in an elementary school classroom — as a window shade, the outdoor light illuminating the blue of the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. Even the lamp on her office desk is comprised of parts with a former purpose and history. Though the bulb and shade are standard, the base is made out of an orange oxygen bottle. "My friend Dave made it for me as a gift after climbing Mount Everest," Fuller smiles. "It definitely fits."

Find the parts:
To assemble furniture on a budget, and to help minimize landfill waste, odds and ends can be found locally. Here are some smart places to look:

1. Tumbleweeds
600 W 100 S.
Heber City, UT
Phone number: (435) 640-6573

2. Recycle Utah
1951 Woodbine Way
Park City, UT
Phone number: (435) 649-9698

3. The Christian Center of Park City
1100 Iron Horse Dr.
Park City, UT
(435) 649-2260

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