ISSUE 11  |  Weekend Projects

Steal This Look: The DIY Partners’ Desk by Workstead

March 17, 2015 9:00 AM

BY Margot Guralnick

How’s this for an afternoon well spent? In a matter of hours–and using parts from Lowe’s–Robert Highsmith of Brooklyn architecture firm Workstead whipped up a two-person desk for himself and his wife and design partner, Stefanie Brechbuehler. Voila, instant home office. Here’s how to replicate the design down to the desk accessories.

Above: The partner’s desk serves as Robert and Stefanie’s upstate New York home office on weekends and summer stretches. It’s on the second-floor landing of their 1850s farm cottage, which they overhauled almost entirely themselves–explore the whole house in the Remodelista book. Photograph by Matthew Williams for Remodelista.

Above: “I bought the parts at Lowe’s and got to work one Sunday afternoon,” says Robert. “It just took a few hours.” The chairs are Paul McCobb classics from the early fifties–”We found them at Brimfield,” says Stefanie. “Someone had painted them, so we got them cheap.” Photograph by Matthew Williams for Remodelista.

Above: Robert and Stefanie’s light was a wedding present from her aunt: “She went with us to a few favorite stores in Zurich and we picked it out. It’s a 1911 industrial-era German lamp made by Bolich.” Photograph by Matthew Williams for Remodelista.

Above: The marble-based desk light is an OMI design from the sixties bought at a vintage shop in Hudson, New York. Photograph by Matthew Williams for Remodelista.


The Parts

Above: These 29-Inch Mixed Maple Table Legs are $14.48 each at Lowe’s.

Above: A 3/4-by-24-by-72-inch Aspen Panel is $42.74 at Lowe’s. Robert detailed the desktop with three-inch wide trim to make it standard depth and also used the trim as cross pieces. A three-inch-wide, eight-foot-long piece of Spruce-Pine-Fir Furring Strip is $1.72 at Lowe’s.

Above: Final step: The desk is painted a Benjamin Moore color match of Farrow & Ball’s Lamp Room Gray. Photograph by Matthew Williams for Remodelista.

Furniture and Lighting

Above: Known as the Paul McCobb Planner Group Dining Chair, the design is easy to find online often for sale in sets. It was made in the fifties by Winchenden Furniture. This example, a Paul McCobb Chair from a Chairish vendor in North Miami, is $329.

Above: A close facsimile of the couple’s vintage light, the Bolich Inside Spotlight of powder-coated steel with a rotating and swiveling bracket, is €395 ($417.42) from Thomas Hoof’s company THPG in Germany

Above: An 18-inch-tall Midcentury Modern Desk Lamp with chrome shade and marble base is available for $94.99 from eBay seller Tr3ats, who has as total of three.

The Accessories

Above: Is it time for a Rolodex comeback? The Zeuss Index Holder, an Italian old-fashioned “card index system” made of aluminum and steel, is €143 ($151) from Manufactum in Germany.

Above: Brook Farm General Store’s steel-handled Scissors are made by a Chinese company that’s been in business since 1663; $12.

Above: The Montague Leather Satchel is $298 at J. Crew.

Above: Meet the decorative desk toy: the Molecule Building Set by Ferm Living is $79.95 from Fawn and Forest.

Workstead is a member of the Remodelista Architect/Designer Directory. See more of their designs in: