Tag Archives: up-cycling

The Disappearing Desk

24 Feb

I knew when I embarked on this watery lifestyle in a 47ft x 7ft metal tube, I would have to make the odd sacrifice. (That’s doing without something, not slaughtering a child in a white frock on an altar at midnight.)

And these are the external dimensions so, in fact, I have probably only around 264 square feet of indoor living space in total. Any fixtures and fittings on board therefore really have to earn their keep and need to be functional, preferably with multi-use capability. There is no room for ‘passengers’.

Not that I’m complaining. OK, so I miss the bath and the sofa sometimes but a small price to pay to be able to live the way I do. There is of course no reason I couldn’t have the above – it’s mainly aesthetics that stop me adding either or both.

More recently, I’ve hankered after a desk/table to work at…


Google image

It is, after all, essential equipment for a writer. I’ve managed to date with the laptop on the lap but now I’m getting into proofreading/copy-editing, I need somewhere to spread out the paperwork.

I’m lucky that John is good in the making things department so I designed a desk that works in the boat and he has made it.

John likes to work in 3D models and, having established mk 1 would do the job, he set about making mk 2. It’s a good system that works for us and, when I saw the first prototype, decided the boat could take something a little bigger. Easy peasy, rip it up and start again. (There’s never any waste when you have a wood burner.)

He started with good old potato box ply to make the framework and shelving and then we went shopping for the desk top itself. It had to be big enough but foldaway-able, smart enough but nothing that would break the bank and something that would sit well within Hobo’s ageing mellow and lived-in interior. Something we could up-cycle then.

We took a trip to  the ECCO shop in Harlow to see what was about. There’s a few of these outlets around here (2 in Harlow, 1 in Bishop’s Stortford and 1 in Epping) and they’re brilliant places for a bargain – if you have your creative eyes in focus. Lovely and jumbly. Nice and cheap.

This headboard spoke to me, made of good solid ply with an oak veneer… IMG_20150207_072108

Just the job at £2.

We also bought strip hinges to enable the folding away of and another clever little design feature that means I can have a medium desk…002

With the extension doubling as a supporting leg when in half-size mode, which is rapidly becoming the default position as is also proving to be useful as a table to land one’s drinks, dinner plates, newspapers – you name it, the possibilities are endless.

Or for those big jobs, just pull up to make a massive working surface…008003

As big as many an office desk I’ve worked at.

The really clever bit being that it folds away to next to nothing…005006

Genius. Now you see it now you don’t..!

It sits unobtrusively under the gunwale, getting in no-one’s way, when I don’t feel like working.

So now it’s back to me for the cosmetics. It needs a little refining, sanding and staining and general titivation but otherwise job done. Apart from re-organising my clutter that is.

Now of course I need a chair that works with the desk so it’s back to ECCO, this time the Stortford store. I really liked this…002 (3)But of course it won’t go low enough. John suggested an entry level typist chair like this…003 (2)Could be used as the base, fitting the top of the barstool to it. I admit I had my reservations but at £3 for the blue jobbie and (after much haggling) settled on £5 for the black leather one (marked up at £15) there wasn’t a lot to lose.

We pointed out the seat was very broken…002 (4)Nothing the John couldn’t fix of course, making what I think is a mighty cool stool…002 (2)

But is it a stool? Or is it a chair?

We’ve decided it’s a hybrid and are calling it a chool.

Whatever. In this position it lets me get my knees under the desk but will also raise up if I want to look out of the window at the river. It’s the perfect spot to watch the sun go down.

I suspect the little boat may gain a chrome based, blue seated driving seat.

As my life evolves, so then does the space around me. I’m busy now working on a design for a unit to complement the new desk to fit on the other side of the boat. I’m thinking something modular, multi-purpose and sleek.

I’m a lucky boatbird to have the John, who actually enjoys turning my designs into real storage solutions. He’s really quite talented and, when he isn’t busy doing stuff for me or fixing up the little boat, he loves to make these…010

Want one..?

PS: You should see the owl boxes…