This DIY Alex Drawer Home Office Desk blog was written by a paid contributor. All photos are taken by Kate Hollingsworth.
As a designer who creates custom spaces, I try to reuse my client’s existing pieces of furniture as often as possible to reduce waste and lower their budget. Case in point – this alex drawer hack worked perfect for creating a DIY home office desk for one of my clients:
Alex drawers are multi-drawer cabinets that offer ample storage space and can be a great addition to any home office. The set of alex drawers I was working with may have looked old and grubby, but they worked perfectly fine and I was confident I could breathe some life into them! My plan was to update the drawer fronts by gluing on strips of thin plywood in a faux map-drawer style.
My clients and I were really pleased with the results. They love their new desk!
If you’re looking to do a similar project at home, it’s not as difficult as it looks. Let me walk you through my process for glamming up these worn-down drawers to create a DIY home office desk that looks brand new.
● 1 Flex Glue, 10oz cartridge
● 13 strips of scrap plywood
● 26 mini handles
● 1 standard size wood tabletop for desk
● 2 pieces of scrap wood for cleats
● Wood stain and varnish
● White primer and paint
● 8 long screws
● 1 black permanent marker
● Optional: Additional accessories to add to cabinets (I added metal name tags in between each handle)
My first step was to give the drawers a good cleaning and remove the stickers that were decorating it. Then I gave the sides of the unit a light sanding, painted them with a primer that sticks to laminate, and gave them a couple of coats of fresh white gloss paint.
To make the faux map-drawers I simply used my circular saw to cut strips of plywood and then stained them a rich walnut color.
Since the drawers are made of laminate, I’ll need a glue that can stick to slick surfaces, so I can adhere the plywood strips to the fronts of the drawers. Flex Glue is perfect for the job as it grips instantly and holds on tight.
Before attaching the drawer fronts, I laid the alex unit on its back and did a dry fit with them first. By doing so, I could see that the little gaps between each wood strip were quite obvious because the white showed through. To combat this, I grabbed a black permanent marker and drew a line where each gap would be, causing the gaps to be far less noticeable.
Next, it was time to glue on the plywood strips to create the new drawer fronts. I put my Flex Glue cartridge in a caulking gun and applied the product to the back of the plywood, one piece at a time, making sure to hold each piece in place for a few seconds. The Flex Glue cartridge’s pro formula displayed its powerful instant grab, locking the plywood into place right away! Once all the plywood strips were glued in place, I let the Flex Glue dry overnight.
To truly give the appearance of map drawers, each plywood panel needs its own handle, which means each actual drawer ends up with multiple handles. I simply screwed the handles onto each panel to complete the look.
After screwing the handles on, the DIY alex drawers were ready to be installed in the built-in desk area I’d been creating. I used the alex unit as a base for the desktop, which was a timber panel I bought ready made from my local hardware store. I then added Flex Glue to the top of the drawer unit and lowered the desktop directly onto the cabinet. I used cleats and screws to secure the other side of the desktop to the wall and the result was an elegant yet practical desk area in my client’s daughter’s room.
My client and I are incredibly happy with how stylish this upcycling project turned out. Flex Glue was perfect for the job and allowed me to give a tired old piece of furniture a new lease on life!
By Kate Hollingsworth
I’ve been a serial DIYer for 25 years and have recently turned my love of houses into a thriving design business where I design and execute room makeovers in client’s homes. I’m also a content creator on Instagram (@house_of_hollingsworth) where I showcase innovative ways to use DIY products.