Over the past decade, I have moved a LOT. In the process of moving, you quickly learn that furniture is mostly more trouble than its worth and cardboard boxes are seriously lacking in their ability to handle moving large numbers of books. Solution? Crates! Much of my furniture is created primarily of crates - they are cheap, sturdy, easy to paint or stain, and when it's time to move again, most of my packing is already done!
During the process of my most recent move (NC to ME), I knew I needed to rethink much of my furniture and storage as I was prepping to move into a much more compact space. I was lucky to have my future roommate able to measure my room before I moved, so I knew that my previous crate & door desk would not fit the space. I love using crates for the front supports of a desk. It provides plenty of storage for notebooks and other office supplies. One of my favorite crates has three small drawers in it. I'm pretty sure I found it many years ago at a craft store, but it would not be too difficult to make something similar to this for yourself, maybe using small baskets for drawers. I also like that stacked crates provide a relatively tall desk, which is my preference. I also already had two 4x4 posts cut to the same height as the stacked crates being used as back supports for the desk. Because I wanted to reuse as much as possible, I simply started a hunt for something to use as a top to my desk that would fit my new space.
Soon after reliezing I needed something to replace the large door top of my desk, I stumbled upon a pallet in relatively good condition with a thin piece of plywood the same size. Several weeks later, I passed by a desk discarded by a dumpster. It wasn't a particularly nice desk - but it did have two large wooden drawers that looked to be pretty close in width to the openings in a pallet. I grabbed them both and brought them home to try out with my pallet and they fit almost perfectly!
After a successful move, all I had to do was re-purpose some of those crates into my new desk! I attached the back posts to the pallet with brackets, but I let the front end rest unattached to the crates. I ended up attaching some cardboard to the bottom of the pallet, just to provide a flat surface to rest on the crate supports, and to prevent the drawers from falling through the pallet. A thin piece of plywood is probably a better solution, but I didn't have that available, and cardboard is working perfectly.
I bought a roll of a wood pattered adhesive to cover the top piece of plywood. There are a huge number of patterned contact papers and adhesive wall paper available which I love utilizing in different projects. It's a great finish for very little work and money. I ended up deciding to finish off the exposed edge of the pallet with a thin piece of poplar. This was unnecessary, but that edge of the desk faces my bed and I did not like the aesthetics of looking into the open pallet and drawers.
The height of the pallet added on top of the crates make the desk quite high, but I use my desk mostly for crafting so appreciate having a standing desk or something that is comfortable to sit at with a stool. The giant drawers provide plenty of room to organize (or throw into a big pile) all of my scrap paper. I originally thought about placing a small bar inside the pallet at the back of the drawer to prevent it from being pushed in too far, but I have not had any issues with that. I couldn't be happier with my trash desk!