This is definitely one of my favorite DIY projects I’ve ever done…the pet station! Heck, it’s the project that got me in The New York Times!!
But what I love most about it is that it’s actually pretty AND practical, and it gets used every single day (multiple times each day) by all three of my furballs.
I made the pet station out of a vintage secretary desk that my neighbor was getting rid of, and it originally looked like this…
And the desk area looked like this….
Now I’ll show you how I transformed it into a pet station. Keep in mind, if you want to make something like this out of a vintage piece of furniture, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll take these exact steps with yours, as every piece of furniture is built a bit differently. However, you can see the steps I took, and why I did them, and it’ll give you an idea of what needs to be done to your furniture piece. If you can’t find a secretary desk, you could use a small dresser or chest of drawers, and it would have a similar finished look.
Got it? Great! Here we go…
I knew that I wanted to keep the top drawer for storing leashes and other pet-related items, so I removed the drawer guides for the bottom two drawers only.
And then I removed the thin piece of wood that was separating the two lower drawer sections, along with the side supports. I also removed the bottom piece. It was just a thin flimsy piece of hardboard, and since I needed the bottom ot hold a large bowl of water, plus a bowl of food, it needed to be sturdy. I replaced it with a piece of 1/2″ MDF that I cut to size with my jigsaw.
Before I put the new MDF bottom in place, I used a large dog food bowl and traced where the two holes for the bowls would go. I then drilled a hole in each one to make room for my jigsaw blade.
I cut each one about 1/4″ inside the marked line to ensure that the lip of the bowl had something to sit on.
When the holes were cut, I placed the new bottom into the space. (My last jigsaw blade broke when I was cutting the second hole, so from here on out, you’ll just have to imagine that there’s another hole/bowl there.) 🙂
Next, I needed to fill the gap in the front, so cut a length of 1″ x 2″ MDF board…
…and used wood glue to secure it in place.
I taped the front piece while the glue dried, and then cut another piece of 1″ x 2″ MDF to cover the gap in the back.
Then I covered the sides and back with beadboard. I used the kind that comes in strips about 6″ wide, and I attached them to the existing sides and back with construction adhesive.
I repeated the same thing on the other side.
And then added beadboard to the back.
I finished off the sides with strips of 1″ x 2″ MDF boards, and then I caulked all of the gaps and spaces to make everything look smooth. (When you’re not a real carpenter, you can fake it with caulk and wood filler!!)
Then I was ready to move to the top. I wanted the desk area to be a bed for my cats, which meant that I had to remove the shelf in the middle.
The only way to get it out was to remove the back and the top, and then slide the shelf out of the grooves. It took a bit of muscle (i.e., a lot of whacking at it with a hammer), because the shelf and the top were glued, but I finally got them loose.
So when I replaced the top (it’s there in the picture, although you can barely see it!!), I was left with a large area, and no backing.
Instead of replacing the old backing, which was a thin piece of hardboard (more like really dense cardboard), I added beadboard to the back, attached with wood glue and tiny finishing nails from the back. I then caulked around the edges.
**Note: If I had done things in the correct order, at this point I would have cut the hole in the top for the cat food bowl. However, I kept forgetting to go to Petsmart and purchase a bowl, so I didn’t know what size to make the hole. I eventually remembered to buy the bowl, as you’ll see in a couple of steps, but if I had been prepared, I would have cut the hole at this point before moving on to the next step.
At this point, it was ready for primer. (Again, just imagine the second hole on bottom, and a hole on the top.)
Aaahhh….yep, there’s the hole in the top for the cat food bowl. Cut AFTER I had started painting. That’s about par for the course with my projects.
And then here it is with paint…and the second hole cut in the bottom…but still sans bowls.
I painted the whole thing with latex paint, and then when it was really good and dry, I sprayed it with a clear matte top coat.
So what do you think? It’s not that difficult, right? Do you feel like you could transform a piece of furniture?