Condo Breakfast Room Condo Breakfast Room DIY Projects DIY Before & Afters DIY Furniture Projects DIY Projects - All

Pet Station Created From Vintage Secretary Desk

Last Updated on December 18, 2012 by Kristi Linauer

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?

This project was for my condo breakfast room makeover. Click here to see the whole before and after of the breakfast room makeover.

Or click on the thumbnails below to see other DIY projects that I did for my condo breakfast room makeover.

You Might Also Like...


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    February 4, 2011 at 8:26 am

    absolutely stunning. You have great imagination dear.

    I have a blog on interiors based on Indian arts.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    February 4, 2011 at 7:33 pm

    Love this project…bookmarking for later.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Paula Jo @Home and Garden Decor
    February 5, 2011 at 2:57 am

    You really astound me each time I come to your blog on new.
    This pet station turned out just great, Kristi.
    I would just like to know, where you get all those great ideas from.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Kristi @ Addicted 2 Decorating
    February 5, 2011 at 3:22 am

    Hi Paula Jo~~Thank you for your kind words. 🙂 I'll be honest…only a fraction of my ideas are completely original, and even then, that's doubtful since I read so many blogs and magazines that I'm sure I'm being influenced all the time without consciously realizing it.

    But generally my projects are either ones that I've seen others do and I wanted to try, or ones that are inspired by what others have done, and I've adapted and put my own spin on it somehow. This particular project was inspired by something I saw on a blog. You can see the inspiration here:

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Flea Market Trixie
    February 9, 2011 at 9:30 pm

    That is so cool! I love it!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    February 11, 2011 at 5:15 pm

    There is the lovely pet station I saw earlier,,, HOW neat. Don't you love blogs,,, seriously, without the inspiration, how would I ever get these incredible ideas!!!!

    You know, I just have to ask you already. I have not seen you say anything about linking up to any parties, BUT do see that you enjoy several blogs, that host parties.

    DO you linkup, and if so, WOULD you PLEASE start checking me out, and sharing your MASSIVE talent with my readers too. Gosh, I would LOVE to feature some of your incredible projects!!!

    Come on girl, I may be small, but I have a lot of love, and am SUPER DUPER grateful for all the support I get in my blogging journey.

    LOVE LOVE LOVE your blog 🙂


  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    March 25, 2011 at 8:57 am


  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    ~Beth D.
    April 4, 2011 at 5:11 pm

    what a great idea! thanks for sharing.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    October 18, 2011 at 4:05 pm

    My gosh this redo is beautiful. Happpy cats!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Gail W
    October 21, 2011 at 1:00 pm

    found you over at Roadkill Rescue.
    hahah I need something like this!  I have to keep the food up out of reach of the pooch.  very clever Kristi!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    November 30, 2011 at 4:05 am

    Wow this is amazing! I love that you thought so out of the box on this. What is it about beadboard that makes everything beautiful too? Great job!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    December 3, 2011 at 9:42 am

    I have been looking for a way to keep my cat from tipping over her water bowl and getting the floor all wet. This is it! What a terrific idea!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    December 23, 2011 at 9:39 pm

    This is fantastic! Where did you find (or how did you make) a perfectly-sized cat “mattress” for the bed portion? Such a genius idea!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    February 23, 2012 at 7:15 am

    LOVE this and shared it with my customers on Facebook. I often hear about dogs eating their cat’s food – this can solve that problem with the inset bowl on top that dogs can’t reach and cats can’t knock over. This helps dogs with special diets who might get into cat food that will cause problems and just generally will cut down on the amount of cat food some pet owners go through. Saw this on Petfinder – nice work!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Joanne Hill
    April 6, 2012 at 4:44 am

    What a Wonderful idea! I should copy this idea for my little furbabies. We have a problem with our dog trying to eat the cats food and if we had something like what you did then that would help. I love work you did on your pet station.

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      April 6, 2012 at 8:15 am

      Thank you, Joanne! And yes, you should make one! 🙂 I see these kinds of desks quite frequently on Craigslist. And one of my main motivations in making one was because my dog wouldn’t stay out of the cat food…LOL. I haven’t had that problem since I started using the pet station!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Como Criar um Espaço para Gatos | Recicla e Decora
    April 21, 2012 at 6:59 am

    […] Para saber mais sobre Como Criar um Espaço para Gatos acesse […]

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Susan Bewley
    May 18, 2012 at 4:45 pm

    This is so cute! I wish I thought to do something like this with my cats. I could see easily picking up a cheap table from a yard sale and trying this 🙂

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Daily DIY Pet Project – Turn A Bureau Desk Into A Cat Station | The Doggie Stylish Blog
    June 3, 2012 at 12:39 am

    […] desk that he neighbour was throwing out, and turned it into a nice place for her cats to hang out. See how she did it here This entry was posted in Daily Free Pet Pattern and tagged Cat Bed, Dog Blog, Upcycle, Vintage […]

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    September 10, 2012 at 6:08 pm

    I looked at this and immediately thought of a “dry sink” that has been sitting ,waiting to get thrown in the trash. This is a great re-use , recycle . Thank you!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    October 20, 2012 at 8:52 pm

    I love this and would love to do this. Can you tell me what you made the bed out of? it looks like a mini mattress..Thanks

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      Kristi Linauer
      October 23, 2012 at 9:54 am

      I made the box cushion cover out of quilted fabric that I found at JoAnn Fabrics, and then I stuffed it with a feather pillow.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    October 23, 2012 at 9:36 am

    Hi! beautiful work!!! I was wondering what did you use for the matteres? did you make it?

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      Kristi Linauer
      October 23, 2012 at 9:55 am

      Hi Lilly~
      Yes, I made the mattress. I made the box cushion cover out of white quilted fabric that I found at JoAnn Fabrics, and then I stuffed it with a feather pillow.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    November 10, 2012 at 8:59 am

    I saw this on Pinterest and love it! We have to feed the cat on the kitchen counter to keep the dog out of her food- and the cat loves to drink out of the dog’s water bowl so this is perfect. I already made a cat litter cabinet out of an old dry sink to keep the dog from eating that too. Looks like this is next on the list!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Megan @ Potato Chip Cats
    March 3, 2013 at 12:22 pm

    This was an awesome post and fantastic inspiration! I’ve followed in your footsteps and made a similar station for my cat. Couldn’t have done it without you!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    June 19, 2013 at 8:32 pm

    How do we post something we made to you?

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Progress Report Monday:: IT IS FINISHED!! My Completed Pet Station
    August 17, 2013 at 11:25 am

    […] Click here to get the full DIY instructions for making this pet station. […]

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Susanne Andersson
    February 29, 2016 at 2:28 am

    Hi! I’m so in love with this petstation and want to make one myself. I’m having problems with finding a secretary desk that looks like yours tough. I really want one similar to yours. Can I please have the measurements of the secretary desk you’ve used?