The Poolhouse (MicroEichler) is coming to completion... the pesky final 10% of things are taking the longest. The last bit was the built-in floating desk... and now it's done. This weekend, we'll stock it (the sofa arrived this week) and start using it...
The space was conceived as a random outdoor crash-space but also as an impromptu office — Casie and I both do a good bit of work from home. We built a floating desk in our old place and I thought it might be good to replicate the idea here. Having the unit floating — secured only on the sides — give it a feeling of spaciousness as well as a place for wires, light and air to travel. We did something very similar with Laura's built-in desk. Having something attached to the back wall would increase sturdiness ten-fold, but feel very, very trapped.
It's a fairly simple solution, but structure can be a bit problematic. With a span of 88in, it needed span strength, so I fashioned walnut cleats (stud and anchor mounted) that support a pair of 1-1/2in (3/16in) steel rails — this provides most of the strength. I then mounted 3/4in walnut-faced plywood for the surface and 2-1/2in fascia rails. When the plywood and fascia are secured to the steel rails, it becomes very stable. While it was fairly sturdy, the addition of another pair of 1-1/2 rails really stiffened things up. I'm not sure of the "live load" capabilities (nor do I expect to test it by dancing on it), but it's plenty sturdy for a desk ("dead load" — and light at that). That said, I do recall standing on the first one we made in our old place.
After a bit of sanding and a bit of lacquer and wax, the project was finished!
Framing out the desk involved a trip to the metal shop, but steel was definitely the right choice (over wood) given the 88in span.
All in all, there's not a lot I'd do differently. I might have "doubled-up" the plywood (glued and screwed two pieces together... which would have made the fascia 3/4in thicker — potentially problematic) for a bit more heft... or I might have used 2in rails instead of 1-1/2... however, any structural deficiencies it currently has probably has less to do with actual span strength and more to do with "bounce" — and I'm wondering if any amount of reinforcement would completely conquer that. As-is, it's a more than serviceable workspace at 88in (w) X 22in (d)...
We'll post more photos once the room is "decorated".
(* the next MicroEichler is currently in development at Dan's house in Walnut Creek)