I love things that have a rustic provenance but are updated and repurposed for modern use and nothing says that to me more than sawhorse desks (well, barns do, but that’s another story). There are a lot of furnishings companies that have reinterpreted these essential builders’ tools for interior use and, when transformed into a desk by capping with a thick piece of clear glass or even a leather-wrapped top, sawhorses take on a young, stylish vibe.
The sawhorse desk in the photo above is in my shop and that’s where I do the bulk of my work. I took the pair of unfinished sawhorse trestles and gave them a couple of coats of dark grey paint, distressed them lightly by sanding the edges and then applied a top coat of clear butcher’s wax to give them a low-level luster. It’s a very clean look and very practical.
I used the same sawhorse in a showhouse in the Hamptons a few years back (mainly because I couldn’t find a desk in the market that had the young but traditional-roots vibe I was looking for) and one that was nickel-plated for a sitting room in a house in Saddle River, NJ. When combined with the clear glass top, these updated sawhorses instantly become rustic chic workhorses.
One of my favorite designers, Walda Pairon from Belgium, freely uses the sawhorse in many of her interiors. The images below are from her first design book, “Walda Pairon”.
In the mid-1960’s the great American designer, Ward Bennett, pared down the use of sawhorses-as-desk to their most minimal elements as seen in the photograph below of a study he designed and which was published in “The New York Times Book of Interior Design and Decoration”, edited by George O’Brien.
Shop photo by Peter Margonelli; Hamptons photo by Eric Striffler; Saddle River photo by Joel Woodard.