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Fold-Down Desk

A DIY desk such as this one is perfect for compact spaces. Not only does it maximize square footage by fitting into a modular storage shelf, it neatly folds away and puts clutter out of sight.

pull down desk on bookshelf

Photography: NGOC MINH NGO

Source: Martha Stewart Living, September 2017


  • Modular storage unit (Pictured: IKEA Billy bookcases, from $30 each,
  • Measuring tape
  • Birch plywood, 3/4 inch wide
  • Wool felt
  • Circular saw
  • Eggshell paint
  • Multipurpose spray adhesive
  • 2 desk hinges with screws (Pictured: Vintage Hardware and Lighting H-13 extruded brass hinges, in Polished Brass, $21 for 2,
  • 2 lid-stay hinges with screws (Pictured: M-11R and M-11L wrought-brass lid stays, 10", $17.50 each,


  1. Measure width and height of opening you want to use for pulldown desk. Cut a piece of plywood to those dimensions. Paint to match shelf; let dry completely.
  2. Cut felt to dimensions of plywood. (Optional: Add a brass-and-leather handle for a cohesive look.) Spray one side of plywood with adhesive, press felt onto surface, and let dry.
  3. Remove shelf and cut down back edge by 3/4 inch (or have it cut at your local lumberyard).
  4. Align plywood desk with shelf. Screw 2 desk hinges into desk and then to shelf (A).
    pull down desk on bookshelf
  5. Place shelf and plywood desk in bookcase. Screw lid-stay hinges into shelf and desk (B).

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