10 DIY Desks That You Can Build for Your Home Office
Formal offices are slowly becoming a thing of the past, and traditional desk space is ever changing as more people work remotely. Creating a functioning workspace is crucial for productivity, research suggests, but that doesn't mean you need an entire room to house your desk and work tools. As workspaces become more crucial than ever in all homes, many are creating unique workstations that are both functional and stylish by simply building their desks themselves.
Our desk projects are designed to fit into any space seamlessly, and many of them use structural elements that you may already have including bookshelves, cabinets, and cubbies. You can easily upcycle furniture and construction materials into the base of your new desk from credenzas to secretaries, and even sawhorses. Over the years, we reimagined kitchen cabinets as a simpler solution for bulkier file cabinets, and unified a pair of tabletops in an open configuration that can fit against any stretch of wall. A metal rolling cart also gives this desk space an edge for crafting purposes; a cutting board with a grid tops the cart, frequently used tools hang from a magnetic towel rack, and an array of well-organized boxes and paper portfolios to keep materials secure.
Whether you're looking for a desk that doesn't overpower the room or you're in need of a tabletop for crafts when you're short on space, these assembly plans are simple and straightforward. Keep in mind that most desks are traditionally 28 to 30 inches high; subtract the surface thickness when you order and cut your own legs. Then, get to work on more of these easy ideas that can fit into any room in your home.
A 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. First, measure the width and height of the opening you want to use for a pull-down desk. Cut a piece of plywood to those dimensions. Paint to match shelf; let dry completely. Cut felt to the 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. Remove a shelf and cut down the back edge by 3/4 inch (or have it cut at your local lumberyard). Align the plywood desk with a shelf. Screw 2 desk hinges into the desk and then to the shelf. Place the shelf and plywood desk into the bookcase. Screw lid-stay hinges into both.
Workhorse Desk Space
To get a spacious desk for a song, lay a hollow-core door across two sawhorses. Coat them all with scuff-resistant high-gloss paint, and the sleek factor skyrockets. (We used Benjamin Moore's "Trout" Gray.) Then keep supplies in reach with color-blocked pegboard, magnetic sheet metal, and chalkboard that you can outfit with standard-issue hooks, magnets, and shelves. Spray-paint them gold to unify—and elevate—them. Organization? Achieved.
Benjamin Moore Paint, in Trout Gray, benjaminmoore.com. Jeld-Wen Unfinished Flush Hardwood Interior-Door Slab, 32" by 80", $41, homedepot.com. The Home Depot Pine Sawhorses, 29", $19 each, homedepot.com. Dimensions White Pegboard, 48" by 24", $9, homedepot.com. Everbilt 26-Gauge Zinc-Plated Sheet Metal, 12" by 24", $7, homedepot.com. Ook Hangman French Cleat Picture-Hanger Kit, $12 for 13 pieces, homedepot.com. #10 Brass Finishing Washers, $1.25 for 4, homedepot.com. Everbilt #10 Phillips Flat-Head Wood Screws, 21⁄2", $1.25 for 2, homedepot.com. Art to Frames Picture Frames, 24" by 36", in Natural Oak, $40 each, arttoframe.com. Industry West Hovy Armchair, $950, industrywest.com. Target Project 62 Dean LED Task Lamp, $30, target.com. Cofield Hand-Turned Arched Bookends, in Black and Maple, $190 a pair, food52.com.
You can easily make this elegant desk in less than half an hour with a stainless-steel top and hairpin legs. These metal legs can skew industrial or modern, and the synthetic coating ups the cost of each leg but also adds a pop of color. To start, place the tabletop upside down on the floor or work surface. Position a leg 1-inch from its corner, being sure it is over solid-wood portion of tabletop. Use a pencil to mark screw-hole locations; repeat this step for all corners. Using a 1/8" bit, drill pilot holes into tabletop at pencil marks. Reposition the leg and screw it in; repeat this step for all legs.
Some metal pipe and flanges, a sheet of plywood, and a drill are all it takes to make your own industrial chic furniture. This desk was made with a frame of one inch black steel pipe and oak plywood. For a more finished look, we covered the exposed edges with iron-on wood-veneer edge banding.
To build your own, download our assembly plan. Assemble both sides of the desk according to the side view of the plan. Connect threaded pieces, but do not yet fully tighten (you want a little give until all pieces are connected). Lay both sides next to each other to make sure they're straight and the same length; adjust as needed. Connect the sides with a 48-inch middle pipe. Place the desk top (measuring 54 by 31 inches, and 1 ½ inch thick) over the frame so that flanges are 1 inch in from sides. Using a 3/16-inch bit, drill shallow pilot holes into the desk top through each hole in flange; then drill in 3/4-inch screws; repeat this to attach the shelf (measuring 54 by 11 inches, and 3/4-inch thick). If you prefer a more stationary work surface, substitute the end caps at the base of the legs for floor flanges, which can be secured to the floor for added support.
Black Steel Pipe, 1" x 10', $3.25, homedepot.com. Plumbing SupplyBlack Malleable Iron Threaded T Joint, 1", $8, plumbingsupply.com. LDR Industries Black Iron Cap, 1", $3.12, homedepot.com. Columbia Forest Products Oak Plywood, 3/4", 4' by 8', $54, homedepot.com. Color Reform Spectrum Overdyed Rug, in Yellow, 7'10" x 9' 9", $3,360, abchome.com.
Adjustable shelves make it simple to create (and customize) an orderly home office. This all-in-one piece is especially practical if your home office is little more than a desk nook. The workhorses of the unit are the three steel standards that run vertically on either side of the shelves and down the middle. Once they're mounted to the wall, it takes seconds to raise or lower bracketed shelves according to your needs. To make this piece, we cut oak plywood planks in three depths: 12 inches for the top three shelves, 8 inches for the shallow shelf just above the desk, and 24 inches for the desk itself and the shelf below it. (The widths are 54 inches and 24 inches.) Then we upgraded the boards by edging each with a strip of leather and adding a copper tack to either end.
To add leather trim, line up leather strip with the edge of a plywood shelf. With a pencil, mark spots on leather for tacks, about 1/2 inch from each corner. Punch holes in leather at marked spots with the leather punch. Apply glue to both edge of the shelf and the back of leather strip. Adhere strip to the edge and press firmly. Predrill holes in shelf through holes in leather, thenhammer in tacks.
To fit containers, measure 4 inches in from edges and sides of shelf. Mark spot with a pencil. (This will be middle of first hole.) Make another mark 4 1/2 inches in from the first one, then another 4 1/2 inches from that one. Continue until you have marked a spot for every hole you intend to make. Attach hole saw to drill. Center it on first mark; drill through. Repeat this step with remaining marks. Sand the interior edges of each hole.
White Elfa Mounted Standards, 63", $13.50, containerstore.com. White Elfa Solid Shelf Brackets,7", 101/2", and 221/2",from $3.75 containerstore.com. Bigso Marten Magazine Holders,$9.74, containerstore.com. Columbia Forest Products Oak Plywood, 3/4" x 4' x 8', $54, homedepot.com. Tandy Leather Heavyweight Natural Cowhide-Leather Strip, 3/4", $15 for 72", tandyleather.com. Tandy Leather Deluxe Rotary Leather Punch, $15, tandyleather.com. Barge All-Purpose Cement, $8 for 2 oz., tandyleather.com. Milwaukee Tool Hole Dozer Bi-Metal Hole Saw, 3", $14.87, homedepot.com. Van Dyke's Restorers Copper Upholstery Tacks, 3/8" $13.30 for 100, vandykes.com. Poly Bookends, 8" x 7.5" x 5.5", $1,300, eggcollective.com. AgapeCaspa Tre 3 Chair, $1,876, suiteny.com.
An expansive work surface and plenty of storage—just what you need in a home office. Create this setup yourself with a door and two bookcases.
It’s no secret that doors make great desktops. They’re inexpensive, roomy, and readily available in a variety of sizes. But what about the rest of the desk? Sawhorses are great, but they don’t offer the storage low-rise bookcases do. Thirty-inch square bookcases are the ideal height for a desk and are the same width as a standard-size door. Prime and paint the bookcases, and top with a door finished in the same color. If space is tight (and you can’t find a ready-made door in your desired length), custom-order the size you need at a home-supply store. To give the desk a finished, cohesive look, add a few details: Line the back of the shelves with sheets of marbled paper (secured with double-sided tape), and hot-glue a ribbon around the edge of the desktop and leather cord across the shelves.
Masonite Smooth Flush Hardwood Hollow Core Birch Veneer Composite Interior Door Slab, 30" by 80", from $150.15, homedepot.com. Gothic Furniture Unfinished Lexington Bookcases, 12" by 30" by 30", $169, gothiccabinetcraft.com. MJ Trimming Greek Key Jacquard Ribbon (#41898), in Leaf Green/Ivory, 2 3/8", $15.98 per yd., mjtrim.com. Worlds Away Clayton G Lamp, $421, interiorhomescapes.com. Martha Stewart Living by Safavieh Handmade Layered Faux Bois Wool Rug, 9' by 12', $62.77, overstock.com.
Mini Office in a Chest
Minimal construction transforms a traditional piece of bedroom furniture into an unexpected multi-tasker—a bulletin board, filing cabinet, and mini office, all in one. We bought clear-plastic hanging folder file cases, slightly smaller than the chest interior, and slipped them inside. Cut two layers of 1/4-inch-thick cork (available at office-supply stores) to the size of your lid; affix them with cork glue to create a bulletin board. Use wood glue to attach a strip of molding along each side of the chest, several inches below the lip, to support a tray of office supplies. A cutlery holder may be wide enough, or you can glue together modular wooden craft boxes, and paint or stain them to match the chest.
Hidden Bookshelf Desk
Same-size bookcases, painted to match, are joined along one side by long piano hinges. One case is affixed to the wall; the other is set on casters to swing out and expose the workstation. Opened, it's a compact, self-contained, innovative crafts or office nook. Closed, it's far more decorative than any tidied-up desk, without the slightest hint of its contents.
Get started by cutting shelf panels, made from Plexiglass, to hold supplies on the swinging bookcase steady without obscuring what's behind them; bottom shelves are tall enough to accommodate books, magazines, and file folders. Then, create a fold-up desktop from plywood that's been painted that same shade as the bookcase's interior—attach it to the stationary case with self-locking hardware.
A secured pegboard backdrop puts all the necessary tools of the trade (from pliers to paper clips) within reach, and battery-powered LED lamps installed in the bookcase's molding can help shed light on your projects. We finished the exterior of the workspace using a swatch of complementary wallpaper framed in decorative molding, which is on display when the case is closed.
Custom Secretaire Desk
We transformed dead hallway space into a functional desk with the help of a secretaire, which has enough work and storage space for routine filing and paperwork without feeling too much like an office. We separated the cubby into compartments with brass tension rods, which introduce order, but not holes or scratches. Positioned vertically, the rods anchor folders; used horizontally, however, they display reminders and notes clipped to drapery clamp rings. Lower shelves provide ample storage, as you can use upright file boxes as well as a two-tier inbox to hold unopened mail and papers that need to be sorted. The best part? The secretaire's fold-down desktop can easily be closed up at the end of the day.
Three bookcases encased in a frame create a home office that can be hidden by a hollow door on tracks when the desk is not being used. A pullout shelf, above left, accommodates a laptop. A wireless printer is set on an acrylic riser to provide storage for paper. The stool fits in next to the printer. A recharging hub is crafted from two hinged boxes. A power strip is anchored inside the bottom box with Velcro fasteners. Cords are threaded through grommets to the top box, where cord hooks hold each device in place. The box is left open when recharging to avoid heat buildup. Fashion a "drawer" by positioning a shelf just under the desktop. It's a great landing spot for personal electronics. Drill large holes in a shelf to fit containers for pencils, scissors, and other office supplies.