Is working from home now a part of your weekly routine? If you need a desk but don’t have the space, this simple D.I.Y. project transforms a storage unit into a desk, creating a flexible option you can use during the week when required and quickly and easily pack away when you don't.
If you already have a storage cube, you will need to remove everything from it before getting to work. This includes any inserts or books – we need a blank canvas!
We need to remove some of the shelves from the storage unit to make room for our desk. This model uses an Allen key for its screws. Start with the top ledge, unscrewing all of the screws and removing the shelf and divider from the unit. Remove any dowels that might be sticking out, as well. Make sure to put all of the screws and dowels in a safe spot – we’re going to need some of them again!
Next, move to the left and the right of the unit, unscrewing the screws that keep the top horizontal shelf in place. Remove the top vertical shelf and its dowels, placing these in your safe spot. Repeat with both the horizontal and vertical shelves until half of the unit is empty.
Now we need to replace the top ledge. Place the dowels in the top holes on both the left and right sides of the unit. Carefully snap the top ledge back into place and secure with screws, using your Allen key. Once they are secure, flip the storage unit so that the empty half is now at the bottom, with the four existing shelves remaining at the top.
Our desk will run on tracks, making it easy to slide in and out. Using a tape measure and a pencil, mark where your tracks will go on the inside edge of the unit. We suggest approximately 30mm from the shelf above. Make sure you mark at both the front and the rear of the unit. Use a spirit level to ensure your marks are level, drawing a line from one mark to the other. Repeat on the other side of the unit so that you have two level lines running from the front to the rear of the unit.
Now we’re going to screw in our tracks on either side, where our marks are. Screw into place using a drill, ensuring that you are following your marked line. Repeat on the other side.
Using a tape measure, measure the inside length and depth of your storage unit so you know how big you need the hidden desk to be. In this case, ours is 35cm deep and 69cm long.
Mark out these measurements on your MDF panel. Use a spirit level to draw a line between each mark, creating a stencil for you to follow.
Now it’s time to cut the MDF to size. (You will want to be outside for this part.) Put on your safety equipment. Using a circular saw, carefully cut along each of your line markings to cut out your hidden desk.
Now that you have your two panels cut to size, it’s time to screw them together. Place the long edge of the shorter piece against the face of your desk at a right angle. Carefully screw together – one screw at either end and one in the middle – using a drill and screws.
Carefully place some quick-dry filler onto your spatula and apply over each screw. Be careful to remove any excess filler. Leave to dry.
Once dry, lightly sand each screw to remove any final filler and create a smooth finish. We’d suggest using 220-grade sandpaper or sanding block.
Now it’s time to apply the undercoat. (Lay down a drop sheet or old pieces of cardboard over your working area to protect from paint splatters.)
Once the undercoat has dried, there’s an option to apply a coat of coloured paint. Just make sure to cover all visible sides of the MDF. You don’t need to do the underside, but can if you prefer. Leave to dry.
Place a runner along one of the long sides of your desk. The end with the wheel should sit on the open end of the desk (opposite to the corner). Screw into place using screws and a drill – there should be four spots for screws. Repeat with the other side.
Using a tape measure and a pencil, measure and mark the exact middle of the shorter MDF panel. Drill a hole at this point, and then screw your handle into place. The handle should face outwards.
Your desk is now ready to be installed! Slide the desk into the tracks, with the drawer front facing outward.
Now all that’s left to do is replace the décor on your existing shelves and enjoy your desk!
Asbestos, lead-based paints and copper chromium arsenic (CCA) treated timber are health hazards you need to look out for when renovating older homes. These substances can easily be disturbed when renovating and exposure to them can cause a range of life-threatening diseases and conditions including cancer. For information on the dangers of asbestos, lead-based paint and CCA treated timber and tips for dealing with these materials contact your local council's Environmental Health Officer or visit our Health & Safety page.
When following our advice in our D.I.Y. videos, make sure you use all equipment, including PPE, safely by following the manufacturer’s instructions. Check that the equipment is suitable for the task and that PPE fits properly. If you are unsure, hire an expert to do the job or talk to a Bunnings Team Member.