DIY Closet Desk | Fall One Room Challenge | Week 2

We're back!!! Week 2 of the One Room Challenge is underway. You can get caught up on Week 1 here. We are remodeling the office/homeschool room, and things are going great! This week I'm sharing how we turned the closet in the office into a built in desk/bookshelf space. We used minimal materials for this project, and it took about 2 days to complete...well...maybe 3 since I'm a slow painter. Ha! Full disclosure: We did this portion of the remodel back in August...have to take advantage of vacation days (and help from the husband!) when we have them, right? Read on for all the details!

Small Space Office Closet Desk with Built In Book Shelves and Industrial Pipe Storage Shelves

Fall One Room Challenge Week 2

Get caught up here:

Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5 | Week 6

DIY Built-In Office Closet Desk 

When we moved in (almost) 2 years ago, I knew immediately what we were going to do with the front bedroom. The room is awkwardly located in the front of the house next to the kitchen, and while not the ideal location for a bedroom it is the perfect spot for an office. 

Originally we wanted to open up more of the room to have it flow into the living space. Unfortunately, the angles of the walls just didn't provide a very easy way to do that, so we compromised by widening the doorway. In order to keep it a "4th bedroom" in-case we ever sell in the future, we widened to the measurements of a French door kit (you can purchase kits like this one).  I have visions of vintage glass window doors, but for now (small kids in the house, need I say more?) we're leaving the space open. 

We took the closet doors off the tracks, but are leaving the tracks installed. They aren't noticeable since there is a molding that conveniently hides the tracks unless you are standing right under them. If we ever decide to sell, we can easily put the doors back on the tracks so there is a "closet" again. 

After the closet doors were down, I was able to take down the insides of the closet - the shelf and clothes hanging rod. It was really easy to get in there with a crowbar and remove them, surprisingly easier than I had imagined it would be! The builders used some kind of glue on the board that was used to support the shelf, so that was a little challenging. The wall needed to be sanded a little to even out the texture, but it was an easy fix.

DIY Closet Desk Before Installing the Shelf and Desk

Materials Used

- Plywood Sheet (Desk)
- Fence Boards (Shelving)
- 1x2 Boards (Book Shelf and Desk Supports)
- Metal Piping/Floor Flanges (Shelf Supports)
- Stain and Paint

Overall Cost of the project: $250.00

The cost was a little more than I usually like to spend on can barely even buy a desk from Ikea for that! So looking at the space, storage, and usability gained, along with the customization, it was worth every penny spent!

Not factored into the cost is the electrical work we had done before we moved in. We knew we would eventually be converting the closet space into a built-in desk, so we had our electrician wire the closet with outlets to plug in computers/chargers/etc. Bonus, the outlet has USB ports for charging phones/iPads etc. So happy we looked ahead and did that!

Electrical Outlet With USB Port Charging Installed in the Closet Desk


Once everything was cleared out of the closet, we installed the supports for the desk and book shelves. We measured from the floor up to determine the height of the desk, and then from the desk on up, the height of the book shelves. The desk height was just tall enough to slide a file cabinet under it. I would have preferred to have the file cabinet on wheels, but we wanted to give the desktop a little bit more support with a slightly more permanent solution. It isn't ideal for using the top drawer of the file cabinet, but I use it to store things we don't use often.

Installing the Closet Shelf Supports in the DIY Closet Desk


For the desktop, we used a large sheet of plywood cut to size. My awesome husband made the cuts for me and sanded it down. We rounded the edge of the plywood that is exposed on the desk because plywood can sometimes be kind of sharp and "poky" on the edges. Sanding it down really helped to smooth it out. After it was sanded, we stained the plywood a dark gray. It turned out much darker than I had envisioned, but I'm happy with it!

Painting the inside of the office closet desk space


My main goal was to have the desk space as "airy" as possible so it doesn't feel closed in or claustrophobic. We desperately need storage for school and craft supplies, so shelving was definitely on the must have list. For the book shelves, we installed the supports on either side of the desk. The shape of the closet was pretty even on each side, so it worked well to have the book shelves climb up either side of the desk. I wanted the supports for the shelves and desk to blend in, so we painted them  the same as the wall color.

Painting the inside of the office closet desk space and the shelf supports

For the storage shelves, we used metal plumbing pipes to build out the support. After the walls were painted, we located the studs in the wall, and attached the flanges to the wall with wood screws into the studs. Once the flanges were screwed in, we just attached the pipes and the fittings to the flanges. We didn't use glue, although I kind of worry that we should have! But my builder husband seems to think they are pretty secure in there, so I trust his judgement.

Industrial Pipe Shelving in DIY Closet Desk

We cut the boards for the shelves and stained them the same color as the desk top. Installing the bookshelves was pretty easy since they just sit on the supports, although we did use the nail gun in a few spots to give them a little more support. The storage shelves were also fairly simple. The shelves just sit on the piping, but we added some clamps to keep the board from sliding around.

Painted inside of the closet with the DIY desk and shelves installed


I don't have many this time! The project went really smooth (for once, ha!).

The most important "tip" I have is to make sure you check your plywood very carefully when you buy it. Look for any weird imperfections in the "grain", check for smoothness, and you don't want a board that is warped. You want the plywood sheet to be as flat as possible. Actually, you want all of the boards you buy as flat as possible! Have your measurements with you at the store, and have the awesome customer service guys cut things for you! Most stores will give you a couple of free cuts and charge for additional cuts. Totally worth it in my opinion. If any of your boards need to dry out a little, make sure to lay them flat on the ground and don't prop up on their sides, it will bend and dry funny that way.

DIY Gray Closet Desk with Built In Shelves Aqua Farmhouse Style Chairs Chalkboard and Vintage Globes

Make sure to check back for Week 3 - I'll be sharing info on the DIY Closet Desk paint choices, and all the fun little details.

Be sure to check out the other awesome rooms in the One Room Challenge!

DIY Closet Desk Transformation for the Fall One Room Challenge Week 2

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  1. This is awesome. Turned out SO good. Can't wait to see how it all turns out.

    1. Thank you! I can't wait to see it all together too!

  2. It's looking good! I love the little caddy on the desk!

    1. Thanks! That little farmhouse tool box was a great find at a thrift store!

  3. What a great use of space! I love it. It turned out great!

    1. I'm so happy I gave up the closet/storage for usable space!

  4. This project was definitely well worth the price spent. What a great use of space!

    1. Thanks! I'm so happy with how everything turned out!

  5. So cute and I love your color choices. What a great idea!.

    1. Thanks! I'm happy with how it's all coming together!