This DIY Modular Desk is perfect for small spaces!
Tiny living certainly comes with its own set of challenges, but these challenges often ignite creative solutions.
In fact, some of my favorite RV projects have been the result of limitations set on our budget, time, availability, size, or weight restrictions. (And often a combination of these limits.)
DIY Modular Desk
Whether you’re looking for RV desk inspiration or simply need a space-saving solution, we hope this DIY Modular Desk will spark some ideas for your home workspace.
modular[ moj-uh-ler ]
composed of standardized units or sections for easy construction or flexible arrangement: a modular home; a modular sofa.
a self-contained unit or item, as of furniture, that can be combined or interchanged with others like it to create different shapes or designs.
I came up with the idea for this desk after deciding I needed a more “permanent” solution for my 27″ desktop computer. I wanted another option, other than setting up the desk in our living room, and decided to find a way to expand on the desk in the bedroom. Only I wasn’t digging any of the clip-on desk extender options I came across. Not only were options lacking, but styles were limited, prices were high, and none of them offered the amount of flexibility I wanted.
That’s not to say this project wasn’t without its flops. I first attempted to use hinges or sash locks while I waited for the table locks to arrive, but they weren’t nearly as secure. I also tried to use the Ikea Linnmon desktop because I loved how clean, modern, and lightweight it was, but the inside was made of honeycomb cardboard, leaving it near impossible to screw into and the edges unfinished when cut.
Sometimes you gotta fail before you succeed, especially when you’re trying something new or taking a risk.
Thankfully, Eric never gets tired of my ideas (or at least pretends not to) and is always excited to help me tackle another project.
Below you’ll find the video tutorial, where Eric walks through the steps to make this desk, which you can easily customize to your specifications.
Video Tutorial: DIY Modular Desk
Here’s the list of supplies mentioned in the video above:
- Saw (we used our circular saw)
- Measuring Tape
- Sanding Block
- Screws and Anchors (we used 1″)
- Wood for desk surface – we used edge-glued pine
- (2) 16″ heavy-duty shelf brackets (can be standard or folding)
- (1) folding shelf bracket
- (2) drop-leaf supports with hardware
- (5) table locks with hardware
- Paint or Staining Supplies
- Wood Filler (optional)
It’s crazy to think it’s been nearly a year since our video came out on this project, and I still hadn’t taken photos of it, whoops! If you watched the video above, you may notice the desk area looks a bit different than it does today.
And while this desk was mostly designed for me and my computer, you may notice all the photos in this post show Eric’s laptop. What’s funny is ever since this whole pandemic thing happened Eric’s been working at this desk and I’ve been working at the desk in the living room because it has more windows and makes me feel a little less couped up right now.
Anyway, I was too lazy to move my computer this past week which is why all the photos show Eric’s laptop. We may not have much space, but at least we have options!
And speaking of options, what I love most about this DIY modular desk is that it can be used in 3 different configurations, depending on who is using it and how.
Now I can work comfortably at this desk while keeping both a notebook and a cup of coffee within reach. The cut-out design that we use for our clip-on cup holder also makes it easier for us to still access the bedroom from the hallway. It’s crazy how a few inches make all the difference.
The primary desk area is about the same size as our previous flip-up desk but attached with standard brackets rather than folding ones. We made this change because in the 3+ years of traveling in our RV, we never folded the desk down. It was always up, and our cat, Kobe, enjoys hauling ass down the hallway around 4 am to jump on the desk. This would always give me a mini panic attack, and I’d be afraid the desk would collapse and whoever’s computer was on it would crash to the ground.
Thankfully, that never happened but when it came time to redesign the desk, I decided folding brackets weren’t necessary for our situation, and that standard brackets would actually bring me more peace of mind. This also allowed us to install a basket below the desk to store extra notebooks.
With that said, you can make this DIY modular desk even more flexible and space-saving if you choose to use all folding brackets.
On a side note, the folding bracket we purchased for the right side of the desk seems a bit flimsy when folded against the wall. It’s sturdy once up and locked into place, but doesn’t sit completely flush against the wall. It’s not super obvious, we didn’t realize it until after we installed it against the wall. Anyway, definitely make sure you buy quality folding brackets. The ones we previously had were nice and sturdy but too small to reuse (we never should have used that size for our flip-up desk in the first place, oops.)
As for storing the piece that attaches to the front, I usually just have it leaning against the wall, next to the flip-up piece, or store it in the closet next to the desk on travel days.
So what do you think of our RV desk setup? I hope this post has given you some inspiration or helped you think of how you can get more out of the space you currently have!
Try to match your brackets AND hardware to your desktop or walls so that they blend in. Our table locks are brass but had I purchased white ones (or painted them white) they wouldn’t stick out so much when the additional pieces aren’t attached. It’s not a huge deal, but it does make the desk look a bit sloppy underneath.