This simple and inexpensive DIY floating desk is perfect for small spaces, and it can be adapted for kids or adults! See just how easy it is!
After bunk beds, the girls’ top wish for their new shared big girl bedroom makeover was desks. They’re still a little young to really NEED desks in their room, but they can do homework and art there… and cut up tiny bits of paper. WHY ALL THE TINY BITS OF PAPER??? After buying bunk beds, mattresses, and bedding, my budget for this project was dwindling fast. So instead of buying kid-sized desks, we decided to make inexpensive floating desks from plywood and metal brackets. We’ll be able to adjust the height of the desks as they grow- and as you’ll see, we mounted B’s desk higher on the wall than E’s. We used the same paint to makeover these inexpensive MARIUS stools from Ikea to go with the desks!
how to make a diy floating desk…
- sander (this is my favorite inexpensive orbital sander)
- 120 grit sandpaper (this multi-pack goes with the orbital sander)
- 60 grit sandpaper
- drill/impact driver (this is the set Peter uses & likes)
- sawhorses (optional)
- band saw (optional)
- 2 metal brackets
- spray paint (I used gold on the brackets and blue on the desk tops)
- BIN primer
- disposable paintbrush
- 4 1/2″ screws
- 4 1 1/2 or 2″ screws
1. cut plywood
We chose to make the girls’ desks 17″ x 36″. Peter cut them with a band saw. You can also ask them to cut your desktop to size at the lumber or hardware store and save yourself a step.
2. sand plywood
I used an orbital sander with 60 grit sandpaper to smooth out the cut plywood. 60 grit is a very rough sandpaper, so it’s good for a first sanding to remove any rough spots. Next, I used a 120 grit sandpaper (much finer) to create a really smooth finish. You could use an even finer paper (like 220 grit) if you want.
This great shellac-based primer will block any knots or woodgrain from bleeding through the paint. I use it on pretty much every painting project I do now. I like to use a disposable brush (and sometimes gloves) with it because it doesn’t clean up with water. You can use denatured alcohol to clean it up if necessary.
4. sand again
Once the primer was dry, I lightly sanded the desktops again, using the 120 grit sandpaper to remove any lumps and drips.
5. wipe off sawdust
Next, I used a damp rag to wipe off any sawdust left behind by the sander, and let it dry.
6. spray paint desktop
When spray painting, I always shake the can well, and hold it about 10 inches from the surface I’m painting. I do a light coat first, not covering everything. Then I let that dry for about 10 minutes. Then I come back and do a full-coverage coat, moving the can back and forth, and overshooting the edges to be sure I don’t end up with extra paint and drips on the edges. I might come back and do a third coat 20-30 minutes later if necessary.
7. spray paint brackets
I chose to spray paint the brackets gold. They would probably look cute left white too.
8. mount brackets to wall
We had each of the girls sit on their desk stools to determine their ideal desk height. The one in the video is El’s, and it’s lower than B’s because she’s younger and smaller. We marked the height on the wall. (Video coming soon!)
9. attach floating desk top to brackets
Once the brackets are firmly mounted to the wall, screw the desktop to the tops of the brackets from below, using the 1/2″ screws.
That’s it! Pretty simple, right???