Creating Usable Under Desk Storage Space
Desk pedestals and other suitable drawers and cabinets to fit under the desk are a neat way to utilise under desk storage; and they are not over expensive to buy. However, where you don’t have a pedestal, and in far back corner spaces under desk, the spaces can be less accessible and either used as a dumping ground or underutilised.
In our home-office we do have a couple of pedestals (one for me, and one for my wife) and a paper cabinet which we kept from when (years ago) had a photocopier. The pedestals aren’t quite as high as the desk, so we use the top of one of the pedestals as a handy place to keep rulers.
We also had a metal tea trolley in the far corner under the desk (which was used as a dumping ground), and an Ikea computer desk that I put under the side desk. We bought a cheap Ikea computer desk years ago as a prop for a video my son had to make as part of his university degree in ‘media broadcasting’; and when he finished with it I used it as the support for the side desktop.
The Ikea desk was convenient in that our rubbish bins slid in underneath it; however:
- The shelf wasn’t very high, so it’s access and use was limited, and
- The desktop extended beyond the sides, which created wasted space on one side of the Ikea desk.
Therefore, as part of a recent home-office makeover we rationalised our under desk storage in three main ways, as detailed below:
- Repurpose a drawer, as a desk drawer, from a redundant pine dining table.
- Modify and relocate the Ikea computer desk to the far corner, under the main desk, replacing the metal tea trolley.
- Make a new bespoke shelving unit, from recycled wood, to fit under the side desk.
When he moved home, a friend of ours gave us a pine dining table which we repurposed as a sewing table in our conservatory. Recently, a relative gave us an old oak dining table, with fold down side flaps, which needed a lot of repair and renovation. Once I’d renovated the oak table we swapped it in with the pine table as a replacement sewing table; because when folded down the oak table took up less floor space.
Thus the pine table became redundant, and with our friends consent we decided to recycle the wood as part of our home-office makeover. The table top was recycled as shelving in the office alcove, replacing the old veneered chipboard shelving, and some of the wood was also used as part of the replacement desk corner unit I made during the office makeover.
The table drawer itself, I salvaged and fitted under the main office desk, above where we sit, as a convenient stationery drawer.
Rationalising Under Desk Storage in the Far Corner
This is one of the most inaccessible parts of the office, and previously had just been used as a dumping ground. I had slipped a redundant metal tea trolley in this space, to put the base speaker on; but otherwise, the rest of the trolley’s shelving wasn’t easily accessible and just used for dumping.
However, on reflection, I could see potential for the Ikea computer desk, with modifications, being a better fit; and facilitating better use of the space. It would still mean crawling under the desk to use the storage space, however the main advantages of replacing the tea trolley with the Ikea computer desk would be:
- The shelving would be easier to use and keep tidy, and
- If I added a base, it would be easier to keep junk off the floor; making it easier to vacuum and sweep the floor, to keep the floor under the desk cleaner.
Also, the teas maid trolley wouldn’t go to waste as it’s far sturdier to the metal trolley my wife uses in the conservatory for some of her sewing stuff; so it would make a nice replacement.
The steps I took to make these modifications were as follows:
- Empty and remove the teas maid trolley from under the main desk.
- Empty and remove the Ikea computer desk from under the side desk.
- Accurately measure the height under the main desk and shorten the Ikea computer desk to fit e.g. the worktop for the main desk is about ½ inch thicker than the worktop used for the side desk; plus it had to be a little lower to clear the support beams for the desktop.
- Making a base for the Ikea computer desk. Using one of the old veneered chipboard alcove shelves, replaced with pine shelving from the redundant dining table (as part of the office makeover).
- Using a piece of recycled 1” x 2” timber as the front kickboard, and side supports, for the base shelf.
- Gluing and screwing the kickboard, and side supports, to the base shelf.
- Using the side supports and clamps to glue and screw the base board to the base of the Ikea computer desk.
- Recycling one of the old office alcove shelves as a back stop to the newly created base shelf; fixing it to the outside of the back of the cupboard to create a gap large enough to thread cables through as part of cable management.
- Slide the modified Ikea computer desk into position under the main desk; leaving a gap at the back and far end for cable management; and then rewire the base speaker in position on the top shelf.
- Finally, store things, that don’t need frequent access, neatly in the new under desk storage shelving.
Making Bespoke Shelving Unit Under Side Desk
The existing Ikea computer desk under the side desktop didn’t make the best of the space because the top shelf was quite small (restricting its access and use), and because of the wasted space between the left hand side and the wardrobe.
Therefore, I decided to:
- Relocate the Ikea computer desk to the corner under the main desk, where it would be better suited for storage, as described above, and
- In its place, make a bespoke shelving unit for under the side desk to better meet our requirements.
The main criteria for the new bespoke shelving unit being:-
- The top shelf would be high enough to be able to store files and folders upright, and
- The left hand side panel would be dispensed with, to maximise storage space.
The advantages of the modifications being:
- A taller shelf under the desk makes it easier to see and access; and
- By having a wider storage space on the floor under the side desk also meant we could have two matching square black waste bins; one bin for general waste, and the other for confidential waste e.g. the blue waste bin we’d been using isn’t as wide as the black bins.
To complete this part of the project I used wood recycled from the old veneered chipboard shelving in the office alcove; which as part of the office makeover, I’d already replaced with pine wood recycled from the redundant pine dining table.
As I was using veneered chipboard for the shelf, and because it was 2 ½ feet wide, to provide extra support for the shelf and prevent it from bowing under weight, I added a middle shelf divide to the shelving unit to distribute the weight.
The steps I took to make and fit the bespoke shelving unit were:-
- Empty the Ikea computer desk shelf, and clear the side desk desktop.
- Remove the side desktop out of the way, so as to be able to remove the Ikea computer desk.
- Measure up the available space and draw a sketch plan of the new unit with measurements; so as to work out a cutting list.
- Gather together all the scrap and salvaged wood I’d need for this mini-project.
- Measure, mark and cut all the pieces to size.
- Assemble all the pieces with glue and screws.
- Fit in place, using shelf support screwed and glued to the wardrobe; to support the shelf and side desktop.
- Screw the shelving unit to the side desktop to secure in place.
- Put everything back in place.
Part of the design of the new shelving unit was to fix a half-height back panel to the shelf to give accessible space behind the shelf for cable management.
Recycling and Repurposing
When doing a major makeover, do you salvage, recycle and repurpose what you can or do you buy new?
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2020 Arthur Russ