How to Build Wall Mounted Desks & Shelves

Updated June 20, 2018

Tucking a small work space into a home is a win-win for many homeowners. The kids have a place to do homework and you have a work centre in a convenient location. With the addition of shelves, a clip-on lamp and a comfortable chair, your wall-mounted desk becomes an entire at-home office. In addition, whether you are petite or tall, you can adjust the height of your desk to an ergonomically correct height. This is a one-weekend project for a DIY homeowner.

Measure the wall where you plan to install the desk and shelves. Mark the width and the height of the desk on the wall with a pencil. Allow for some "elbow room." While a laptop is small, you need enough desk space to prop up a book or lay out the bills. Also locate the nearest electrical socket for the power strip.

Find the studs with a stud finder. Mark the centre of each stud with a pencil. Generally studs are 16 inches on centre, so after you locate the first stud, measure 16 inches to the right or left and check with the stud finder. Adjust the desk location so that the support brackets are 32 inches apart -- enough space for your chair and knees to fit under the desk.

Install the large brackets, using the deck screws to attach to the studs. After installing the first bracket, have your helper hold the desktop in place. Using the level, make sure it is perfectly horizontal before installing the second bracket. Once both brackets are installed, centre the desktop on top of the brackets. Drill two wood screws up through each bracket and into the desktop.

Measure up from the desktop, allowing at least 18 inches between the desk and the first shelf. Mark the shelf locations with a pencil, allowing 12 inches between the shelves.

Install the smaller shelf brackets, again attaching to the studs with the deck screws. Center the shelves on top of the brackets and drill the wood screws up through the brackets and into the bottom of the shelves.

Add a clip-on lamp, desk accessories and baskets to your new wall-mounted work centre.


Sit down in your chair and hold your arms out at a 90-degree angle. Have a helper measure from your hands to the floor. This is the ergonomically correct height for your keyboard. Adjust your desk height accordingly. The hardware store can cut the desktop and shelves to size. An extra piece of countertop or butcher'd block can be substituted for the birch plywood desktop. A 24-by-36-by-2-inch hardwood board may also substitute for the birch plywood. Sand any rough edges with fine-grit sandpaper before staining or painting. Stain the desktop and shelves before installing. If you are painting the shelves, an inexpensive plywood or pine boards may be used instead of the birch plywood.


Always use safety equipment when using power tools, such as safety glasses and gloves. If your desk or shelves are wider than 3 feet, use an extra bracket in the centre for support. Books and supplies are heavy. Always mount to the wall studs. Drywall is not strong enough to hold the weight of a desk and shelves. Even if you use drywall anchors, use caution when loading shelves with books.

Things You'll Need

  • Measuring tape
  • Pencil
  • Stud finder
  • Level
  • Drill with screwdriver bit
  • 2 large decorative brackets
  • 6 small decorative brackets
  • Deck screws, 3-inch
  • Wood screws, 3/4-inch
  • 1 piece birch plywood, 24-by-36-inch
  • 3 pieces birch plywood, 10-by-36-inch
  • Sandpaper, fine-grit
  • Clip-on lamp
  • Desk accessories
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About the Author

With degrees in fine and commercial art and Spanish, Ruth de Jauregui is an old-school graphic artist, book designer and published author. De Jauregui authored 50 Fabulous Tomatoes for Your Garden, available as an ebook. She enthusiastically pursues creative and community interests, including gardening, home improvement and social issues.