The area under a set of stairs is a notorious space-waster.
But it’s ideal for a compact home office. Flat-pack kitchen cabinets are an easy way to add storage, while laminated timber panels make a smart benchtop and desk. Complete the transformation with a set of rectangular box shelves for a stylish office display. Your home workstation, sorted!
Gather your supplies
- 1800 x 595 x 16mm white melamine panel
- 2200 x 610 x 26mm karri laminated panels (3)
- Flat-pack cabinets, drawer unit, doors, drawer fronts, panels and hardware to suit
You’ll also need
Tape measure; pencil; spirit level; power saw with fence attachment; drill; 30mm chipboard screws; clamps; power board; 54mm hole saw; double-sided tape; sliding bevel; 16mm spade bit; long 7mm drill bit; 5mm drill bit; PVA glue; 175mm batten screws; cloth; carnauba wax; scouring pad; 50 and 75mm wood screws; 25mm angle brackets
- When using power tools, wear all safety gear required. For more information, refer to your equipment pack instructions.
- Check all components against actual unit as it is being built before cutting to size.
- If you don’t extend the depth of the bench over the cabinets, as here, and have your own shelving solutions, you will only need 2 laminated panels for the benchtop and desk.
STEP 1 On wall, mark a point 736mm from floor and draw a level line around area from this point.
STEP 2 Measure distance of line along wall that meets slope of stairs. Determine combination of cabinets to suit this length and your storage requirements. Here, 900 and 300mm cabinets and a 450mm drawer unit. Gaps to walls on either side of cabinets can be covered with panels. Assemble cabinets, doors and hardware following product instructions.
STEP 3 Cut melamine panel to sit on floor where cabinets will be. Make panel go along whole length of floor along this wall, not just under cabinets themselves. Place flat on floor so edge of panel is 730mm from wall. If measuring from skirting, don’t forget to deduct thickness of skirting from the 730mm measurement.
STEP 4 Place cabinets in position on melamine panel. Make front edges of cabinets flush and clamp. Screw cabinets together using 30mm screws.
STEP 5 Make front edge of assembled cabinets flush with edge of melamine panel on floor. Predrill and screw through cabinets to melamine panel with 30mm screws.
STEP 6 To allow easy access to power once complete, install power board on inside of cabinet nearest power point. Use hole saw to drill hole in back of cabinet and feed plug from power board through it to power point. Attach power board to back of cabinet with doublesided tape. Don’t forget to switch power point on!
STEP 7 To extend width of laminated panel to suit required depth of benchtop over cabinets, you will need to join a 140mm-wide strip to panel. Cut strip out of a full panel using your power saw with fence attachment.
STEP 8 To join strip to benchtop, first use a 16mm spade bit to drill 50mm deep countersinking holes for batten screws along cut edge of strip. Place a hole 75mm from each end and 2 more evenly between these. Through holes, drill clearance holes for screws through the strip using a long 7mm drill bit. Place strip against full panel and transfer position of clearance holes to edge of panel with drill. Remove strip and drill 5mm pilot holes into panel for screws.
STEP 9 Spread glue along edges of strip and panel and press together. Use 175mm batten screws through countersinking holes to join together. Use a damp cloth to clean off excess glue and leave to set.
STEP 10 To cut angle on end of benchtop where it meets stairs, sit sliding bevel on top of cabinets where they meet stairs. Set blade to match slope. Transfer angle to edge of benchtop about 30mm from 1 end.
STEP 11 With power saw unplugged, use bevel to set angle of saw blade.
STEP 12 Clamp spirit level to benchtop as a guide for power saw, ensuring blade is on cutting line. So angle on saw blade matches drawn angle, start cutting about 10mm from actual cut line. If cut and drawn angles aren’t the same, slightly adjust angle of saw until they are. Cut angled end on benchtop.
STEP 13 Measure along cabinets from wall to stairs. Deduct 610mm from this to allow for width of desktop. Reset saw to 90°. Cut benchtop to this length, measuring from long side of angled cut.
STEP 14 Use a scouring pad to apply carnauba wax finish to benchtop before installing. Leave to dry for 5 minutes then buff with a dry cloth.
STEP 15 Place desk support vertically against wall 20mm from where desktop will end. Notch corner of support to fit around skirting. Fix to wall using angle brackets and 50mm screws into wall studs.
STEP 16 Cut desktop to length. Spread glue along edge of desktop where it will meet benchtop on cabinets. Place desktop and benchtop on desk support and cabinets. Ensure join between them is tight and they are flush with each other. To hold them together, use an offcut of melamine as a cleat to run under the join. Screw into both using 30mm screws. Wipe off excess glue. Screw up through rail at front of cabinets to attach tops. At back of cabinets and over desk support, fix tops using angle brackets.
STEP 17 Install drawer hardware, doors and handles onto cabinets. At each end of cabinets, cut filler panels to hide gaps between cabinets and walls. To fix panels, use melamine offcuts to create blocks screwed to sides of cabinets and wall. Glue panels to blocks, temporarily supporting panel until glue dries.
- Uprights 250 x 180 x 26mm karri laminated panel (4)
- Long shelf 1450 x 180 x 26mm karri laminated panel
- Short shelves 1150 x 180 x 26mm karri laminated panel (2)
Use leftover panels from desk and bench for shelf.
STEP 18 Use power saw with fence attachment to cut strips out of laminated panel 180mm wide. Cut components to length and sand cut edges smooth. Butt 1 upright into long shelf flush with one end. Predrill and screw through long shelf into upright with 75mm screws. Fix second upright to this face of long shelf so internal distance between uprights is 1098mm. Repeat to attach 2 other uprights to opposite face of long shelf, working from other end.
STEP 19 Sit 1 shelf on open ends of uprights and screw together. Repeat to fix second shelf to uprights on other side of long shelf.
STEP 20 Determine position of shelf unit and screw angle brackets to wall so they will sit on underside of shelf at top of unit. Make sure screws through brackets go into wall studs and are level. Lift shelf unit onto brackets and screw through them into shelf unit to secure.