If you have an old TV armoire that needs a new purpose, why not repurpose it into a stylish, organized and space-saving desk solution. This step by step tutorial will teach you exactly how to transform a TV armoire into a functional hidden desk for your workspace needs.
It’s not often that I get to solve four decorating problems with one project, but this is one of those projects.
I had home office stuff stashed everywhere, a dys-functional charging station, a make-shift laptop desk and a TV armoire that I liked but no longer needed.
After moving that TV armoire into the “library” (really a bedroom that I use as a den), I finally came up with the solution. Convert the TV armoire into a desk!
Keep reading to find out how.
The Original Armoire
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Here’s what I started with.
Now that I no longer have any big box TV’s, I don’t really need a TV armoire.
But I still like the design of it and hate to get rid of it.
The gold details on the armoire happen to go pretty well with the black and gold color scheme in my den.
So I didn’t bother changing the outside (although at some point I may decide to paint it with black lacquer, like I did with my router storage cabinet).
Here’s the inside of the original TV armoire. It has lots of space for organizing, but it’s not very pretty in its current state!
So I had to come up with a way to make it look nicer and address the list of things that I wanted my desk to have:
- a slide out shelf for my laptop.
- a place to hide my printer
- storage for all those pens, pencils, erasers, staplers, pads of paper, etc. that I can never seem to find
- a charging station to get all of those cords in a central location
- a place to store the Tivo and stereo receiver (okay…those aren’t really office-y things but I have a TV and a stereo in the room so I need somewhere to put them)
- lots of electrical outlets to plug in all of these electronics
- no masses of cords in plain site
- lighting so that I can see inside the armoire
- a small bulletin board so tack up messages
- gold spray paint*
- black lacquer spray paint*
- center under mount drawer slide*
- 2 – 3/4″ pieces of plywood or MDF for the slide-out laptop shelf, and the additional armoire shelf
- stick on lights*
- bulletin board / letter holder* (similar)
- wooden paper organizer* (similar) – This will be used for the charging station. The idea is to find one that has shelves or drawers you can use for small electronics. Wood works best because you will need to drill some holes in the back
- cordless screwdriver
- cordless drill
- 1/2″ drill bit
Step 1: Spray Paint The Inside
Since I will have to look at the inside of the armoire more often now, I needed to make it a little more attractive.
So I decided to spray paint it gold (which goes with the accents in the armoire and the room).
The reflective surface will also help it be a little less cave-like. I taped paper across the holes at the back of the armoire so that the paint didn’t up on the back wall.
Spray paint is great because it dries so fast, but the fumes are really strong.
So I had to open the windows, bring in a couple of fans and wear a mask while I was painting.
Step 2: Add A Slide-Out Shelf For My Laptop
Then I tackled the inside.
First, I wanted a slide-out laptop shelf. The shelf in the armoire is a little less than 30″ off the ground which is the perfect height for a computer keyboard.
Since the door opening comes in from the sides of the armoire, I couldn’t use standard side-mount drawer slides.
I went for an old-school-style center mount drawer slide* that is a single rail under the shelf.
It ended up giving a really clean look that I love (you can’t see the hardware!). However, it doesn’t pull out all the way, and it isn’t quite as smooth and stable as having drawer slides on both sides. So if that is important to you, you may want to use a different kind of drawer slide.
I was able to re-use a piece of board left over from another project (I knew there was reason why I kept all those old boards hanging around!)
I got lucky. I didn’t even have to cut it. Just spray painted it gold, installed the drawer slide, and it was ready to go.
If you aren’t so lucky, you’ll need to cut a piece of board (or have them do it for you at the hardware store) that’s a little smaller than the inside of your armoire. And make sure that it’s narrower than the door opening by about an inch.
If you’re not sure how to install a drawer slide, this video from Wood magazine does a pretty good job of explaining it for 3 different types of drawer slides.
If you’re doing a center mount installation like I did, it’s at the end of the video, starting around the 14 minute mark.
He’s talking about standard kitchen drawers but it works for our slide-out shelf, too. Just think of it as a drawer without the sides.
Step 3: Add a Shelf Over The Laptop Area
Next I added a shelf over the pull out laptop shelf. This is where the printer, cord storage and paper inbox will go.
This shelf has to stretch across 30″ without any middle support and will have some relatively heavy equipment on it, so I wanted to use a thick enough board that it wouldn’t sag.
Since I was re-using boards from a previous project again, the ones I had were only 1/2″ thick.
The solution? Stacking 2 boards on top of each other and gluing them together created a really sturdy 1″ thick shelf.
I also decided not to attach this shelf to the sides of the armoire for a couple of reasons:
- The first is that the wood used for the sides of the armoire is not very thick and I was afraid that drilling holes into it for a shelf support would have gone right through.
- The second is that if I ever need to take the shelf out for some reason, it can be lifted right out.
To do this, I cut 2 additional boards the depth of the armoire space and about 4″ high to act as the supports for the shelf.
Then I screwed the double-board shelf to the top of those supports and placed the whole thing in the armoire.
Step 4: Add Lights
Now I was ready to add the accessories to the interior space.
First I added some LED lights* to the top of the armoire.
These are battery-operated ones so there are no cords to worry about.
And they just stick on, so the installation is really easy, too.
Step 5: Add Bulletin Board and Printer
Next I added the printer (no special picture for that…it’s not very exciting).
Then I updated the bulletin board / letter holder with a coat of black lacquer spray paint and some leopard print fabric stapled to the bulletin board. This was just nailed to the back of the armoire.
The great thing about using a TV armoire for a desk is that they usually have holes already cut in the back for cords, so all those cables can go out the back where you don’t see them.
This is the same letter holder/bulletin board that I originally had hanging on the wall…it looks a bit better now 🙂
Step 6: Add Cord Organizer and Paper Inbox Organizer
Now I needed something to use for a charging station as well as a place for papers, envelopes and notebooks.
I re-used the same paper inbox organizer that I had before.
Then drilled holes in the back of it that were big enough to fit the ends of the charging cables.
A 1/2″ drill bit should do it, unless you have some cords with big ends.
If you don’t have a paper organizer like this, a small shelf will also work.
Finally, I spray-painted the whole thing black.
The bottom shelves act as a charging station. The slots at the top are perfect for envelopes, papers and notebooks.
Step 7: Add Pegboard Storage on the Doors
The last step was to add storage for all of the office supplies that I can never find when I need them…pens, pencils, erasers, staplers, scissors, etc.
For this, I installed decorated pegboard to the inside of the armoire doors.
Pegboard is the most amazing organizational tool ever! And when it’s decorated, it looks good, too.
The Finished Desk
And here’s the final look with everything installed.
It’s a huge improvement compared to what it looked like before I started on my journey to convert a TV armoire to a desk.
And definitely functions better than the original mess!
Other desk ideas you might like
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This post was originally published on August 31, 2015 but was updated with new content on August 31, 2023.