Turn closet space into office space

Here's a plan to truly maximize household space

By Rick Campbell

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Customize the interior of the cabinets to suit your specific storage requirements. This may include drawers, adjustable shelving or designated areas for equipment. In one base cabinet I installed a vertical partition to separate the computer hard drive from a unique two-level drawer arrangement used to store CDs and other odds and ends. Notch the partition to fit around the cross braces at the top and meet the base panel with a simple butt joint at the bottom. Drive screws through the braces and the underside of the base panel to hold the partition in place.

The drawer assembly consists of shallow upper and lower trays joined to a melamine panel at the back and a painted medium-density fibreboard (MDF) drawer face at the front. The drawer face covers the entire width of the base unit and will look like a pair of cabinet doors. To create the simulated raised panel effect, I secured a 1/4″ plywood template to the drawer face with double-sided tape and followed around the edge with a handheld router equipped with a guide collar and a bead-and-cove profile bit. I also made a pass down the centre of the “door” using a curved radius V-groove bit and a straight edge to serve as a guide.

The melamine and MDF makes the drawer assembly heavy, so don’t skimp on the hardware. I used a pair of heavy-duty full-extension drawer slides attached to the bottom tray to carry the weight and make it easy to get to items in the back. The other base cabinet has a similar two-level storage unit, but this one fills the entire cavity. I put the printer on top and paper storage underneath.

Next, I prepared the 3/4″ birch ply desktop and secured it to the base cabinets using screws and L-brackets. The desktop profile curves outward in the centre to provide additional room to work and a place for the keyboard.

Complete the layout of the curved section by tracing along a thin strip of wood that has been flexed to form an arc. Cut out the straight sections first, using a circular saw and a board clamped to the plywood to serve as a guide, then tackle the curved part by following the layout line freehand with a jigsaw.

For a finished look, I capped the exposed plywood edge with thin strips of solid birch.

Upper cabinets
There are four modular cabinets above the desk that are screwed together to form a hutch, with enough space under the two centre units to house the monitor. These modules are not as deep as the lower cabinets, allowing the hutch assembly to be set back from the front of the desk to maximize the work area.

Drill holes in the side panels for the adjustable shelf pins before the cabinets are assembled. The shelves are birch ply, capped on the front edge with wide birch strips that overhang at the bottom to make the shelves look thicker than they actually are. Roundover the top and bottom edges of the strips at the router table before you apply them.

Measure and cut the hardboard panel that covers the back of the hutch, but don’t tack it in place until the cabinet modules are dismantled and moved into position for the final installation. The hardboard back extends slightly below the level of the hutch so it can be tacked to the rear edge of the desktop. Install a cord grommet just above the level of the desk to organize cables.

To avoid clutter and wasting valuable workspace with a desk lamp, I chose to light the monitor area with a pair of low-voltage halogen pot lights recessed into a melamine panel. The light panel is separated from the underside of the centre hutch units with 3/4″-thick cleats to form a wire chase. I concealed the entire assembly behind a solid birch valance attached with screws and L-brackets.

The face-mounted cabinet doors were constructed using the same method described earlier; install them with euro-style hinges.

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