Build a Midcentury-Style Modular Desk Unit

Score a sleek, retro-looking desk using hardware store materials and these easy DIY instructions.

Dabito Midcentury Desk
Project Overview
  • Working Time: 2 hours
  • Total Time: 1 day
  • Skill Level: Beginner

Create a display space that's completely customized to your collection of favorite accents. Dabito crafted this wall unit, complete with a built-in desk area, for just $230. Brass-colored spray paint spiffs up the metal brackets. For shelves, instead of staining plywood, he used particle board by Rubbermaid.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • 1 Tape measure
  • 1 Level
  • 1 Power drill or driver
  • 1 1/4-inch drill bit for the anchors
  • 1 1/8-inch drill bit for the shelves
  • 1 Hammer


  • 1 Rustoleum primer spray paint
  • 1 Rustoleum gold metallic spray paint
  • 4 70-inch twin tracks upright by Rubbermaid
  • 17 11-1/2-inch twin track shelf brackets by Rubbermaid
  • 3 18-1/2-inch twin track shelf brackets by Rubbermaid
  • 5 Twin track hardware packs by Rubbermaid
  • 4 12 x 24-inch shelf by Rubbermaid
  • 3 12 x 48-inch shelf by Rubbermaid
  • 1 3/4 x 20 x 48-inch plywood


  1. Paint the Tracks

    Spray-paint the tracks and brackets outside or in a ventilated workspace. Apply a layer of primer first, then two layers of gold paint. Let dry.

  2. Mark and Measure

    Mark holes for the tracks. Place the track vertically 21 inches off the floor. Use a level to ensure the track is straight. Mark the seven holes with a pencil.

    Move on to the next track. Use a tape measure to measure 22 inches from those marks. Place the second track vertically, 21 inches off the floor, with a level to mark holes. Repeat this step two more times.

  3. Install the Tracks

    Use a 1/4-inch drill bit to drill the marked spots on the wall. Gently hammer anchors into the wall. Line up each track over anchors, then screw it in.

    Editor's Tip: The type of hardware you use to attach the rails will differ, based on the material of your wall and whether you're attaching to a stud. Drywall, plaster, and brick walls each require unique hardware.

  4. Secure the Shelves

    Pop the shelf brackets into the tracks to your desired configuration. Place the wooden shelves on the brackets. For standard desk height, measure 29 inches from the floor. There are countless ways to configure the shelves, so it's really up to you if you want to include a desk or just create shelves.

    Use screws to secure the brackets to each shelf. Dabito first used an 1/8-inch drill bit to create a hole for the screws. You can also spot-treat the screws by dabbing on some gold paint with a brush.

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