It's easy and inexpensive to install your own work surface for gardening, tinkering, and more. Take advantage of spare corners or roomier corners with these four DIY workbench ideas.

By Kelly Roberson

What it is: Made from just two pallets, the materials for this rustic potting bench come together quickly. It has ample work surface and storage on nearly every side for a low-key, easily accessible DIY workbench.

Why you'll like it: The rustic style equals a forgiving DIY design, especially for those just getting started on building their own projects, and materials are fairly inexpensive.

Where it can go: Try it either in the garage or a garden shed or perhaps outside under a large awning or covered space. A basement in need of a laundry station may be a good option, too.

Make it your own: Add found hooks on the sides and baskets in open storage for country- or cottage-influenced style. Create two for an even more expansive workbench, and paint them with bright colors or decorative accents for a personalized work station.


Convert a Cabinet into a Work Center

What it is: A cast-off furniture piece gets new life as a charming, workaday station with plenty of storage options.

Why you'll like it: Cheery colors and a tile work surface dress up the surfaces, making this piece design- and work-smart. Doors, drawers, and shelves offer different-size spaces for all sorts of items. In addition, nearly any type of armoirelike furniture (including a base and a hutch, or a base and shelves) works for this DIY workbench.

Where it can go: This option can be repurposed for a range of uses. Choose the right color scheme, and this DIY workbench becomes a focal point in a garage or garden shed outside, or inside in a mudroom, craft room, office, or kitchen nook. Because of the finish, the potting bench should be located in a spot that's protected from the elements.  

Make it your own: Swap the countertop tile for a solid surface, or cut a hole in the work surface to make it easier to sweep potting soil into the container below. Install short rods inside one of the doors to hold items such as wire or ribbon, or consider a small section of pegboard (either on a door or cabinet back) for hanging storage. Add exterior hooks on the side walls for tall tools, or take out the drawers and replace with open shelves.

Enlist Castoff Kitchen Cabinets for a Workbench Nook

What it is: Put a few budget-smart, off-the-shelf hardware store supplies together for a nook that has surface space as well as hooks, shelves, cabinets, hanging spots, and more.

Why you'll like it: There's lots of flexible storage as well as enclosed spots to keep less-tidy items out of view. Plus, the project comes together in just a few hours.

Where it can go: Try an interior spot in a corner of a garage or a garden shed, especially close to a door; the combination could even fill an out-of-the-way mudroom or an area in the basement.

Make it your own: In a mudroom, consider adding trim or an accent paint color to dress up the pegboard. Include multiple up-high shelves for more out-of-the-way storage or a second coat rack if you have more tall tools. Additional cabinets are easy to add on if space allows. The hole in the countertop can be eliminated or the countertop extended for additional work surface.

Try a Fold-Down Work Shelf in Tight Spaces

What it is: You can never really have too much storage or work space, and this tidy, compact garden workshelf, which folds down to stay out of the way, offers both. The shelf is supported by small corbels on hinges.

Why you'll like it: You may have some cast-off materials in your garage or basement that can be repurposed for this shelf. If not, the items you'll need -- corbels, hinges, a surface -- can be had new from a hardware store or vintage from your favorite flea market.

Where it can go: This option works for a variety of spaces -- basement, garage, garden shed, or craft room. Add one to extend a work surface on an existing potting shed or another for stash-and-go storage in a garage. It even works as a fold-down family message center in a kitchen.

Make it your own: Pick any sort of surface and decorative corbels to use. Make a magnet board that folds for a play-oriented space, or add pretty accent paint to the trim or corbels.

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