DIY Pop-Up Desk

Written by Rachel Faucett of Handmade Charlotte for Building Blocks.


Here’s the perfect desk for your early learner as you both prepare for back to school. With a few cardboard boxes and other basic supplies, you can assemble this workspace in less than 30 minutes. What really sets it apart are the superfun essentials and accessories we picked up from Pottery Barn Kids: the perfect chair, a giant xylophone, a mailbox and more.


Why cardboard boxes? They don’t cost much, they’re easily obtained and kids love them! They also add a totally awesome feature to this mini workstation: a built-in hideaway nook for reading and creative play. A total win with the kiddos!


You Will Need:

  • Two 20-by-24-inch cardboard boxes for the main desk
  • One 14-by-14-inch cardboard box for the milk crate file cabinet
  • Two 6-by-6-inch cardboard boxes for the storage cubbies
  • One milk crate for the file cabinet
  • Eight binder clips (in the colors of your choice, to hold the cubbies together)
  • One roll of duct tape in the color of your choice (optional)


Step 1: Assemble the main desk using the two 20-by-24-inch boxes. The first box should have both ends open, and the second box should have one end closed and the other end open. Slide the first box over the second box. Then slide the open end of the first box over the open end of the second box. We left about 10 inches of space between the two boxes to allow more space to work (and to create a longer tunnel for playtime!).

Step 2: Stack the two smaller boxes on top of the 14-by-14-inch box. Use the binder clips to secure the boxes to each other. Slide the milk crate into the 14-by-14-inch box to create the file cabinet.

Step 3: Cut slats in the large boxes; attach them to the smaller boxes using binder clips.

Step 4: Decorate your new workstation! We used blue duct tape to add a splash of color and to make the structure more stable.


Step 5: Now it’s time to bring in the fun! Here’s a quick list of what we picked up from Pottery Barn Kids to make your early learner’s new desk both functional and fun:


Other fun decorative ideas:

Make a nameplate. No office is complete without one! And your child will love this personalized element. Paint a small rectangle of wood with chalkboard paint. Supply the chalk and let your little one practice writing their name!


Make a painter’s pallete. Cut a white paper plate into the shape of a bean and pop in a hole for your budding artist’s thumb. Done!

The key to this project is to get creative and let your child join in on the building process. The sky is the limit —please share your results with us in the comments!

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