You’re One Step Away from Turning Basic Closet Shelves into Luxe Decor

published Jan 12, 2024
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Large pink sectional in living room with pink painted ceilings.
Credit: Natalie Goff

If you live in a small space and you work from home, you might already know how clutch wall-mounted desks can be. A worktop that takes up zero floor space and seamlessly blends in with shelving? Yes, please!

There are some incredibly chic wall units from West Elm, Wayfair, CB2, Design Within Reach, and more, but if you don’t feel like splurging on a luxe, custom-built, wall-to-wall workspace, you can also DIY one. And that DIY version can still look seriously high-end — just take this project from designer Katie Unicorn (@katieunicornofficial) as proof.

When Katie was redoing her living room, she knew she wanted a mid-century-looking wall desk unit, but she didn’t have big bucks to spend on one — and she needed it to fit in the 3 feet behind her sofa. DIY was the way to go to achieve both of those goals.

Katie found the perfect inspiration in Dabito of Old Brand New, who created a luxe-looking wall-mount desk out of 70-inch Rubbermaid tracks, brackets, and shelves. You know the ones: You’ve seen them in the closet section of home stores, where they have an inoffensive but industrial-looking plain white finish. Dabito instantly changed that with a can of gold spray paint, giving the metal pieces of his shelving the look of expensive brass — just what you’d find in a pricey mid-century-modern unit.

Katie followed suit, but made one change: Not loving the size or coloring of any of the pre-made Rubbermaid shelves, Katie cut her own shelving out of pine and oak boards and stained it in her perfect shade.

Credit: Natalie Goff

The woodworking is impressive, but even if you don’t want to build your own shelves, you can do the same $15, approximately 15-minute (not including dry time) DIY as Katie and Dabito: Zhuzh up the tracks and brackets with gold paint for an expensive look.

Katie prepped all the metal pieces by removing their stickers — the most tedious part, she recalls — priming them with a RustOleum spray primer, and then giving them a shiny, even coat of gold (also with a RustOleum spray). “I tested a few different types out before committing,” Katie writes on Instagram. “I wanted a luxe look without it looking cheap.”

She ended up going with RustOleum’s Bright Coat Metallic Finish, and she says “the color and luster is perfect.” It certainly elevates the metal tracks and provides a bit more sparkle in the oh-so-chic living room. To iterate on this design, you could go with black, pink, yellow, or any other bold color of your choice. With just a few minutes of work, those sturdy-but-uninspiring tracks and brackets can get a totally designer-level new look — without the designer price tag!