Published on August 12, 2020

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Jennifer Gizzi is no stranger to a good workspace hack. Two years ago, the DIY expert converted a guest room closet in her Green Bay, Wisconsin, house into an office using The Container Store’s Elfa system. When it became clear that she and her husband, Chris, would be homeschooling their four kids—who range in age from 3 to 9—in the fall, she knew the kitchen island on which the family had been juggling Zoom calls and schoolwork since the pandemic hit back in March wouldn’t cut it. 

“We went from having three people in the house to six, all with different schedules and needs,” says Gizzi. Luckily she knew who to turn to: TCS’s design team. After finding a wall big enough to accommodate four desks in the basement, she drafted a rough sketch outlining her vision: a full wall of storage complete with workstations, pegboards for stationery, drawers for school essentials, and shelves for craft supplies. “I wanted the kids to feel like they had some structure during the day and a place where they could be creative,” she says. 

Gizzi shared her room measurements and draft with the in-house designers, who sent back a free detailed plan, installation diagram, and order list. “They made it very easy to execute,“ she says. “Now there’s no more running around trying to find different supplies and clearing off a space for the kids to write or draw.” Once her materials were ordered (under $400 per desk unit) and delivered (in about a week), Gizzi put it all together in one afternoon—and you can, too.

What You’ll Need:

  • Stud finder
  • Pencil
  • Hacksaw (optional)
  • Level
  • Drill

Step 1: Cut the Top Track to Size

How to build Container store Elfa systemPin It
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How to put together Container store Elfa systemPin It
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Determine how long the top track should be based on your wall length and design. They come in 32-inch and 80-inch lengths, so you may have to cut one to fit your space. The Container Store offers the optional service, but if you’d rather do it yourself, just clamp the piece to something steady and cut through it with a standard hacksaw.

Step 2: Hang the First Piece on the Wall

Container Store Elfa workspace sketchPin It
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Container Store Elfa kids homework station materialsPin It
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Find the studs along the wall where you want to hang your Elfa system and mark them with a pencil. Using a drill, mount the top track to the wall by attaching it to the studs. If the holes line up with spots where there are no studs, use the drywall anchors (or a drill bit to make a hole in the track where there is support underneath). Use a level to ensure the track is installed straight. 

Step 5: Build Your System

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Add the uprights (the vertical slats that form the base of the system) one by one by sliding them into the top track and moving them around until they’re in the right place. To make sure your desk height is accurate, install the drawers from the bottom up. The drawers and shelves will automatically space out your uprights to the appropriate width, so no measuring is required.

Step 6: Add the Finishing Touches

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Slide the ventilated shelf brackets into the uprights and place the shelves. To give your system a more polished look, finish the shelves off with bracket covers on each end, install a top track cover to hide the holes, and wrap the vertical slats in an upright cover (optional). 

Container Store Elfa kids homeschooling stationPin It
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All that’s left to do is organize your space. Gizzi used a combination of open shelves stacked with baskets and boxes for everything from markers to modeling clay, and pegboards to hang school supplies while still keeping them accessible for all the kids. “They got so excited when they saw the space for the first time and immediately ran to choose their stations and started moving their things in,” she says. “It was so cute to hear them talk about their new ‘office’ on FaceTime to their grandparents.”

Introducing Domino’s new podcast, Design Time, where we explore spaces with meaning. Each week, join editor-in-chief Jessica Romm Perez along with talented creatives and designers from our community to explore how to create a home that tells your story. Listen now and subscribe for new episodes every Thursday.

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