DIY Lap Desks (No Sewing Required!)

DIY Lap Desk (via I mainly added that “No Sewing Required” to the title of this post in the hopes that you would not read this as “DIY Lap Dance.” Every time I say “lap desk” I think, “lap dance.” I guess a DIY lap dance post wouldn’t be the worst for this month, with Valentine’s and all. It’s just not something I have the right, uh, skills to teach. 

So sorry to disappoint anyone—this is about needing a comfy, flat surface so you can type in bed… not about a lap dance. 

His and Her Lap Desks DIYDIY Lap Desk tutorialI type or edit pictures in bed fairly often, so I’ve been wanting to get some kind of lap desk for a while. But, I kept seeing ones that were just not my style or just generally a little overpriced. So, I decided to make my own, and once I realized how inexpensive it was going to be, I thought I’d make a his and her version so Trey and I can be really cool and BOTH be on our computers in bed at night. Ha!

Cut the foam to fit the boardSupplies:
-wooden lap desk top (I bought ours here)
foam square (found in the fabric department of most craft or fabric stores)
-fabric (1/3 to 1/2 a yard, depending on your lap desk top size)
-fabric glue
-staple gun and staples (make sure they are shorter than your lap desk top)
-wood stain and brushes (optional)

In case you’re curious, each lap desk costs about $18 to make, depending on what fabric you choose. This does not include tools (scissors or staple gun).

Step One: I placed my lap desk top on the foam and traced a pattern. Be sure to cut the foam a little smaller than the top. You can use scissors to cut the foam, and don’t worry if your edges aren’t perfect. You won’t be able to tell once you’re done.

Stain the topsStep Two: I chose to stain the tops and sides of my lap desk tops. You can skip this if you like the look of unfinished wood. I decided to stain one black (Ebony) and one white (tinted stain base with white paint). Allow to fully dry.

Staple the cushion to the bottomStep Three: Place the foam over the bottom side of the lap desk top and staple in place. Try to make your edges look clean and pull the fabric taut as you go. If you find that a staple goes in at an angle, so it comes up out of the desk surface, remove it with a pair of pliers and try again. You don’t want any staples exposed or they may snag you once you put your lap desk to use.

Trim and add trimStep Four: Trim any excess fabric. As you can see, I had quite a bit to trim away. It’s good to have extra fabric while you are stapling because it gives you more to hold on to as you work. 

Step Five: For a cleaner edge, fabric glue trim to the trimmed edges of the fabric. Allow to dry.

Easy homemade gift ideas for menHow to make your own lap desk for less than $20I’m really glad I went ahead and made my own because I love how they turned out. Thanks for letting me share! xo. Emma

Credits // Author: Emma Chapman, Photography: Janae Hardy and Emma Chapman. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess actions.

  • I’ve never tried this before, so I need some guidance. First, how do you find the foam square? I’ve been searching online craft stores and fabric places, but all I can come up with are like the 3m foam strips to hang things with! What size and thickness of foam square are we talking about? Next, do you just stretch the fabric over the back to cover the foam a little bit? And then staple the fabric to the board, hiding it slightly under the foam (you don’t staple through the foam, right)? Then, you glue piping around the edge to hide the stapled section? — Since I may not be able to find this website again, will an answer be sent to my email, too?

  • Question: Do you think instead of using a staple gun to stick the foam to the board you can use hot glue? Love this idea! Just don’t want to have to go buy a staple gun haha

  • Hey you have amazing content
    I loved it so much, I even linked out to you feel free and share my article if you like it.

  • These look great! I did something similar a while back but used an old frame instead.

  • I need (!!!) a lap desk so bad!!! And this sounds easy even for Me ^_^ hah!
    The Chronic Dreamer

  • That’s really cool … do you have any ideas of something similar for a tablet stand?


  • I seriously love this idea! I’ve been looking for a lap top tray/bed-desk thingy for a while but hadn’t found one that was quite my style. I’ll definitely be making one of these! Thanks!

    • Hi! This looks like a great idea! I’d like more details about how you stapled the fabric down. Did you go slightly under the foam? How did you keep the staples from sticking up? Thanks for the idea!

  • Whoa. You just mentioned three skilled crafts and then said you’re “lost.” Kristin-you sound super talented!


  • Yes-it could be any fabric you can find! I had thought about doing two different flannels but then when I got to the store these were cute and on sale so I went for it. 🙂


  • This is the most essential D.I.Y project! Thanks and Happy Wednesday 🙂

  • This is such a cute idea – definitely going to try this soon! xx

  • Such a great idea! Much more convenient than using a foldout table lol I love that it’s not complicated to make! Thanks ?

  • I was just thinking last night while sitting on the couch with my laptop that I could use one of these. Great timing!

  • love your DIY!

  • This no sewing lap dance, oops desk idea is awesome…


  • Love using my laptop in bed or couch, this idea is very helpful and so Dainty and Chic!

  • Love using my laptop in bed or couch, this idea is very helpful and so Dainty and Chic!

  • Need to get me one of these. Sadly we don’t have Home Depot in the UK but, I am googling as we speak.
    Thanks for the tip.
    Hannah. x

  • This is genius! I haven’t seen any shop selling a lap desk from where I am. I find DIY better anyway so this is a seriously great project!

  • Looks like a great idea but I wonder if it’s padded enough – my computer gets hot.

  • This is fantastic!! I’m going to try this out as a last minute Valentine’s day gift for my guy 🙂 You ladies always come through in the clutch!

  • Awesome idea Emma 🙂 I’ve been meaning to attempt this for quite some time. Quick qusetion, can you explain Step 3 a little more detailed? Are you actually stapling through the foam or just the fabric? It is hard to see. Thanks!

  • This is a really awesome idea! Sometimes it’s just more awesome to D.I.Y something than to buy it.

    Unique Geek

  • No lap dance? Dang… so disappointed.
    But I do love the fabric choice you made!

    Monica – Mocha and Moccasins

  • This is great! I’ve been wanting one of these lap desks (not to be confused with lap dance- LOL) for a while but haven’t seen the point in spending the money for one. I can’t wait to try making one! I hope you’ll check out my blog, Graceful Dwellings @

  • This is really a cool idea, I’ve been wanting one of my own now!! And you guys look so cute together!

  • Love this idea! I had one in college that I would use all of the time (not sure what ever happened to it?) but this looks like a much cuter version. 🙂

    Always, Anita

  • This one is really useful and awesome! And yes, I also read ‘lap dance” first, LOL.

  • Good idea. I can bet it’s the kind of problem that 90% of the bloggers have but we don’t engage ourselves to solve it.
    I ALWAYS use a pillow. And then my computer gets too hot and I start getting uncomfortable and at some point I feel I’m living the worst summer of the world. Even if it’s not summer at all.

    But this project looks pretty simple. I definitely need to try.
    Tks for the tip Emma 🙂
    Xo, Deborah

  • So cute and helpful! I’ll try to make one myself! but I’m feeling that I’ll end up buying one haha!
    Thank you for sharing, Emma!
    Claudia x

  • Oh, that is a lovely idea! And it seems so comfy on your bed. I hope you have a wonderful day! With love,

  • Such a great idea! And also this is besides the point but your turquoise scissors are so so cute! 🙂

  • that was hands down THE best intro to ANY and all of your posts EVER!!!!
    im laughing so hard!!!!

    emma, you are seriously the best!!

    this is such a neat idea if only my laptop still worked! 🙁
    but maybe gifting this would be super awesome for someone who’s always on the computer!
    thanks for the neat idea!!!

  • This is genius! I have beenJoy wanting one, but same thing – they’re a little overpriced and/or not my style. Thanks for this DIY version!

  • You are too cute! I love that you have a sense of humor very similar to mine. And sorry, I still kept reading it “lap dance” :p

    Very cute idea. You are so handy. My mom is like that too. I wish I were as talented, but I am thankful for tutorials like yours to help me out. Other than scrapbooking, candle making, and crocheting, I’m kinda lost, ha!

    Thanks again!


  • This is so cute – and would make a fabulous gift! Good job, Emma!

    Warm Regards,

  • Super cutesy! I just bought lap desk on Home Depot’s website. I’m gonna give it a try 🙂 Thanks Emma for a great idea!

  • This is such a clever little project! The best part it can be whatever pattern. I think I will be making one of these in the near future x

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