Stand Up: A DIY Standing Desk (Ivar Ikea Hack)

Because Ikea hacks are kind of the best, today I’m sharing a DIY standing desk (IVAR Ikea hack) that has completely transformed my workspace at home.

Organic modern office with lots of wood details

After making this DIY desk a while back, I had all these ideas for another. BUT I also already had not one but TWO desks in my workspace at home, so it didn’t really feel like the ‘right’ time to add another.

The problem with those old desks though were that neither one of them had any storage whatsoever, so it didn’t take long to realize I needed to come up with a better solution that would help organize and consolidate the clutter AND look better than what I currently had.

That’s where this Ikea hack desk was born. It’s highly functional, with plenty of storage, but doesn’t take up too much room. Plus, it’s the perfect height imo between a standing desk and a regular sitting desk. So you can do both! Tuck in a counter stool (or something similar) when you want to stand and pull it out when your legs need a rest.

Why I love this DIY Standing Desk

Having a desk with storage is a huge game changer for me, when it comes to taming the clutter constantly popping up in my workspace. And unlike my last DIY desk project (which I also REALLY love), the storage on this one has doors! Which means I don’t have to constantly keep it organized and looking cute in there. I just close the doors and it’s magically gone. Haha.

Plus, these cabinets have A LOT of storage. I can fit so much more in each cabinet than I had expected. Another big bonus, for sure!

Organic modern home office with lots of wood details

This desk will work in almost any space (size or style)

But what I love most about this IVAR Ikea hack is how customizable it is. You can keep the pine cabinets and desktop as is, or stain them, or paint them. You could even paint the cabinets and leave the desktop raw or vice versa. Lots of options depending on your needs.

The length is extremely customizable, since the cabinets can be spread apart more or less than I did for mine. And because the IVAR Ikea cabinets come in two different depths, the depth is also (semi) customizable based on your needs.

You can also change the height of this DIY standing desk from what I have pictured to something taller, by attaching short legs to the cabinets before installing. I personally like the final height of my desk (which is about 34 inches), but if you’re looking for something taller, attaching legs would be a great option.

I also considered going a normal desk height for this one, which would have meant making some precise cuts and measurements before assembling the cabinets. But ultimately decided that a standing desk option was a better option for what I needed in the space (more storage and something great for doodling, working on small projects, etc.

And last but not least, you can also customize how much storage you have underneath, to a certain extent, with extra cabinets if desired. With all of the changes you can make to this one to get it to exactly what you need it to be, this IVAR Ikea hack feels like a real winner as far as DIY standing desks are concerned.

Before photo of desk in home office with boxes on the floor

Materials Needed

  • 2 IVAR Ikea cabinets (20 inches deep)*
  • pine board (or similar)
  • drill with screw bits
  • screws for tabletop part of desk
  • furniture wall straps or similar if securing desk to wall

*There are two depths available for the IVAR cabinets – 12 inches deep and 20 inches deep. I went with the 20 inch deep option for more storage and stability. But if you have a small space and want a small depth to accommodate, the 12 inch size is an option as well. I could picture that 12 inch depth being used as more of a decorative element that provides some storage, rather than a super functional desk space.

More about the IVAR cabinets: For a really long standing desk (with even more storage), you can add additional cabinets and just adjust the length of the desktop to accommodate.

Building IVAR Ikea cabinet for DIY standing desk

How to Make a DIY Standing Desk (Ikea Hack)

Assembling the cabinets

The bulk of this Ikea hack involves putting the IVAR cabinets together. Good news: As far as Ikea cabinets go, these are actually pretty easy to assemble without stress. But if you can grab a second person to help, it will go soooo much faster. So, I highly recommend that if possible.

Assuming you like the height of my standing desk as-is, you’d assemble the cabinets exactly according to the Ikea instructions.

Building IVAR Ikea cabinet for DIY standing desk

If you have a gap in your doors once the IVAR cabinets are assembled

The only thing that I noticed that we had to some adjusting on was fixing the huge gap in between the cabinet doors after the cabinets were built. Which you can see in the above – look at the afters to see how much the gap was closed with the below method.

Originally, I had planned to add decorative pieces to each door at the gap, to conceal the gap and add a clean, simple handle for each door. But after chatting with someone who has the same cabinets (and no gap) – thanks Molly – I realized the gap could be fixed.

If you have a gap between the doors when you assemble, I would recommend loosening the screws a little bit on the hinges to see if that helps and if not, try adding small pieces of cardboard under the hinges to push the doors out and more together. The cardboard worked like a charm for me and you can barely see it at all when the doors are open (and obviously can’t see it at all when the doors are closed).

If you prefer a regular height desk over a standing desk

If you would prefer a shorter / more standard desk height, you can still use the same cabinets and this tutorial to complete the desk. You will have to cut down some of the pieces of the cabinet before they’re assembled though.

The pieces that will need to be cut are: the doors, the side pieces of the cabinet, and the back. With the exception of the back of the cabinet (which is masonite), everything that would need to be cut is solid wood. So you don’t have to worry about cutting through materials that will completely crumble under a saw.

Standard desk height is 29-30 inches and the cabinets are roughly 33 inches heigh. So cutting a few inches off the doors, sides, and back before assembly will get you down to standard height. And then when you attach the hinges at the end, you’ll have to create new holes for the top or bottom set (depending on where you cut from), but that’s it.

If you have experience with power tools, it’s a pretty quick and easy job.

Stacked artwork and a long peg rail in a home office filled with DIY touches

Measuring and cutting the desktop

Next is the desktop. Once the cabinets are assembled, slide them to the area you are planning on using them in, spacing them out at least 20 inches from one another to allow a space to stand in the middle or pull up a counter stool, etc. Mine are 24 inches apart, for reference.

Once the completed cabinets are in place, measure the length from the end of one cabinet to the end of the other to determine the length needed for the piece of wood that will turn it into a desk. Then measure the width needed.

I pushed my cabinets as far back to the wall as they could go and then measured from the wall to the front of the cabinets to determine my desired width. I decided to keep the width of the tabletop to just the cabinet base itself, and didn’t include overhang to account for the drawers sticking out a little further.

So, the final measurement for my wood desktop piece was 20 inches wide x 87.5 inches long.

You can have the wood cut down to size at the home improvement store to make it easier. Or cut it yourself at home. Either way, make sure to give the edges a quick sand (I like to use an electric sander) to remove any splinters, etc.

Wood desk idea in light-filled workspace

Securing the desktop to the cabinets

Once the tabletop is resting in place open top of the cabinets and up against the wall in the back, you can secure it to the cabinets. Just add one screw to each of the corners (even nails can work) to keep things from shifting around.

Anchoring the standing desk to the wall

If you have small children, I would recommend anchoring things like this to the wall. You can use furniture wall straps or something similar. This desk, with the 20 inch deep cabinets, feels quite stable when assembled and has some good heft to it too, weight wise, but I would  still recommend anchoring it to the wall, as I would every piece of furniture in the home, if you have kids. Just to be safe. *And if you opt for the 12 inch deep cabinets instead of the 20 inch, it would be even more important to anchor it to the wall.

Raw wood desk idea in eclectic workspace

Organized workspace with lots of raw wood details

Wood standing desk in organic modern home office

How to Make a DIY Standing Desk (IVAR Ikea Hack)

Ikea hacks are kind of the best, right? So, today I'm sharing a DIY standing desk (IVAR Ikea hack) that has completely transformed my workspace at home. It's highly functional, with plenty of storage, but doesn't take up too much room. Plus, it's the perfect height imo between a standing desk and a regular sitting desk. So you can do both! Tuck in a counter stool (or something similar) when you want to stand and pull it out when your legs need a rest.
Keyword: diy desk, Ikea hack, IVAR Ikea hack, standing desk
Cost: $150-200

Ingredients

  • 2 IVAR Ikea cabinets 20 inches deep*
  • pine board or similar
  • drill with screw bits
  • screws for tabletop part of desk
  • furniture wall straps or similar if securing desk to wall

Instructions

Assembling the cabinets

  • The bulk of this Ikea hack involves putting the IVAR cabinets together. Good news: As far as Ikea cabinets go, these are actually pretty easy to assemble without stress. But if you can grab a second person to help, it will go soooo much faster. So, I highly recommend that if possible.
  • Assuming you like the height of my standing desk as-is, you'd assemble the cabinets exactly according to the Ikea instructions.

If you have a gap in your doors once the IVAR cabinets are assembled

  • The only thing that I noticed that we had to some adjusting on was fixing the huge gap in between the cabinet doors after the cabinets were built. Originally, I had planned to add decorative pieces to each door at the gap, to conceal the gap and add a clean, simple handle for each door. But after chatting with someone who has the same cabinets (and no gap) - thanks Molly - I realized the gap could be fixed.
  • If you have a gap between the doors when you assemble, I would recommend loosening the screws a little bit on the hinges to see if that helps and if not, try adding small pieces of cardboard under the hinges to push the doors out and more together. The cardboard worked like a charm for me and you can barely see it at all when the doors are open (and obviously can't see it at all when the doors are closed).

If you prefer a regular height desk over a standing desk

  • If you would prefer a shorter / more standard desk height, you can still use the same cabinets and this tutorial to complete the desk. You will have to cut down some of the pieces of the cabinet before they're assembled though.
  • The pieces that will need to be cut are: the doors, the side pieces of the cabinet, and the back. With the exception of the back of the cabinet (which is masonite), everything that would need to be cut is solid wood. So you don't have to worry about cutting through materials that will completely crumble under a saw.
  • Standard desk height is 29-30 inches and the cabinets are roughly 33 inches heigh. So cutting a few inches off the doors, sides, and back before assembly will get you down to standard height. And then when you attach the hinges at the end, you'll have to create new holes for the top or bottom set (depending on where you cut from), but that's it.
  • If you have experience with power tools, it's a pretty quick and easy job.

Measuring and cutting the desktop

  • Next is the desktop. Once the cabinets are assembled, slide them to the area you are planning on using them in, spacing them out at least 20 inches from one another to allow a space to stand in the middle or pull up a counter stool, etc. Mine are 24 inches apart, for reference.
  • Once the completed cabinets are in place, measure the length from the end of one cabinet to the end of the other to determine the length needed for the piece of wood that will turn it into a desk. Then measure the width needed.
  • I pushed my cabinets as far back to the wall as they could go and then measured from the wall to the front of the cabinets to determine my desired width. I decided to keep the width of the tabletop to just the cabinet base itself, and didn't include overhang to account for the drawers sticking out a little further.
  • So, the final measurement for my wood desktop piece was 20 inches wide x 87.5 inches long.
  • You can have the wood cut down to size at the home improvement store to make it easier. Or cut it yourself at home. Either way, make sure to give the edges a quick sand (I like to use an electric sander) to remove any splinters, etc.

Securing the desktop to the cabinets

  • Once the tabletop is resting in place open top of the cabinets and up against the wall in the back, you can secure it to the cabinets. Just add one screw to each of the corners (even nails can work) to keep things from shifting around.

Anchoring the standing desk to the wall

  • If you have small children, I would recommend anchoring things like this to the wall. You can use furniture wall straps or something similar. This desk, with the 20 inch deep cabinets, feels quite stable when assembled and has some good heft to it too, weight wise, but I would  still recommend anchoring it to the wall, as I would every piece of furniture in the home, if you have kids. Just to be safe. *And if you opt for the 12 inch deep cabinets instead of the 20 inch, it would be even more important to anchor it to the wall.
Tried this recipe?Mention @paperandstitch or tag #paperandstitch!

What do you think of this Ikea hack desk? YAY OR NAY? And also… What kind of desk do you prefer a standing desk or a normal one? So curious. I now have both, so I don’t have to choose. Haha.

Update 4/8/20: Since I’ve received some questions about the peg rail shelf above the desk, I’m included the link here. It’s from an Etsy shop called Henry + Elle. I ordered two 12 peg lengths and put them together to create one long peg shelf.

18 comments | Click here to reply

This desk looks amazing! I totally need to make one for our home!

Paige
http://thehappyflammily.com

Paige Cassandra Flamm

Thanks Paige! You should totally make one. 🙂
-Brittni

Brittni

Very innovative work. Great utilization of resources!!

Nippon

I love this standing desk set up! I’m more a fan of a sit down desk but the coloration and how warm and inviting this space is, while still being simple – I love it!!

– Emma
https://emreecollective.com

Emma

love this!! what brand is your stool?

paula

Thank you. The stool is from Wayfair, but no longer available.

Brittni

Great idea. I love IVAR cabinets. But I would need a standing height to be 42” for a standing desk. So would need to add another 8” to the cabinet height.

Mar

Hi Mar! I love IVAR cabinets too. For me, this height works great (but I am on the shorter side), so if you need more height, here are a few options… You could add legs to the bottom of the cabinets, add an additional smaller cabinet on top of the IVAR cabinets, or create a wood ‘box’ that fills the rest of the height you are looking for. Hope that helps!
-Brittni

Brittni

What a great IKEA hack! It looks lovely! Can you tell me where you got the peg rail above it?

AbbieDove

Thanks for sharing, I love it! Would you please be able to let me know where you got the row of hooks with the little shelf? I’ve been looking for something just like it.

Ellie

Hi AbbieDove and Ellie!! The peg rail is from an Etsy shop called Henry + Elle: https://rstyle.me/+bg7Q0AGkGHEylfuPKjulEw

Brittni

Thanks so much Brittni.

Ellie

I love this hack for a sewing room… where can I purchase the long peg shelf that hangs above the desk?

Light Hawk Moon

Hi Light Hawk Moon. The peg rail is from Henry + Elle (on Etsy). Here’s the link to the exact one I have (I ordered two 12 peg lengths and put them together): https://rstyle.me/+bg7Q0AGkGHEylfuPKjulEw I also updated the post with the link (at the bottom). Thanks!
-Brittni

Brittni

I don’t see a 20 inch deep ivar cabinet on ikea website. do they still sell them, do you know?

amy

Hi Amy. They should still be available…I just checked the link here and you just go to the dropdown and choose the 20 inch deep option: https://www.ikea.com/us/en/p/ivar-cabinet-pine-40033763/

Brittni

Hi Brittni – LOVE the desk – making it this month as new project for my guest room. Also LOVE the area rug in photo. Can you share manufacturer name or style? Thank you!

Rebecca

Thanks Rebecca. Can’t wait to see how your desk turns out when it’s all finished. The rug is vintage, so I don’t have a brand or other details to share. Sorry about that.
-Brittni

Brittni
Leave a reply