How to Make a Standing Desk Out of Two Tall IKEA Cabinets

No more sad swivel chairs.
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plain wood desk with tan stool
Photography by Amelia Lawrence for Paper and Stitch

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It doesn’t take too many days of working from home to realize sitting in an old swivel chair or propping yourself up in bed isn’t going to cut it. Once the aches and pains sink in, you’ll find yourself craving a more comfortable setup. A standing desk provides instant relief. 

Before staying at home full-time became her reality, Brittni Mehlhoff, the DIY-er and blogger behind Paper & Stitch, created a makeshift standing desk out of two IKEA Ivar cabinets and a pine board. Mehlhoff chose to build it out of cabinets simply because she needed a place to store (read: hide) craft supplies and props, but the piece has proven to be especially handy now that she and her husband are working alongside each other. She breaks down the full how-to on her blog, but you can catch the main steps here. 

The Supplies 

plain wood desk with tan stool
Photography by Amelia Lawrence for Paper and Stitch
  • Two Ivar IKEA cabinets (or any two cupboards that are the same height)
  • Pine board (or similar)
  • Drill with screw bits
  • Screws

Step 1: Assemble the Cabinets

Mehlhoff opted for the Ivar version that is 20 inches deep and 32 inches high. The bulk of this hack is actually putting together the cabinets (Mehlhoff and her assistant, Casey, tackled this part together, which helped it go by pretty fast). Psst: You can pull off this hack with any type of cupboard, as long as the two pieces are level and the top makes for a comfortable standing desk height. Once the cabinets are assembled, space them out at least 20 inches from each other, that way there’s enough room to stand in the middle or pull up a counter stool. 

Step 2: Cut the Tabletop 

Measure the length of the completed cabinets, from one end to the other, to determine the length needed for the piece of wood that will serve as the desk top (for reference, Mehlhoff’s board ended up being 20 inches wide, the same as the cabinet base, and 87.5 inches long). You can have the wood cut down to size at a hardware store (they’re still open for business). Finally, give the edges of the wood a quick sanding—the last thing you want while writing an important email is a splinter in your hand. 

Step 3: Secure the Board

Attach the board to the top of the cabinets by adding one screw to each of the corners (nails will also work). This will prevent it from shifting around. If you have little ones with you at home, Mehlhoff recommends anchoring the piece using furniture wall straps

Step 4: Finesse

Mehlhoff loves the appearance of the raw wood, so she’s not currently planning on painting or staining the surface, but that’s not to say you can’t. “I think it would look really great in an earthy color against a wall with the same color for a monochromatic look,” she says. There are infinite ways to make this workspace your own—slide a wood box underneath the board to raise it for someone who is taller (the blogger’s husband did this); cut the doors, side pieces, and back to transform it into a regular desk; or account for an overhang on one end and pull up a second stool.

See more stories like this:  You Won’t Find This Chic DIY Standing Desk in a Corporate Office 28 Inspiring Small Workspaces We Found on Instagram Fresh Desk Decor Ideas for a Stylish and Productive New Year

Lydia Geisel Avatar

Lydia Geisel

Home Editor

Lydia Geisel has been on the editorial team at Domino since 2017. Today, she writes and edits home and renovation stories, including house tours, before and afters, and DIYs, and leads our design news coverage. She lives in New York City.