The Ultimate Guide to Building Your Custom IKEA Desk
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When it comes to building a beautiful desk on a budget, a tried and true approach is to mix and match components from IKEA to assemble a custom setup. This approach has many benefits compared with choosing a more pre-configured desk:
- Better customizability: IKEA offers a variety of modular countertops, drawers, trestles, and legs that you can configure to suit your taste
- Great value for your money
- Simple and attractive Scandanavian design
- Modular components that can be remixed if your desk needs change
Things to consider
Before heading out to make your IKEA run, it's worthwhile to take some time to plan out your desk setup. Here are some things to consider:
- How much space do you have to setup your desk?
- What is your budget?
- How much storage do you require?
- Do you plan to be sitting or standing?
There's a good chance you'll spend thousands of hours at your desk over time, so this bit of furniture is definitely worth the investment. This guide focuses on helping you choose the best value components to get the most for your money.
A Look at IKEA's Table & Desk Systems
The GALANT/BEKANT and IDASEN systems are IKEA's higher end, professional office lineup with static and adjustable (sit/stand) frames that can be mixed and matched with desk tops. The Table bar system is IKEA's more inexpensive home office offering consisting of a larger variety of components geared towards sitting desks.
In addition to these three systems, IKEA also sells a variety of pre-configured desks if you're not looking to customize. These include the popular MICKE sitting desks and the relatively new SKARSTA manual sit/stand desk.
Standing / Adjustable Desks
If you plan to be spending some of your day standing, then your selection from IKEA is narrowed down to the manual SKARSTA sit/stand desk and a few electric sit/stand options within the GALANT/BEKANT and IDASEN systems.
While standing desks are no doubt more expensive than their stationary sitting counterparts, the health benefits of standing rather than sitting are certainly worth the investment. The SKARSTA is an exceptional value and at under $300 is just about the cheapest full-size adjustable sit/stand desk you can buy.
If you're looking for more customization with your standing desk, you can move up to the BEKANT system frame or IDÅSEN system frame which can be configured with a variety of table top options. IKEA offers a selection of different BEKANT and IDÅSEN desk tops which can be paired interchangeably with the sit/stand frames. For an even more high-end desk top surface, a popular approach is to pair one of IKEA's Thick veneer countertops like the KARLBY with a BEKANT or IDÅSEN system frame.
When it comes to getting into your zone while working or gaming, many prefer sitting over standing. In addition, IKEA's sitting desks come in at a much lower price-point compared to their standing counterparts and have a wider variety of customizability. On the less customizable side, IKEA's FREDDE is an epic choice for a perfect gaming station with built in storage for a PC tower, monitors, speakers, and cables.
If height adjustability is a big concern, then the more expensive BEKANT and IDÅSEN systems are good choices with their statically adjustable desk top heights. Like with their standing desk variations, these frames can be mixed and matched with any countertop both within or outside of the BEKANT or IDÅSEN range such as the KARLBY thick veneer countertop.
For more customizability, IKEA's highly popular Table bar system is the best route to choose. The cost-effective Table bar system encompasses a variety of countertops, drawers, legs, and trestles that can be mixed and matched with different colors to build your unique workstation.
Ikea provides an awesome Build your own Desk Planner website where you can visualize different configurations of countertops and supports like drawers and trestles. The ALEX Drawer Unit is a very popular choice for supporting one side of your desk which can be paired on the other side with another ALEX drawer unit or a trestle or legs.
Fastening your desktop
When constructing your desk setup you will need to fasten the tabletop to the supports. While IKEA's desk legs include wood screws to fasten the legs to the tabletop, the ALEX drawers and trestles do not specify a fastening method. Depending on the weight of the components on your desktop, you may be able to simply rest the countertop on your supports. If you find that your desktop doesn't stay in place, here are a few options to secure it that make it easy to disassemble your setup later on:
- Non-skid shelf and drawer liner - this provides additional friction between your supports and desktop
- Command strips - VELCRO-like adhesive-backed strips that secure your desktop in place
- 3M VHB tape - this ultra-sticky double-sided tape will hold your desktop in place but also peel off without a trace when you need to disassemble your setup
Properly Supporting your desktop
Depending on the length and thickness of your countertop, you may find your countertop slightly bending near the midpoint due to the weight of items on your desk like multiple monitors. There are a few approaches to fix this:
- Regency Stiffener for 60" Table Tops - you can mount this metal channel underneath your desk top to prevent it from bending
- Adding a middle leg for support - using IKEA's fixed height ADILS Leg or adjustable height OLOV Leg
I wrote a more detailed article about preventing your IKEA desk from bending here.
If you need space for storing a printer but prefer to keep if off of your desktop, a solution would be to use one of IKEA's trestle units as a support on one side of your desk and place your printer on the trestle's shelf. You could use the more expensive FINNVARD trestle which has a built-in shelf or use a cheaper ODDVALD or LERBERG Trestle with a makeshift shelf going over the crossbeam adhered with 3M VHB tape or Command Strips.
Whether you go with a sitting or a standing desk, properly managing your cables will go a long way towards keeping your workspace tidy. While you can eliminate cables by using bluetooth peripherals like your keyboard and mouse, power and display cables are inevitable and you may only have a single AC outlet available to power your setup.
To keep your cables out of sight, under desk cable organizers like IKEA's SIGNUM or the Monoprice Under Desk Cable Tray can be mounted out of the way on the underside of your desktop. I recommend using 3M Command Strips to adhere the cable organizer to the underside of your desk. These adhesive-backed fastening strips make it easy to detach and re-attach your cable tray when needed.
I hope you find this guide helpful as you create your own IKEA desk setup. One of the huge benefits of IKEA's desk systems is that you can deeply customize them to build the most productive and comfortable desk setup that matches your style.
For more inspiration, check out the setups page where you can filter remote work setups by category like ergonomic, monitor arms, and standing desk and view the detailed components used in each setup.