IKEA, known for its affordable furniture, is the go-to place when setting up a workspace or home office. But that’s not the only thing that makes an IKEA desk so popular — hacks are what give them the wow factor.
IKEA desk hacks look beyond the recommended IKEA range of desks, pulling in kitchen cabinets, dressers and wardrobes and shelving units to create any kind of style, configuration and storage capacity you may require for your workstation. The result is a custom desk for your home office that fits your decor and space.
We’ve curated a list of the best IKEA desk hacks that range from simple compact desks, to L-shaped desks to mega monster DIY desks. Whether you work from home or need a desk for some weekend browsing or crafting, we’ve got you covered.
1. Go big on texture
Using IKEA kitchen cabinets is cost-effective to set up a dedicated home office with a sprawling table top and lots of storage space for books, files, equipment and more. Carley and Aaron’s workspace is made out of IKEA METOD kitchen cabinets, similar to the SEKTION in the US. A 60cm high METOD cabinet forms one of the supports for the desk. You’ll need to raise the cabinet with 12cm hairpin legs, rounding up the height of the desk to 75cm. Get shorter or taller legs to adjust to your most optimal sitting height. The varieties of IKEA kitchen cabinet doors means you’re bound to find a style you like.
2. Maximise a small desk
A small desk setup does not mean it should lack functionality. Charles took the basic IKEA PS 2014 Secretary Desk and expanded it to accommodate a large monitor, a second monitor, speakers and a laptop cubby. All the while, maintaining its slim footprint and all important close-it-up-when-work’s-done feature. Aesthetically pleasing modern workstation to maintain a healthy boundary between work- and home-life.
3. Get a custom wooden countertop desk
Going with a custom desktop can provide a touch of personalisation for your space. Stefen chose black kitchen drawer units in 2 different widths. Then finished the drawers with ÖSTERNÄS leather pulls for a modern industrial style desk. He topped it off with custom cut oak boards with a rounded edge.
4. Table for two IKEA desk hack
If you want a large single table for 2 persons, this setup is right up your alley. Finding a work table this large is rare and usually very costly. This IKEA hack makes it a lot more affordable. The big beautiful table top is constructed from two KARLBY countertops (98″ length) held together with 4 panel clamps for a strong, stable center seam. Then, Mark fastened the table on 2 trestles or sawhorse legs. The finishing touch is to sand and stain it with Danish oil to bring out the rich walnut grain and color.
5. Hide your desk in a cabinet hack
When you need a spare desk but do not want it to crowd out the room, hide it in a sideboard. Emma hacked a desk hidden in an IVAR cabinet. The top of the cabinet flips up to reveal the monitor. The slide out keyboard shelf is positioned at the right height for a desk. The bottom of the IVAR cabinet is cut out for more leg room. And she installed furniture legs under the cabinets to raise them up to desk level. When closed it looks just like a regular IVAR sideboard.
6. Squeeze in a desk at the entrance
Find space for a desk in the least expected nook. Louise of The McCarthy Home found the square inches she needed right off the front door, under the stairs. It was long enough for an IKEA LINNMON table top on ADIL legs and a set of IKEA ALEX drawers. Tying the whole space together is the gorgeous wallpaper and the pops of color from the lampshade and linen cupboard.
7. Set your desk on a dresser
This IKEA desk hack uses the MALM 3-drawer IKEA dresser and KALLAX 2×2 shelving unit. You might be wondering why the dresser is positioned facing out? This takes advantage of the width of the chest, making it a large stable base for a luxurious 32″ deep desk. There is a sight variation in height between the 2 units which Shelly evened out by attaching a 1/2″ wood piece to the bottom of the MALM chest. She also reinforced the back of the MALM with plywood and added trim on all 3 drawers and side of the KALLAX unit. What you may not have guessed — the table top was a repurposed door. Nothing’s wasted.
8. Add a slim desk behind the sofa
Lauren hacked the EKBY ALEX drawers into a slim mid-century style laptop desk. It may look like a tough DIY project but it isn’t all that hard to do. The hardest part is to cut the boards. And if you can get your local hardware store like Home Depot to cut the boards according to measurements, you’re pretty much set. Then, pre-stain and then stain the boards with Minwax Oak wood stain. Fasten the pieces to the ALEX drawers with a layer of wood glue followed by brad nails. The last step is to add 4 table legs of your choice.
9. Sneak in a pull out desk
A sliver of opportunity and Otis seized it. He added a pull-out laptop table in the space between the top two drawers of the MALM chest of 4-drawers. The desk comes up to approximately 74cm, which is a good height for most people. Best thing is the pull-out desk does not compromise the structural integrity or function of any of the drawers. When not used as a desk, it works as a bedside table for Otis.
10. An IKEA corner desk hack
Is it possible to have a large corner desk without the corner supporting leg? Yes it is, according to M3KI. You’ll need three 150cm LINNMON table tops (or LAGKAPTEN) and 7 table legs to complete the L-shaped desk setup. Under the tabletops are pine boards keeping the individual pieces together and sturdy. It seems to have held up really well.
11. Add a desk hutch
A desk hutch like this one by Jyll Mackie can be so beautiful and useful at the same time. The hutch is a custom build, sitting on top of IKEA ALEX drawer units with trim and a plywood table top. If you’re looking for a readymade solution, IKEA has some options such as the PÅHL add on unit and the MICKE add on unit. The key to this is to paint the hutch the same color as the drawers and wall for a seamless built-in look.
If you like to work while standing, with a stool nearby for a little breather, you’ll want to add this to your cart. Two set of 2×2 KALLAX shelves and a LINNMON tabletop. Mount the cube shelves on legs to raise it up to your most ergonomic working position. As the LINNMON desk top is deeper than the KALLAX units, you’ll get a bit of overhang at the back, perfect for running cables through. You’ll need to add a length of wood behind the 2 KALLAX units to screw in the desktop with L-brackets. An affordable and good looking standing desk hack for under $200.
13. Work side by side
A budget-friendly double workstation that doesn’t look cheap. The LINNMON tabletop and ADILS legs is one of the most affordable desk combinations from IKEA. What’s more, you can get two desks from one long IKEA table top. This easy desk setup is great for the kids room. Furnish it with the very useful SKÅDIS pegboard and accessories and simple wall shelves for even more storage.
14. Lighten up with different legs and bases
One of the best things about the IKEA desk system is the uniform height for most legs and drawer units. IKEA has set it at 27 1/2″ (70cm). Which means you’re not locked into using the same set of legs on both ends of the desk. Mix and match to find the combo that best suits your home decor. A butcher block countertop with trestle leg lightens up the visual of the entire home office space.
15. Make room in the closet
A home office in a PAX wardrobe is a great choice if you want to keep all your work matters in one spot. Judit wallpapered the sides and back of the wardrobe to feel less like working in a closet. The middle shelf is fixed at 75cm with a sliding desk or keyboard tray beneath. Use the back of doors as super large memo boards and inspiration gallery.
16. Desk in a bookcase
An ideal combination of BILLY bookcases and desk. We love this BILLY bookcase hack that mimics the KALLAX-LINNMON desk combo. First thing, you’ll need to move the fixed middle shelf that comes with the BILLY to an appropriate height for your desktop. Then the desk goes on top of the middle shelf and is secured with screws, drilling from bottom up from the BILLY shelf to the desk. Be careful to use screws in the right length to not to drill through to the top of the surface. Add adjustable legs OLOV legs to support the front. Lastly, do secure the BILLY bookcase to the wall to prevent a topple over incident.
17. Slimmest IKEA desk hack ever
A small space workstation that’s as small as you can be. All you need is an empty wall to fix the LACK wall shelves with enough room on both sides for your monitor and keyboard shelf. You’ll need to omit one of the shelves to fit the monitor and add a shelf for your keyboard. Unfortunately the angled CAPITA leg holding up the shelf is no longer available. (IKEA, why?!) These angled metal legs look like a possible alternative.
18. IKEA KALLAX desk and room divider hacks in one
Kill two birds with one hack. Leendert and Nienke used the IKEA KALLAX shelf units to build a tall room divider with integrated desk. A useful dual-purpose setup in a studio apartment separating the home office area from other living spaces.
Jules Yap started IKEAHackers.net in 2006 as a personal blog to showcase the most impressive IKEA hacks from all over the world. Since then, she has learned a lot more about power tools and DIY. Her site has helped thousands modify IKEA furniture with step-by-step tutorials, craft projects and home styling.