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An Ikea Hack worth repeating | the studio desks

The studio is becoming such a pretty, inviting, inspiring place to work and create.

When we moved in to the house, this space was just a big unfinished area above the garage. We finished it out with a little bit of framing, cleaned up the drywall, added can lights, installed super inexpensive floors, painted with Sherwin Williams Shoji White and trimmed out the windows and baseboard (see the before + after post here).

Once the shell of the room was complete, it was time to figure out how to make it most usable. I pinned a bunch of inspiration images to my office Pinterest board and Ryan (who is much better at space planning than I am) came up with a layout.

In order to visualize a space all pulled together, I like to create a design board (here is the design board for the studio). It helps me make decisions without having to actually purchase items. We knew we wanted a long work surface along the back wall and it was just a matter of coming up with a practical, affordable, nice-looking way to make it happen.

After lots and lots of research on desk options, I finally settled on a diy version – or as they say, an IKEA hack.

The idea was largely inspired by this photo of an ikea dresser that had been dressed up with paint and brass hardware. It was just the look I was wanting in the studio and while not the perfect dimensions, it felt worth a try.

I bought and put together three of the Hemnes dressers, leaving the tops off.

The height of the dressers is 37 3/4″ which is much too high for a desk, so Ryan cut off the legs.

To top the dressers, I used two 98″ pieces of countertop from IKEA. This particular counter is not solid wood – just a top layer – but it can still be oiled and sanded as needed. It came in these long lengths that fit along the back wall perfectly and allowed for enough room between dressers to pull up a chair comfortably.

The main problem we ran into is that the finished height is taller than the average desk. The finished size with the legs off and top on is 33 5/8″ while a standard desk sits at between 28″-30″ tall. I don’t mind a taller than average desk at all as I am on the taller size (5’7″), but from experience, I know that sitting in too-low of a chair makes for crampy shoulders and neck.

We ordered the most beautiful leather adjustable chairs that raise to 22″ thinking they would be just the right height … but alas, they are just a few inches too short. I talked about that debacle on this post. They are almost usable as is, but I start to get a shoulder cramp after sitting at my computer all day since I’m scrunching up my shoulders to type.

We talked about switching up the desks to lower the height of the top, but ultimately stuck with the original vision and will be altering the chairs instead. We have a plan for that, but haven’t done them yet. I’ll share details once we’re done. For now, I’m just dealing with the chair height and enjoying how pretty the office looks.

Instead of using the small black knobs that came with the dressers, I switched them out for these super inexpensive brass-lookalike pulls. They really give the dressers that classic modern look I was going for.

As for the downsides of this IKEA hack desk, I can only think of two so far.

The first issue: there is space between the back of the dresser and the wall.

The countertop depth is 25 5/8″ and dresser is 19 5/8″. We just cheated the dressers forward which left that gap back there.

It honestly doesn’t bother me at all … but it is just something to consider.

Second issue: the desk doesn’t run all the way to the edge of the wall.

Ideally, we would have a built-in desk that ran the full width of the wall. Since the countertops only come in two lengths and we went with the longest, this is as far as the desks can span. Sure, we could have gone with a different countertop, but I was going for ease and a pre-made countertop was just what we needed.

I just put my baskets of wrapping paper in the empty space and it works great.

Before the spring tour (did you catch that post? If not, here it is!) I unloaded boxes and boxes of officy/crafty things and organized the drawers. It is so nice to have so much storage. I’ll show you inside the drawers soon.

Overall, this has been a very worthwhile IKEA hack. The total for the three dressers, two countertops and 9 pulls was $835 which is well under what it would have cost to have a custom wall-to-wall desk built.

Having that long workspace and lots of storage is so practical and looks great in the room as well. A win all around!

Do you have any other questions about the desks? I’m happy to answer in the comments …

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