Everybody Stand Up! My Take on the IKEA Hack Stand Up Desk

May 31, 2013 — 10 Comments

About a year ago I started entertaining the idea of utilizing a stand up desk at work. However, this idea was promptly thrown away once I started to research the costs of stand-up desks. Talk about EXPENSIVE! You would think these things were made of gold…who knew standing and working could cost so much more than regular sit-down desks. Have no fear, though. I knew there had to be a cheaper way to achieve this goal and was relentless on finding a way. Through much research I came across an IKEA hack that allowed me to build a stand-up desk for under $80. Here’s how:

IKEA Hack Stand-up Desk

My IKEA Stand-Up Desk

Unfortunately, I do not have an IKEA close to me. I live in Taylorsville, KY and work in Louisville, KY. The closest IKEA to me was in Westchester, OH. Thus, I had to endure the dreaded cost of freight. This added $32.00 to my final cost. So, if you have an IKEA near you, you can easily build this same setup for less than $50, which is pretty darn cool in my books.

At any rate, a quick google search on “IKEA Hack Stand Up Desks” will give you a plethora of links in which to surf. You can come up with some really good ideas on good stand up desks towards the cheaper side. I really liked the IKEA Expedit Stand Up Hack. I will most likely incorporate this setup in my home office. You can also browse some other good ideas here, provided by LifeHacker.

The picture above is the setup I chose to use at my work. It was a cheap introduction to the stand-up desk and utilizes my current desk as a foundation to the stand-up desk. I was able to experiment with this setup, without fear of breaking the bank. Without further ado, here is the shopping list:

Shopping List

  • (1) LACK Coffee Table (stock# 401.042.94) – Color is up to you. I chose the black-brown version.
  • (1) EKBY HEMNES Shelf (stock# 301.798.74) – Color is up to you. I chose the black-brown version to match the coffee table.
  • (2) EKBY VALTER Brackets (stock# 801.674.73) – Color is up to you. I chose the black version to match the coffee table and shelf. Even though the coffee table and shelf are “black-brown” and the brackets are “black”, the colors are pretty much the same….at least to me.
  • (4) 3” x 1/4” bolts, with washers and nuts from your local hardware store. These will be used to fasten the brackets to the front legs of the coffee table. If you chose, or choose to, surf through some of the ideas found through your google search as mentioned above, you may run into similar setups. Some people choose to use screws instead of bolts. I would not recommend using screws. The material is pressed particle board and the legs of the coffee table are hollow. Thus, bolts will provide a more secure connection to the coffee table than screws.

Now on to the how-to

  1. Assemble the LACK coffee table according to the IKEA instructions
  2. Clear off your existing desk and place the LACK coffee table on top of your desk
  3. From a standing position figure out the correct height for the EKBY HEMNES shelf. The shelf will be used to hold your keyboard and mouse. You want the shelf to be at a height that will allow you to stand comfortably, with your elbows bending at a 90 degree angle while typing.
  4. Once the shelving height is marked, you will connect the EKBY Valter brackets to the front legs of the LACK coffee table using the 3” bolts, washers and nuts. The EKBY Valter brackets are pre-drilled with holes, so place the bracket at the correct height according to the shelf height you established in step 3. Place a mark through both pre-drilled holes of the EKBY Valter bracket on to the coffee table. Drill two 1/4” holes into the leg of the LACK coffee table.
  5. Line up the EKBY Valter bracket pre-drilled holes with the 1/4” holes you just drilled into the LACK coffee table legs. Feed two bolts through the 1/4” holes, put on the washers, and tighten down with the nuts. Be sure not to over tighten the bolts as the legs of the LACK coffee table are made of pressed wood. Please note that you may need to widen the holes a bit on the EKBY Valter brackets to accept the 1/4” bolts.
  6. Repeat this process with the other bracket. Be sure to make sure  to level the shelf before drilling holes for the second bracket.
  7. Place the shelf on top of the attached brackets, and voila! Your new stand up desk is ready to go. You may choose to fasten the shelf to the brackets with small screws. I chose not to fasten the shelf because I wanted the ability to remove the shelf so I have unobstructed access to the built in shelf on the LACK coffee table. This is completely a personal preference.
  8. This is an optional step. You will notice that the EKBY Valter shelf extends out past the edges of the LACK coffee table. I chose to leave the overhang there because it provides more workspace. You may choose to cut the shelf down to better fit the width of the LACK coffee table.
  9. All that’s left is to set up your monitor(s), speakers, computers, etc. and you’re ready to start working while your standing!

My take on standing while working and other suggestions

I have been using the stand-up desk for two months now and I thoroughly enjoy this new setup. I will caution that it will take some time to condition yourself to the new setup. In about two months I am standing up about 50% of the time and sitting the other half. You will have to slowly progress to extend the amount of time you can spend standing.

When I first started this routine, I was whooped by the end of the day. Sitting down in my car to go home was pure heaven! My legs were also sore the next day. So, take it slow and build up your stamina. All in all though, the process has worked out great. I feel as if I have more energy throughout the day and I feel more productive.

Even still, I have some suggestions to add to your setup. They are not necessary, but will make the entire process more enjoyable and keep you running at peak efficiency. Invest in an anti-fatigue mat and a tall chair (at least 36” in sitting height) that has a back.

The anti-fatigue mat helps tremendously while standing and will allow you to stand in longer intervals. I chose to use a NewLife Eco-Pro Work Floor Mat. I purchased this from Amazon. You don’t have to use this exact mat. Any anti-fatigue mat will work.

A tall chair with a back, that gives you a minimum sitting height of 36” allows you to take a break from standing, but still use the same stand-up desk. Otherwise, you will have to maintain two different workstations, one for standing and one for sitting. This wasn’t practical for me. Thus, I use a Boss B16245-BK Caressoft Medical/Drafting Stool with Back Cushion. This is the perfect chair for me to continue using the stand-up desk while sitting. Again, you can choose any chair or stool that you like, but this is the best one I could find at the time.

There you have it. Now, everybody stand-up and enjoy your new work station! If you are already using a stand-up desk please leave your set-up in the comments below. I would love to hear about your setup.


CJ Fritsch


10 responses to Everybody Stand Up! My Take on the IKEA Hack Stand Up Desk

  1. Hi CJ, I’m off to Ikea! One question, I’m concerned that the desk will tip forward when using the keyboard shelf as a “desk” to write on. Did you do anything to anchor the coffee table to your desk? Thank you! Alice

    • Hey Alice! That’s great! I’m sure you will enjoy the new workstation. I did not anchor the table to my desk, but is easy enough to do so. The table is sturdy enough for typing and writing without concern of it tipping over. In fact, I will sometimes lean (very lightly) on the shelf and if does not tip. However, the table will tip if you apply a good amount of pressure, so take care not to lean to much. As for normal every day stuff, it is plenty sturdy without the need to anchor it.

  2. David L. Williams July 21, 2013 at 6:37 pm

    I’m making one now for my office and sure whether to use bracket and shelf or use lower shelf as keyboard shelf like this http://kabheap.wordpress.com/2013/02/24/stand-up-desk-solution/. Will probably use bracket to get more real estate for ipad as well. One question. How tall are you? I’m 5’10 and for 90 degrees, looks like my shelf should be 6″ or more from top. Yours just looks about 3 inches

    • Hi, David. I am 5’11”. One of things that I did before attaching the brackets to the coffee table was to utilize a stack of books to rest the shelf on. This allowed me to find a comfortable height for the shelf while standing and sitting. What I found was when I put the shelf at exactly 90 degrees, it was not at a comfortable angle while sitting. I also felt as if I was not relaxed while standing and typing. So, I chose to drop the shelf down just a hair below 90 degrees. This is going to be a personal preference, so I would say try supporting the shelf on some books of boxes for a few hours before attaching the brackets to the coffee table so you can find the perfect position. Enjoy the new workstation! It has been great for me!

      • David L. Williams July 22, 2013 at 10:36 am

        Good suggestion. Do you use the lower coffee table shelf? I have not bought bracket or shelf yet and thought about ripping that shelf to use for keyboard/mouse/ipad. Might be an issue for long term stability of table without that support for legs though. Pic shows table without front shelf. I plan to try 50/50 standing sitting although hassle of moving monitors will likely reduce that one way or other.

        • I use the lower shelf for my speakers and extra notebooks. It is also handy for miscellaneous storage. Monitor movement is definitely a hassle when trying to split time between sitting and standing. That is why I decided to get a taller chair that I can use with the stand-up desk. I provided a link in my post to the chair that I currently use. It is comfortable enough to use for lengthy breaks of standing, but not so comfortable to the point where I don’t want to get back to standing. While the chair is a bit costly, it definitely is much easier than moving monitors around.

  3. Thanks so much for taking the time and trouble to share your experiences and provide these instructions. I’ve followed them to the letter and am now on my third day of all-day standing. So far, so good. :)

  4. Thanks so much for writing this out in such great detail! I used your tutorial to make my own standing desk, and so far, despite being a little sore from all the standing, I love it.

  5. CJ, thanks so much for this detailed post about your stand-up desk.
    Like AdamPS, I have bought and followed your instructions to the T, and am preparing to bring my stand-up desk to work. The black/brown coffee table you chose is a very professional color and it is going to look very nice in my work office.
    I also like the idea of putting the shelf on the stack of books first, to determine a comfortable height, before anchoring it to the table.
    Looking forward to trying it out very soon!
    Thanks again!!!

Leave a Reply