Browse some of the prettiest home offices on the internet, and you’ll spot IKEA desk after IKEA desk. What’s remarkable about this isn’t that IKEA desks are so darn popular—it’s that many of these IKEA desks aren’t actually sold as desks. These aren’t desks that style-minded people ordered to finish off their decor schemes. They’re desks that enterprising decorators have pieced together using kitchen cabinets, dressers, countertops, and more.
The thought of filling your home office with kitchen essentials may catch you off-guard. But the truth is, decorators do it all the time. By mixing and matching IKEA pieces, design enthusiasts have crafted custom desks that suit their spaces perfectly—and they’ve avoided spending a fortune on these personalized pieces.
“I love the affordability and versatility of IKEA furniture,” Medina Grillo, the blogger behind Grillo Designs, says. “So if I was going to attempt to build a more custom desk myself, it just made sense to hack IKEA furniture to do that.”
Crafty decorators, like Grillo, have tackled all kinds of IKEA desk hacks, and they’ve blessed us with plenty of inspo in the process. Ahead, we’ve rounded up some IKEA desk hack ideas worth trying at home—and we’re sure any one of them would spruce up your workspace.
Upgrade Your Desk Top
One easy way to spruce up your desk? Switch out your desk top. If your desk’s surface is weathered, damaged, or simply outdated, swap it with a butcher block countertop. Or take a page out of Pennies for a Fortune blogger Fariha Nasir’s playbook, and top your desk with shiplap, instead.
Craft a Base From Kitchen Cabinets
If you’re in desperate need of storage space, use kitchen cabinets as your desk base. It may sound odd, but IKEA’s kitchen section is a great place to start when designing a desk. Snag the combination of cabinets, drawers, and shelves that best meets your needs. Then, finish off your desk with an appropriately sized countertop.
Tuck a Floating Desk Into a Narrow Space
Your desk doesn’t necessarily need a base. If you’re navigating a narrow space, mount an IKEA shelf on your wall, and use that as your desk. Just be sure to sprinkle in some finishing touches—like printed wallpaper and a sleek office chair—to make the cubby feel more like a workspace.
Cut Your Desk to Fit Your Space
A truly great custom piece shouldn’t just look good in your space—it should perfectly fit into it. So don’t be afraid to carve up your desk until it sits snugly against any corners, trim, or outlets that might otherwise be in its way.
This may sound like an intimidating task, but one of the beautiful things about IKEA is that it’s super budget-friendly. So, if things go awry on your first attempt, you can just reorder your pieces and try again.
Paint Every Drawer a Different Color
Your IKEA desk hack doesn’t have to involve construction. By painting each of your desk drawers a different color, you can customize your desk without picking up a screwdriver. And if paint sounds like an overwhelming commitment, line your drawers with peel-and-stick vinyl, instead.
Turn a Traditional Desk Into a Flip-Top
If you don’t mind putting forth a little effort, you can take one of IKEA’s traditional desks and transform it into a flip-top desk. By cutting up the desk, reconfiguring its pieces, and installing brand new hinges, you can take IKEA’s design and turn it into something new. Sure, the approach is a little involved. But you end up with a desk that meets all your needs, isn’t a little elbow grease worth it?
Pair Trestle Legs With a Desk Top of Your Choice
If you want to design a desk from scratch, IKEA has you covered. The store has an entire section dedicated to table legs and trestles, which you can pair with a desk top of your choosing to create a custom desk.
Make the Most of an Office Corner
The great thing about IKEA storage solutions is that they abound. So you can piece together a sleek workspace with little work at all. By pairing a couple IKEA desks—and topping things off with a matching storage unit—you can outfit your office corner in a way that’s sleek, space-efficient, and incredibly storage-friendly.
Turn Tall Cabinets Into a Standing Desk
If you’re the kind of person who likes to stand while you work, snag a set of extra-tall cabinets to use as your desk base. And if the tallest cabinets on offer still aren’t tall enough, add height by mounting feet onto the bottom of each cabinet.
Spray Paint Your Desk Legs
There’s no rule that says your IKEA desk hack has to be complicated. So if all your desk needs is a light makeover, consider spray-painting its legs a fun color. The low-maintenance refresh will make your desk more eye-catching—without requiring much effort from you.
Build Your Desk Into the Wall
At the high end of interior design, you’ll find custom cabinets, shelves, and furniture built directly into the wall. And if you’re willing to put in a little work, you can recreate this effect using only IKEA pieces. By combining desks, drawers, and countertops, you can build a custom workspace that covers an entire wall. Then, you can finalize your built-in by attaching it to your wall.
Pair Two Different Desk Bases
When piecing together an IKEA desk, it’s common to create a base from two matching kitchen cabinets or two matching trestle legs. But if all you need is one set of drawers, why not mix and match? Use a cabinet on one side of your desk base, and use trestle legs on the other. This unconventional approach will leave you with a desk that looks even more custom—and one that precisely meets your needs.
Give Your Desk a Slight Overhang
Your desktop doesn’t have to sit flush with your desk base. This can be an incredibly sleek approach, but if you’re craving something with a little more dimension, consider giving your desk an overhang. Let your desk top extend beyond your desk base a few inches in every direction.
Pair an Extra-Tall Desk With Comfy Barstools
Your desk doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It needs a desk chair to be fully usable (unless, of course, you’re designing a standing desk). So factor seating into your design equation. Are your cabinets the right height to comfortably accommodate a chair? If they’re too short, you can use feet to elevate your desk. And if they’re too tall, well, you can simply pair your desk with a cozy barstool.
Make Your Base From Dressers
One easy way to make your desk more storage-friendly? Use dressers as your desk base. The approach will give you all the drawer space you could possibly ask for—though it might give your desk chair less room to move around.
Mount Pegboards Above Your Desk
Your workspace doesn’t stop at your desk. And your IKEA desk hack doesn’t have to stop there, either. So once you’ve pieced together the desk of your dreams, consider mounting a couple pegboards on your wall. The IKEA finds will enhance your storage set-up, while making your workspace look a little more decorated.
Line Your Desk Top With Contact Paper
There’s more than one way to upgrade your desk top. One classic option is to replace it with a brand new material. But if you don’t feel like going through all that trouble, consider lining it with contact paper, instead. Snag peel-and-stick paper in a color, print, or texture you love. Or snag some shiny material that mimics the look of marble—just like Sarah Skaggs, of Pretty Providence, did here.
Make Custom Desk Legs From Scratch
Remember that all your pieces don’t have to come from IKEA. You can snag an IKEA countertop to use as your desk top, score an IKEA kitchen cabinet to use as part of your base, and find the rest of your base somewhere else. Merrythought's Manda McGrath chose to craft custom legs to finish off her desk. But you could just as easily buy yours at a different store.
Line the Edges of Your Desk With Plywood
Your desk may be made up of a few different parts, but the right finishing touches can make it look like a single piece. By lining the edges of your desk with the same kind of plywood—or the same wood veneer—you can make it look like a standalone piece of furniture, rather than a piecemeal DIY project.
Finish Off Your Desk With a Striking Stain
Many IKEA wood pieces come unfinished. So it’s up to you to top them off with a coat of paint, a wood stain, or some other kind of finish. Look for something that’s striking enough to tie your workspace together—and that’s durable enough to withstand the wear and tear of everyday use.