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When a room is small, storage is even more crucial. In our home office makeover we had to make all of the space work hard, which meant a traditional desk didn’t fit the bill. Instead, we hit up the Ikea kitchen department for the perfect combo.

The cabinets are designed to be put on feet, making it too high for a desk. However you can’t just plonk them straight on the floor (as we were initially intending to do) because the drawers won’t open properly. We glued on some timber blocks in each corner of the cabinets to elevate them off the carpet.

Using a benchtop that could be cut to length maximised desk space and ensured a perfect fit. Plus, when we move somewhere larger we only need to replace the top. To prevent the desktop sliding around (but without permanently attaching it) we screwed on a couple of tiny L-shaped brackets.

The drawers on the right contain stationery and my vast array of art supplies (I swear, it just breeds, please tell me I’m not the only one?). To free up desk space, the pull-out cabinet on the left houses my monster A3 printer, scanner and paper. See the doo-hicky in the middle of the door? That’s a magnet so that the drawer can attach to it, otherwise the drawer would just slide in and out when the printer was doing its thing! We drilled holes in the back for cords, making sure they were long enough when the drawer was pulled all the way out. Don’t forget some holes for ventilation too (spontaneous combustion is so last season).

So if you’re in the market for a desk, look beyond the office furniture store.

UPDATE:
Well, colour me surprised. This little project seems to have struck a chord with lots of you unable to find a traditional desk to suit your needs. I have received several requests for more information and photos. Since we made this before I had a blog, I didn’t take any photos of the process to create a tutorial so I hope the following is sufficiently helpful…

Materials
Faktum pull-out larder cabinet
Faktum 5 drawer base cabinet
Applad drawer fronts
Numerar white/aluminium effect worktop, cut to desired length
Grip handles
L-brackets and screws
Wood blocks x8 (20-40mm high, depending on floor surface)
Wood glue
Screw-on magnets x1 set

Instructions

1. Assemble the base cabinet frames and drawers. If you are using the larder for computer equipment such as a printer or scanner, drill a hole in the back for ventilation and cables.

2. Turn base cabinets upside down; glue a wood block to each corner of the cabinets (not too close to the edge, you don’t want to be able to see them). Allow to dry.

3. Place benchtop onto base cabinets. Reach inside the cabinets and use a pencil to mark on the underside of the cabinets where it meets the edge of the cabinet top; screw in L-shaped brackets on the underside of the bench where the marking is (this will prevent the desktop from sliding forward).

4. Insert drawers and add benchtop. If one of the larder drawers will be holding a printer, screw in a magnet on the drawer and the other half on the inside of the larder door.

Thanks to everyone who has taken an interest in this project. Happy hacking!

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38 Responses

  • Katy

    Hi Alicia,

    what brand and model printer and scanner do you have?

  • Hi Katy

    We have a Canon i6500 A3+ inkjet printer. It is close to ten years old now actually so I’m sure you can get better quality now, but it has served me well.

    With you being a keen photographer I assume you would want to print high quality photos on your printer, which unfortunately is the only thing mine doesn’t do well. But again, I am sure the newer models have come leaps and bounds in a decade!

    Cheerio
    Alicia

  • The scanner is also a Canon (D660U) that’s several years old but never had so much as a glitch.

  • Eleasar

    Hi,

    was exactly thinking of the same thing but the problem with the feet below the drawer and that you can’t put it directly on the floor made me rethink it. What is the total height from the floor to the top of your desk?

  • Hi Eleasar,

    It didn’t occur to us either until the nice Ikea man pointed it out.

    I measured 46mm off the floor, so when you consider a little bit has sunk into the carpet, the feet are roughly 50mm. If you have floorboards you could probably get away with smaller feet.

    Hope it helps.
    - A

  • Eleasar

    Ok thanks for your answer! As a rough guide se total working height of a desk should not exceed 74/75 centimeters. On the ikea website i can only find total height of 86 cm including feet for the Faktum. But if i remember right with some very little feed plus the table top it was higher than 75 centemeters – or is yours not exceeding that total hight?

  • Hi Elesar

    Sorry, I misread your original question and just told you the height from the floor to the bottom of the desk, not the top. The desktop is 78cm off the floor.

    The info you found on the Ikea website sounds about right. If you don’t purchase the feet, the cabinet is 74cm. We added 5cm feet but if I was doing it again I reckon we could’ve gotten away with as small as 2cm.

    You’re correct, it’s a little higher than the ideal but with a height-adjustable chair you shouldn’t notice.

    You could also install an under-desk pull-out keyboard drawer which would bring the keyboard height to more like 74cm.

    Cheerio
    Alicia

  • Eleasar

    Ok thx again :)
    In my room there would be no carpet so maybe i can give it a try and go with as less as 1-2 centimeters as feets.

  • Good luck, Eleasar! Let us know how it goes.

    Alicia

  • Hi, very good idea
    could you put more images ?

    Thanks

  • tara

    hi there,
    where did you get that nice-looking file cabinet?
    thanks!

  • Angela

    What are the bookshelves on the wall? Love how they seem to attach invisibly, with no hardware showing or vertical supports.

  • @ Tara
    The filing cabinet is by Brownbuilt.

  • @ Angela
    The floating shelves are from Ikea.

  • @ Adrien

    Thanks for your interest. Check out these posts for some more photos:

    http://www.atypicaltypea.com/2010/07/08/home-office-makeover/

    http://www.atypicaltypea.com/2010/07/22/office-makeover-part-2/

  • Lisa

    I am so happy to hear someone has made a desk from Ikea. I have been to the store a few times inquiring about the idea, and they all said, it’s not really meant to me. But, I now know it works. I love the idea of having all the drawers which is hard to find in standard desks.
    Can you show the left side where the printer is…
    I am a photographer, and have scanner, printers, and need to figure them all out.
    I am not clear on the timber blocks… just blocks of wood in the four corners? Any info would be great… I want to keep it low, since I am not tall, and am trying to think of a way to put low 2″ base on it? Thanks for posting all this!

  • Hi Lisa

    Well those salespeople obviously haven’t seen http://ikeahacker.blogspot.com/ where there are LOADS of creative ideas for desks made from Ikea kitchens!

    Yep, the feet are just timber blocks glued on with wood glue. You’ll definitely want to keep the feet as small as possible but it will depend on your floor surface. I used 5cm (2″) feet but you could make them smaller, especially if the desk will not be on carpet.
    The ‘larder’ cabinet on the left is great for the printer and scanner, just don’t forget the magnet to stop the drawer moving while printing, plus holes for cords and ventilation.
    I hope that helps!

  • Please could you mail me some more pics of the left drawer (maybe its back, where you drilled the holes, how the cables fit and all ?).

    This is just what I need for my scanner and yet-to-be-bought prnter, but I’m afraid I didn’t get all the instructions to make this hack work.

  • clara

    Hi

    The desk looks great – do you have any problems with the scanner cords catching or tangling when you close the drawer?

    Thanks!

  • Hi Clara,

    Nope, no tangling issues!

  • Ali

    Hi Alicia,

    Im glad I found this, I have ben considering using the same design for my home office. However I am also concerned about the hight of the desktop.

    You mentioned that without the feet the cabinets are 74mm (I am on a wood laminate floor, so I know I will be able to get a away with just a few mm as feet). You said that your feet were 5cm, and your desktop is 78mm. But 74+5=79. And your not including the thickness of the desktop are you?

    Im looking at getting a kitchen work surface from them as a desktop. Which would be 4cm thick. So I would be looking at a final desktop hight of 78cm + 2 or 3mm for the feet. But yours must be closer to 83cm with your 5cm feet…

    Correct me if I’m wrong.

    Cheers,

    Ali

    • Hi Ali

      No the 78cm is the total height including desktop. And as you pointed out you would be able to reduce this by having smaller feet since you are on laminate flooring. Well spotted on the discrepancy with the addition: the unaccounted for 1cm is because about 1cm of the feet sunk into the carpet.

      If you are still concerned though, just make sure you have a fully height adjustable chair and add a footrest if your feet don’t reach the floor. I’m no expert but I would think that should be sufficient to prevent back problems.

      Good luck!

  • Alicia,

    I’d love to have found your office almost a year ago… I have 2 tables from Ikea (vika amon 1,50m x 0,75m) and for never finding the proper cabinets for it (all office cabinets were too small), I bought a pair of vika leif legs for each table… for almost the same amount I could start building the kitchen cabinets…!
    But I’m glad that I found you now. Just bought 3 cabinets (my budget didn;t allow me to buy everything as I planned, so it will be little by little…) and I’m already thrilled that finally I’ll have my big printer, my cricut and everything else (yes, they breed!) under control and out of sight!!!

    Great project, and thank you for sharing it!!!

  • Hi Carla, I’m glad you’ve finally found a setup that works for you. When you’ve finished I’d love for you to share a photo with us over on my Facebook page!

  • Erin G

    I’ve been drooling over your desk for a few weeks now, and I am finally going to Ikea to customize this idea to my space! Thank you for sharing all the details. I have one question – what size cabinets did you get? I’m trying to figure out if I need the 24″ or if I can get away with the 18″. Just curious what you decided to do. Thank you so much!

    • Yay, Erin! The set on the right is the 60cm (24″) cabinet but the one on the left is the 50cm (19″) one. It all depends on how much space you have and how much stuff to have to store.

  • super genial!!! Tolle Idee und super praktisch!!!

  • Maree

    Love your desk & planning 3m version along sma bedroom wall. Really wanT to hide my monster colour laser printer:
    Samsung CLP66ND (W x D x H) 432 x 432 x 424mm (17″ x 17″ x 16.7″
    & weighs 25.6kg (56.4lbs). I can’t find max weight limits for Ikea’s pantry shelves? Did you find out or can you tell me how heavy your A3 printer is? Tx

    • Hi Maree, I actually don’t have that printer anymore so I have no idea how much it weighed. If the info isn’t on their website I would call Ikea and ask what the weight limit is. Sorry I couldn’t be more helpful. Let us know how you go.

  • Elizabeth

    I hope this isn’t a stupid question, but you said that for the desktop, you used “Numerar white/aluminium effect worktop, cut to desired length.”

    Did you cut it to length, or will they do that at the IKEA? If you did it, what tools did you use?

    • Not a silly question at all! We cut it ourselves, and by ‘we’ I mean I did something else while leaving it to The Man and his dad :D I believe they used a circular saw. We then stuck back on the extra metallic-look edging to cover the cut (not that you can see it since there’s a wall on one side and the filing cabinet on the other).

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