Sunday, July 24, 2011

Ikea Hack: Standing Desk

It all started with this infographic (click to read the entire thing):

That's what planted the seed in my head a few months ago. At the time, it really struck a chord with me. At the time, my days went something like this: get up in the morning, sit to eat breakfast, drive my car to work and sit at a desk from 9:30 am - 5:30 pm, at which time I would sit in my car and drive home, sit down to eat supper, and spend the rest of the evening sitting on the couch or on my computer. I started noticing that I felt stiff, lazy, and groggy (especially in the afternoons), so I started taking standing lunch breaks. I needed to give my butt a break!

We moved out east and I brought my sitting desk with me. A couple of weeks into working from home every day, all that sitting was once again getting to me. Then one day, this article popped up in my reader: My Standing Desk Experiment | Zen Habits. That was it. I decided that if I'm going to be working from home and spending all my time sitting at a desk in front of a computer, I have to change. Even if I would have said, "I'm going to go exercise gung ho every day after work!" it wouldn't have made a big enough change.

Enter standing desk.

The day I read the My Standing Desk Experiment article, I hacked together something that sort of resembled a standing desk:

That's a plastic storage bin turned upside-down, and my monitor moved up to the top shelf. The plastic bin raised my laptop keyboard and mouse up to almost the right height for standing. But this janky piece of crap was not very sturdy and not a long-term solution. But I tried it out for a day or two, and decided that Yes, I'm going to invest in a real standing desk. I found several IKEA Hacker posts that inspired me to build my own using parts from IKEA.

Here's how I did it:

We got the

  • Vika Amon Table Top for $19.99.

    Then screwed on 4
  • Vika Byske Legs for $30 each (total $120). These legs are the tallest ones we could find at IKEA, and they're adjustable up to about 42". Online they say you shouldn't use these legs unless you're going to mount your table top to the wall. We didn't mount my desk because we didn't want it to be permanently fixed in one spot. The legs are a bit wobbly (I can understand IKEA's warning), but since I have it propped up against a wall, I don't feel a whole lot of shakiness.

    Then we attached an
  • Ekby Jarpen Shelf, which was $9.99, using two

  • Ekby Tore Brackets, $5.00 each for a total of $10. I needed my monitors to be up higher (at eye level), and this shelf does the trick. It also keeps more of the desktop area free, which is nice.

    And that's it! Pretty simple. Total cost for this desk was about $160. That seems kind of high, but considering the last desk I bought was about $120, this one is comparable. (On a positive note, I was able to sell my old desk on Craigslist to help offset the cost of this new one!) The most expensive components were the legs, at $30 each. But these legs ARE adjustable, meaning that if I ever were to change my mind about standing at my computer all day, I have the option of lowering the whole desk back down to a seated level.

    So how's it going? I actually don't mind standing at my desk. If I'm busy and really concentrating on something I'm working on, I don't even notice that I'm standing. And I'm back to taking seated lunch breaks! A lot of people who've tried the standing desk thing will say it helps to transfer your weight between feet, and I agree. Under my desk is a big speaker, which acts as a resting spot for one leg - I alternate between my two feet, and it definitely helps.

    Besides having pretty sore feet for the first few weeks, it's been all positive. I don't feel as sluggish (that 2:30 feeling), and I've noticed that I'm more likely to walk away from my desk to grab more water, etc. When my work day is over, I'm less likely to spend my entire evening wasting time on my computer -- I've spent the whole day standing and I want to sit and rest! Overall, I would recommend a standing desk to anyone who sits all day and is willing to try it. IKEA offers an array of desk parts that could easily translate into a standing desk. If you've even considered it, I'd say do it!

    This project was published on the IKEA Hackers blog: Simple and Reversible Standing Desk


    1. That's actually a really good idea...I'm ALWAYS trying to find a spot where I can stand and type/use a computer comfortably! It's so much more difficult than one would expect. I often get reeeeally sick of sitting for a long far, the best spot for me to stand is at the bar in the basement. But my TRULY bright idea is to set the laptop on the treadmill console and walk while I'm working/playing with it! :D Double duty!

    2. It is hard to find a place to stand and use the computer because you have to be able to type at JUST the right height, otherwise it's super uncomfortable! And I would love to have a walking desk :)

    3. Precisely! I'm always bending over (such as right now) because tables are too bloody low, and after a while, any possible position anywhere in the house seems to become uncomfortable for typing. Now, a desk that was the right height and could move with me...that'd be quite the ingenious invention...!

    4. Find this Desk! adjustable desk picture attached?
      adjustable standing desk


    Comments are delightful - thanks for taking the time to write!