9 Clever IKEA Desk Hacks That Will Give You A Focused Workspace At Home

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In a post-pandemic world, the home office continues to stand as an important fixture of everyday life. Forbes estimates that nearly 41% of full-time employees in America work entirely from home, or partially from home in a hybrid model. To maintain functional, attractive workspaces at home, especially given how much time they spend there, many folks have turned to the affordable, endlessly hackable offerings that IKEA has to offer.

IKEA's desks already come in a wide variety of styles, sizes, and colors. However, the Swedish furniture retailer has a large breadth of other storage options and countertops with compatible dimensions. It's no surprise that customers have taken to DIYing their own desks from a variety of IKEA products, to suit their exact home office needs. From creating additional storage to designing bespoke looks, we've compiled a list of these IKEA desk hacks to give you inspiration for your next workspace overhaul.

1. Replace the desktop with a countertop

A quick visit to IKEA's website shows that the LAGKAPTEN desktop is a popular component. But there are a number of online social media content creators who recommend opting for one of IKEA's kitchen countertops, like the KARLBY, in lieu of the LAGKAPTEN. They claim that because a kitchen countertop is rated to endure more weight and wear, it stands in as a more durable, hardwearing desktop.

You can implement this hack by purchasing two sets of ALEX drawers and an IKEA countertop of your choice. The drawers are 22 ⅞ inches deep, so you will want to ensure that the countertop you choose is similarly sized (the KARLBY, SÄLJAN, and EKBACKEN all come in 25 ⅝" depths, which should work perfectly). But, say you don't need two sets of drawers and want to leave more space beneath your desk. In this case, take a cue from @melb_lifeandhome on TikTok. She demonstrates how she hacked her desk setup by using the KARLBY countertop, a set of ALEX drawers, and a table leg. Any leg that is the same height as the ALEX drawers will work, like this NÄRSPEL trestle option.

2. Increase hidden office storage

This hack brings together a few IKEA products to make a large desk with plentiful storage. The BESTA is an IKEA bestseller that is typically utilized for storage as a media console or sideboard. But you can easily turn it into a base for a desktop, providing ample hidden storage space for your home office. UK-based interior design blogger, Abi, who runs the website These Four Walls, describes how she put her dream desk together with her existing BESTA cabinet in birch veneer.

Using the unit as a starting point, she paired it with a set of ALEX drawers in birch, creating a base for two LAGKAPTEN tabletops, also in the same finish. The two end-to-end tabletops create a dramatic stretch of desk space, not to mention all the additional concealed storage space that the BESTA provides. While not all of these IKEA pieces are currently available in the same birch veneer finish that Abi was able to wrangle together, they do all come in the same white finish. So, enjoy the minimal look or mix-and-match finishes based on what is available on IKEA's website.  You can also give your furniture a makeover with paint to create a uniform look for the finished piece.

3. Give desk drawers a pop of personality with peel and stick wallpaper

If you love IKEA prices but lament the lack of variety in their desk finishes, this hack is for you. You can get whatever look you desire for your desk, as long as the look is available in peel-and-stick wallpaper form. Luckily, there is an abundance of contact paper designs available on the market. From traditional patterns to abstract geometric prints, you can create a set of desk drawers that will be completely unique to your space.

TikToker @moonlight.market.co shows how she opts to revamp an old, worn-out IKEA desk with a boldly patterned peel-and-stick wallpaper. She starts by wiping down the set of ALEX desk drawers with a degreasing product, to provide an extra clean surface for the incoming peel and stick. Then, she cuts the paper to size and smoothes it over the surface of each drawer. If you give this DIY a try, we recommend using a smoothing tool like this Zinsser & Co. option from Amazon to make your application as neat and air bubble-free as possible.

4. Make your desk look like a built-in unit

Are you looking to give your office a high-end upgrade without hiring contractors to knock down your walls? With this hack, you can transform an IKEA MALM desk into a custom-looking, built-in. You'll have to get your hands dirty, but the result will be a desk setup that no one will believe started from flatpack furniture.

TikToker @klauddesign_ executes this DIY by first filling the joints of the MALM desk where the legs meet the tabletop. To do this, you can use either all-purpose caulk or wood filler directly from a squeeze tube. The DAP Dynaflex Caulk, available at ACE Hardware, could be used for this step. 

The DIYer then adds a piece of plastic corner trim to the back edge of the desk, to create a connecting point with the wall. Caulk is used to smooth those gaps too, making the desk look seamless with the wall and achieving the built-in look. From there, the wall and desk are painted with the same stone-effect color, giving this office a cohesive style that is a far cry from the plain desk it began with. Before painting the desk, or painting IKEA furniture surfaces of any kind, we highly recommend priming with a high adhesion product like the Zinsser BIN Shellac-Based Primer from Rust-Oleum, for a long-lasting finish.

5. Spruce up your desktop design

This is a great hack for those with an old IKEA desk they're looking to give new life. But, it would also work for someone who got a great deal on secondhand office furniture, or for those buying a new desk they want to customize. To refinish the surface of your desktop, all you need is contact paper, a smoothing tool, and a craft knife to trim away excess paper.

In a video from @jensen.bradley on TikTok, she uses heavy books to weigh down one end of the contact paper, while smoothing it down with the adhesive exposed on the other end. To complete the project with a similar, natural wood grain effect to the one shown in the video, check out the Heroad Store peel-and-stick paper available at Amazon. Keep in mind, the opportunities are endless. You can use contact paper of any design, minimal or bold, to make this DIY your own.

6. Create a children's desk with storage for toys, crafts, and more

If you need to create a playroom desk with ample storage for toys, combine two of the stair-step TROFAST units and an EKBACKEN countertop. In a video on TikTok, @elocinhome assembles these IKEA pieces by first lying the EKBACKEN across the second steps of either TROFAST. She then uses a drill and screws to attach the desktop to the storage frames. At this height, the desktop sits fairly low. Not great for adults, but it's perfectly positioned for a young kid's room.

If you opt to secure the desk with screws, be sure to use a length that doesn't exceed the combined thickness of the TROFAST and EKBACKEN. However, if you would prefer to avoid the use of screws altogether, or simply don't have a drill available, try opting for hook-and-loop tape from Amazon. Put it on the underside of the desktop in each corner where it meets the TROFAST frames. This option will not only keep the EKBACKEN from sliding around, but it will also make the larger piece easy to disassemble should it ever need to be moved.

7. Combine a desktop with open storage

This is another option for those looking to combine IKEA's versatile KALLAX units to create a desk with ample storage space. Use two KALLAX units and a LAGKAPTEN desktop to create an office staple that offers a ton of space for essentials. A video from @newhomediy on YouTube Shorts shows the LAGKAPTEN supported by a two-by-two square KALLAX, with a two-by-four unit on the other side. 

If you do opt for one side with a taller storage unit, you can secure the tabletop to the side of the KALLAX unit by using a couple of L-shaped furniture brackets and screws. If you are willing to sacrifice some storage, you could also always opt to just use two of the shorter KALLAX pieces with the tabletop placed on top. Enjoy your new office shelves, using them for books or other supplies you need at the ready. If you decide you want to incorporate some enclosed storage, IKEA sells KALLAX cube inserts with doors.

8. Wall mount your desk for a modern floating effect

If you're looking to save on floor space, or you love the modern, sleek look of a floating desk, this hack will show you how to achieve that effect with a wall mounting technique. Ali M on YouTube shares the project details, which start with a SÄLJAN countertop from IKEA. Using flanges and black iron pipes you can create a row of supports, spaced out to span the width of the desk. Place the countertop on top of the iron pipes, and once situated slightly off of the wall for any cables to pass through, secure the pipes to the bottom of the desk using two-hole straps.

This is a more involved project than the others on this list, but the investment of time yields a very high-impact result. The support the pipes and flanges provide will prevent any warping or bending of the laminate tabletop over time. Moreover, the desk supports won't be visible in the room. This differs from many store-bought, wall-mounted desk brackets, which have low-hanging hardware. This will not only ruin the floating illusion but also obstruct legroom. If you try this DIY in your office, consider investing in cable management that keeps the wall beneath your desk as neat as possible to uphold the clean look.

9. Make any room your office with a mobile desk

This charming hack turns a three-tiered IKEA RÅSKOG cart into a mobile mini desk that you can move anywhere in the home. Because the RÅSKOG has wheels, it is especially great for small spaces like apartments, where an entire room might not be able to be dedicated to a full-size desk. All you have to do is stock up on any office essentials in the lower tiers (including your favorite snacks) and then top the cart with a cutting board as a makeshift desktop, perfect for a laptop.

You can use any cutting board to balance on top of the cart, but IKEA makes one called the HÖGSMA, which fits perfectly. You'll lose extra desktop space without the overhang of a larger cutting board, but you can optimize the utility cart even further to win some of that space back. For example, try adding a cup holder with a clamp, like the Suranew brand on Amazon, for your workday beverage of choice. Because the RÅSKOG is made of steel, you can also use small magnetic hooks to hang other supplies or accessories on the side of the cart, maximizing storage space even further.