Making a DIY desk with Ikea's Ivar cabinets.
Ah, the desk! The main motivation to tackle this room, and also the hardest detail to nail down.
When you have a lot of specific demands for your desk setup, and are willing to do some DIYing, Ikea is the place for you!
Initially, I had planned to do a wall-to-wall faux-built in desk using Ikea kitchen cabinets. But thinking through the details (the weird height, the long countertop and moulding that would be required for the space, possibly needing to move it for carpet removal) turned me off in a big way.
So, I broadened my horizons to every product Ikea makes, eventually landing on the Ivar.
Why The Ivar?
So much intensive Ikea product research went into this decision. Hours scrolling Ikea's website! Here are my main reasons for choosing the Ivar:
- Customizable - The Ivar comes in unfinished pine, so you can do whatever you want with it. I painted mine with cabinet paint, tinted the same colors as the walls in here.
- Storage - I knew I wanted a desk with ample storage, so deep cabinets with adjustable shelves were appealing.
- Height - A vital factor! I wanted something that would work with a counter-height stool, that would be tall enough to keep a computer out of easy reach for kids. At 32 5/8-inches - plus 1 1/2-inches for the desk top - this is a perfect height. (I'd recommend going here for an idea of personalized desk ergonomics, and propping tables up on books to test it out!)
- Inexpensive - The 20-inch deep cabinets are $90 each!
- Available - Ikea (like most places!) is having stocking issues currently. So many things were out of stock when I was looking. Finding something that wasn't stressful to get was a huge plus to using the Ivar.
Making A Desk With Ikea Ivar Cabinets
Once you've acquired your Ivars, assemble them per the instructions. Position the doors as low as possible so they don't interfere with the desktop when it's installed. You may also want to leave the shelves out until the cabinets are in their final position.
Paint or Stain
You can leave the cabinets as they are for an unfinished pine look, stain them, or paint them. Ikea says they come ready-to-paint, but I found mine still needed a quick sanding prior.
Save yourself some time and only paint what will be visible in the final product. Since this desk is going up against a wall, and the desktop will be covering the tops, I only painted the sides, the fronts of the doors, and the front of the top board.
If you are painting - especially if you're using a lighter color - use a good primer with shellac in it. Pine is super knotty and is known for bleeding through paint.
Before moving on to the desk top, decide how far apart you want your cabinets. Initially, I had wanted a full cabinet's width between the two, but seeing the proportions in person in the actual room had me changing my plan. I most liked a spacing of 2 feet, so that's what I went with. It is so helpful to see it in person!
Attach Feet + Level
You want your cabinets to be the same height and level before installing the desktop. Because the doors on the Ivar go all the way to the floor, if you have carpet, or uneven floors, you may need your cabinet raised off the floor slightly for door clearance.
My biggest regret of this entire project is that I didn't think about this detail before I trekked out to Ikea. We have an old house with sloped floors, and this room is carpeted. Which meant that the cabinet doors were not functional after assembly.
The Eket adjustable feet are a genius product that will totally solve this problem. But they are an Ikea-specific product! No one else sells anything similar.
After going to Home Depot and talking to a lot of employees to see if they had anything even close, plus a lot of internet searches, I was faced with either spending $40 to get them from Amazon, or driving 2 hours back to Ikea to get them for the winning price of $14. Do yourself a favor and get them while you're there!
Thankfully, installing them is so easy. The feet come with a black plastic piece for marking where to make holes - throw that away! This isn't the Eket, so we'll just eyeball it.
Flip your cabinet upside down (aren't you glad you left the shelves out?), and place the plates in the corners. Make sure the plates in the back are moved up slightly as to not screw into the backing. Use a pencil to mark where the screws will go. Drill pilot holes, then screw in the plates with the included screws. Attach the feet, flip the cabinet back over, and twist the feet in and out to level as needed.
Affix to walls
These cabinets are really sturdy, but since we have young kids, we try to secure everything to the walls. This is a rare Ikea product that doesn't include hardware for attaching to the walls, but I bought this kit, and it was so easy! Plus, it's attached with zip ties, so we can easily detach if needed.
With the cabinets painted, leveled, and secured to the wall, it's time to tackle the top of the desk! The desktop is getting its own post next week, but in the meantime, here's an idea of what it's all about.
Measure the total span of the desk, then decide how much overhang you want on either side, and add it all up.
My cabinets span 86 1/2 inches, plus (2) 1/4-inch overhangs meant I wanted a total desktop length of 87 inches.
Add the same overhang to the depth of the cabinets for the depth of the desktop.
Once your desktop is cut to size and finished, position it on your cabinets and affix it with wood screws through the underside of the cabinet tops.
So excited the desk is done! Now onto organizing and getting it set up.