DIY – Make your own desk

For my new studio in our new basement, I needed a bigger desk. For a few weeks I was considering systems like the Bedford collection from Pottery Barn but when I started to add it all up, it was going to be over $1,000, possibly closer to $2,000 considering the lengh of desk that I needed/wanted. Ouch. I didn’t want to break the bank for the desk, however, I also didn’t want to sacrifice style, or function. Instead of multiple digits for this size of a desk, it worked out to be $300.00. 🙂 So here is the desk I made (yes, made) combining Ikea, Home Depot, and a little elbow grease.

Instructions are below, but the short version of the how-to is that we took three IKEA units and created a custom desktop out of wood from Home Depot.


Picture on the Left: Instead of drawers, I added Ikea baskets that fit perfectly. In each basket, “like items” are sorted together. Right beside my chair is a little basket with pens and pencils. Other baskets hold paint chip decks, camera cords, and items that I need on a regular basis.Picture on the Right: This Ikea base unit serves as awesome storage for all of that computer stuff I wanted to keep off my desk. It holds my CPU unit, my subwoofer, battery backup…all the stuff that you need, but don’t want to see. I put the top shelf higher on this unit, allowing room for the CPUT unit, but the top shelf holds my Graphic Tablet and Scanner, that I pull out when I need to use it.

Step 1: Measure the lengh of your area. I wanted my desk to be 129″ in lengh.
Step 2: Buy the wood, rent a van / We bought three planks of pine from Home Depot, had them cut to be 129″ in lengh and rented a Home Depot Van to get them home. We pre-calculated that the three planks together, placed side by side, would create the best depth for the desk.
Step 3: Sand, Sand and Sand some more / When we got them home, I sanded down three planks and decided which plank would be at the front of the desk, so I could pay extra attention to the edge that I would be sitting against. The sanding not only smoothed it down (the edges in particular) but the process helped removed markings that were there like a “Made in Canada” ink stamp and some other were just ink marks.

making desk 4


(Above, My power sander, given to me by a neighbour, and Varathane Walnut Wood stain)STEP 4: STAINING
I bought Walnut Stain, water based, from Home Depot. To apply, I used a foam brush, although any brush would do. I combined the staining with a rag. Since it’s waterbased you can get really into it with bare hands, and your hands aren’t going to be stained forever.

making desk 2

making desk 3STEP 5: Varathane
I did 2-3 coats of the stain. The thing to remember is when it’s dried, it looks a bit “bleh”, but when I applied the Semi-gloss varathane on after, it makes it REALLY pop. I wish I had sanded again as since being installed in the studio, there are some rough patches.

STEP 6 – Building the base wih Ikea Cabinest

Blog_Basement_21Back in the studio, we built three Ikea Besta Cabinets ($65 each). We initially bought the silver legs to go with them, but after adding the top on to the bases, the desk heigh was WAY too high so the legs came off + we returned them.

But… there is an issue. The depth of the desk top, is deeper than the base cabinets. So the back plank, was REALLY wobbly.

STEP 7: Securing the planks together


We needed to bring each plank into the house, piece by piece, and secure them together once in the house. If we had secrued them together outside, we would have never gotten them in the doorway. Once we got the planks ino the house, we got them lined up together.

Desk 1

Once lined up, we secured all three planks together with leftover wood. and installed an L bracket from the table top, to the Ikea cabinet.

desk 2What we did was create hidden legs behid the 2 of the Ikea base cabinets by getting 4×4 posts, cut to the right size @ Home Depot. We secured the legs to the desk top. You can’t see them when you’re in the office, but they are VERY necessary in order to keep the desk secure. Since it’s such a long desk, we did a lot of “procautions”

desk 1

desk 2We had to raise the Besta units by placing wood underneath until it got to the desired height – you can see it right now in the picture above, but we’ll be adding trim so it will be hidden.

Summer 2011 Update…We added an extra shelf beneath for more storage.

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  • Reply
    [email protected]
    August 31, 2009 at 6:42 pm

    Great colour choice!

  • Reply
    Jennifer Stephenson
    August 31, 2009 at 10:01 pm

    Linds I love the desk! Your creativity shines!

  • Reply
    September 2, 2009 at 3:37 pm

    Thank you!! 🙂

  • Reply
    September 2, 2009 at 4:37 pm

    I love your desk. A modern vibe, with a handcrafted look.

  • Reply
    Little Art Studio
    September 7, 2009 at 3:43 pm

    Thank for sharing & it looks fantastic! Your idea for a table top is wonderful. I want to add an art table to our sunroom & will consider doing a table top like yours vs. spending tons on a traditional countertop. Thanks!

  • Reply
    Kasey at Thrifty Little Blog
    January 12, 2010 at 9:30 pm

    Good call adding those picture links in your sidbar… I'm so glad I found this post~ it's genius!

  • Reply
    Liz @ It's Great To Be Home
    January 29, 2010 at 1:18 am

    Ah, it looks fabulous!! The wood top is the best part – I think I might need to throw out my desk and give this a whirl! 🙂

  • Reply
    Just Beachy
    February 22, 2010 at 11:31 pm

    That is one beautiful desk .

  • Reply
    March 26, 2010 at 2:35 am

    Looks great! I wonder if you used fridge upper cabinets if they would have given you the depth you were looking for. We used all upper cabinets with legs in our laundry room for a folding area.

  • Reply
    April 16, 2010 at 2:51 am

    this is so inspiring! I was wondering if you could tell me how wide and how thick the individual planks are?

  • Reply
    April 28, 2010 at 3:26 pm

    what a great idea…thanks for sharing guys!

  • Reply
    LLH Designs
    September 17, 2010 at 7:07 pm

    Don't know whose blog I was on that made me click on yours (George Design?), but this is amazing!!! I bought the Bedford collection for my studio and choked on the price. I didn't have the time or patience to make something because my business takes all of me, but wish I had known about something like this! Well done.

    Happy Friday!

  • Reply
    November 9, 2010 at 3:10 am

    so what was the overall cost of the desk, baskets and all? i think it looks awesome!

  • Reply
    November 9, 2010 at 3:18 am

    Hi Donna – Under $350 I would say

  • Reply
    November 11, 2010 at 4:00 pm

    LOVE THE FLOORS TOO! Going to HD now to build a table like this for our living room..that's it..winter project!

  • Reply
    November 28, 2010 at 11:13 pm


  • Reply
    October 14, 2016 at 8:31 am

    Have you found that you get pen indents easily on the pine? If not what was the finishing product you used to seal it after staining?

  • Reply
    Building a Computer Desk
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