One of the things I absolutely hated about the day job was having to sit all of the time. Sit. Sit sit sit. I worked out regularly, I stretched, I took breaks during the day to walk around and get blood moving again, but being stuck with my legs at a 90-degree angle for most of the day bothered me so much. I’d go home and lie down on the couch and just veg. And one dream that kept standing out when I thought of working from home was… a standing desk.

      I’ve worked retail before; standing is not an issue if I have good shoes on my feet. Two Christmases ago, when I bought Walter a pair of comfortable slippers, I bought myself a pair too. The sole purpose of those slippers was to be my standing-desk slippers for when I had a standing desk. (I know. When I dream, I dream hard, eh?) And it helped that I was reading articles like this (“He Who Sits the Most Dies the Soonest”… I mean, really).

      Unfortunately, the high price tag connected with a standing desk (Geek Desks are $800 at the minimum) always made me hesitate from taking the plunge. I’ll also admit that after sitting all day and feeling wiped out at night, sometimes it was nice to just curl up at my desk chair (feet on the cushion, knees at the armpits) and hunch over to edit.

      sitting desk converted to standing desk

      When we finally moved, a month after I quit my day job, I started to set up my desk. I realized then that I could really use an upgrade. My chair was awful and the desk itself was a hand-me-down from a friend who got rid of it when he was moving. But I also didn’t know if I’d like an expensive standing desk. In the end, I read this article on how to make a standing desk with IKEA products for $22, and hacked my way through to this:

      sitting desk converted to standing desk

      The article linked above mentions all the pieces, but I made a few tiny modifications. (For one, I think that other website has outdated links to IKEA — my lack side table was $2 more!)

      One Lack side table in black ($9.99)
      One Ekby Viktor shelf in black ($5.99)
      Two Ekby Valter brackets in black* ($3.00 each)
      Screws we already had.
      Wood glue
      Duct tape
      One Henriksdal barstool – the 30″ in height one, not the 26″ ($129.00) – totally optional

      * The reason why I chose everything in black, even though my original desk is wood, is because the Ekby Viktor shelf doesn’t come in a wood color (just red or black), so I thought I’d make it uniform.

      I followed the instructions by putting together the coffee table as usual, screwing in the brackets, and resting the shelf on the brackets. Because the inside of IKEA furniture is all sawdust/particle board, the first time a cat jumped on the shelf, the entire thing tumbled down. That’s where the wood glue comes in — I scored the coffee table legs and the back of the brackets with a nail, glued the brackets on, and then screwed them back in. I also didn’t like the way that the coffee table was so close to the front and back edges of the original desk (one push from a cat would make my iMac fall to the ground), so I drilled holes into the desk and into the bottom of the coffee table legs and put a long screw through them both. The duct tape is to make sure the screws don’t fall out from the bottom of the desk ;)

      A hack is a hack is a hack!

      I got the gel mat off Amazon and wear my awesome Kalso Earth slippers with them, and I feel I can bear the standing pretty well. But because I knew that I wouldn’t want to stand all the time, I also bought a bar stool at IKEA with a nice cushion for the times I want to take a rest. Truth be told, the stool was more expensive than any other part of this set-up, and sometimes I think I should’ve gone with a hard wooden stool to encourage me to stand more often :)

      In the past week, I’ve been alternating between standing at my desk and perching on my bar stool as I work. There is a bit more of a transient feel to standing, so whenever I have my mid-morning snack of almonds and raisins I feel like I should sit down. Eating while standing is weird. The cats can’t sit on my lap and purr and knead, which is a little sad. I find myself walking away a lot to think, instead of sitting and staring off into space.

      It’s still so new that I’m not sure how I feel about it. I will have to write an update after I’ve been using this set-up for a while!

      What do you think of standing desks?


      “The sole purpose” hehehe. This is my standing desk, though admittedly I don’t use it much anymore:

      The novelty wore off kinda fast for me, haha.

      @Kandise – I’m glad someone caught my pun :) That’s such an easy stand-up desk method!
      @Luis – a custom standing desk would be amazing! I’m envious of your carpenter connection :)
      @Polly – I actually tried that (the drafting table idea) but my drafting table was too short for me, even with legs totally extended. Be aware of that before you buy one!
      @Rachelle – if you end up getting a standing desk, I’d love to know how you feel about it!

      Great post, Elissa. I really want to consider a standing desk, and I’m thinking of having my mom’s bf build me one. He is carpenter. :)

      I need this! I used to do all my art projects standing at our kitchen island (I usually stand sort of in retiré devant – I call it my flamingo pose haha) and I always felt SO much more productive standing. I need to move around while I think and I also find that sitting is hard on my hips :( I’m going to have to try something like this when we get our new desks!

      I want a standing desk! I’m planning on getting a drafting table and lifting it to an absurd height to use for my desk at home.