DIY standing desk

I spent the first couple years of my business working from a wooden kitchen chair, so when I finally decided to bite the bullet and buy a real office chair, I kind of went all out. And by that I mean I spent a big wad of cash on an ergonomic leather beauty. But a year later, I was still getting these shooting pains in my back, and adding up the number of hours I spend sitting per day was depressing. I realized I needed a standing desk! I still have my old desk (made with an Ikea countertop and hairpin legs) and chair for when I need to sit, but I now spend the majority of my days standing up.

It was really easy to make!

The first step was to measure from floor to elbow. You’ll want your arms to be at right angles to the desk surface, or a little lower. When measuring, keep in mind that if you make angled cuts (see below) to the bottoms of your sawhorses, you’ll lose a little height, and you’ll probably be standing on a mat for comfort, which will add a little to your height.

Then, I headed to Home Depot for sawhorse supplies. I bought some silver sawhorse brackets, which have a chart on the back that tells you exactly how long to make the sawhorse legs for the height you want. I had Home Depot cut eight 2x4s to the correct heights, and two 2x4s to match the width of my desk for the top boards to support the desk top. (Note: It’s better to cut the legs too long, because it’s easy to cut them down later if you need to!) For the desk top, I used an Ikea countertop (the $129 Numerar). Side note: some friends who work in a studio nearby made their standing desk with sawhorses topped with an old door with glass… really pretty!

At home, my Dad and I made 15 degree cuts on the bottoms of the eight legs so that they would sit flat on the floor. Keep in mind that when you make the angled cuts, you’ll lose a little bit of height. Once all the cuts were made, I painted the boards white and we nailed it all together. We did this over two days, but the most time consuming part of the whole project was the painting and drying time.

Since I work on hard concrete floors, I also purchased a Wellness Mat for support. These things are not cheap, but are well worth the expense… after a few days of standing directly on the floor I realized a Wellness Mat (or something similar) was a necessity. (You can purchase Wellness Mat covers if you want something other than the solid brown or gray!)



  1. says

    Your workspace looks really lovely. I work all day standing up so I don’t mind a bit of a sit down when I get the chance. Someone just needs to invent an ergonomic sewing table/chair situation!

  2. Jo says

    This is really pertinent! After sitting at my studio desk in a dining chair for 2 years, I was suffering acute lower back ache and swallowing lots of pain killers every day. I was at the point of making a desk like this (and some days I still consider it so thanks for the lovely idea!) when I finally found a great chiropractor and discovered the book ‘Teach us to sit still’ by Tim Parks (non affil folks). It really made me reconsider head-body disconnect that I get into when I’m working to deadlines. I sit still, tense up and completely disregard my poor old bod. Now I take breaks and look after myself more but your new desk is a really creative way to make the furniture work to fit the body – and not the other way around as I had been doing! Cheers :-)

  3. says

    Thanks for posting your beautiful workspace! After your post yesterday, my hubby and I ran out and made a standing desk too. Thanks for the inspiration. :)

  4. says

    I’m curious… is it very difficult to design standing up? My husband has a standing desk at his work and loves it. I would like to get one as well, but I wasn’t sure how it would interrupt my design process, since I use my mouse hand (and keyboard shortcuts!) so frequently. Have you noticed any difference?

  5. says

    Katherine— No difference! The height of the keyboard is the same as it is when you sit… it’s just that now you’re not sitting :)

  6. says

    Wow, that’s a really good looking standing desk. I’ve been looking into these for a while and many of the DIY ones are… well, not that good looking.
    Matter of fact, my “DIY standing desk” at home consists of a table, a chair, and two boxes. So hats off to you!
    At work, though, I use an actual standing desk from NextDesk. Also very beautiful, but not at all DIY. If you’re looking for an already-made beauty, though, you might want to check them out on their site.
    And as always, thanks for the post Mint!

  7. Charles Randall says

    Question: Did you cut down the countertop to make it not as long? Ikea seems to only carry countertops of the type you mention that are just over 6′ long. In the image above it doesn’t look like your desk is quite that wide.

  8. says

    Hi Charles, I bought mine from the Ikea store and it came as 49.5″ long and 25.5″ deep. I didn’t cut it down, it was just a length option that they had in stock. Hope that helps!

  9. Charles Randall says

    Ah, boo. That probably means they simply don’t make them that short anymore. Thanks for the quick answer!

  10. says

    I really love this and I think this should be promoted more often to the general ‘sitting’ public! :) I’ll consider this my next project.. Can’t wait to get started!! :)

    Thanks for sharing!

  11. Daniel says

    Nice! Did you have to cut the counter top? The length of the $129 counter top from IKEA is 73 inches.

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