IKEA stand up desk: two months later

I’ve always been intrigued by the idea of stand up desks. Not because of potential health benefits or anything like that, but in general I get a bit tired of sitting all day. I’m a little bit of a spaz, and I’m always twitching or fiddling around with things. Chairs hampered my spaz, so I wanted to make a change.

Unfortunately, most standup desks are either really expensive, or look completely unprofessional. I’m not one of those guys that would rather wear sweatpants and flip flops to work, I’ve got an image to protect, right?

So I was highly intrigued when I read about the affordable IKEA stand up desk. It looked like something that would work for me – functional, yet doesn’t look like I went to the trash heap to scrape random parts together.

So a couple of months ago, I took the plunge and built myself a stand up desk.

The setup

I followed the printable instructions fairly closely, with the exception of a slightly different choice of materials. Instead of a plain black Lack table, I went with a black-brown, that is more of an ebony color. Most of the furniture in our office is a very dark wood color, but not straight black. That bumped the price from 7.99 to 9.99 for two tables.

photo

Above is the completed desk, which looks quite professional and not homemade. I used standard brackets and shelves from Ikea, and constructed the whole thing in a matter of an hour or so. The trickiest part was really figuring out how high to have the shelf, as I’m also fairly particular on the angle of my arms etc.

I tried this out for a couple of weeks, and found that I was extremely sore. Now, I work out and all that junk, but I wasn’t prepared for how tired my feet were going to be at the end of the day. I wasn’t changing my footwear to tennis shoes or Crocs or anything.

Quite a few folks on Twitter pointed me at anti-fatigue pads. Reading reviews led me to want to buy something a little nicer, so I went with the GelPro NewLife Eco-Pro commercial anti-fatigue mat. Reviews on Amazon were great, but it is a little pricey at $79.99 for the size I was looking at. This was almost 3x more expensive for the mat than my entire desk configuration. However, the reviews tend to justify the price, so that’s what I went with.

Mat = HUGE difference. If you are going for a stand-up desk, buy an anti-fatigue mat. It’s really the only way to go.

Two months later

I’ve used the stand up desk now for a couple months. It was a little shaky at first – without that mat, my days felt really long. Sitting down to get in my car to drive home felt fantastic. But once I got the mat, I got rid of that barstool chair and I really haven’t felt the need to sit during the day.

I do change positions quite a bit during the day. I alternate between standing on both feet equally, or shifting weight back and forth. I was doing this anyway when I sat in a chair all day long (evidently I’ve got the jimmy legs), but now it feels a lot more natural.

But what about other benefits? To be honest, I don’t put a lot of stock in the idea that merely standing is better for your health than sitting – studies tend to show negative effects of sedentary lifestyle, but not that merely standing automatically makes you live longer (instead, a treadmill desk is a likely better choice).

I haven’t lost or gained any weight, but I already go to the gym regularly. I don’t think I sleep better, feel better or anything else. But on pure preference, I do like standing more than sitting. I sit enough at home, so it’s nice to have a chance of pace.

One thing that I do have an issue with is that my shelving is not adjustable vertically. When I got the anti-fatigue mat, it raised me standing by nearly an inch. I also recently switched keyboards, lowering the profile of my hands. My first desk wasn’t sturdy enough to hold the tables, so I switched that too.

In order to combat this, I’m looking at buying perhaps a few shelves so that they can just stack up, but I haven’t found a good flexible way to have adjustable height everything. At least one that doesn’t cost a lot of money.

Should you try it?

Sure, give it a go. It’s a small investment (about $40 for the desk, more for the mat). It’s a low-risk proposition. You can try just the desk, and if it doesn’t work, well, the trash collectors might be awfully confused.

It’s not a life-changer for me. I like it better, but it’s really just a personal preference. But that’s just one spaz’s opinion.

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About Jimmy Bogard

I'm a technical architect with Headspring in Austin, TX. I focus on DDD, distributed systems, and any other acronym-centric design/architecture/methodology. I created AutoMapper and am a co-author of the ASP.NET MVC in Action books.
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  • Jamie Rorrison

    I’m on my first day of trying out a standing desk, like it so far. We took the approach of building two platformsRisers for the legs of the desk sit on top of. They look pretty good and once painted will blend in with the rest of the office furniture. We done it this way due to issues with sitting on a tall chairstool and getting your legs under the desk in the Ikea setup. Its like a height adjustable desk without the height adjustment part!

  • http://geekswithblogs.net/technobabble Tom Besser

    Ergotron makes some desktop devices for enabling a simple sit/stand configuration. I started using their dual-monitor WorkFit-S device about 10 months ago and almost immediately noticed that my blood pressure was easier to control. For me, that was enough to make it a permanent change in my work setup. It’s a bit more expensive than the IKEA option (~$400), but not astronomical like some sit/stand desks.

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  • kindohm

    Nice – I’m still using this exact same setup after a few months as well. Regardless of any health benefits, I still use the standing desk because it causes much less pain than sitting. Plain and simple. I miss sitting, but after going back to sitting for a week I couldn’t bear the back pain.

  • Paul Knopf

    Your stand up desk must be able to switch between stand up and sitting!

    • H_Phillips

      Why? If you want to rest, then go REST. That’s the problem with modern life, we try to make working too restful and in the process kill some of the benefits from resting. We shouldn’t be able to work at a computer desk for 15 hours a day. Standing is self limiting in that respect and I count that as a benefit. I break up my work in 40-45 minute chunks, then take 15-20 minute breaks. Try it.

  • RyanVice

    I’ve seen people in my office doing this and honestly I feel kind of lame for sitting all day when I could be standing. I find that I’m so wound up after work that I have to go do something physical to shake off my day. This seems like it might help with that a bit. Think I’ll give it a go. Thanks for sharing the tips Jimmy!

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  • alfa

    Adjustable desks with memory for different positions is the best as you can switch whenever you like sit/stand.

  • http://www.facebook.com/hughsbayou Hugh Robertson

    My job consists of both computer work and assembly work. I make short run CDs and DVDs for clients. I prefer sitting for the computer work and standing for the production work. Standing allows me to move quickly from one work station to the next. So I’m not standing in one place for long periods of time this way. I do move around. I don’t do it for health reasons, it is more efficient.

  • Ron Williams

    I finished building mine last week. GelPro has ‘clearance’ mats (39.99) which kept the cost not including labor below $60. The GelPro made all the difference – I sit for lunch at my conventional desk in the office – and avoid it as much as possible.

    One enhancement would be to put another shelf on the side and high enough for my phone – but I’m getting voip at my computer so I don’t think I’ll need it.

  • Paul

    I’m a convert. I posted a slightly more expensive, but configurable design here
    http://www.replify.com/blog/woc-tall-and-look-the-world-right-in-the-eye/

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/TSHNMNWECMYXG4R2W72HO37NSQ Mark

    I use a standing desk and love it for the same reasons as mentioned here. I’m fidgety, shifting positions is good, and I do it naturally with a standing desk.

    I also am somewhat skeptical that merely standing is better for your health than sitting. But it is definitely worse for your back long term. It catches up with you but not when you’re young. But standing all day is bad too if you don’t shift. I actually walk in place when I stand very frequently and I think this is really the best for my back.

    Also, the term “standing desk” is a misnomer because you can sit perfectly well at a standing desk. I keep a high saddle stool under my desk and sit quite a bit despite the fact that its a “standing desk”. The 90 degree angle between your spine and thighs is what is bad about sitting. Open that up to 135 and it isn’t bad for you anymore. Perch on the edge of a bar stool or get a high saddle stool. People have become focused by whether to sit, stand, or walk with a treadmill desk by the current social debate. But I do all three activities for cheap with a fixed standing desk, high saddle stool ($70 on eBay), and walking in place. I’m convinced that people are spending way too much money with electric desks and treadmills and not getting as good a function as I do. For me simple is better, not just cheaper.

    Just to be clear, sitting too much on a saddle stool shouldn’t be done either.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/brown.curt.1 Brown Curt

    If $350 doesn’t hurt, try the Ergotron from Amazon. It is *very* easy to install – just clamps up front. You can slide the screen and keyboard tray (separately) to whatever height. I felt the screen was too close – I have a fixed keyboard stand as in, it does not extend towards you so as to increase the “depth”. But I am pretty satisfied. Here is the link: http://www.amazon.com/WorkFit-S-Single-LD-Sit-Stand-Workstation/dp/B003WQ4GUO/ref=pd_sim_e_5
    Note, there is a LD and a HD model. You will most probably need the LD model if your screen weight is < 16lb (mine was 7 lb – a 22" DELL LCD). Max screen size is 32".

  • Cliff-Rich

    I wanted to let you know that we’re making our standee desk in California and out of 100% renewable bamboo.. The standing craze has taken over our office! Lovin’ it!
    http://standeeco.com

  • http://bennash.com/ Ben Nash

    I’ve tried many fatigue pads and the best are simple natural fiber door mats. Thicker and rope-like work the best. The synthetic alternatives break down in support so quickly.

  • newbie

    I put together my desk today w two tables for 2 monitors. Definitely need a mat. Total cost just under $40 from Ikea b4 mat. Did it to see if will help my back and health. Sick of sitting. Definitely raising eyebrows and interest. Lots of questions. Didn’t ask management first so we will see how that goes…corporate environment and rules. Took about half hr to assemble

  • Donna

    I moved my computer table up even higher and have been standing on a rebounder. So I’m not standing on the hard floor, I am gently bouncing and moving around on my soft mat. I love it!

  • Standing desk mat

    Thanks for this post. It Very nice Blog. It was a very good
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  • Day

    Last year I made built own desk standing desk rather than spend $350+. However I’ve recently upgraded to the Stand Steady which is around $100 on Amazon http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00C344VMY

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  • Brendan

    I just hooked this up. Great way to set-up a cheap standing desk. Thanks for the tip!

  • Craig Boyle

    I also stumbled upon the blog and built my boss and I an IKEA’d standup desk… after we got the anti-fatigue matts, it was wonderful. We found it a little limiting in desk space, as there’s not room to write on a note pad. I stuck to it for a good 4 months last fall; however had to give it up as it was too taxing on my knees. Ideally I’d love a desk that could go up and down, and maybe one day we’ll get real adjustable desks. I hate sitting all day, so it’s a shame that my shotty knees work against me.

    regardless, my boss hasn’t looked back, his back and shoulder pain was immediately gone and he sleeps better at night. Ill probably go back to the stand up desk soon once I figure out the best configuration.
    give it a go! it’s a $35CDN investment! :)

  • Jared Morgan

    I decided to go down the path of the standing desk this weekend. I chose to use shelving rails, which allows you to adjust the height of the shelves (read desk and monitor supports). So far, it is working great.

    If you want to see what it looks like, it’s on my blog.

    http://jaredleonmorgan.blogspot.com.au/2013/04/making-standing-desk-using-shelving.html

    I’m still trimming the height of the keyboard platform, because at the moment my arms are not at 90 degrees, and I understand that is the ideal angle for ergonomics. Also. I am slightly looking down at the screen, which I know is going to kill my neck at the end of the work day.

    With the system I set up, all I need to do is take the stuff of the shelves, and then unhook the shelves from the rails to adjust my entire desk.

  • Cliff-Rich

    A good anti-fatigue mat will go a long way. However, I’ll take some sore feet over chronic back pain caused by an office chair any day. Here’s mat option http://www.amazon.com/Standee-Anti-fatigue-Standing-Desk-Mat/dp/B00A64ERKY

  • vihiway

    Thanks for this wonderful description of your journey with the stand up desk concept! I have created alternative sites in my office for different kinds of activities that I do…not do at my keyboard…physically marking handwritten papers my students submit; reading actual books; doing long hand work at a table top unaligned with my phone and computer…etc…sometimes I use several computers for different functions when I work…while I was seriously thinking about constructing a standing desk I now see it as only one option in a whole range of options based on how I work and how my activities related to work change over the year….thanks for looking at the context of how your project worked for you…it was very helpful

    • bobruark

      wish I had that kind of floor space in my office to mark student papers

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  • Edeskco.com

    Quite impressive review! Standing desks offer many benefits for your health and ergonomics. The completed desk set up shown here in the picture above is looking superb..i think i must give it a try!

  • Joy

    This one looks amazing and affordable! http://www.standupdeskshop.com

  • http://www.nateanglin.com/ Anwell Steve

    Thanks for this review you have. I’ve been hearing a lot of reviews regarding stand up desks and they really find it a great solution to long hours of sitting. I would greatly consider. My client has also his own review about it when he personally purchased one and here it is.

    ________________

    http://www.nateanglin.com/speedy-stand-desk-review-good-bad-ugly/

  • krista

    We are hoping to try standing stations at work but our plan is to have an adjustable stool that can be raised high enough for use at the standing work station so that we can spend part of our day sitting, and part standing without having to move the desk around – just the stool.

  • Anthony Glaser

    I think the health benefits of standing are fairly non-controversial. Here is what the Mayo clinic says:

    http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/sitting/AN02082

  • concernedcitizen

    fuck that man im a checkout operator i stand on my feet all day
    and like
    nah i aint about it foo

  • me
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  • RyanVice

    This study claims you will age less and live longer by standing instead of sitting.

    http://nyti.ms/1qe8vkp

    Note that I started using Jimmy’s original recipe, matt and all, 2 years ago and still use it. Absolutely love it.

  • Trevor Christiansen

    Thanks for suggestion, but I am already using the IKEA standup desk. It is not only the comfortable but also the affordable. I installed it myself. Constant sitting or standing generates many health risks so i customized adjustable standing desks. Now i feel better at my office standing workstation & no more pain in back.

    http://notsitting.com/