DIY double desk ikea hack1

Last week I shared our recent office makeover, including the DIY 12-ft long double desk we built. Today I’m here to give you the how-to so that you can build your own.

This really is a pretty simple DIY project (especially compared to our DIY Old Door Console Table that we built from scratch), that even the less-DIY-savvy of you can do pretty easily.

I had been thinking about this project for a while, so I already had an idea of what I wanted (here are some similar desks that I used for inspiration: thisthis and this), so I measured our space to see what would work best and then made this quick sketch to show Drew. He was on board immediately (he was ready to overtake the room that had long been only my office) and we came up with a plan.

desk plans 2 brighter1

We started with a trip to IKEA (the closest IKEA to New Orleans is in Houston, TX, so we made a weekend trip of it), where we purchased three of these BESTA bookcases, along with these feet for the bottom of them (the BESTA bookcases have a variety of feet options, so you can change up your look if you want something different).  ***SEE UPDATE AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS POST FOR UPDATED INFORMATION ON THE BESTA PRODUCT LINE & LINKS.

set up bookcases brighter1

Once we were home, we cleaned out the room, painted it, and then put our bookcases together and placed them where we wanted them in the room. The spacing of our room turned out perfect for these! We set those couple boards on top to mimic the desktop, just to make sure the height would be okay. It really depends on the height of your chair, but for me, the desktop is a touch higher than I would have made it for myself. However, I’m sharing this desk with my husband, who is a big guy, and the height is perfect for him. (I’ve been sitting on a pillow in my chair, which makes it the perfect height, but I’m going to look for a taller office chair at some point.) You might find that you don’t actually need the legs on them to be the right height for you. (The BESTA Bookcases without legs are about 25 1/4 inches tall, with legs ours are 29 1/4 inches tall.) With the desk top attached, our desk turned out to be a total of 31 inches high.

unstained wood for top brighter1

Next, we made our final plans for the top, measuring to see how long we wanted our desktop to be. Our wall is about 12 feet long and we wanted the desk to be slightly shorter than that, to give it room to actually fit in the space (it is a free-standing desk, not a built-in, so it doesn’t need to be completely flush against both walls). We decided 140 inches long would be perfect for us. We made a trip to Lowe’s and bought three 2x8x12 untreated pine boards and had them cut down in-store to 140 inches. When choosing boards, make sure you lay them flat on the ground in the store and pick ones that are as flat/straight as you can find. (We had some issues with one of our boards being warped because we didn’t check them well enough in the store!) After we got them home, we gave them a good sanding to smooth the surface and also to remove any stamps/marks on the wood. Make sure to also wipe them down and remove any dirt/dust before staining.

stain products1

We are still really happy with the finish of the top of our Old Door Console Table, so we used the same method and same stain for this project as well. We used Minwax Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner, 2 coats of Minwax Wood Stain in Dark Walnut, and (later, after the desk top was attached) we gave it three coats of Rustoleum Water-Based Polyurethane in a Satin finish.

staining top boards 2 brighter1

I would recommend staining your wood outside or in some other well-ventilated area. Since we live in an apartment, we were forced to do this inside (with the windows open and a fan blowing the smell out), but it was still pretty stinky. After the stain has cured for a day or two, then you can start attaching the top boards together.

attaching top boards together brighter1

We used these long metal connector bars that we found at Lowe’s. We used 4– one on each end of the desk and one in each open space (where our chairs go). Make sure you pull the boards together as you screw these in, to prevent large gaps between the boards.

top boards attached 2 brighter1

Once we had the top boards connected together, we measured out our bookcases, put them in the right places, then set the wooden top on top of them. We left a couple inch overhang on each end and each open chair space is 32 inches. The bookcases are only 15 1/2 inches deep, whereas our top is 22 inches deep, so there is a 3/4 inch overhang on the front lip of the desk and about 5 1/2 inches of space left behind each bookcase (which has turned out great for storage of art materials!).

underneath brighter1

Once we had everything situated where we wanted it, we used these small L brackets to attach the top to the bookcases. There is a slight gap between the bookcases and the top on ours to accommodate the curvature of the wood (no wood is perfectly flat!), but when making your own, you might find that you don’t end up with as big of a gap there (one of our boards was slightly warped). The weight of the wood also holds the top down, so we didn’t think it needed more attaching than a few of these on each side of the bookcases.

underneath brackets brighter1

After everything was attached and together, I gave the top 3 coats of Satin finish Poly and let that cure for a few days.

seal top 4 brighter1

seal top brighter1

So happy with how it turned out! It is the perfect space for Drew and I to work. We each have plenty of storage space in the bookcases and lots of work space on top (with plenty of space between us so we don’t bother each other while working either!).

desk all together and sealed brighter1

It also makes the perfect use of the space in this room. It might be a 12 foot long desk, but it doesn’t feel like it takes up very much space in the room! I still have room for my easel/art stuff on the other side of the room with plenty of open floor space to spread out in the floor if I’m working on a crafting project.

whole desk from closet 2 brighter1

cait desk area long 2 brigther1

office look in from side 2 brighter1

See more images of the room, here.

Budget Breakdown:

IKEA (BESTA Bookcases ($46.75 x 3 = $140.25) and BESTA Legs ($8.50 a pair x 6 = $51.00) family discount pricing + 15.78 tax) : $207.03
Wood for desk top (3 2x8x12 boards at $7.43 each): $22.29
Metal Connector Bars (4 at $2.80 each): $11.20
Metal L Brackets (3 packs of 4 at $2.27 each): $6.81
Stain/Wood Conditioner/Polyurethane/Foam Brushes: already owned (but would be around $30 to purchase if you didn’t already own these)
Screws, Sandpaper, etc… already owned (but would be around $10 to purchase if you didn’t already own these)

TOTAL: $247.33 

$250 isn’t bad for a 12-foot long desk for two! Plus we sold Drew’s old desk on Craigslist for $100, so that brings our out-of-pocket cost down to under $150!

One of my favorite projects that we’ve done together and we are already getting a ton of use out of it! Yay for pretty projects that increase our productivity!

P.S. We did plan ahead and made sure that whatever connecting methods we used (the metal connector bars and L brackets) could be disassembled rather easily in the future to move to a different house. We also thought ahead before we bought our 12 ft long boards and measured to make sure that we could even get them in the house. Some things that you also might want to consider before building!

***UPDATE 12/3/15: Several people have asked if IKEA still carries the BESTA bookcases, since my original links above don’t work. IKEA still does carry them, but they have changed a bit. When we bought ours, the frame and shelves came together as a “bookcase” that you could choose to add feet to, but now they come in different parts so that you can customize/build the exact piece you want (they have doors and drawers available instead of just shelves!). You buy the frame, shelves, doors, drawers, feet, etc. separately. I believe this frame is the equivalent of what I have: here are some other helpful links:

Frames (different sizes):
Doors and Drawer fronts (different sizes):
Interior fittings:

        1. I was thinking the same thing bc I plan to do this for our homeschooling room. I plan to look for compressed wood, not nearly as pretty as the above but more functional for the purpose.

        2. I don’t have a problem with it, as I don’t do a ton of writing at my desk, and when I do I write on just one of the flat board sections (not on the gap in-between). I could see it being a little annoying though for homework purposes. You could also use a butcher block countertop material for the top, it would be solid and gorgeous, just more expensive! IKEA does sell solid wood desktops that are similar, but shorter. Perhaps you could try putting two of those together? (You would have a seam in the middle though). Good luck on your project!


  1. This looks really good and I can’t wait to build one for myself. I always wanted a long desk to share with my wife. The price is also one that you can’t beat.
    Thanks for sharing.

  2. Wow. What an AWESOME idea! I was trying to find a place that carried such a long desk. I have a 13′ wall and wanted to use for both work and as a scrapbooking area. This seems perfect!

    Thanks so much for sharing!

  3. Did you think about just using the shelves without adding the feet? I noticed you said it ended up being a bit high (the desk). I would like this for my two boys 7 and 9, but think by adding the feet it would be too high for them.

    1. You could totally do that! I share this desk with my husband who is a pretty big guy (and whose chair is slightly taller than mine) so he needed the extra room, even though it made it a little too high for me. I’m still on the search for the perfect height-adjustable chair for my side. But you could totally do it without the feet for your boys!

  4. Curious on how the 1 board that is between the wall and the middle board doesn’t bend under the weight. I know you have the connecting boards but it seems like it wouldn’t be enough. It seems like it is just by itself. I am building this exact desk and while I’m curing the wood it was something that popped in my head.

    1. There isn’t a problem with it. In this case, it is connected to the other boards in several places, plus it rests partially on the bookcases underneath. Best of luck with yours!

  5. I love your desk and would love to build one in my home. I am having a hard time finding the besta bookcases on the ikea website. I only see TV stands and benches. Do you think they just don’t carry them anymore or am I looking in the wrong place?

    1. Hmm, I’m really not sure! We don’t live close to an IKEA, so we aren’t there very often to keep in touch with what is new and what has been discontinued. It looks like my link to them is no longer active, so maybe they have been discontinued? I would call your closest IKEA and ask if they have them in stock. Good luck!


        1. Sorry for the late reply! I’ve been traveling a lot lately. I believe these are about the same size. I’m not at home to measure it right now — the only thing I’m unsure of is the height. We also have feet on ours that make it taller. If you are using yours for a homeschool corner, you might double check how the height feels for your kids in the store, as our desk is a bit tall. I had to buy a different chair that was height adjustable to make it work for me.


  6. Heyhey! Love the look! I’m looking to build something similar, and I’m wondering is it easy to write on the desk? Does the wood grain come through the paper and make writing difficult? How can I make the table top a perfectly smooth writing surface?

    1. It isn’t completely smooth, so it probably isn’t the best writing surface if you are going to be doing a lot of writing by hand. I sit at my desk mostly to work on the computer, so this isn’t really a problem for me. The boards are 12 inches wide, so when I do need to write something I can usually find a smooth section on which to do so. I also have a lap desk thing or a clipboard I can use if need be. If you wanted a smoother surface, you could have butcher block counter top cut to the length of your desk for the top, but that can get pricey.


      1. Hi! I’m wondering how the boards are 12 inches wide I thought they were 2×8? Also you said above your total width was 22 inches? How did you get there with 3 2×8’s! Thanks we are building this project now and wondering if I got something wrong.

        1. Yes, even though they advertise boards as standard sizes (like 8×12 in this case), in actuality they are slightly shorter. In this case, the actual board is only around 7 1/4 inches deep. Hope that helps! And the 12 is for 12 feet long!


  7. I absolutely love this tutorial, and this is exactly what I’m wanting for my command area. But the link to the shelves doesn’t work– and scouring the website hasn’t provided me with any clues. Do you think they have been rerouted, or discontinued? My sister in law is heading to Houston this weekend and I was going to make her pick up for me, but now I’m not sure if I should even have her stop!

    1. Hey Katie, a few others have wondered the same thing. IKEA still does carry them, but they have changed a bit. When we bought ours, the frame and shelves came together as a “bookcase” that you could choose to add feet to, but now they come in different parts so that you can customize/build the exact piece you want. You buy the frame, shelves, doors, drawers, feet, etc separately.

      I believe this frame is the equivalent of what I have:

      But here are some other helpful links:

      Frames (different sizes):
      Doors and Drawer fronts (different sizes):
      Interior fittings:

      Hope that helps! Good luck with your project!

  8. Love this desk idea! Just ordered the shelves from IKEA. Do you recall how many cans of chalk paint you used on the wall?

    1. It’s been several years, so I can’t remember for sure, but I think we used around 2 quarts (at the time they only came in quart sized cans from Lowe’s – we bought three and I think only used two, or maybe two and part of the third). This wall is roughly 12 feet long and we have 9 foot ceilings. Hope that helps!


  9. I am so doing this!! Question, is it still sturdy? One thing I noticed about Ikea furniture is it falls apart, depending on what it is. I will be using this table as a work station for my children…and they can be hard on furniture!!

    1. I’ve had no problems with this, but my husband and I (mostly me) are the only ones that use it – we don’t have kids. With kids, I would suggest anchoring it to the wall so that they couldn’t pull it over. Good luck building!

  10. Caitlin,
    I love this look and want to replicate for my son’s room!!! Question to make sure I’ve got the measurements correct – it looks like the bookcase it about 16″ deep but the desk is 24″ (3 boards X 8″), which would leave about a lot of “extra” desk top. Where did i go wrong? Thanks!

    1. Sorry for the late reply! I just moved across the country! Yes, you are correct, there is extra space behind the bookcases. You can make the desktop less wide to accommodate that if you wish, but I found that to be too shallow for me. And to get bookshelves that deep, you pretty much have to go custom or use some other type of cabinet. I’ve actually found though that it really isn’t that noticeable from across the room and the extra space back there has been great for me for art/craft storage (perfect for giant pads of drawing paper!).

      Hope that helps!

  11. We did it, based on this, and love it!
    We used 2 pieces of Hobby Lobby furniture to make 3 desktop sitting spots for each of our kids!
    Thanks for the idea! Love it. Wish I could share a photo!

  12. I have been looking for a desk or way to remodel my home office for a few weeks now and found this and love it!
    However, do you know of a better option to put in the middle? I need to utilize the whole length of the table to I have to roll around so the middle book shelf wouldn’t work for me 🙁

    1. I would look at IKEA and see what other options they have. You could probably make something work in the middle with some other kind of desk leg/support. It would just have to be the same height as whatever bookcases you put on the ends. Good luck!


  13. Love the look of your office! I’m looking into making a desk of my own as well and was curious about some of the measurements— after using three 8”x12’ boards your table top ended up being 22” deep and not 24”?

    1. Yes, even though they advertise boards as standard sizes (like 8×12 in this case), in actuality they are slightly shorter. In this case, the actual board is only around 7 1/4 inches deep. Hope that helps!



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