Home Office Renovation: Standing Desk for Two and Besta File System

Sitting. Statistically, you are probably sitting while reading this (between the work place and TV/computers at home, humans are sitting more than ever) and chances are you have heard or read that sitting is bad for you. And not just because of correlations that people who sit more tend to be less healthy, but because the actual act of sitting is unhealthy. If this is news to you, check out Businessweek, New York Times, Lifehacker, and Cornell. So, is sitting the new smoking? I probably wouldn’t go that far, but it makes sense that it can’t be good to sit in a chair for 8+ hours a day. In our old apartment, I had made a standing desk from Ikea bookcases and desktops, but it was just a touch too tall and gaudy. I wanted something sleek and at a decent height for us. So here is what I did. 

First, we cleared all of the STUFF out of the office. We had basically used it as a storage room with no desk and I wish I had a picture of it. Well, here you can see all of the STUFF in our living room. Yes, welcome to a new episode of Hoarders.

Then, I painted the office. The blue is “peacock blue” and the beige is “mocha cafe” from Home Depot. I also went over the bone white ceiling and trim with ultra white. New construction is nice, but bone white NOT white. Sidenote: does anyone go to college to major in “paint naming?”

For books and some random supplies, we did a typical Ikea Billy bookcase with clear glass doors (total of $160)

In terms of the desk, I had already done my research and had a few criteria for the standing desk:

  • obviously it needed to be standing height. But this meant most likely adjustable legs unless I could find the exact height using standard materials like bookcases.
  • it needed to fit two people
  • I didn’t have a specific budget, but I wasn’t going to pay $829 for an electric adjustable desk for one person
  • simple was better

After searching the interwebs, I came across this Ikeahackers post and decided it was the best option for cost and practicality. As the author says, you’ll need:

The Byske legs are pricey at $30 each, but they are adjustable from 27.5″ to 42.13″, so they were worth it for me. If you have the time to search, you can usually find them used and in good condition on Craigslist. The shelf is slightly shorter than the table top, so it’s perfect as a second tier for a computer monitor or extra space. 

The first step I did was to determine the ideal height of the desk. Luckily, Ditty is only a couple inches shorter than me. Knowing that our elbows should be angled slightly below 90 degrees, I used that height and subtracted the height of the desk to get the ideal leg height. The Byske legs spin a great deal to adjust, so get ready for an arm workout when you have to adjust five of them!  I found it easier to first attach the legs and then adjust them while the desk was upside down. 

After the legs were attached, we flipped the desk right-side up. (At first the legs were wobbly where the adjustable sections met, but once you put some weight on the desk and up against a wall, it’s not an issue.) Next, we needed to attach the brackets to the Lack shelf. Realizing that both the shelf and the desk were basically hollow filled with cardboard, a buddy suggested that we drill a pilot hole and insert screw anchors. It worked like magic. 

Once the brackets were attached to the underside of the shelf, we attached it to the desk using the same method of screw anchors to ensure stability. We used the office wall to keep the shelf and the desk in line with each other.

The shelf and table top did not come with pre-drilled holes for wires like some desks do, so I drilled my own. Ikea sells a drill bit and desk grommets in packages of three, so pick one or two of these up. I can’t find the link directly from Ikea, but these are the ones on Ebay. I really like how the cords and wires are hidden almost completely from view. See below for the quick steps. (pictures are from the old desk at the apartment)

We don’t need or have many office supplies like pens and Post It Notes, but for the times we do need them, I installed a pencil drawer. You can grab these off Amazon and attach them to any underside of a desk.

The last modification won’t be needed by everyone, but since my DSLR uses CF cards, I needed a CF card reader. Again, to keep things clean, I just used some Frog Tape to attach it to the underside of the shelf for easy access. The wire runs to the wire hole in the shelf and up to the Apple Thunderbolt Display and if I needed to take it off, the Frog Tape ensures an easy removal. 

Besides the desk, I also needed a way to store STUFF like my photography gear and also a file cabinet for our paperwork. I was amazed at how expensive file cabinets can be, especially when you need more than two drawers. I was going to go with two separate systems, but then realized that Ikea had an all-in-one solution: The Besta system. You buy a bookcase frame (multiple sizes) and then can customize it with different doors, shelves, and my savior: file drawers. At first pricey at $40 per pair of brackets, but then you realize that you can save hundreds of dollars by potentially having an 8 drawer file cabinet that doesn’t scream “office.” I decided on this configuration for what we need right now, but if the papers pile up, I can always add a 4th level of files. Pretty sweet!


So that’s our office renovation. All in all, it took a few weekends of painting, furniture buying, and assembling, but if done straight through, it only needs 2 days (one for painting, one for furniture)

If you have any questions, hit me up in comments!


One thought on “Home Office Renovation: Standing Desk for Two and Besta File System

  1. Hi! really liked your solution for storage. Specially, the file cabinet. I’m not able to find the frames you used at the IKEA website. Could you please help me by giving me more details? Are the purposely meant for filing? Or you used another item and customized it? I’m referring mainly to the frames where you hang the files and that they seemed to roll in and out.
    Many-Many thanks for your guidance!!!

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