Finishing Blitz is working miracles. Not only am I writing every day (except Tuesdays — my “day off”), not only am I making progress on the book, but Project Studio Makeover continues, too! Today I’m happydancing about my new Ikea hack standing desk / treadmill desk.
Thanks to the Great ClutterBust, my studio has gone from horrifyingly cramped and cluttered, to spacious and open. I’m actually looking forward to having my mother over to take a look at it — truly a miracle!
Don’t get me wrong — there’s still a lot of purging to be done. I’m not eager for anyone to see Lower Outbound Mountain* (aka, the purged items accumulating in our living room, which would probably be more accurately called Lower Outbound Continent). And there are still pockets of clutter to deal with in the studio, but the overall focus has changed. Whereas before I was just purging, purging, purging, now I’m working on not just organizing, but beautifying.
This week that came in the form of assembling Ikea furniture.
Confession: I like assembling Ikea furniture.
I’m a sucker for good design, and whatever your opinion of Ikea’s aesthetic, or the quality of their products, the design of the user experience is really a marvel. Going through an Ikea store can be a draining experience, I grant you, but once you get your flatpack packages home, the fun begins.
First, you tear open the cardboard to find the pieces and parts stacked in the most efficient manner possible, with minimal packaging. Take a moment to appreciate the thought that went into the order of pieces and the design of the package.
Then there’s that instruction booklet. Marvel at the careful design that manages to communicate how to assemble those pieces and parts into your new furniture without using any words.
The real elegance, though, lies in the construction design. Admire all those special screws and fasteners that so cleverly allow a non-handy person to create a desk or a chest of drawers or a bookcase with nothing but a screwdriver and sometimes a hammer (and of course, the ubiquitous Allen wrench, included with almost every Ikea furniture purchase). Consider the pre-drilled holes, carefully placed so it’s practically impossible to put parts together the wrong way.
As I said, I’m a sucker for good design, and though quality control isn’t always what I’d like it to be, Ikea is nothing if not good design.
I got a bit of an Ikea furniture assembling binge this week, because there was finally room in the studio for the new pieces we’d gotten at Ikea. Miracle Man and his friend, Ivan, moved both desks and the monster printer downstairs last Saturday (and a buyer picked up the printer on Sunday — hooray!!)
(Let me take just a moment for a wild outburst of glee.
Oh. My. God! I have space in my studio! This is a miracle!
Okay, outburst complete. We can move on…)
After Ivan left, MM and I set ourselves the task of moving the flatfiles.
Have you ever attempted to move flatfiles? Those suckers are heavy!
After hemming and hawing about the best way to accomplish this move, we finally decided to take all the papers out, which lightened them just enough to
force them with much grunting slide them into their new position in the corner, where the 4-drawer filing cabinet used to live. (I said a small prayer of thanks to Past Me, for being smart enough to cover the bottom of my flatfiles with heavy duty felt when I moved in here, so our bamboo floors suffered not a whit.)
Next we got to work assembling my new Ikea hack standing desk / treadmill desk!
Unfortunately, Ikea hasn’t gotten on the standing desk / treadmill desk bandwagon (yet), so I had spent weeks obsessively poring over Ikea hack standing desk ideas on Ikea Hackers and various Pinterest boards, internally debating the pros and cons of using Ikea table legs or a combination of Ikea ALEX storage cabinets, CAPITA legs, and CAPITA brackets to get the desk surface to the optimal height for standing and walking.
(Laugh if you like, but it’s questions like these that keep me up at night. I’m not kidding.)
Ultimately, I fell in love with the clean, white lines and functionality of this Ikea ALEX desk (two big drawers! integrated cable-management compartment!):
Naturally, we would not be using the base section. (Want a pristine table base? It’s yours!) Ultimately, we decided on adjustable Ikea GERTON legs for ultimate flexibility.
For the technically-inclined only:
If you’re interested in hacking this combination yourself, note that the cable wells are placed at the back corners of the desk, right where we were planning on screwing in the plates for the GERTON legs.
[The legs come in two pieces: a round plate, with five holes around the edges; and the legs. First you screw in the plate, then the leg gets screwed into a sixth hole in the center of the plate.]
In addition, the screws that come with the legs are too long for the desk — they would poke right through the bottom and into the drawers.
Our solution: we hopped off to OSH to buy some shorter screws (#8 1/2″), then came home and screwed the leg plates in just in front of the cable management holes.
Also, MM had the clever idea of aligning the leg plates flush with the edge of the desk so that one of the outer holes was as close as possible to the edge of the desk. This allowed us to use a longer screw in that one hole; the screw went into the side wall of the desk, rather than into the drawer. (Make sure to drill holes for the screws before trying to screw them in, so the boards don’t crack!)
In two places the leg plates ended up covering up screw holes that were carefully placed by Ikea to screw the bottom of the desk to the sides of the desk, so using the longer screws helped compensate for the loss of these two included screws.
One note: after we got the legs attached and started trying to adjust the length, we feared they might be defective. We couldn’t for the life of us get them to lock into position!
We finally figured out that you twist (forever) counter-clockwise to loosen, then pull/push to attain the height you want (there are marks on the side to indicate the height in centimeters), then twist (again, forever) clockwise to tighten. Seriously, it feels like you have to twist forever, but eventually all four legs did tighten up.
We do plan to add a fifth leg, right at the back-center, for additional support. For earthquake safety, we also plan to screw an eye bolt into a stud (which happens to be almost immediately behind where the fifth leg will be) and lash this leg to the eye bolt with velcro tape.
While at the moment my iMac is sitting on pile of paper reams, our permanent solution is to bolt an Ikea JÄRPEN shelf to the top of the desk using four CAPITA brackets, oriented in two Vs facing me. From the measurements I took, it looks like mounting the brackets flush with the edge of the cable management well will place the shelf about 1/2″ away from the wall — perfect for letting cables drop down behind it!
The only other technical issue we’ve run into is that the CAPITA bracket bolts are so long that they’ll interfere with the drawers. Our initial solution was to jigsaw two slots at the back of the drawers to allow the drawers to slide past the bolts. Then further measurements showed that if we just hacksaw the bolts, allowing for the washer and the nut, the bolts should just clear the drawer backs.
Ready for a transformation?
Here’s how the computer wall of my studio looked before the Great ClutterBust.
You can see why I called it the “Wall of Doom.”
You can see the edge of the 4-drawer filing cabinet on the left, my computer desk cum Ikea hack standing desk / treadmill desk that I hacked for $9.99 by placing an Ikea LACK side table on top of the desk, and at the far right, my scanner is sitting on the mini storage desk.
What a mess!
Here’s a picture I took just now.
What a difference, huh? Check out the Ikea ALEX drawer unit to the right of my new Ikea hack standing desk / treadmill desk — I’ve been lusting after these babies for years, and now I have two of them, side-by-side!
BTW, the tall, white box-like thing under the desk, behind my uke, is a sheet of blotter paper, folded to form a temporary screen to hide the battery backups on the floor. (Aesthetics are key in my new studio, and I’m very finicky about getting those electronics and cables out of view.)
Again, there’s still lots to do — this is very much in-process.
In the plans:
• The aforementioned iMac shelf, which we’ll bolt onto the ALEX desk with Ikea CAPITA brackets.
• A 5th GERTON leg, right at the back center, to keep the desk from bowing.
• For earthquake safety, we plan to screw an eye bolt into the stud (just about at the center of the desk, as it happens), and strap the 5th leg to the eye with velcro tape.
(We had contemplated bolting the desk to the wall with a bracket, or even drilling a bolt through the back of the desk to attach it to the wall, but if the height of my treadmill ever changes, this would make it a real pain in the butt to change the height of the desk. With five adjustable legs, one strapped to an eye bolt with velcro, changing the height of the desk will be ever so much easier.)
• A white Ikea LINNMON table-top on top of the flatfiles, raised up by 6 1/4″ Ikea CAPITA legs. This will effectively create a clean, white work surface, with a veeeeerrrrry large shelf underneath to hide modems and such.
• A white Ikea BESTA add-on unit (with drawers!) on top of the Ikea ALEX drawer units.
Miracle Man also wants to screw some square dowels on my open tool shelves (just visible at the upper right of both pics above), to make them a bit less of an earthquake hazard.
And that’s just this side of the studio. I have big plans for the other side, too!
Naturally, I’ll share pics when I have more to share. In the meantime, I hope you’ll take these progress pics as inspiration to accomplish your own “impossible” tasks.
Seriously, if I can make this herculean of a change, after almost twenty years of avoiding it, you can do it, too!
Oh, and did I mention I’ve been writing just about three hours every day, too? Yep, life is great! (And yes, you can still join Finishing Blitz if you want!)
Now I’m off to Ikea to buy more studio beautification stuff. 🙂
PS — Pssst! Know someone who might benefit from seeing this today? Pass it on!
* Hat tip to Denice, one of my fellow ClutterBusters and Finishing Blitzers, for the term “Outbound Mountain.”