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Your Backbone Will Thank You: 6 Great Standing Desk Designs

By Tina Sieber2013-04-09

standing deskSitting can kill you or at least cause serious health issues. Unfortunately, many jobs require us to sit at our desks for many hours a day. While it’s tough to change what you do for a living, it’s pretty easy to change your desk.

Being a freelance writer working from home, I struggle with this challenge more than most other professionals. Theoretically, I could work from my bed. I have to make a conscious effort not to sit for too long, get up regularly, walk around, and stretch. If you need some help on that front, try these exercise videos or these tips for using your laptop in comfort. In addition to moving around, I tried a standing desk and found that I enjoy switching between standing and sitting, depending on what I’m doing.

There are some challenges associated with switching from sitting to standing. Once you got over them, a standing desk can help you avoid some of the health issues associated with sitting. You might even burn a few additional calories. Finally, designing and building your own custom desk is a cool DIY project.

The $40 Standup Desk

Brandon of thoroughly researched desk options and almost spent a small fortune on a GeekDesk. After a few weeks he concluded that none of the commercial products offered exactly what he wanted. So he proceeded to build his own desk and the result is a beautiful bargain.

standing desk

Cost: $40
almost no skills and only basic tools required

Verdict: Seriously, anyone can do this!

A Swedish Standing Desk

My colleague Dave built himself a standing desk inspired by Colin Nederkoorn, who also explains the ergonomics for the ideal standing desk. Dave’s desk is built entirely from IKEA items. By taking down the top half, you can easily convert back to a regular sitting desk.

standing desk design

Cost: $50 (not counting everything you shouldn’t buy at IKEA)
couple of hours (not counting the full day spent at IKEA)
some basic handicraft skills and tools required

Verdict: Anyone with a minimal amount of patience can do this. The biggest challenges is not getting stuck at IKEA.

Mint’s DIY Standing Desk

Ellie over at Mint built a standing desk using self-made sawhorses and an IKEA counter top. The advantage of the custom built sawhorses is that you can choose any height and width for your desk. It does, however, take a little extra time and consideration to get the right material.

standing desk design

Cost: $150-200 (depending on supplies)
several hours
some handicraft skills and proper tools required

Verdict: Anyone with access to proper tools (cutting sawhorse legs) and a little bit of cash can do this.

Jeff Wain’s Massive Wood Standing Desk

Like many of us, Jeff Wain was inspired by Lifehacker to build his own standing desk. Before he dived head first into the project, he stacked books on his kitchen bar until he was sure he had figured out the right height. Very clever approach and a beautiful result.

standing desk design

Cost: $185
several hours spread over several days (guessing)
handicraft skills and some basic tools required

Verdict: You can definitely do this if you’re determined and not completely broke.

Expedit Standing Desk

Apparently it’s hard to get away from IKEA for DIY furniture hacks. Maybe that’s because the ingredients are, well designed, affordable, and universal. Here is one of many standing desk projects from IKEA Hackers. Peter Marks built this model using Expedit shelving units and a Lack shelf.

standing desk design plans

Cost: $250 (plus IKEA by-catch)
a couple of hours (plus IKEA visit)
basic handicraft skills and tools required

Verdict: Anyone who can mount IKEA furniture and with good credit can do this.

Custom Standing Desk

The folks from Tinkering Monkey will build you a custom standing desk based on your height and accessory preferences. The luxury edition comes with a keyboard tray and cord guide attachment.

standing desk

Cost: $750 (basic model)
minimal, ordered in minutes
easy peasy

Verdict: You must be able to afford it and ideally live in the US.

Find more great standing desk designs on Pinterest.


Before you decide to switch to a standing desk, try whether it is for you. The easiest method to simulate a standing desk is to put a cardboard box on top of your table. If you do switch, keep in mind that too much of any one thing is bad for you, and so is standing. Your best bet is to keep your options open and switch back and forth. And the healthiest choice is to stay active.

How do you keep your back happy at work?

Image credits: Back Pain via Shutterstock


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