Your Backbone Will Thank You: 6 Great Standing Desk Designs

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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 opensoul.org 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
Effort:
minimal
Difficulty:
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)
Effort:
couple of hours (not counting the full day spent at IKEA)
Difficulty:
some basic handicraft skills and tools required

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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)
Effort:
several hours
Difficulty:
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
Effort:
several hours spread over several days (guessing)
Difficulty:
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)
Effort:
a couple of hours (plus IKEA visit)
Difficulty:
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)
Effort:
minimal, ordered in minutes
Difficulty:
easy peasy

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

Find more great standing desk designs on Pinterest.

Conclusion

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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Comments (39)
  • Joan

    Just to throw our name in the hat…

    Erector Desk – erectordesk.com

    The desk is adjustable and has a solid wood top.

    Also, a couple of things to keep in mind when you’re getting a standing desk… You get most of the health benefits by fidgeting and shifting your weight while you stand. I like to grab my ankle and stretch while I’m reading. Strongly recommend also setting up your monitor so that you can look straight ahead and have your eyes hit roughly the top of your screen. You can buy a monitor arm, or just use a stack of books or a cubby.

  • Peter Gilbert

    Tina,

    Great Blog. I’ve been in the human factors industry for over 14 years and am so happy to see more and more people embracing standing and movement while they work.

    That being said I would like to cover a couple quick potential issues people need to be aware of prior to beating the living heck out of their chair (BTW…I love the picture). Now if you bought the chair from Staples or Office Depot than beat away.

    I’ve been standing now for two years and haven’t felt better in my life. While I stand most of the day, I do sit for short periods throughout the day. It truly not good for your lower extremities to stand all day. The other thing to think about if you are going to stand for long periods of time is to use an anti-fatigue mat.

    We believe that a height adjustable desk is your best bet . There is an inexpensive desk line that is the ideal desk because it’s height and width adjustable (23″ to 49″ height range and width adjustment from 42.5″ to 74″) This desk base comes with a four position led preset that give two people the option to set their ideal seated and standing height. Te desk is called the Sit 2 Stand Desk (www.s2sdesks.com).

    When standing or sitting you want to make sure that your elbow lines up with your keyboard(this will give you a perfect ergonomic “L-shape”).

    If any of the readers decide to use a standing only desk, that I strongly suggest that they use an ergonomic drafting chair or standing stool ( http://www.ergoprise.com/drafting-chairs-stools/?sort=bestselling?sort=bestselling ).

    Once again great blog, just wanted to make sure people are aware of additional options.

  • Richard Ellis

    I just read your article and I am experimenting by putting my laptop on one of the higher shelves of my armoire for standing. The height is just right for me. Since I’m using a laptop, it is easy for me to switch from the standing back to the sitting position. I had to improvise and use a box for the keyboard while standing though. Maybe I should take a trip to IKEA?

  • Eric

    I built my own standing desk adapter… Out of a pair of $20 TV stands (black) I bought at Target. My regular desk was already 29.5 inches tall. So I figured I only needed something 14.5 inches tall to add to the height. The Target TV stands are exactly 14.5″ without casters, and assembled in 15 minutes total. $40 + tax and one trip to Target and I had my standing desk! Plus, it matches my black desk almost perfectly.

  • gaius gracchus

    Standing all day can also be problematic. That is why we went with a treadmill desk. Makes all the difference in the world! We do alternate with some time sitting – it is maybe 50/50. But it feels really good to walk slowly while we work instead of just stand or sit. We forget we are walking we get so engrossed into our work on our computers.

    We got a new Multitable and we LOVE IT!!! We ordered the entire table from them, not just the base — they customized it for us, too. We checked out almost every standup desk on the market before settling on this one. They have a plethora of types of desks – something for everyone.

    Although they had models that fit over their own treadmills, we already had a high-end Precor treadmill at home. Note that most of the treadmills that come from the standup desk combos have no console in front to get in the way, but ours, just like a gym model, does. So we needed the table that goes up really high, plus we needed a more narrow table since we are further back on the treadmill due to the console. Plus, we just have small laptops so no need for a wider desk.

    They took their table from the treadmill combo and created a customized top for us. Also they were able to adjust the width.

    It fits perfectly! The inner width is 34″ between the legs, the tabletop is 36″ wide and 18″ deep. The height goes up to 54 inches!!!! Yayyyh! Finally we found one that fit our needs over our treadmill! (good luck finding one that tall, and, if you do, good luck getting the rest of these dimensions.)

    It was pretty easy to assemble, and putting things together is not my forte. We ordered the “left-handed” model, which is just having the crank on the left side, since our treadmill is up to the wall on the right side. We really appreciate a manual operation, although they certainly have electric models. I don’t want another thing to have to plug in, and it takes so little effort to crank it, why bother with electric.

    Their customer service is outstanding. Their prices are far, far better than any other desk of this quality, and especially compared to companies who are willing to customize for you.

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For more details, please read our disclosure.
Affiliate Disclamer

This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.