DIY: Make Your Own Standing Desk… Plus Why You NEED One

Hey everybody! Welcome to another annelovescoffeemore DIY: Standing Desks – MacGyver edition.

First, fun fact! “…some research shows inactivity now kills more people than smoking.” Yah, you read that right. The quote, by author Tom Rath, is from this article. And though it seems like hyperbole, the key word is “kills,” because even though smoking is a terribly unhealthy habit, it is possible fewer people are dying from smoking because fewer people are smoking period. At the same time, more and more people are spending big chunks of time sitting/inactive – working at a desk job, binge-watching Gilmore Girls, knitting all of their 2016 Christmas hats in a single weekend, playing a game of Monopoly (the most deadly of all the examples), etc. And there is more and more evidence that sitting for long stretches takes a serious toll on the body’s basic functions. So, in fact, it is quite possible the act of smoking may cause fewer deaths than prolonged sitting/inactivity.

In this recent paper published by the American Heart Association, a team of cardiology experts reviewed existing evidence about the link between sitting too much and disease. This was the most alarming conclusion from that paper: no amount of physical activity is enough to combat the dangerous health effects of sitting for hours each day. Meaning, even if we work out at a gym regularly – say 3-6 days per week – we are putting our health at risk if we routinely spend 8-12 hours a day sitting. And let’s face it, this applies to a lot of us if we have any kind of office or desk job.

Which is why having a standing desk – or a desk that at least gives you the option to stand part of the time you are working – could literally save your life. Not surprisingly, there are a lot of different standing desk options out there to choose from. Some of these options can be pricey… my quick search showed prices ranging from $200-600, and I know some are even more expensive. Don’t get me wrong, your health and well-being are worth $200-600+. However, if you aren’t ready to commit to a standing desk, or you really don’t have the extra money for that kind of expense at this point, you will be happy to know that you probably have things in your home that would work for creating your own standing desk.

Presenting the do-it-yourself standing desk. There are so many ways to do this. Here is a link to some images of other people’s DIY standing desks (the Coke can option is particularly ironic). Before doing the research for this article, my standing desk consisted of an Ikea cube storage container, an Ikea lap-desk, a piece of plywood, all of which I use on top of my existing counter-height table with my laptop, wireless key board, and mouse. Here are a couple of pictures.

photo of Anne Stericker standing at her DIY Standing Desk
The fantasy. Me, working at my standing desk. Notice my clean, cord-free desk space. Notice my freshly brushed hair and non-pajama outfit. Notice my excellent posture and my full glass of healthy life-giving water.
The reality. If I wasn't writing this post, I wouldn't have had any idea how disheveled I look on a daily basis when I am working form home. :)
The reality. If not for this post, I would be blissfully unaware of how disheveled my desk and I look when I am working from home. No clean surface, cords everywhere, no life-giving healthy water. My arms do look really toned though.


While I was taking the above photos, I realized that my computer screen was too low. It is important that the computer screen is at eye level and the keyboard is at a height where the forearms are parallel with the ground when typing, so I added another storage box on top of the Ikea cube that raised my screen up an additional five inches.


My laptop after adding the storage box for additional height.


Having the screen at the correct height helps keep your head and neck in proper alignment, and most people have their screens too low – especially if they are working on a laptop. This is why it is important to have a separate keyboard and mouse when using a laptop for long periods of time. FYI, see this graphic to see the correct ergonomic set up for a standing desk. I also learned that it is helpful to stand on an anti-fatigue mat, and for the last few days, I have been standing on an extra-thick exercise mat that I (really) did have lying around, and it does seem it has made a difference.

This is close-up of the extra thick exercise mat I have been standing on. It probably isn't as good as a real anti-fatigue mat, but it is definitely better than the bare floor.
This is close-up of the extra thick exercise mat I have been standing on. It probably isn’t as good as a real anti-fatigue mat, but it is definitely better than the bare floor.


One more thing, while I love how I was able to create a great standing desk with things I already owned, I came across this little beauty – the ORISTAND Standing Desk Converter – while I was researching this article, and I am tempted to get one for myself. I like that it is light-weight (it’s actually made out of cardboard) and folds flat for easy storage. If I do, I’ll report back on the pros and cons of how it compares to my “custom” set up.

So what do you think? Have you tried a standing desk before? Will you make your own?

BTW, this entire post was written while standing. 🙂


About The Author

Anne Stericker

City-dweller, designer, writer and lifestyle consultant practicing the art of living well in the 21st Century. Fixated with good coffee, great design, and any little thing that makes life better.


  1. Diana | 2nd Nov 16

    Your standing desk looks better than my previous one–an overturned laundry basket. But now I’ve converted a gray Ikea step stool –1 step for keyboard and tip step for laptop. However, I think the foldup cardboard one looks ideal. I’m gonna do dome measuring and see if it’ll work for me. Thanks for the tip, cuz all the other ones are so pricey!

    • Anne Stericker | 6th Nov 16

      That fold-up cardboard one looks so good to me! If you get it, I will love to hear if you like it! (And if you send me a pic of you using it, maybe I will even add to this post. Thanks, Diana!

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