11 Attractive Standing Desks You Can Actually Afford
Ernest Hemingway wrote at a standing desk (sometimes a very frugal DIY one). Charles Dickens wrote at one, too, and generations of architects, engineers, and draftsmen did their work at standing desks and tables. The writers claimed standing helped them find inspiration and maybe that is also true for the artists and designers. Most folks agreed that sitting was for slackers. Standing at their work was also much better for their health. (See also: The Top 5 Standing Desks)
Unfortunately, these days many of us spend our working hours planted firmly in our chairs, and we're suffering because of it. In the past few years, health researchers have determined that sitting all day is killing us. It's bad for our backs. It's bad for our postures. It's bad for our muscles and our hearts and our metabolism. It's bad for weight loss. Worse? Sitting's ill effects cannot be undone by a few hours a week at the gym. (See also: 25 Reasons to Get Out of Your Chair)
Those alarming studies were followed soon by an Internet mini-boom in standing desk chatter and design ideas and sales pitches. You can spend a lot of money for a custom, automatic desk that switches from sitting to standing at the touch of a button. Or you can spend nothing at all for the kludgiest, DIY standing desk imaginable — a folding chair on a desk.
What follows is a collection of 11 standing desk designs that fall somewhere in between touch-of-a-button and chair-on-a-desk. Stuff that won't embarrass you if your spouse or neighbor or co-worker catches you working at it. Some are high design and some are DIY hacks. All are probably better for you than the desk you're using now.
1. Steel Pipe
The only thing blowing up bigger than standing desks in the lifehack DIY corners of the Internet is stuff you can make with black or steel pipe. Of course you can make standing desks with pipe, too. This one is a little cleaner and simpler.
I really like this high design (and unfortunately high dollar) riff on on the steel pipe standing desk. The Adler Table adjusts from sitting to standing with an old timey hand crank.
2. Steel Pipe Kits
If you don't want to bother with cutting the pipe yourself, you can order a pre-cut kit with some clever pipe-unions from Simplified Building. The height is adjustable although you probably ought to move everything off your desk before you start fussing with it. In addition to the $200 for parts, you'll need to source a desktop.
3. Wall Desk
Wall desks have been around for a while and they're great if you work from a laptop and want make the switch to a standing desk part-time. Just mount at standing desk height rather than sitting, and you're ready for few hours on your feet.
I haven't priced this out in detail, but a hundred bucks should get this done. And probably with enough cash to spare for snacks and beverages after. You'll need some steel sawhorse brackets, several lengths of 2x4 lumber (check the bracket package for a chart that explains how long to cut your lumber for a given table height, otherwise the math is here), a hollow core door for the desktop, and a quart of paint if you want to get crafty. (See also: How to Repaint Old Furniture)
Too rough and tumble? Try this elegant, adjustable tall sawhorse design.
5. Box on a Desk
Dangerously close to folding chair on a desk, the box on a desk offers a little more stability than the chair and almost as much frugality. I've got a soft spot for boxes (and milk crates), and this is a good cheap solution for folks who want to experiment with standing.
6. Modular Shelving
You can find all sorts of modular shelving systems — Elfa from the Container Store, for example — that include parts for desks. When you're setting up your home office work space, just configure the desk at standing height.
7. IKEA Hack
Or you can get a kit that turns some inexpensive IKEA parts into an adjustable height standing desk.
8. High Shelf
Few DIY jobs are simpler than mounting a shelf on a wall.
For a long time I sweated over the details of a DIY version of this pricey wall-mounted, floating desk that I wanted to build and install in my home office. Alas, I need more tools (and money) to make it happen.
9. Laptop Stand
Back toward the chair on the desk end of the spectrum is the simple and elegant desktop laptop stand.
10. Home Built
If you don't mind your workspace looking like a tall workbench or potting table, you can put one together yourself with a few basic power tools (just a drill and a circular saw, which I do have). (See also: Build Your Own Furniture: 9 Tips for Non-Carpenters)
11. Recycled Drafting Table
And here we are right back where we started — the drafting table. An adjustable drafting table is the solution I have decided to try in my own home office — soon. Durable, sturdy, spacious, adjustable, and affordable (under $250 new, less if I can find a used one in good condition). It's not the most attractive of the bunch, but it's got the right mix of features and price, and it's a form I trust and recognize from high school drafting class.
What about you? Have you switched, or are you planning to switch, to a standing desk? What's your affordable solution?
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