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Art desk with storage for tiny studio space

Art studio desk + cabinet — the IVAR combo that IKEA didn’t think of

We live in a tiny apartment, so my studio space is tucked into a corner of the kitchen.

It’s such a mess that I don’t even want to paint. 

So, the plan was to create a compact art studio desk that incorporates storage. And it could fold away and stand neatly in the corner when not in use.

The IVAR folding desk was perfect but IKEA did not intend for it to be installed above a set of cabinets. I didn’t want to waste that space beneath the desk and wanted to maximise it with closed storage.

IVAR folding desk

IVAR folding desk combination | IKEA.com

And this is how I managed to add a desk on top of the IVAR cabinet.

Before & After

art studio desk storage ivar hack
IKEA products:
  • IVAR
    • Cabinet, unfinished pine
    • Folding table, unfinished pine
    • Narrow supports x 2, unfinished pine
    • Shelf, unfinished pine
    • Feet covers x 2
  • OBSERVATÖR cross brace
  • SKÅDIS pegboard, large, wood color
  • SKÅDIS desk clamps
  • KUGGIS various sizes
Other Materials:

Decorations: I used an old dictionary, vintage frames, parts from an old cash register and the dividers from a typesetting drawer.

Tools:
  • Rubber head mallet and screw with pronounced threads
  • Hammer
  • Wrench
  • Sand paper
  • Wood stain
  • Clear poly top coat
  • Paint brushes

Compact art studio desk + storage combination

1. Set out all the wood with the outside up. I did this one package at a time so that I wouldn’t get the pieces mixed up.

Ivar pieces

2. Gently distress the wood with a hammer, wrench, and screw. Tap the rubber mallet on the screw to leave the marks of the threads.

distressing

3. Sand corners and sharp edges. Stain, sand, stain, sand, clear poly, steel wool and top coat. I used a rag to wipe on the final top coat.

staining
Assembling the IVAR cabinet and desk

4. Build the cabinet and desk per IKEA instructions up until attaching them to the frame.

Go slowly: Attach the little brackets (that fit into the holes) first to the cabinet/desk and THEN to the frame or else you won’t have access to the screws because the space between the cabinet and desk is tight. 

I put the cabinets at the lowest possible hole and the fold down desk at the highest possible hole. This left clearance for the lowest bar of the desk to pivot as it swings down, and it makes a small exposed shelf.

Something I couldn’t figure out before building was how to lengthen the table legs. (By adding the cabinet at the bottom, the desk is situated higher than the usual table height.)

Once it was built, however, I realized that if the piece is secured to the wall, the weight of the table is easily supported by the hinges. I secured the table legs to the underside of the desk with command strip adhesive. 

I used extra hardware to secure the back of the cabinet and desk to the frame, and I put a cross bar across the center for extra stability. 

ivar art studio desk + storage hack
Adding artistic touches

5. Decoupage KUGGIS and SKÅDIS with pages from an old dictionary. I sanded the sides of KUGGIS before applying Mod Podge so everything would stick better. Poke holes in the SKÅDIS after coating it with paper. 

KUGGIS boxes
SKADIS pegboard
decoupage on SKADIS pegboard

6. Decorate the outside. I went for a vaguely steampunk decor with lots of my own favorites.

First, I printed my favorite quote on pages from an old dictionary and made a collage on the underside of the desk.

Then, I added other elements to the side (grids in the space between the frames) and will continue to add cool things as I find them. 

IKEA IVAR art studio desk + storage hack

7. Inside, I used SKÅDIS desk clamps to mount the pegboard so that it hangs from the shelf. 

And it’s done! The painting and staining took much longer than I expected, but I’m glad I took the time to do it right.

My studio space is much more compact and I can easily hide the mess away. 

IKEA IVAR art studio desk + storage hack

One more look at my IKEA IVAR art studio desk with storage.

IKEA IVAR art studio desk + storage hack

~ by Bethany