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How to Build a Desk using IKEA SEKTION Cabinets {One Room Challenge Week 2}


Learn how to build a desk using IKEA SEKTION cabinets. Design a custom built-in desk using IKEA kitchen cabinets.

Want more home upgrade ideas? Check out our modern media center, our modern barn door, and our DIY easy craftsman window trim.

Welcome to week 2 of the One Room Challenge. If you missed last week’s post, I’m joining in with a group of other bloggers on a room makeover challenge.

how to build a desk using IKEA SEKTION cabinets

I’m working on my modern and bright creative home office, and you can see my design plan here.

This post contains affiliate links for your convenience. For more information, see my disclosures here.

After cleaning out the area where my new office will go, and giving it a fresh coat of paint, I was left with a blank slate.

empty room painted valspar tempered gray

The plan is to build a desk into this nook area in the basement. I want a desk with lots of storage that would be behind closed doors. That way I can keep my office space feeling clean and organized.

I knew I was going to need something totally customizable in order to make my built-in desk design a reality. So, I decided to build the desk using IKEA SEKTION kitchen cabinets.

How to Design a Desk Using IKEA SEKTION Cabinets

IKEA has a whole selection of different cabinets that you can choose from when designing a kitchen. They come in a ton of different widths, depths, and configurations. You can pretty much design anything you want using the SEKTION cabinet bases.

Now, I know this isn’t a kitchen design, but I decided to use kitchen cabinets because of the variety of options. There are literally so many different configurations you can choose from when using SEKTION cabinet bases. It made designing my built-in desk feel like a custom design process, but on a budget.

IKEA has an online kitchen planner that you can use when designing a new project. I entered the dimensions for the nook in our basement and started creating my built-in desk online.

Here’s the framework for the design that I came up with.

ikea sektion cabinet desk design mockup

The vision that I have for my built-in desk is lots of storage behind doors, but also some open storage in the center. The piece of the design that you aren’t seeing in this plan is the bookshelves in the top center of the built-in desk. I am planning on DIY-ing those.

So, try to imagine this layout with open bookshelves built into the top center.

The desk will have two tall storage cabinets on either end. These will have lots of shelves in and some drawers in the top section and more drawers in the bottom sections.

My actual desk work area will be slightly deeper than the tall side cabinets and will have two base cabinets for storage. These two cabinets will each have 3 drawers for lots more storage.

I like the look of the different depths for the center cabinets and the end cabinets. It gives the whole built-in a little bit more interest.

Here’s a peek at the storage inside of the cabinets.

ikea sektion cabinet desk design mockup interior drawers

I loved the look of dark lower cabinets and white upper cabinets that Vanessa had in her office from the ORC last spring. So, I decided I would do the same thing.

My plan is to paint the cabinet bases and door fronts for all of the cabinets beneath the countertop. I really love dark navy blue, and I found the perfect shade — Rush Hour by Behr.

And speaking of cabinet doors. I chose these shaker style cabinet fronts. They are the GRIMSLOV style in off-white. In person, they look pretty white and not yellow, which is great!

ikea sektion cabinet grimslov door

Which IKEA SEKTION Products I Purchased

Here’s an overview of the parts list for each section of the built-in desk cabinets.

Tall Side Cabinets:

ikea sektion cabinet desk design mockup parts list large cabinet

Short Base Cabinets:

ikea sektion cabinet desk design mockup parts list small cabinet

Kitchen cabinets are slightly taller than a standard desk height. So, I needed to shorten the cabinets slightly in order to make everything fit.

I decided that I would not purchase or install the cabinet legs and toe kick panels. This would drop the cabinet heights down slightly to make them the perfect desk height.

So imagine this design without that bottom toe kick panel.

ikea sektion cabinet desk design mockup blueprint

Starting the Built-In Desk Installation

The great thing about the IKEA planner is that you can get a parts list printed right from your design. Then, you can use the list in the store and check off the items as you go.

We don’t have a very large car, so I knew to get all of the pieces for my built-in desk, I would need to have it delivered. Thankfully, we live somewhat close to an IKEA. And if you live within a certain distance, delivery only costs $25!

After everything arrived, it was time to start assembling the cabinet frames and installing them.

This was a super easy process. You are basically building a box — the outside frame of the cabinets. I built all of the cabinet frames myself!

Because I decided not to use the cabinet legs and toe kick panels, here’s what the base of the cabinets looked like once they were assembled.

base of an ikea sektion cabinet without legs

The only problem with leaving the cabinet like this was that we were installing it on a carpeted floor. If we had the base against the floor directly, I wouldn’t be able to open the drawer fronts. They would get stuck on the carpet.

So, Ben came up with an idea to raise the cabinets slightly above the carpet without adding too much height and making them too tall to be a desk.

We measured the base of each cabinet and built a wooden frame using some ¾” thick MDF boards we had on hand.

wooden frame for the base of an ikea sektion cabinet

Ben cut each one and attached them together using pocket holes created with the Kreg Jig.

kreg jig pocket holes wooden frame for the base of an ikea sektion cabinet

PS: If you aren’t familiar with the Kreg Jig, you can learn all about it here. It’s a MUST have tool.

Then, I attached them to the cabinet base using a brad nailer.

We installed the tall end cabinets first. You may notice that there is a slight gap between the side of the cabinet and the wall. That’s there because there needs to be room to open the doors to the cabinet. We will cover it up later with some trim.

ikea sektion cabinet tall frame white

There’s also a gap in the back of the cabinet. I decided to leave the baseboards on the wall. This created this slight gap. But, this will also be covered up with some trim later. It will all look like one built-in piece.

ikea sektion cabinet against a wall

You can see if you look close that extra piece of wood on the base adding just a little bit of height to the cabinet.

wooden frame base of an ikea sektion cabinet

After we installed both end cabinets, I built the base cabinets for the work area of the desk. Here’s the wooden base piece for the deeper cabinet bases. You can also get a peek of the framework for the built-in desk coming together in the background.

ikea sektion cabinet building base white

After we installed the frames, I got to work building the drawers. I don’t have any pictures of that process. But let’s just say — I bought a lot of drawers! It took a long time to assemble and put everything together while watching Netflix in the background.

I also installed the top doors for the upper cabinets since those were staying white.

Next week, I’ll be painting all of the drawers and the lower cabinet frames. It will really start looking like a desk once I get those drawer fronts onto the cabinets.

It might not look like much just yet, but I’m so excited to see the built-in desk starting to take shape.

I can’t wait to show you the desk once all of the drawer fronts are installed. Hopefully next week I’ll be able to share all about the cabinet painting process!

one room challenge guest participant logo black

If you’d like to see how the other bloggers are doing with their One Room Challenge spaces, you can do so in this link up.

You can follow along as we transform (a section of ) our basement into my modern and bright creative home office via the links below:

Planning a Modern and Bright Creative Home Office {One Room Challenge Week 1}

How to Build a Desk using IKEA SEKTION Cabinets {One Room Challenge Week 2} (You’re Here)

The Best Removable Wallpaper Patterns

How to Install Removable Wallpaper {One Room Challenge Week 3}

6 Must-Have Painting Tools

How to Paint IKEA SEKTION Cabinets {One Room Challenge Week 4}

The Best Craft Room Tables

DIY Bookshelves for a Built-In Desk {One Room Challenge Week 5}

Modern and Bright Creative Home Office Reveal {One Room Challenge Week 6}


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  1. Looks like you are making great progress! I’m always impressed with how handy you guys are! Can’t wait to see it come together 🙂

  2. Did you build it alone? I’m impressed! I cannot even build a simple table or a desk! HAHA. Can’t wait to see the outcome!

  3. Love your office space!!! What was your budget if you don’t mind sharing?

  4. I’m in the process of redoing my own home office and nearly every gorgeous office shown online has zero functionality. No printer, no storage or spot for files. I majorly appreciate this post and all that you showed and covered here. I can totally relate to nothing have a home and stuff being everywhere. Thanks and I love what you have done!

    1. Christene Holder says:

      Thank you so much for your kind words. I want my home and decor to feel attainable and actually functional. So, I’m glad that it came across in this post. So glad that you loved the office!

      >> Christene

  5. I’m in the process of transforming an extra bedroom into an office/art/craft space for myself. I’m hoping to use components from Ikea as well. The concern I have is the base cabinet being appropriate for a desk. I read that you used the 30″ base cabinets minus the legs and plinth from Ikea. And that you built a short structure to place the cabinets on in order to open and close the doors and drawers since the desk is on carpet. That is my situation as well. I’m curious what the total work surface/desk height is from the desk top to floor? I’m planning to use a 1 1/8″ thick countertop from Ikea. Won’t that make the total height close to 32″ high? And the standard height for a desk is around 29″-30″? I’m wondering if the work surface will be too high for a standard chair? Do you use a bar height stool or adjustable chair?

    1. Leah Ledesma says:

      What a gorgeous office! It’s definitely an inspiration for me as we figure out how to carve out office space in our home. I’d love to see your feedback on Kiley’s question about the height of your desk from the floor to the top of the desk top as I’m rather short. Thank you so much!

      1. Hi Leah,

        I measured and the top of the work surface for the desk is exactly 32″ from the ground. I actually didn’t really notice that it was slightly higher than a standard desk. The chair that I used is adjustable so I can raise it just a little bit higher to fit the desk height. A lot of “desk” chairs for offices and such are also adjustable. I hope this helps!

        >> Christene

    2. Hi Kiley,

      Sorry it took me so long to get back to you. I measured and the top of the work surface for the desk is exactly 32″ from the ground. I actually didn’t really notice that it was slightly higher than a standard desk. The chair that I used is adjustable so I can raise it just a little bit higher to fit the desk height. A lot of “desk” chairs for offices and such are also adjustable. I hope this helps!

      >> Christene

  6. Hi! Beautiful office. I’m using your office as a template for mine. I’m a little confused on the sizes of the ikea cabinets. So is the size of the door for the long cabinet for only the top half? What if you want a door that goes to the floor instead of drawers? The size you used is the size they recommend for the cabinet but your door only covers half the cabinet so I’m confused. I hope this makes sense

    1. Hi Danielle,
      Yes the door I have is only for the top part of the cabinet. But they make a ton of different options for the SEKTION cabinets. So if you use their designer tool you can try out different configurations and find the door option that you want.

      >> Christene

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