IKEA Desk Hack With Faux Wood Top

We’ve been homeschooling for two years now and the kids and I have been sharing two small desks with very little storage. Our homeschool books and supplies are everywhere- in a few bins meant for toys, in two bookcases, in a too-small organizer I bought from TJ Maxx. And I’ve never been super pleased with our desk set-up to begin with. Along came an IKEA desk hack that thrills me, and I hope you like it too. Although if you don’t that’s ok too. Just maybe don’t tell me.

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Facebook Marketplace Find

I’ve said several times over the last few months that I am done with spending money on Marketplace, but, alas, here I am with my latest find and showing no signs of stopping. And frankly, now that I’ve finished this IKEA desk hack and am absolutely in love with it, I don’t know that I even want to.

FB knows me, and these Alex IKEA drawers popped up in my notifications almost the minute they were posted. I messaged the seller immediately, and ran over to pick them up that day.

These drawers are $100 each at IKEA, but I got both for $100- AND they were already put together.

My original plan was to simply use the drawers as storage along with my existing desk set-up, but the seller nicely threw in a rather beat-up cardboard and particle board black top (originally from a hardware store) for free, and I figured I could find some use for it. I don’t pass up free deals!

Well, thanks to good ol’ spontaneity and inattention to detail, the drawers were completely the wrong height for the desks, and didn’t work for what I had in mind. I knew I needed to pivot. Never even occurred to me to measure anything beforehand.

This would have worked, but it wasn’t the look I was going for.

So, I decided to get out the black table top and see what I could do to create a taller surface and maybe get a bigger desk out of the deal.

IKEA Desk Hack

Materials You Need For This IKEA desk hack:
2 Drawers Towers/File Cabinets (I used the IKEA Alex drawers)
Table Top Board that fits the file cabinets
Wood Grain Contact Paper
Wood Scraps
Spray Paint
Miter Saw
Hair Dryer

Table Top Makeover With Contact Paper

Luckily, I had that free board, so I decided to make a desk out of it and the Alex drawers. The table top board was looking rough- I considered painting it, but one end was missing a piece, and other parts were starting to peel.

Enter: this awesome distressed wood grain contact paper from Amazon. I bought this product originally for another Facebook Marketplace dresser makeover and, of course- that’s coming next! I recently saw it was on sale for $6/roll, so I bought 4 more.

But, I immediately knew once I had the idea that this would be amazing, so I thought about it for ten more seconds just to make sure I wasn’t doing anything too hasty, and then started the project.

After putting up wallpaper in our upstairs hallway, I wasn’t too keen on wallpapering anything else, but I’ve since learned a really cool trick using a hairdryer, so this ended up being super easy.

I set the table top up where I could see my toddler destroying our patio out the window, got out my scissors and my old hair dryer, and got to work.

How To Apply Contact Paper

I left enough paper to wrap around a few inches of the underside of the board, and began smoothing it down the surface, peeling off the backside as I went. I used a little heat from the hair dryer on any bumps that were more difficult. They melted before my eyes.

To get the corners right, I laid the board on a bench and cut a line up one side, and then folded the other side of the paper underneath. It’s hard to describe- here’s a picture.

I found that applying a little heat from the hair dryer when I smoothed the corners helped to make the seam look much more…seamless.

Then, I just repeated this same process with another sheet on the other side of the board, cutting off the extra as needed.

The hair dryer was also really helpful along the edges to smooth the paper to the sides and wrap underneath.

And that’s it- ready to go on top of the drawers.

Leftover Wood Drawer Legs

I decided I still wanted the new desk to match up to the height of the other desks I already have, in case I decided to put them together once I create our homeschool area for next year. So, I came up with a quick solution.

You can buy furniture legs to add to drawers like this, but most are the height I needed, and it would cost about $20 to get 8.

Instead, I went to Daniel’s pile of leftover wood scraps and chose a few I thought might work. I tested each of them under the desk board to see if they brought it up to the right height and found one that worked perfectly.

Ever since I worked up the courage to use power tools, I’ve been overly confident about my abilities, so I brought the wood piece out to the shop and used the miter saw to cut it up into 8 relatively equal pieces.

I cannot stress enough how little I measured anything during this project.

I think I got them pretty close, though. Then I brought those out to spray paint them black.

Apply Legs With Liquid Nails

Once they dried, I turned the drawers over on their sides, applied liquid nails to each wood piece and stuck them to the bottom corners.

I flipped them back up, and this is what they look like.

I was somewhat worried that these would look a little redneck, but I actually think they look just fine.

24 hours later, I picked the drawers up to move them slightly and the wood pieces stayed securely put, so I’m happy with this solution.

Spray Painted Chairs

Lastly, I spray painted the desk chairs black. I admit when I took them out back to shoot them spray them, I had some hesitation; I bought these from IKEA about five years ago and have never liked the yellow, but sitting outside under the trees they suddenly looks attractive.

But then I asked an expert, my daughter, and she agreed the yellow needed to go- that it was too bright.

If a 6-year-old who loves rainbows and unicorns thinks a color is too bright, it’s too bright.

Also, you can’t tell in this picture, but the yellow was starting to get really grey.

I spray painted them with Rustoleum Black Farmhouse spray paint. Unfortunately I only have two, but that will have to do for now. I’ll use a dining room chair for the third desk until I find something else…probably on Facebook Marketplace.

End Result

Here’s the end result of my IKEA desk hack from a Facebook Marketplace find. Next up is deciding what to do with the other two, smaller desks, setting up our homeschool area, and organizing all those lovely drawers.

FAQ: Is Contact Paper Durable?

Yes! I’ve been so surprised by how durable this contact paper is. My kids and I use this desk daily, and it looks good as new. Its thick and does not tear easily. I’ve read reviews where people have used it on dining room tables and even bathroom counters!

Stay Tuned

Stay tuned for more Facebook Marketplace finds like this IKEA desk hack! You can subscribe to my blog, or just check back in. Either way- I appreciate you reading!

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