IKEA Hacks Turned a Stairwell Nook into a Hardworking Home Office

New York photographer Dana Gallagher created an affordable home office with plywood and IKEA hacks. Here's how she did it.

I've always worked out of my home, but the last few months it has felt like I've been on my computer 24/7. So I needed my space to be more efficient and easy to use. I set up my office in a nook at the top of the stairs. Space is tight, so I needed a custom desk that wasn't too deep.

home office with plywood shelves
Dana Gallagher

I bought a pair of IKEA Finnvard trestle table legs for $50 each, then asked the hardware store to cut a piece of plywood to 2½×8 feet to fill the space. I also had them cut strips of plywood to top $5 IKEA brackets. The total cost of the plywood, cut to size for the shelves and desktop, was $112.

Two shelves give me ample space to store business documents in lidded boxes. I don't file those papers because I'd rather be able to grab a box and take it to the kitchen table if I need a change of scenery. Neutral raw wood finishes and creamy white paint on the walls make my office fit with the rest of the house.

A rosy sheepskin transforms the wood dining chair into a comfortable perch for longer projects. It also gives the industrial-looking raw wood finishes softness and texture. It has become my cat Lucy's favorite spot. A quartz top turns the radiator into a usable surface.

DIY inspiration board
Dana Gallagher

The display board is made from a $27 sheet of Homasote 440, a fiberboard I bought and had cut to size at a hardware store. I screwed it to the wall and then covered the fasteners with grommets. I hang pieces that make me happy.

jars with studio supplies
Dana Gallagher

I raided the house for jars to hold washi tape, pencils, and paintbrushes. The glass jars are nice for being able to see exactly what I am looking for, plus they feel lighter and airier. Having my supplies out inspires my creativity.

sleek white file cabinet
Dana Gallagher

My desk doesn't have drawers, so I needed storage. The Poppin file cabinet ($250, The Container Store) was a splurge but worth it for the sleek look. It comes in a range of colors. I keep printer paper in translucent drawers so I can see when it's low.

Smart buys minimize clutter and boost focus to turn your workspace into a powerhouse of productivity. Shop the look with these office helpers:

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Office Supplies Storage Cart

mint green rolling storage cart with crafts supplies
Courtesy of Michaels

A rolling cart brings office supplies into reach when needed and tucks against a wall or into a corner to stay out of the way. This one features three tiers with mesh trays for holding papers, writing utensils, and other supplies. It comes in 17 pretty colors, so you can match the cart to your home office decor.

Buy It: Lexington 3-Tier Rolling Cart by Recollections ($30, Michaels)

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Cable Management Box

white cable box on floor with cables running through it
Courtesy of The Container Store

Control the chaos of unruly cords and cables around your workstation. This cable management box can hold a power strip inside with openings on either side to run cords through. It includes 10 cable ties to further streamline your setup.

Buy It: Bluelounge CableBox ($36, The Container Store)

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Wall-Mounted Desk

home office area with fold out desk
Courtesy of Pottery Barn

Opt for a compact workstation that can squeeze into a tight space and is easy to overlook when you're off the clock. Made from pine wood and steel, this fold-out table mounts to the wall for a versatile work area with a minimal footprint. Its slim profile takes up little space when folded shut.

Buy It: Trenton Fold Out Table ($299, Pottery Barn)

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Corner Desk

gray desk in corner with computer and office supplies
Courtesy of Bed Bath & Beyond

Got an empty corner? Turn it into an office with this angular desk. The lower shelf can hold a computer tower or file storage, and a drop-front drawer provides a spot to stash away a laptop or keyboard.

Buy It: Leick Home Corner Computer/Writing Desk ($320, Bed Bath & Beyond)

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Fold-Out Desk

narrow desk with wood fold-down top
Courtesy of English Elm

This slim desk offers a modern take on the traditional secretary. The front folds down to support your laptop and up to conceal supplies. The MDF frame comes in white, black, and natural wood finishes.

Buy It: Safavieh Xander Modern Secretary Desk ($211, English Elm)

Updated by
Kathy Barnes

Kathy Barnes has been writing home design features for more than 18 years. Formerly she was home design editor who worked on Country Home and ReadyMade magazines. She was also a digital editor for BHG.com and DivineCaroline.com.

Currently she owns her own business as a freelance writer and editor. She contributes regularly to a number of magazines and websites. She's also an adjunct professor of features and magazine writing for Drake University.

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