Design and DIY

Easy Ikea Alex Desk Hack

March 12, 2018

Three weeks ago my client and I fell in love. NO, NOT WITH EACH OTHER! With a desk. The IKEA Linnmon/Alex Desk to be exact. Except there was one major problem: Dimensions! Don’t you hate it when that happens? IKEA offers three variations of the Linnmon top and none of them worked for the space I was designing. Suddenly, I was Goldilocks but nothing was just right. So instead of eating some porridge or sitting in a chair, I decided to take on a DIY project.

To make a long story long, let’s break down the three tops and why they didn’t work for this space. Because you never know, this exact situation could happen to you! And it just goes well with my Goldilocks and the Three Bears reference. 😉

Disclaimer: No bears were disturbed during the making of this blog post.

The Baby Bear

Image Courtesy of Made 2 Style

The first Linnmon top measures at 47-inches wide and while a 3.9 foot desk would fit the space well, I couldn’t look past the lack of room between the two drawer units. Each of the Alex units measure 14-inches wide which means two of them would take up 28-inches of the 47-inch table top. Only leaving behind 19 measly inches of leg room for my client. Ain’t nobody got time for that! Especially when she’s spending 8 hours a day in her home office. So baby bear was out of the question. Sorry little fellow.

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The Mama Bear

Image Courtesy of Peek and Ponder

The second Linnmon top measures at 59-inches long which would have fit perfectly in the space and allow for enough leg room. But (and this is a big but)… instead of being 23 5/8-inches deep, this top is 29 1/2-inches deep. A full SEVEN inches longer than the Alex drawer units. 🙁 I swear there’s no winning! This may not bother some but for my client’s narrow office this option wasn’t going to cut it. Notice all the extra room behind the drawer units in the above picture? No thanks. Buh-bye mama bear! It was nice knowing you!

The Papa Bear

Image Courtesy of Pinterest

The last and final Linnmon top measures at 78-inches wide. Let me stop you there. That was too dang long for the space. So Sayonara Papa Bear – you’re just too big for your own good! Not to mention, I read a TON of reviews that said this top started to bow and warp over time.

The DIY Project that was Just Right

After three disappointing failures, it was time to take matters into my own hands. So I set off to find a top with the right dimensions. I searched the web high and low, googling words such as butcher block, laminate shelving, and 24-inch width. In the end I found two great wood options: a 24-inch by 6-foot pine board and a 24-inch by 8-foot pine board, both in stock at my local Lowe’s.

In the end I decided I wanted a 5-foot desk, so I chose the 6-foot pine board and asked a Lowe’s associate to cut off a foot for me. I didn’t have any problems this time, like I did with my DIY cabinets. Using paint I already had at home, this entire project cost me less than $40! Now onward to the tutorial:

Materials Used:

  • 1 gallon of General Finishes Stain Blocker Primer
  • 1 gallon of Sherwin Williams Snowbound Paint in Gloss
  • 1 gallon of General Finishes High Performance Top Coat in Satin
  • 120 and 220 grit sandpaper
  • 3/8 inch nap roller
  • Metal Paint Tray

Equipment Used:

  • Color Muse Color Match Tool
  • Random Orbit Sander


  1. Using the Color Muse Tool, I figured out what color paint would match the cabinets best. Suprisingly Snowbound by Sherwin Williams was on the list and I already had a can of it in the basement!
  2. Sand down your wood board with 120 grit sandpaper until the surface is smooth to the touch on all sides and edges.
  3. Prime the wood! This step is very important to avoid bleed through. I used three coats of General Finishes Stain Blocker Primer. I let the primer dry for 2 hours and sanded with 220 grit sandpaper in between each coat.
  4. Paint with the color of your choice. I picked a white that matched the Alex cabinets. Grey or black would also look great! I used two coats of Sherwin Williams Snowbound. This time I let it dry for 12 hours and sanded before applying the second coat.
  5. Finish with polycrylic. Make sure to use a water based topcoat so that your paint doesn’t yellow! I used two coats of General Finishes High Performance Top Coat and let it dry for 12 hours between each coat.
  6. That’s it! Pretty simple right?

PRO TIP: Put your roller or paint brush in a plastic bag and leave it in the refrigerator while you’re waiting for your coats to dry!

The Finished Product

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  • Reply Amanda May 4, 2018 at 9:39 am

    Love this – I’m wanting to do the same thing in our office, except with stain for a more rustic look. How did you attach the top to the drawers? Is it in place with brackets or anything?

    • Reply emilyeveryday May 4, 2018 at 9:50 am

      I didn’t attach it at all! It just sits on top but it’s heavy enough that it doesn’t move around when you use it. 🙂

      • Reply Elizabeth April 26, 2019 at 7:40 am

        Beautiful! Exactly what I want to do! Where did you get the chair from and is it wearing well?

        • Reply emilyeveryday April 26, 2019 at 11:56 am

          It’s from Wayfair! But this was a space for my client, so I’m not sure how well the chair has worn.

    • Reply Katherin June 13, 2020 at 1:45 am

      From where is the chair?

  • Reply Sav June 3, 2018 at 5:57 pm

    Looks gorgeous! May I ask where the desk chair is from? Very classy 🙂

  • Reply ANDREA MARIE BENNETT September 11, 2018 at 12:44 pm

    Did you buy the side drawers from IKEA?

  • Reply Maria November 14, 2018 at 3:23 am

    Love it!! Wish I would’ve seen this sooner I’m a couple days late I already bought the Linmon top from Ikea and have this problem ? Can I ask what you used to make the top shine like that I bought the Linnmon top from Ikea but they discontinued the High gloss Linnmon Top and now they only have the matte color I’m just scared to set anything on top because it scratches and stains so easily! If I already bought the 59” top from Ikea any ideas on how to resize it?

    • Reply emilyeveryday November 15, 2018 at 5:57 pm

      Hi Maria,

      Thanks so much! Not sure if you read the entire post, but I mention that I use a General Finishes High Performance Top Coat in Satin. Not sure how you can resize the Linmon Top as I don’t have it! Sorry.

      • Reply Jess Attie February 5, 2019 at 11:43 am

        Hi Emily, I have the same problem as MARIA, so you are saying that I could use the General Finishes High Performance Top Coat in Satin on it Ikea’s product? I think their top (Linnmon) is made with Fiberboard and Acrylic paint. Thank you!

        I’m not sure if my comment went through, so if you see my comment twice, sorry!

        • Reply emilyeveryday February 5, 2019 at 11:55 am

          Hi Jess,

          I am not sure as I don’t own the IKEA product! I was just letting Maria know that I personally used GF to make my top shiny.

  • Reply Addison Wood November 28, 2018 at 12:16 am

    This is EXACTLY what I want! I’m moving into my first apartment in January and I have a pretty small room and will have only 4’9″ from the end of my bed to the wall. I need a desk there and love the look of the Alex drawers with the Linnmon tabletop. I was running into the same problem of needing the length of “mama bear” but the depth of “baby bear”. If I went with the mama bear I would barely have enough room to walk between my bed and the desk!

    As someone who has never done a DIY project like this before, I have a couple of questions. The main one being did you paint the bottom? If so how? Also, is this desk easy to wipe down or will I need a different coat on it? I’ll be doing my makeup on it and will need to wipe it down with a Clorox wipe/ baby wipe pretty often.

    • Reply emilyeveryday November 28, 2018 at 9:30 am

      Hey Addison!

      Don’t you just hate that mama bear problem?

      Yes I painted both sides! I placed the wood on two sawhorses, painted one side. Let it dry. Painted the other side. Let it dry. This is tedious and took probably 2-3 days to finish!

      Also, 2-3 coats of poly should do the trick as far as wiping it down! I did 3 coats of poly on my dining room table where we ate often and it was easy to wipe down with a wet cloth!

  • Reply Lauren Krauss February 12, 2019 at 8:34 am

    I’m having the same issue except my Alex drawers are black brown.
    Do you have any suggestions for a paint or stain that matches?

    • Reply emilyeveryday February 12, 2019 at 8:45 am

      Unfortunately, all I can tell you is the experience I had with the white drawers. I don’t have the black brown ones and therefore can’t give you any suggestions. 🙁

      • Reply Bhavdeep Badatch June 8, 2020 at 9:07 am

        Hi , what type of grey is the paint on the wall which you have ?

  • Reply Toni May 11, 2019 at 7:56 am

    Can you tell me where you purchased the carpet from?

  • Reply Jess June 8, 2019 at 2:20 pm

    If only Ikea would provide size tables to match. They would no doubt sell out!

  • Reply Divya June 26, 2019 at 8:11 am

    I want to do this as well, use a different top with the Alex drawers but I’m confused because on the website it says the dimensions of the Alex drawers are a different depth than what you mentioned 14 1/8×27 1/2”

    • Reply emilyeveryday June 27, 2019 at 10:14 am

      The 27 1/2 is the height of the Alex drawers. They are 14 1/8 wide and 22 7/8 deep.

  • Reply July 16, 2019 at 7:39 pm

    Beautiful! How did you prevent the top from sliding on the drawers? we currently have this set up with an ikea table top but its sliding around.

  • Reply Preetha August 13, 2019 at 2:12 pm

    Love your take on the Alex hack! Love the all white look, so classy!
    Feel free to check out how I used the Alex drawers to create a diaper changing station ?

  • Reply Kim November 24, 2019 at 5:34 pm

    I love this and am currently attempting to replicate. Any chance you know the color of the wall? I love it.

    • Reply emilyeveryday December 4, 2019 at 11:35 am

      Unfortunately this was a client’s house who did not know the color of the paint!

  • Reply Josephine November 30, 2019 at 11:38 pm

    Hi I love the look of this desk! I’m thinking of doing this for my daughter’s room. I just checked the products on Amazon. Wow! Very pricey! Topcoat is $79.90, statin blocker $109.00 haven’t priced the paint yet but the prices seem excessive. Does it seem accurate? If so it seems the paint will cost almost as much as the desk itself! I was interested in your input.

    • Reply emilyeveryday December 4, 2019 at 11:35 am

      Those items were things I had around the house already, so that I didn’t need to spend any additional money.
      You could use things you have around the house as well!

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  • Reply Josephine April 4, 2020 at 9:57 pm

    Hi Emily, I followed your exact instructions for this desk. We finished a couple of months ago. It came out awesome! My daughter loves it ! Being quarantined at home she has been doing all her work on it. Happy she has a nice space. I was wondering if I can use all the paint products ( I used all the ones you had listed) for another project I was thinking of doing . It’s for my older daughter’s dresser & nightstand.
    We purchased them many years ago at Ethan Allen . They are in great shape But the style seems a bit youthful for a teenager. Can I use the same method as I did on the desk? I wasn’t sure since these pieces are finished unlike the wood I used on the desk. I appreciate any input.

  • Reply Crystal April 8, 2020 at 11:36 pm

    How did you attach the table top to the drawers? Thanks!

  • Reply Leslie Garrison April 21, 2020 at 3:16 pm

    Hi Emily, with the pine board have there been any issues with bowing? I am interested in creating this look with a 80″ board length. Do you think would I need an Alex unit in the middle for support?

  • Reply Brenda April 21, 2020 at 3:30 pm

    Love this idea… question I show that you used 2 pine boards. Where did you both at? It look like there is only one board on your desk

  • Reply Michelle May 21, 2020 at 5:26 am

    Hi hi,
    I love the rug, where is it from?

  • Reply Haley June 3, 2020 at 8:46 pm

    In the “mama bear” picture, do you have an idea of how they got the linnmon top so shiny? I can’t seem to find one with a shiny top.

  • Reply JM June 12, 2020 at 6:24 pm

    hi Emily! I bought a white melamine finish table top from Structube, and I was wondering can I paint polycrylic finish over melamine.? Does polycrylic finish have a glossy finish?

    Thank you so much!

  • Reply Nick June 18, 2020 at 7:04 am

    Awesome work! Very clean 👍🏼
    I know you said the overhang at the back of the middle option was unsightly (and I know it wasn’t right for the space for which you were designing it), but that would be perfect for hiding away and tidying up cables for a tech-heavy setup 😊

    • Reply Wordpress November 2, 2020 at 9:36 am

      Absolutely! Would be great for that!

  • Reply Kristine D Dunn July 15, 2020 at 7:21 pm

    Love this space! Did you have your board cut 24 inches wide? Or did you cut it 22 7/8 wide?

  • Reply Erin August 14, 2020 at 10:30 am

    Hi Emily – I am working on this now. One thing I wanted to verify with you. Sherwin Williams Snowbound looks like a very offwhite color. Can you confirm that this is in fact the color that matches the Alex drawer sets?

    • Reply Wordpress November 2, 2020 at 9:34 am

      Hi Erin, yes it matched the Alex drawers pretty perfectly!

  • Reply Andrea August 20, 2020 at 12:04 pm

    Would a quart of paint be enough?

  • Reply Jamie August 24, 2020 at 5:02 pm

    I dont know how I didn’t come across your post with all my Alex and Linnmon desk research! I didn’t realize the 59″ Linnmon was so deep until I got it home. 🙁 I’m making our distance learning desk space long enough for 2 users with an Alex drawer on one side. Guess I’m returning the 59″ and getting me some wood!! Pine is soft, any dents from writing? And I have SW Snowbound already too, so this is a win.

    • Reply Wordpress November 2, 2020 at 9:33 am

      Pine is soft! So maybe have them use something to write on? Or go with a harder wood. No dents from writing for adults but it’s possible with children.

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