IKEA Hack: One Leggy Gold Desk


IKEA may just be my version of heaven. Funky finishes and patterns you can’t get anywhere else, the perfect (and I mean perfect) white frame, affordable organization and those PRICES – not to mention an “As Is” section full of pieces they’re practically giving away.

Case in point my studio desks. These actually came to me by way of my friend Liz, who had in fact snagged them for a pittance from the “As Is” section. Although the legs didn’t match, I wasn’t deterred knowing that a can of spray paint would do the trick.


I lived with the desks for some time because I wanted to make sure that the dual surface set up would work for me. It definitely proved itself after a couple of Career Contessa work days with fellow director Mallory B., and more than a few solo occasions using one side for computing and the other for drafting with good old fashioned pen and paper.

Once I knew that I was set on the configuration, I began planning my paint attack. In the end, I decided to unscrew the legs of the table, drape on an inexpensive plastic tarp to protect the undersides of the table and then screw the legs back into place. Happily, it worked like a charm and having those legs sticking straight up in the air (as opposed to rolling around in the horizontal position) made painting them a breeze.


The only problem that I ran into was how to remove said tarp…I neither wanted to leave the desks in the basement for a week to cure, nor did I want to mess up the paint by gripping the legs to unscrew them. So I simply grabbed a fresh razor blade and carefully sliced around the legs, thereby cutting the plastic tarp away. Again, it worked like a charm, and I had the desks back in place within 24 hours.



I’m more than a little obsessed with the new look and can’t believe that it was free (it would have cost under $20 though if you didn’t already have the desks and paint). My favorite pair of ghost chairs, snagged from Amazon last spring, completed the furniture portion of this story and I couldn’t be more in love and more inspired.


As for the styling, all of that new square footage meant that I could add a few extra touches. From my Lamps Plus gold lamp and my gold Anthro monogramed mug, to a few favorite goodies from Lulu & Georgia and a Diptyque candle, I am oh so happy to be surrounded by a few of my favorite things while I work.



The walls also got a bit of an upgrade. I repurposed the chalkboard sign from my Coffee, Creamer & Christmas Cheer shoot as a giant “On The Go” to-do list, plus I added back my inspiration bulletin board and a brand new 2014 calendar from Snug Studio. Those colorful pinwheels? They didn’t move an inch.



Although the world didn’t necessarily need another IKEA hack, I’m happy to add my own little spin to the ranks. What are some of your favorite IKEA hacks?? Feel free to share links in the comments.

P.S. I know that I had promised a different painting project reveal for this morning, but photos have been delayed for one reason or another. I’ll share as soon as I can properly document!

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  • January 27, 2014 - 1:00 pm

    Chelsea - Totally doing this for my new office. I have been on the hunt for a new desk and this is perfect, chic solutions!!ReplyCancel

    • January 27, 2014 - 4:44 pm

      Carrie - So glad you like it!!ReplyCancel

  • January 28, 2014 - 10:31 pm

    Amanda @ A Hammer & Heels - What a difference with just a little paint! Love it!


    • January 28, 2014 - 10:51 pm

      Carrie - Thank you, Amanda!!ReplyCancel

  • January 28, 2014 - 10:50 pm

    Tracey - What color paint and brand is in the walls? Love it!!!ReplyCancel

    • January 28, 2014 - 10:52 pm

      Carrie - Tracey – Glad you like it! It’s Valspar “Icy Mint.”ReplyCancel

  • January 29, 2014 - 12:02 am

    Kate - I pretty much want to move into this sweet little area.ReplyCancel

    • January 29, 2014 - 8:02 am

      Carrie - Awww, thank you, Kate!ReplyCancel

  • January 31, 2014 - 12:40 pm

    Margie - What you did for the desk & workspace is great. However I’m pulled in by the pleated medallions for artistic design. Everything comes together so nicely.ReplyCancel

    • January 31, 2014 - 1:00 pm

      Carrie - Thank you!!ReplyCancel

  • February 1, 2014 - 7:10 am

    Nash Khan - You have a VERY pretty blog and such wonderful photography, plus, I can’t seem to stop looking through your projects! (Lol, I’m a new visitor)

    • February 1, 2014 - 9:04 am

      Carrie - Thanks!!ReplyCancel

  • February 2, 2014 - 6:19 am

    Nada - Hi,

    I’m considering buying a laptop table from IKEA that has a metal frame and spray painting the frame gold. I’m wondering if it would last or peal off since it’s powder coated and would probably needs powder coating for a color fast solution, which I can’t and won’t do.

    would just spray painting the frame work?ReplyCancel

    • February 2, 2014 - 8:04 am

      Carrie - That’s a good question…Since I never handle the desk legs I think mine will be ok. If you’re going to be touching the metal part of yours a lot though, it might not work…I’m sorry!ReplyCancel

  • February 3, 2014 - 7:21 am

    Connie - How did you make your beautiful pinwheel’s? They really make your space unique 🙂ReplyCancel

    • February 3, 2014 - 8:14 am

      Carrie - So glad you like them!! You can get the tutorial for those right here. =)ReplyCancel

  • February 21, 2014 - 4:07 pm

    carmen - hi carrie,
    love your gold desk legs! i was wondering what brand and color paint did you use? i have purchased a few different ones and they have a glossier look to them. thanks in advance for your help 🙂ReplyCancel

    • February 21, 2014 - 7:12 pm

      Carrie - Thanks! Let me check on that and get riiiiight back to you =)ReplyCancel

    • February 27, 2014 - 2:05 pm

      Carrie - Thanks for your patience, Carmen! I used Valspar “Metallic Gold.”ReplyCancel

  • February 23, 2014 - 1:34 pm

    Heather - I was also wondering what color and brand of spray paint you used for legs. It looks fantastic!ReplyCancel

    • February 23, 2014 - 7:34 pm

      Carrie - Will get right back to you with that info =)ReplyCancel

    • February 27, 2014 - 2:06 pm

      Carrie - Hope you haven’t given up hope on me, Heather!! I just had a chance to take a look at it was Valspar “Metallic Gold.” Thanks!ReplyCancel

  • March 26, 2014 - 2:50 pm

    Ginger - What is the name of this Ikea desk? THanks!ReplyCancel

  • March 28, 2014 - 11:54 am

    Ashley - Where did you get the cool calendar from? 🙂 love this office, great work!ReplyCancel

    • March 31, 2014 - 6:59 pm

      Carrie - Glad you like it!! It’s from Snug Studio =)ReplyCancel

  • May 28, 2014 - 3:49 pm

    Alex - I was wondering if your Linnmon table tops were the regular white or the high gloss white?ReplyCancel

    • May 28, 2014 - 7:07 pm

      Carrie - Regular white =)ReplyCancel

  • September 15, 2014 - 1:17 am

    kelly - Hi – these look great!!! I have been debating whether to buy the gray or white legs to start with… Are both of them quite shiny/reflective? Did they look “cheap” before you painted them? (They don’t in the original picture, but sometimes pictures are deceiving 🙂 )ReplyCancel

    • September 15, 2014 - 9:36 am

      Carrie - Thank you! The original finish was actually sort of matte, or maybe “eggshell” would be a better description. I wouldn’t call them high gloss, but they were a little bit shiny. I didn’t think they looked cheap =)ReplyCancel

      • September 15, 2014 - 12:18 pm

        kelly - Thanks so much! I ended up buying the white 🙂ReplyCancel

        • September 16, 2014 - 9:10 am

          Carrie - Awesome! Hope you enjoy it!ReplyCancel

  • September 22, 2014 - 10:26 am

    NATALIE - Hi there! I just did this with a different IKEA desk. However, it seems that even a week later, I rub my finger up and down the leg, some of the VALSPAR Metallic Gold paint comes off. Did you put any sort of clear top coat on? Do you know of one that would work well?ReplyCancel

    • September 22, 2014 - 10:39 am

      Carrie - Hmmmm…Mine hasn’t come off at all! I didn’t use a top coat, but maybe a primer would have helped you? So sorry you’re having trouble!ReplyCancel

  • September 29, 2014 - 3:46 am

    Sheana brown - I LOVE that lamp! Where’s it from?ReplyCancel

    • September 29, 2014 - 8:38 am

      Carrie - Thanks! It’s from Target.ReplyCancel

  • February 6, 2015 - 2:44 am

    Stefan - A pair of these cheap god sounding simple to build IKEA hacked desktop loudspeakers would fit your desk to 😉

  • April 16, 2015 - 7:18 pm

    Kimberly - Hi there! Did you paint over the black end caps as well?ReplyCancel

    • April 17, 2015 - 7:34 am

      Carrie - Nope! I unscrewed those and left them off while I painted, and then added them back after the paint dried.ReplyCancel

  • April 28, 2015 - 6:16 am

    Leticia - Great desk area! I was looking for an ikea desk but having trouble finding one that fits my space that is high gloss white. I was thinking about spray painting a high gloss coat to the regular white desk like yours but I’m just not sure if it will work. But do you find that your regular white desk gets dirty easy from fingerprints or daily use easily? I feel like it would compared to high gloss. Thanks!ReplyCancel

    • April 28, 2015 - 7:57 am

      Carrie - Fun!! My desk tabletop is more of a matte finish, but fingerprints and coffee stains wipe up no problem at all!! I think it might be a little tough to paint on a high gloss finish and have it stick well to the IKEA desktop as-is…You might need to enlist a professional painter to get the best results!ReplyCancel

  • April 30, 2015 - 2:21 pm

    Joyce - Hi Carrie – Can you tell me how wide those ikea studio desks are that you used? Thanks!ReplyCancel

    • May 1, 2015 - 9:46 am

      Carrie - Sure! They are 39 3/8×23 5/8″. You can get all of the details here via IKEA!ReplyCancel

  • November 30, 2015 - 3:29 pm


    • November 30, 2015 - 4:13 pm

      Carrie - The assembled seat height is 18.5 inches.ReplyCancel

  • March 17, 2016 - 2:04 am

    Kristina F. - Hi! I just saw this post and i am so glad i did because ive been thinking of painting the legs of my ikea desk for a while but hadn’t seen anyone do it until now! I was wondering, did the paint stay well on your legs?

    Two years should be enough to see if it held up or if it peeled off after a while? What would you do differently? If you have time, please give me a little update/review on this ikea hack before i paint the entire thing gold 😉

    Thanks in advance!

    • March 17, 2016 - 10:37 am

      Carrie - The gold paint is holding up just fine! The legs even survived an out-of-town move without trouble, so I think you can feel confident to move forward! Let me know if you have other questions 🙂ReplyCancel

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