In the life of a Remodelaholic, there’s a constant battle for balance between saving time, spending money, and getting exactly what you want from a project… or as close as possible, anyway. When a project is affordable, fast, and fits the exact need, that’s the trifecta that gets the Remodelaholic happy dance, and today’s IKEA desk hack turned a basic two drawer wood desk into a shared kids’ flip-top desk and got a big huge happy dance in the process!
Ready to see how this hack works? We did both desks in ONE day, and we’ll show you how you can do this, too, using a table saw and pocket hole jig like we did, or with simpler tools like a jigsaw and some metal plates instead. Be sure to subscribe to our channel here for more videos — we’d love to hear what you’d like to see us try next!
You know we’re big fans of using IKEA hacks as shortcuts to building entirely from scratch, so when our site manager, Lorene, brainstormed this idea and asked if it would work (and if we’d help), we said, “Let’s do it!” A trip to IKEA, and about an hour of work time later: tada!
For a very affordable price, we turned the solid wood HEMNES desk into a double-duty shared kids’ desk with two workstations. When closed, the top is nearly seamless and great for homework, a laptop, and other relatively calm and clean kid (or parent) activities.
Flip the top open and inside is a hidden compartment, just right for additional art supply storage and the mess that comes along with it. (We lined the interior with contact paper for easy clean-up (below) too, with the added bonus of covering up the holes from assembling the desk *and* differentiating each child’s workspace.)
Each kid’s art desk workstation is just shy of 24 inches wide and just over 12 inches deep. This improved IKEA desk provides the 2-person desk capacity of our popular farmhouse computer desk, but for kids, and with the added benefit of a built-in mess-hiding feature!
But wait, there’s more! (Imagine that in our best infomercial voice.) We hacked these for our blog manager, Lorene, who has 4 kids in need of some desk workspace, so we doubled the hack. Double the desks means that now there are 4 workstations available, plus we can slide the two desks together to provide an even larger desktop space — perfect for playing card games, working on a puzzle, or completing a bigger collaborative project.
This is going to be a great solution for Lorene’s kids’ homework station, and this would be wonderful for homeschooling or small space living — maybe even a tiny house! Dining table to homework desk, anyone?
How to Hack the IKEA Hemnes Desk into a Two-Person Flip-Top Desk
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Watch the video above for the full details, including a tip for aligning the surface-mount hinges at the right location.
In a nutshell, you’ll follow these steps to complete your IKEA Hemnes desk hack:
1. Build the base of the desk following the IKEA assembly instructions, swapping the 4 Rockler surface mount hinges for the 2 IKEA hinges (again, watch the video for placement instructions and tips).
These hinges work as both a hinge and a lid support in one, holding the desktop up 90 degrees so it won’t flip closed and smashed little fingers. They’re really easy to install and require no special holes or tools to install, while still being hidden hinges, invisible from the top of the desk.
2. Attach the two desktop pieces together, and then cut the wood desktop exactly in half to make the two hinged flip-top desktops.
3. Attach the drawer fronts to the desktop to form the faux drawers, and install the drawer divider to serve as a desktop support.
4. Finally, and optionally, cut pieces from the leftover drawer sides to form dividers in the section formerly intended for power cord management.
Set up the study corner and set the kiddos loose! We used our green FEAFE chairs from our patio dining area makeover — since the high temperature this week is still below freezing, they’re not getting a lot of outside love in the snow, and they’re perfect for a desk area like this: colorful and completely washable.
Materials & tools needed for this IKEA desk hack:
- 1-2 IKEA Hemnes desks (ours are the brown stain) — The HEMNES is solid wood AND affordable, making it the perfect candidate for a hack!
- 2-4 sets of Rockler surface mount hinges (one for each hinged desktop section)
- (optional) adhesive contact paper — we found a steal of a deal here on Amazon!
- table saw, jigsaw, or circular saw
- Kreg-Jig pocket hole jig and screws or biscuit joiner*
*A note about pocket hole joinery:
We used our old friend the Kreg-Jig and pocket hole joinery on this IKEA desk hack, both for joining the two sections of the desktop together and for attaching the faux drawer fronts. Drilling pocket holes and attaching with pocket hole screws is a fast and easy method for joining two pieces securely, so we use it often. And if you want to make it prettier, you can also plug the holes with pocket hole plugs — or make your own with this handy tool! (We didn’t worry much about that since we covered the holes with the contact paper anyway.)
If you don’t have a Kreg-Jig or another type of joinery tool, you could easily and affordably get the same function from this desk hack by using metal plates to join the desktop together and L brackets to attach the faux drawer front. In that same use-what-ya-got spirit, you can absolutely do this with just a jigsaw or circular saw and NOT a table saw, too. After joining the two sections of desktop, just draw a line and use a straight edge (like shown here) to ensure you have a straight and even cut down the center of the desktop.
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