Ikea Stuva Desk Hack

I'm so incredibly excited to show you my latest project for a couple of reasons. For one, my craft space/office space is really starting to come together and two, I'm totally excited about how this desk turned out!  For anyone that's new to my blog, we're just completing a home addition.  We have an additional 300 sq ft to furnish, and a pretty limited budget to do it.

I wanted a desk that spanned the entire length of the room, and I liked the look of the Stuva cabinet.  I also love the fact that it's actually meant to be kid furniture, which means that it's built sturdy and has hinges that are good for little fingers.  The trick was finding a counter top that was inexpensive to put atop it.  

That's when I had an ah-hah moment.  I remembered reading on the Young House Love blog about how they covered their laminate countertops with concrete.  I thought a concrete counter top would be awesome atop the Stuva cabinets. 

So what do you think?   Want to see how this hack came together?  Keep reading below!

First, I used three STUVA base cabinets and added the feet you can buy at Ikea to make it desk height.  (Yes, they are these colored feet, but I swapped out the colored bases with the gray ones that came with the base unit).

Then it was time to work on the desktop.  I picked up a 4 ft x 8 ft x3/4 inch sheet of plywood AND:

1. A box of Henry Feather Finish from Home Depot.  For my 8ft countertop I used about 2/3 of the box.  
2. A plastic cup for measuring out the Feather Finish and the water.
3. I used cleaned out plastic yogurt containers to mix the concrete together.  I used a new tub for every layer of feather finish that I added.
4. I used a trowel for spreading the feather finish.  Mine had a rough and smooth edge, but I only used the smooth edge of the trowel to spread the feather finish.
5. I used a mask, goggles, and gloves (nitrile gloves for spreading the concrete and regular gardening gloves to protect my hands when I was sanding).
6. sandpaper.  I used a variety of grits, mainly because that's what I had on hand.
7. mixing sticks (from the painting department to mix the feather finish and the water).

I used a jigsaw to cut out semi-circles from the back of the countertop (to make room for cords).  Then I wiped the whole thing down with a paper towel to make sure there wasn't any dirt or saw dust left on it.
I missed about 2 parts powder to 1 part water and started spreading it out over the tabletop.  It's a lot like icing a cake, which, I should say, is something I can't do very well at all.  (In fact, I sort of hate cake decorating).  Yet I found it oddly relaxing.  You have to work fast. Know that you'll be able to see all of the strokes in the finished counter top, but I found that I actually liked the rough, more industrial look.
I just used my finger to spread the feather finish along the edge of the plywood.
Here you an see what it looks like right after the first coat of the feather finish.  See how it's already starting to dry?  It's spotty.  Like I said before, you have to work fast.
I let the coat dry about 24 hours and then I sanded off the rough parts.  Then I added two more additional coats, waiting at least 24 hours between each coat.

Then it was time to sand. 

I found I could knock off some of the blobs with a razor blade.  Then I sanded, sanded, and sanded some more.  I sanded for a few hours, and it did make a lot of dust.  The nice thing was that I could be outside while I did it.

You can see that the desktop shows all the imperfections of the spreading.  This picture below shows it all, but what you can't tell is how incredibly smooth it is.  It's really a nice surface!  I don't think I'll write directly on it, but it's perfect for working on a laptop, craft project, etc.
I just placed it on top of the Stuva's for now, but I plan to seal it in a few weeks.  I think the countertop is ok just ontop of the STUVA's, but if they move too much I'll screw the countertop into the STUVA top from below.  We added a few of the narrower STUVA units to the wall.
I've started "moving in", but I'm still playing around with how my desk should look. What do you think about my hack though?  Do you think it's something you'd like to try?

If you liked this post, don't forget to check out my last IKEA hack, an IVAR derived buffet piece!

And finally, do you follow my blog already?  Yes, awesome!!!  If not,  please consider following this blog!  I'm really trying to build my followers via email and on facebook, pinterest, twitter, and instagram.

And tune in here next week when I give you a tour of my kids' new bedroom makeover!


  1. I found your hack via Apartment Therapy. It looks great and I am looking forward to checking out your blog.

  2. Me ha gustado mucho, lo voy a intentar, pero me parece que por los bordes será difícil,porque el hormigón se caerá hacia abajo...a ver que pasa¡¡¡ gracias por compartir.

    1. Gracias Adita! The edges actually were not too difficult. It helps to do the edges last, once the cement is starting to get dry and is a little bit thicker. You can always sand any rough edges away too! Thank you for your comment.

  3. Very Cool. If you sanded well before the last coat and then used a scraper (or what ever they call the thing you apply with) used to apply Venetian Plaster you would get a much smoother coat and it would be easier to finish that last coat. In fact it may be best to use it to apply the last tow coats. It may take longer to apply, but it would be smoother

    1. Thanks Sam! I think you are right about the sandinn between layers. I didn't do much. In the end mine is very smooth, but you can see all the different stroke layers. Definately something to experiment with! Thanks for your suggestions and comment!

  4. This is super helpful! We're buying our first (small) home, and we were also looking for an inexpensive way to have a desk that spans the whole wall. This is perfect. We like the more modern look of the cabinets, too.

  5. How difficult would you say this was? I'm thinking about converting an old office cabinet into a a media console and I'd love to make this the top!

    1. It's really not that difficult, but I think it depends on how smooth you want it to be. I am fine with mine looking rustic. It's a lot like frosting a cake...If that's something you can tackle you can probably do this too.

  6. What are the dimensions of the desk? I looked at the ikea website and they had Stuva cabinets that were only about 12" in depth. Is that what this desk is?

    1. The depth is about 20 inches. Stuva frames come in two different depths. I used the bigger depth for the bottom (20 inches) and the smaller depth for the shelves that I hung above the desk (12 inches).

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  8. Love the look, any issues with cracking or fragility afterwards?

    1. Paul, nope! It's been great! I've been using the desk daily since then, and it's really held up well.



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