Standing or Sitting

Before becoming a Digital Strategist and in what now feels like a past life, I was a pro-golfer, so naturally I would spend most of my days standing.

When I drastically switched from mostly standing to sitting, my body pressed the panic button: my back, legs, and butt felt like they had been through a beating at the end of the day.

Thanks to life’s serendipity and through a client that was in the process of opening a coworking space, I was exposed to the latest trends in workspace layouts and ergonomic practices, among which the height-adjustable desk was a definite highlight.

After a bit of digging, it didn’t take me long to realize how unhealthy it is to sit (or stand) all day, what kind of tasks come easier when standing, when sitting, and all the benefits of mixing the two. I was sold. On the concept, at least.

Airtouch Adjustable Height Desk by Steelcase

Airtouch Adjustable Height Desk by Steelcase

The specimen above is sleek, minimalistic, perfectly functional… a beauty. It was the perfect solution except for one tiny detail: the price tag. After browsing alternatives, it was evident there weren’t height-adjustable desks for less than $500.

Time to hack my own solution. And make it look good!

Reaching a solution: What a pickle

With the heigh-adjustable desk in my rearview-mirror, it was back to square one: find a (good-looking) solution that allows me to stand and sit.

Easier said than done.

To my surprise, I couldn’t find one desk high enough to keep my elbows at a 90 degree angle while standing (I’m 5'4") at any of the stores I ventured to. The market still caters to ‘sitting’ only, no wonder people don’t even consider the alternative. Laughably, Ikea has standing desk stations for their employees in-store, but they don’t sell anything standard close to that height.

The 5 Building Blocks to a Standing + Sitting workstation (for under $250)

1. Table top with frame: $90
GALANT   63x31 1/2"   Table Top by Ikea

GALANT 63x31 1/2" Table Top by Ikea

2. A-leg: $40 ($10/leg)

The A-leg gives you more height than the T-leg.

GALANT A-leg by Ikea

GALANT A-leg by Ikea

32nd Table top without frame: $60

This one goes on top of the other table, to give the additional height the A-legs don’t amount to. (For this 2nd Table top, I chose smaller dimensions than the 1st to give myself two levels, but you could get another one as big as the first)

GALANT   47 1/4x23 5/8"  Table Top by Ikea

GALANT 47 1/4x23 5/8"Table Top by Ikea

4CAPITA Leg: $12

These are 2nd Table top’s mini legs. You can choose between the 4" and 8", and adjust height accordingly with actual table A-legs to your height (remember, elbows should be at a 90 degree angle).

CAPITA Leg by Ikea

CAPITA Leg by Ikea

5Bar stool: $34.99

This might not look like the kind of chair you might want to sit at all day, but remember… you won’t. You can actually see it as an incentive to not spending all your time sitting and alternate it with standing.

FRANKLIN Bar stool by Ikea

FRANKLIN Bar stool by Ikea

Allocate Time: Standing + Sitting

Tracking pomodoros

Tracking pomodoros

To keep myself focused when doing busy work I use the Pomodoro Technique, which is basically giving myself constant short breaks in between chunks of focused 25 minute periods, or pomodoros. By alternating standing and sitting pomodoros I make sure at the end of the day I’ve spent a balanced amount between the two.


One of the coolest accidental benefits of this solution is that you can switch your setup as much as you want. By changing the 2nd Table top’s position and direction you can get creative and not only have a different view every day, but you can also go from a spacious 1-person canvas to a comfortable 2-person think-tank in a second.

Originally published on Medium by Vanessa Vela.