Two-Person Desk and Gallery Wall

Hey-oh: we’ve got a proper desk area in our living room! I prefer having our computers in our main common area (instead of sequestered upstairs in the guest bedroom, for example), and this side of the living room seemed perfect for an office setup. I wanted a functional, comfortable, dedicated workspace for two people. No more camping out at the kitchen table!

Two Person Desk.JPG

To see what the living room used to look like, check out this post.

The Desk Setup

All of the components for this 8 foot desk came from IKEA: I used the 98″ KARLBY walnut countertop, the ALEX drawer unit, and LERBERG trestle legs. IKEA used to carry the ALEX and LERBERG in black – which I prefer – but they transitioned to gray this year. I was able to snag a black drawer unit before they went out stock, and I spray painted the metal trestle legs black.

IKEA Desk Components.jpg

Putting together the desk was super simple: the countertop simply rests across the legs and the drawer unit. It’s a big, solid setup. Hanging frames and wrangling cords was the time-consuming part. Oh, and I built a frame for the first time! Let’s start there.

Building a Floating Canvas Frame

I already owned most of the art I used in this project. But I knew I wanted to add a large antique oil painting to the mix, for some texture and warmth. I dug through eBay until I found a painting that I really liked. Good lord, there’s a lot of crap art to wade through on eBay. Filtering by time period (1900-1949) helped a little.

Oil Painting Frame Before.JPG

The original frame was overly ornate and, in my opinion, distracted from the painting. To replace it, I built a simple floating frame using cheap pine from Home Depot. It was a lot of careful measuring and cutting and making it up as I went along.

Making a Picture Frame.JPG

I stained the wood black to match the moodiness of the painting, and to help balance the black wall-mounted monitors.

Staining a Picture Frame.JPG

I totally winged this entire process, and I’m really happy with the way it turned out!

Oil Painting in Floating Frame.JPG

Cat inspector on the job again.

Cat Inspecting Oil Painting.JPG

Hanging the Gallery Wall

Having wall-mounted monitors meant the gallery wall needed to be planned out pretty well. It’s easy to tweak the placement of a frame by moving a nail a few inches, but I wouldn’t have any flexibility with the monitor placement once heavy-duty toggle bolts were in the wall. So, I over-planned, as I do.

First, I did a real crappy job of Photoshopping my two options: gallery wall vs. picture ledge. For the mock-ups, I used Chris Loves Julia’s picture ledge and our previous dining room’s gallery wall.

Office Wall Options.jpg

Then I solicited input from a friend who has good taste in nearly everything, with the exception of appropriate footwear.


I used a mix of white, black, and brown wood frames. The art is a mix of screen prints, paintings, and photos that I’ve collected over the years, and there’s a bit of a theme to it – mostly plants, houses, and birds (thanks for the Japanese ducks, Kei!).

I fussed around with the frame arrangement on the floor.

Planning a Gallery Wall on the Floor.JPG

I also did the thing the internet suggests you do: used paper to visualize the frames on the wall.

Planning a Gallery Wall.JPG

This step seems excessive for most purposes, but it was helpful here. I did not want to regret my placement of the monitors.

Gallery Wall in Progress.JPG

All hung!

Gallery Wall Over Desk.jpg

Gallery Wall Detail.JPG

Hiding the Cords

Did you notice what you don’t see on that office wall?  All the cords. A whole lot of wire wrangling went into this. If I could make a living hiding cords, I would change careers. So gratifying!

On the wall, I used a raceway for the monitor power and DVI cords. That monitor arm is a cheap guy from Amazon, by the way: VideoSecu TV Wall Mount Articulating Arm Monitor Bracket. It lets us push the monitor back when not in use, and pull it forward when we’re working / wasting time on the internet.

Wall-Mounted Monitor.JPG

Under the desk, I added a J channel cable raceway – I bought one and cut it in half to use on either side of the cabinet. The raceway routes all of the wires to a power strip I mounted on the wall behind the cabinet.

Belkin Surge Protector.JPG

I bought the Belkin 8-Outlet Pivot Surge Protector with 6-Foot Cord (based on The Wirecutter’s recommendation); the pivoting outlets are awesome and crucial for this setup.

Wall-Mounted Surge Protector.JPG

This hidden surge protector powers everything – my Apple charger, Jarrod’s Dell dock, the monitors, the desk lamp, the Jambox – with only one visible cord. To make it even less conspicuous, and because crazy, I wrapped it with white ribbon.

Under Desk Cords.JPG

The Finishing Touches

The Kurdish runner rug is vintage from eBay. The rolling chairs are from Overstock: Porthos Home Monroe Adjustable Office Chair. I would have preferred something vintage, but finding a pair of reasonably-priced vintage adjustable chairs was not happening. These Overstock chairs are sturdy and comfortable, and they’ll do until I have a lucky find.

Office Chairs.JPG

I did have a lucky find in the floor sample pile at Room & Board: this Nelson wall sconce. At 30% off, it was still a splurge, but I love it so. It provides such a nice glow.

Nelson Sconce.JPG

I also added a Threshold Two Head Task Lamp from Target. The rattan stool is from Target as well – I plan to add a plant on top.

Desk Lamp.JPG

And that brings us to where we are today, and where I’m typing this blog post right now.

Office Wall.JPG

It looks something like this:

Office Action Shot.JPG

Thanks to Jarrod’s dad Rodger for the action shot, and for letting me experiment with his camera this weekend! I also borrowed my friend Carolyn’s camera (thanks, buddy!), so I have a lot of photos in the hopper for more posts in the coming weeks.

47 thoughts on “Two-Person Desk and Gallery Wall

  1. This turned out beautifully, Marti. i have to figure out something similar for the kids. I’ll refer back to this idea. In my head, I have been making it very complicated.


    1. I am trying more and more to adopt the mantra “Keep it simple, stupid.” I can get caught up thinking I need more things or more color or more something, and then I return to my Pinterest board to remind myself that simple and practical is what I like most.

  2. I wish I could have hired you as we moved into our new home and started imagining our already existing art and thinking about adding new pieces. I’d still hire you if you’d come to Iowa City, though I’d have to swallow some embarrassment at mistakes already made, however, I think of us as a work in progress. :)
    Your work is beautiful!!

    1. Mistakes are absolutely part of the process. A good chunk of any project I embark on is spent making mistakes and correcting my course. Thanks for the vote of confidence!

  3. Creeping Grinnell alum…love your blog! thought it was funny to see a similar post on Emily Henderson today. I agree with your friend’s assessment of the photo ledge (even divided) and like your gallery wall better :)

    1. Ha, thanks! Emily Henderson and I have so much in common, it’s true – arranging frames, paying Task Rabbits to clean our plant leaves, living across the street from Katy Perry…

  4. Looks great! Do the legs and center drawer unit seem sturdy enough to hold the top? I am debating getting the same legs you have (same setup really), or getting custom steel legs from Etsy.

    1. Thank you! Yeah, it’s really sturdy: that was important to me – I don’t like it when things feel precarious. The drawer unit is built like a tank (it’s quite heavy), so it does the heavy lifting, and then the trestle legs provide added support.

    1. Thanks, Anne! I chose not to do that because we have a wall-to-wall mantle on the other side of the room, and I didn’t want it to look like a weird mirror image. We have plenty of storage in the drawer unit and in the cabinet below the TV (not pictured here).

  5. Yes!!!!!! I love the solution! It’s beautiful, but you had me at CORD MANAGEMENT!!! Thank you for showing everyone that a stylish room and excellent cord management can coexist in the same space! Kudos on a job done. :)

  6. Hi!
    Love you setup, definitely trying it in the future!
    One question, what are the measurements for your rug?

  7. I have been trying to figure out how to do exactly this is our basement to function as either work space for myself and my husband, or gaming bench for our boys. Nothing was fitting the bill (desks not wide enough….), beyond getting a carpenter to create it and attach to the wall. The IKEA hack was perfect. I’m sitting at the desk now. Thanks for the time you took to create that detailed post.

  8. Hi Marti!
    I love this transformation it looks incredible. I am working on a content piece and i’m wondering if I could potentially feature one of your images? I would be sure to include your name and a link to your website below the image. I look forward to hearing from you.

    1. Hi, Gabby: Thanks for asking! You’re welcome to use any image as long as you credit me and link back. Let me know if you need a higher resolution file.

  9. I know this is an older post, but I have to comment on this perfection!! I had this same ikea hack in my mind of what I wanted to do with my work space and y’all inspired me so much more of what I can pull off with my space. Excited about a new project!

  10. Thanks for sharing this! I am just heading to Ikea to buy the Karlby to use as our new desk, and decided to google and see if the Lerberg’s had been used and voila! Your post came up! I’m super excited now because it means I’m on the right design track haha.
    Also I’m totally wanting a gallery wall now too because yours looks A++! Thanks again!

  11. This is so great. So excited to put this together. How did you mount the countertop on to the drawer and legs? Did you just lay it on top, how does it stay secure?

    1. Hello, Diana! The countertop is simply laid on top. The drawer unit is super sturdy, so it does the heavy lifting, and then the trestle legs provide added support. The countertop is heavy enough to stay in place on its own. Enjoy your new desk setup!

  12. Maybe I missed this but your monitors are so wonderfully thin – do you have a link you could share? Thank you!

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