DIY IKEA Alex Hairpin Leg Work Table

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Out of all the things I've ever made, I am most proud of this table. Every time I sit down, I can't believe I actually made it.

When I moved into my new space, I was in need of a dining room table. Since the area would serve triple-duty (dining room + work space + study space), I knew I needed something versatile. Ideally, something with built-in storage! Weeks and weeks of searching proved to be an exercise in futility as I could never find the right kind of table in just the right size for the right price. So, I decided to build one.

I ended up making the entire thing myself with my first year of med school well underway. Obviously, this is not recommended, but because I'm stubborn (and also absolutely insane), I wanted to forge ahead.

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With my schedule, it took me a little over a month to build, but with help, this is definitely something that could have been completed in a weekend. I wanted to take my time; making sure to paint and assemble just so. After all, there was no room for error, because the one thing I learned from all of this? Hauling large planks of wood up multiple flights of stairs is not my jam. Aside from the month-long wait and copious amounts of sweat and tears (who knew working with wood could be so emotional???), I'm really really happy with the way it came out.

Before this, I had never built anything with wood from scratch. Ever. I'm not an expert, but I'm 99% sure there are much better ways to assemble a table. I just went with what made sense to me and what I thought I could reasonably handle.

The table is pretty big (48" x 72") with a good amount of height (33.5"). I wanted something tall enough to offer a choice between sitting or standing depending on the task at hand (or my mood). There's also enough surface area to have multiple projects going on at once without feeling like the table is cluttered or that there is little space to spread out and work. I also love that it makes a great surface for folding large pieces of laundry like drying towels and bed sheets. 

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For storage, I decided to go with four IKEA Ekby Alex drawers that I inserted into the table frame (one on each side). The 28" raw steel 3 rod hairpin legs, which I adore, came from I chose to add a faux white-wash (using a mixture of equal parts acrylic paint and water) so the wood could match the white IKEA shelves but still retain some of its rustic and natural beauty. I coated the entire top surface with Miss Mustard Seed's furniture wax, because of its natural ingredients and fine museum-grade quality. Two coats (which was about half of the bottle) and I was done! That wax has protected my table from many coffee spills and gouache stains. When the table needs a good cleaning, I use Seventh Generation's Lemon Chamomile Non-Toxic Wood Cleaner.

If I had it to do over, I would add wooden square mounds under the table to which the legs would attach. This would give me "spacers" to make the table higher which would give me a bit more leg room while seated. I love my chairs, but at counter stool height, they are the only standard height that works and still just a tad bit too an inch, which isn't that big of a deal. I can still add the spacers in the future and will probably raise the table about two or three more inches just to be safe. ETA: I ended up adding 2" risers to the bottom of the table and now it's the absolute perfect height!

Again, I've been so happy with this table! It's almost a year old and still going strong. I study, work, and eat at this table, so it's been used for hours upon hours almost every single day. Total win.