Monday, June 10, 2013

Alternatives to Ikea GALANT Desk

The GALANT line of desks at Ikea appears to be pretty popular with it being the only reason people come to this website... As a modular, quality desk with a relatively long warranty, I find it hard to find much wrong. However, everyone has different tastes. People may like certain aspects of the desk, but they may also find a major deal breaker or two. Being a proud owner of a GALANT, even I can see a few potential faults such as the price, faux wood tabletop, height adjustable legs, metal frame, and metal legs.
Ikea GALANT A-Leg internal mechanism
So, in case you’re one of those people who are looking at the GALANT, but haven’t made up their mind yet, see my review here (spoiler: I like it). Otherwise, let's look at a few other options that simply tickle my fancy from Ikea and another store or two.

Ikea GALANT Desk Time-lapse Assembly

Ikea VIKA / Table Bar Desk Series: Generally cheaper, still modular
Here is my review of a few VIKA tables (spoiler: I kind of like it). In case you don't want to read the whole thing, then a few adjectives that I'd use to describe the VIKA series are modular, cheaper, functional, simple, and modern.

I have put together a large VIKA desk for around $50 and another two more expensive combinations for $80 a piece. There are more options available in terms of design and material for VIKA than GALANT. With VIKA, there are about a dozen leg designs alone ranging from trestles to drawers to height-adjustable straights. Table tops come in solid wood, particleboard, glass, and stainless steel. The GALANT series has numerous combinations available, but fewer in comparison with VIKA. Check them out yourself.

Ikea FREDERIK: Like a GALANT, not modular.
After taking a quick glance at the FREDERK, I would probably call this the desk that's most similar to a GALANT from Ikea. Just look at the steel frame and legs, sort of T-shaped legs, and table top surface material. However, this is a standalone design and doesn't have any major customizations available such as changeable legs or desk sizes. You could always stick a rack on it?

If I recall correctly, this design replaced a very popular computer desk, which was very similar in appearance -- I forget the name. Also, the FREDERIK comes with an extra shelf, which the website description says could be used for cables. At US$ 99 and measuring in at 74cm x 147cm (height is wrong, so left it out), it should be cheaper than a comparable GALANT. Unfortunately, the desk height does not appear to be adjustable.
Ikea FREDDE: Like a GALANT, not modular, and taller.
Right off the bat, I'm going to have to admit that I am not a big fan of this desk. At US$ 199 and coming in at 186cm x 74cm x 146cm, it looks like a pretty good value considering the overall size and the number of shelves attached to it though.

Personally, I find the FREDDE too busy with too much going on. There's a built in shelf ontop of the desk with wings attached and more shelves below the table top. You can also find cupholders on both sides of the table, apparently. Great for storage, but too busy for my liking. The website says that the desk is built with a combination of steel and particleboard. I really don't think this one's height adjustable.

Ikea LEKSVIK: All wood, looking fine, simple and elegant, not modular.
This has always been one of my favourite and most coveted desks at Ikea. It is stained solid pine and comes in at a somewhat compact 119cm x 60cm x 74cm. If I didn't want a modular and larger desk, this would be my choice. Come to think of it, I should buy this and stick it in a room just to stare at it. The design seems more vintage and something that one would put in a study or library. At US$ 149, it's neither cheap nor exorbitantly priced.

Most of my praise so far has been about the desk's appearance, but in terms of function, the desk does not seem remotely bad. Having four straight legs leaves the bottom open for routing wires. And the built-in drawer unit at the front would make for a good storage area. Looking back at the dimensions, the LEKSVIK is a slightly more compact desk in terms of width and depth. The legs do not appear to be adjustable either unless you get a saw.

Ikea MALM: Large, simple, particleboard & fiberboard
Also sitting at US$ 149 is the Ikea MALM, which is made of particleboard and fiberboard. This appears to be a very simple desk that also happens to come with a slide-out panel and shelf located under the table top. The dimensions are 151cm x 61cm x 73cm, which is comparable to some of the other units mentioned previously.

It looks like a pretty functional desk and the extra available workspace that can be hidden on demand should be useful. However, the flat panels used for legs may hinder the routing of cords -- depends on where you're routing to and from. The design and appearance is a bit too simple for my liking.

Crate & Barrel Spotlight Ebony Desk: Not an Ikea, pricier, pretty
Believe it or not, there are options to be had outside of Ikea -- I just don't know of many that I like. Crate & Barrel, I love. From the prices, this store probably caters to a different crowd. Coming in at US$ 399, this solid hardwood table is one of the cheaper traditional desks available from the store. After a little converting, the dimensions come in at about 122cm x 61cm x 76 cm, so it's comparable to the Ikea LEKSVIK at half the price.

The design appears very modern with X-shaped legs connected by a single board near floor level. Like the LEKSVIK, I could see myself getting this purely for decoration. However, my desire for an expansive work surface would put this out of contention. Still worth a look though.

Crate & Barrel Sentry II Oak Work Table: Like a MALM, yet nothing like a MALM
Another entry from Crate & Barrel and, as expected, it is gorgeous. This is similar to the Ikea MALM in that it uses flat panels as legs and appears very simple. However, this desk is made from solid European White Oak, has no pull-out panel, and doesn't appear to have a shelf under the desk. Measuring in at about 140cm x 71cm x 75cm, the size is comparable to the other entries above and probably enough for me.

I can't emphasize how gorgeous this desk looks. Unfortunately, its beauty comes at a price: US$ 699. The only complaint that I would have is that the leg panels may hinder the routing of wires -- same as with the MALM. Definitely on the pricier side, but possibly worth it depending on one's budget and the importance of form.

Staples, Wal-Mart, et al.
There are numerous options available from the usual, go-to big-box stores. I have had some experience and success with them, but they aren't my cup of tea anymore. The variety is huge in terms of design and price range, so they are worth a look if you'd like to explore your options. Who knows? Maybe you'll find a gem at a bargain.

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