Parsons desk, then these DIY sawhorse desks courtesy of Ana White and Tommy and Ellie are a great alternative. Both designs take the simple straight lines of a sawhorse and re-envision them as the legs and storage cubbies for these desks. Restoration Hardware seems to be the original source for the smart design, but these DIY versions will save you a bundle. Ana White's design cost less than $60 to build if you have all the right equipment and she provides a free shopping list and step by step instructions. Most importantly, you'll need a Kreg Jig, which is a tool that allows you to create slanted, pocket holes for joining your wood pieces. You will also need a standard 24" x 48" wood project panel, which should be available at most hardware stores. If you want to create a more interesting top for the desk, you could try glass or an old door from a vintage shop.
The bloggers at Tommy and Ellie used Ana White's design to create a two-person version of the desk, which is also very smart. By adding a third sawhorse in the center, you'll get the extra support needed for a 9' or larger desktop and the extra storage in the leg. I also love this DIY because it includes instructions on how to give the sawhorses a "faux adjustable" look. Hint: you'll need an old broom.
Want an even simpler DIY sawhorse desk that doesn't require a Kreg Jig? Sarah at Matters of Style DIY'd a version with parts from IKEA. By simply spray painting some $15 Ikea Vika Lilleby Trestles, Sarah got a very expensive look without spending too much. (Images: Restoration Hardware, Tommy and Ellie and Sarah Fisher)