Home Office Upgrade

In a move that was highly overdue, I finally redid my home office several weeks ago. It's actually embarrassing to share, but this is what it had looked like prior to the overhaul... not that I would even call this an office:

Tiny, cramped desk with one monitor, 75% keyboard, and a laptop stand


Saying that the desk is small is an understatement. I've actually owned this desk for years, and the story behind it is that I needed a small desk at my previous apartment. This was back when I was still gaming regularly (read: spending every waking moment of my life playing World of Warcraft if I wasn't working.) Rather than clutter up my living room with gaming stuff, I had a decent-sized desk in my bedroom where my gaming setup lived. I started working from home 3 days a week for the job I had at the time, though, so I decided to get a second desk that I would use for that instead of trying to do both at my gaming desk, which really didn't have the room for it considering my gaming desktop was sitting on top of it. As a result, I opted to buy this fairly small desk so that it would still fit in my bedroom alongside all the other furniture without making things feel too cramped.

Fast forward several years, and I was in the middle of moving for a new job. At this point I had mostly stopped playing games, and I ended up throwing out my gaming desk since it was around 12 years old. It was fairly beat up, it had several dings along the surface that I needed to keep covered with a desk mat, and it was starting to sag in the middle. Since the job I was taking didn't have any remote work (at the time), I decided I was okay with just moving the small desk since I'd only be using it occasionally with my personal laptop.

Fast forward a little more and the COVID19 pandemic changed everything. I started working from home full time. While using such a small desk every day felt a little silly, early on I was under the impression that we'd be going back to the office after a few weeks. It was also spring, so I tried to spend time working outside on my deck since I wasn't going anywhere else at the time. Suffice to say, working remotely for just a few months isn't what happened, and I became a fully remote employee. However, I just felt used to the desk and honestly didn't give it much additional thought. This continued for several years until I eventually left that job for my current role, which is also 100% remote. At this point I realized that if I was going to keep living in my current apartment, I really needed to upgrade my setup. After some research convinced me that staying in my current home was the best decision, I knew it was time for my long-overdue upgrade.

The Upgrade

I spent some time chatting with a good friend of mine who happens to be something of a guru when it comes to all things home computing, and she helped me narrow down some of the different options that would be a good fit. I have a lot of space, as you can probably tell from the first photo, because my “home office” is actually what is intended to be my dining room. However, I have a bar-top in my apartment with several stools at it, and since I live by myself I literally always eat my meals there; I actually got rid of the table and chairs I used at my last apartment when I moved since I knew I wouldn't use them here.

My main idea was that I wanted to have 2 distinct setups: one for work and one for personal. It wasn't so much for a mental break between the two but just to keep me from having to constantly be swapping peripherals between my laptops. My initial thought was to get a very long desk and have two distinct spaces right next to one another. After looking at a few options in person, though, I decided I liked the idea of two medium-length desks that I could put together in an L shape. That's what I eventually ended up deciding to go with:

2 desks in an L configuration with 2 distinct computer setups

On the way back from buying the desks, we also stopped at a computer hardware store where I bought the second (larger) monitor to include with the new setup. This allows me to just operate off of the 2 external displays while I'm working, leaving the laptop itself closed. To the right is my current personal setup, which is just a laptop on a stand that brings it close enough for me to use given how terrible my vision is. I may eventually get a monitor for this setup as well, but I'm also debating getting either a new laptop or swapping to a mini-PC of some sort. Until I make a firm decision on that, I'm happy enough with a laptop stand and 2 wireless peripherals I never need to worry about plugging and unplugging.

I also ended up changing the rest of the space a bit, taking a large chair that I had for years and tucking it into a corner after shifting around a small set of bookshelves and a replacement for the coffee table in the first photo that I swapped with a different one in my apartment to keep the all-black-everything theme going:

Different angle of the same office from the last photo showing the edge of the desk and a bucket chair

This makes for a cozy little “lounge” part of my office. I usually sit there in the morning with a cup of coffee and read before I start work for the day. I'll also hop into the chair to doomscroll through my phone when I'm taking a break or if I'm on a call that doesn't require me to be in front of my computer. In fact, if I'm not actively working on my computer as a part of the call, I actually like stepping away from it to ensure that I focus on the call instead of getting distracted by some code I was in the middle of working on, a Slack message, etc.

While I feel a little ridiculous for working under such cramped conditions for so long, it really was something I just got acclimated to and didn't feel particularly inconvenienced by at the time. Now that I've upgraded, though, this is easily my favorite part of the apartment, and I find myself spending a lot of time here even when I'm not working. It's amazing how much easier it is to focus on things like my personal side projects or maintaining this blog when I have a comfortable space to do so.