Two Desks in One: My New Minimal Workspace

I’ve discussed standing desks before, and while I continue to praise the idea of them I have definitely changed how I incorporate one into my workspace. In fact, at the end of last year I went on the lookout for a new workstation that would meet the following criteria:

  • Allow me to stand or sit at it with as little friction as possible
  • Take up as little space as possible (as my workspace is in the master bedroom).
  • Reduce the amount of overall furniture we have in our house.
  • Transform my workspace back into living space quickly and easily.

I knew this was going to be a tall order, but I’ve managed to do it. I’ve been using it for the past couple of months – and I love it.

Here’s how I created my new minimal workspace…

The first part of the equation was finding a way to create this workspace without adding more furniture to our house. I’ve parted with both the Ikea Ludvig, as I found that there was nowhere for me to place the display so that my neck wasn’t strained while using it. I also moved my writing chair into the living room (along with the Levenger Lap Desk) for those times where I want to mix things up a bit. I’ll often work out in the living room once my wife has gone to bed – after all, I’m the night owl in the house – and crank out a bunch of words while using my old main work area. The chair was far too nice and comfy to not be used in our living room (along with another retro chair I’d picked up off of so I was able to get rid of two of the unsightly chairs in our living room. So already I’d eliminated two pieces of furniture from the house.

Then I looked at my wife’s writing desk.

She barely used it and I saw loads of potential in it, so we moved it into the master bedroom and I made it my primary workspace. It was passed down to her from her grandmother, and it has both a classic and minimal look to it. I can only keep so much in it, and only have so much real estate to work with as well. But it’s enough.

One of the other interesting things about this desk is that it has a mirror that provides me a good look at myself. I’m not saying that I use it to check myself out or anything, but when I get stuck on anything I can give myself a bit of a gut check in the mirror without leaving my seat and that often gets me back on track.

I also recognized that the top of the desk was deep enough to hold my Apple Wireless Keyboard and Mighty Mouse, so I checked the height out to see if it was ideal for me to use them while placed on it. As luck (or my height) would have it – the setup was perfectly suitable. Now all I need was a way to get my MacBook Air to eye level.

That’s where The Insider came to the rescue.

The Insider is a floating shelf – but it is also so much more. Sure, it looks like a typical Ikea Lack shelf at first glance, but it also contains a secret compartment within itself. I came across this shelf while looking for floating shelves locally online, and learned more about it over at Hide It Away. I realized the potential of The Insider as a means of making my ideal minimal workspace a reality, and reached out to the compay’s owners. They were intrigued by my suggestions, and agreed to come by my home to install one for me. n1

The best part about the shelf is that it accomplishes two things that I wanted:

  1. It gives me the platform I need to place my display at the correct height.
  2. It stores my keyboard and mouse when I’m not using them.

One of the other things I liked about the shelf is the people behind it.

I’m big on supporting local businesses when and where I can, and I could tell as I saw Paul and Ramona work that they cared deeply about the product and their craft. It was funny…they seemed like a mirror image of my wife and me. Doing all they can with what they love to do to make a go of their business so they could make a better future for themselves and their family. The precision and care that went into all they did while helping me finish my workspace was admirable. And what they’ve built in The Insider (as well as what I’ve seen of their other products) is just as admirable.

Now this shelf isn’t cheap…but it is increidbly versatile and durable. (You can check out all of the product specifications — and order one for yourself — at the company’s website.) It really is easy to install – and considering that you could use it to build a similar setup for $125 makes it all the more valuable.

With this new workspace I’ve managed to achieve my objectives. The master bedroom looks less like an office, I am able to easily move from sitting to standing with very little friction, and I’ve created an effective space for me to get my work done. That’s ultimately what you want in a workspace – and it’s what I now have thanks to some thought into the project, some innovation into what I’m using, and the addition of an inventive shelf called The Insider.

1Full disclosure: I agreed to write my story about The Insider in exchange for the shelf.

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