There’s beauty in our desire to consistently improve a desk setup.
Not for the end result, but from the passion for the process and journey.
What started as a simple desire to build a productive space so I could do my best work has become a hobby and passion project I’m able to share with like-minded tech and interior design enthusiasts.
Hey friends – Andrew here, hope you’re well!
Over the past two years, I’ve consistently added to my setup piece by piece, starting with budget IKEA furniture to larger investment pieces.
I’ve documented my process here and on YouTube, sharing the evolution of my desk setup and entire workspace with you guys.
And although the setup isn’t complete, I think it’s finally at a point where I’m relatively happy with it.
So, I want to take you guys behind the scenes and show you the key elements that went into designing a space that inspires me to do my best work every day.
I hope that you too can take inspiration from this and adapt the ideas to your own space.
So, welcome back to an overdue episode in the Setup Makeover Series.
The ethos of this setup, I believe, can be nicely summarized by one of my favorite Leonardo da Vinci quotes: Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.
It’s a space with a simple color scheme, textures, and possibly not-so-simple technology. However, tech gear is my Achilles’ heel.
I want my workspace to look and function as a studio, office, and living space with multiple forms and functions, both aesthetically and practically.
A place that improves my well-being while also allowing my productivity and creativity to flow.
Essentially, I wanted to create a desk and space that I look forward to entering every day.
I considered color theory before beginning to fill the space with furniture.
Color theory is the guideline for using colors to communicate and to please the eye in design. Colors are extremely important when designing our setup.
The color palette of the pieces in this space is deliberate and complementary – from the keyboard to the desk, to the bookshelf and armchair.
Grounding, natural colors, and materials are important to me. Stone, wood, glass, and leafy greens are just a few examples.
Since my childhood and love of nature, I think the Legend of Zelda’s Ocarina of Time and its beautiful natural landscapes have had a huge influence on me. To maintain the modern aesthetic, I chose off-white, light maple wood, and black accents as the base colors.
The lightness and smooth grain of maple wood give this open space a very chic and casual feel that pairs nicely with the off-white walls.
I also had the previously dreadful carpets replaced with white oak floorboards, and half a year later, I can say it was well worth the investment.
The touches of black on the window frames and corner lamp, for example, accent the wood for a darker modern feel, but I was careful not to overdo it because black is obviously a very bold color that can easily overpower a space, especially a small one.
This color palette pairs beautifully with the natural sunlight that shines throughout the day, bouncing light and energizing the space.
So, off-white, light maple wood, and black – you could call it the color triforce. I promise that’s the last Zelda reference I’ll make.
The sunlight is also why I’ve placed my desk in the middle of the room, next to the window, rather than on the wall.
The desk is obviously critical to all of my work, and I believe that desk placement is frequently overlooked.
Moving an entire desk that is already set up is not an easy task; it usually takes an entire day or more, so planning where you want to place your desk ahead of time is critical.
According to Feng Shui principles, a desk should put your back to a wall and give you a view of a door – it’s a popular placement called the “commanding position”.
Apparently, this position brings fortune, opportunities, and great energy flow – I’m not particularly superstitious – but this desk placement feels extremely comfortable and productive.
The disadvantage is cable management. It was more difficult than usual because I had to loop the cable through the middle of the room and into the desk.
The solution was to mount a quality powerboard, such as the one from Belkin, beneath the sit-stand desk and run the cable alongside the wall, concealing it with a very useful cable cover along the wall’s skirting.
Desk Setup & Tech
So everything I make, from videos to client work, is done right on my desk. It’s as straightforward as ever.
The Omnidesk Sit Stand Desk in Natural Hevea Wood is one of the better sit-stand desks I’ve used, and the combination of short intervals of standing and then sitting on the Herman Miller Aeron chair is one that my back appreciates.
The woodgrain of the Hevea Wood is a perfect pairing with all of Grovemade’s accessories too.
They are the only accessories I require for my desk, and they serve both functional and aesthetic purposes.
I got Grovemade’s black pen stand with maple wood to match the new color palette, and it’s a much better match than the brass or titanium pens, as lovely as they are. It serves as both a decorative and functional piece.
As much as I love digital notes, this pen and stand set brings an old-school feel to a modern desk setup, and it’s always nearby when inspiration strikes.
Its neighboring Grovemade notepad has also been a pleasure to use for quick notes for quite some time. I’ll just take out the notepad, unholster the pen from its stand, and I’ll have a really enjoyable writing experience.
They’re both made of solid metal aluminum for a high-quality pen that will last a long time.
I’ll leave a more in-depth video of how I furnished the empty desk with Grovemade accessories to check if you’re interested.
My portable setup is powered by a beefy MacBook Pro M2 Max that is as capable docked as it is portable. This setup is my favorite because I can work remotely whenever I need to and plug it into a dock with a single USB-C cable.
I’ve got it upside down so the heat vents here can breathe properly and avoid overheating – an issue that can shorten the battery’s lifespan and potentially damage internal components, so it’s important to just pay attention to airflow.
The CalDigit dock, which is mounted beneath my desk and is linked to a 24TB G-RAID drive, transforms my MacBook into a desktop setup with access to all of my accessories.
With its high-performance dual-drive RAID storage, the drive gives me a lot of flexibility in my workflow. It supports multi-stream 4K HDR video workflow with high-speed data transfer speeds, and the RAID 1 configuration aids in redundancy and file backup.
It’s all connected to a ridiculously large LG’s 40″ 5K ultrawide monitor, which is ideal for multitasking, video editing, and having multiple windows open. I’m thinking about getting a dual Apple Pro XDR display setup, but the good old wallet says no.
I change out my keyboards on a regular basis, and the most recent one I’ve got is Apple’s (arguably overpriced) Magic Keyboard in Black with Touch ID, which I think fits the clean aesthetic of the desk really nicely and adds that black accent in line with the theme.
This keyboard’s typing experience is very similar to the Magic Keyboard found on MacBooks, which I enjoy, and the touch ID is unique to this keyboard and genuinely very convenient when quickly logging in.
When I want music to elope the room, I use my Sonos speakers, and when I want to do deep focus work, I use the AirPods Max with their insane noise cancellation performance.
As a result, my desk configuration promotes productive work, focus time, and quality work.
Creating this environment is critical to me because previously, I worked around the clock, let productivity define my self-worth, and embraced “hustle culture,” but it was a surefire path to burnout. I’m sure some of you can identify with this.
So having a clean, intentional physical and digital space helps me work more effectively, giving me more time in my day to enjoy life outside of work rather than working more. It’s called productivity 2.0!
Shou Sugi Ban
A custom neon sign of my media company’s brandmark is visible from my desk and is set to turn on automatically at 9 a.m. every morning as I arrive at work.
Behind me now stands one of my favorite pieces in this room: a charred black Sideboard.
This sideboard was inspired by the Shou Sugi Ban artisanal Japanese wood-burning technique. To achieve this carbon black finish and textural beauty, cedar planks are charred.
It also provides me with a ton of useful storage space behind me, making this room corner extra cozy.
I added Govee strip lights behind the sideboard to add dimension to the space, and it’s an easy way to change the mood in this space – for example, a warm tungsten for a cozy space on colder, cloudier days.
Above are a few of my favorite books, practical furnishings, a Sonos speaker, and an air freshener that I keep on hand and use on a daily basis.
I’ve created a small breakaway space behind my monitor where I can take a break from my workday, read, and sip some tea.
A simple armchair sits in the center of this room. It took a while for me to find an armchair that I liked, and this one has an off-white canvas fabric with light maple wood arms.
To the side, there are two darker practical pieces: a round side table made of a thick plank of European Knotty Oakwood, where I keep my drink and a notepad or book.
And a simple black and gold accented floor lamp that I’ve yet to outfit with a bulb – I’ll probably end up getting a smart colored lightbulb for it.
The area also serves as my creative thinking space; it’s ideal for writing, reading, or simply taking notes on this armchair.
I considered getting a full couch, but I preferred the lightness and flexibility of an armchair.
Oak Console Table
Another new addition is this elegantly simple console table.
It’s a big heavy boy made of large, quality oak slabs in three solid slabs.
The pyramid shape and rectangular legs are finished naturally, and it’s a great display piece that also weighs a ton.
To give the console table some personality, I added some greenery – a small snake plant and succulent – and this transparent book holder for daily inspiration.
This particular book is all about advertisements from the 1960s – I just have a thing for old-school print ads. In my opinion, they’re geniuses. I guess my admiration stems from the Mad Men TV show, which inspired me with its artistry and creative marketing expertise.
In the spirit of inspiration, I’ve been meaning to frame this lovely print above the console table or sideboard.
It’s a print by one of my favorite artists, James Jean, who is known for his ability to work in and combine various genres and techniques in an imaginative and multifaceted manner.
Seriously, if you haven’t seen his work, you should. Consider this meticulously finished print, complete with intricate foil linework, sculptural embossed details, and hand-signed by the talented man himself.
He’s an incredible artist to support and keep an eye on.
However, the walls are still blank, so I plan to frame this artwork and a few photography prints in the next phase of constantly improving this space.
There must be order in the creative chaos for there to be harmony with the work I do.
The harmony I require is provided by the functional spaces I’ve created.
It’s a seamless integration of work, relaxation, and creativity.
The next area I intend to renovate is this small nook, which I may turn into a gaming corner, and I also need to properly outfit the kitchen.
But, yes, working for hours on end can be exhausting, so anything we can do to make it easier is worthwhile in my opinion.
I’ll leave a link to the previous episode of the Setup Makeover Series where I go over the foundation of my desk setup in case you like to check it out.