The Modern Desk Setup 2023 – Full Tour & Office Setup

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.

Ethos 

dqwU38BhQN3nlJu Ff5bH jGyaQUQljeCBgRTt471W8Ru7ARTjWd NIhie3eqZrTwpbb756N1xX5JwSQXaW0NlLjEG5Q5jIbep85QvpHJuKw9w4BiJFTN ZBFqpLXmh0FBAT50RjZCAal9t5S1bFrs

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.

Color Theory

aGCW62eeF N 8G7AfhZwKOqLmYQ2ujqw4 jaOkKPwxFENn9JDrAmobALQcCZngmbX387Z7NCXOZhnsQFpYzmT73nWV46g01DYF7zFjq SzzqsRkPxejKr j 3X8ADIH4mQZ zTdkMZN6a5dJZBbHV6Q

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.

jdO9Y7V8qwshaIN4QO0SrtdQxFAUOIIhq4kCYjfmIJ4e aXAE3 MabKyk FxOHfX5Ekjv3R85LobEXNEPaqDXx5M RaWRpOnJAkZ8pEG 61h2f7EDPasREljdEhHJqWM J2eNI2 bojsqSakt3Ksw

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.

t9whPPkeGy4w0xXptERe awGb30n7uV8Cy0Pb qYZXxktooXNI4PXQeoJFea9oQlHzajRC63t1TC4AzG3yHwNd6SZOut6TS1tQrRe hdsWVPgZnHORaItgAbGAPWruGjlgqWl3aDHuNWXUVdFHOfPpI

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.

Desk Placement 

VKUTlmoY1eKizZSvTCOhxfjv2kHzo3DUkBCDMs1fSCt7QdAhhF5v9yZn5fSgkFzMDvsoU9sKoSxXi1Ugwwa91Hy7Rm41Q0TX08nup Jyi1h30vcuiQPSzLVAuNJj3NkeIr9puKWYYltebWl4NoNG0A

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”.

c1okPZMD28iPCimiRSeRlEy2mrxYP76QH7ge49PuRXa9Em6ssyZwms9iBp1kDVC046mcfGs9usBylqC8vCNPFJjsaznOs8IiDyj178Sq PkAKcLGMVJqOnLm5MNY6I eXmwZvouPAcBgG1KJVW8rYno

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.

nROgHRsxAVUItIKWpyBbvr3 UZj8cefCrMyJPxi59Jd4jljc2YLypA0kJuHl7t3qMbaEVPr6AEn5uKIsa uqBDXAax9oQRPRoFilD5GHFcxXB609mSLVpbk

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

Gbu81HCtJngEgRAcOf3gLel8y06TCbsMtGA9hiUv tykn6OQVINAVmnKCNPNQ3DYPa6qg5geCZ5pIi68XbiTdOub3si

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.

Grovemade 

UsuJTj61ob0F9SiKlSfyHD3EQq6akFI3r7SBdZLrNLpZGgeFkLwDYW5f5aoG fgfi vWWewu0Pe1mvATpUlg WaSHeamMQJ2b8qTv36bLRH68HIbvtDX Pn4mE1avFldyCBUcdQYCS5uuPyQPVNGbU

On top of the wool felt merino desk mat, I recently added Grovemade’s black leather mousepad. It improves mouse tracking on the Logitech MX3 and separates a mouse area on the desk.

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.

Tech 

jMCioEX5K gRdYcrQ r1WhKP1cfZ6nyE8yjk9nStrgB YOwo1dFKbbcxNV RJ3ctNcAkOleLE3iihIMtF8qOd CoAfdsg4pOBPrLbW2X8ZFr 8v

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.

qygtalRur65 nzZ1iXknSmVWrRc7ye3LVuBGXU4WTkbzLZy36IRZ7xBj PyMuq0ZzcGQGvpiQtmEEeclQmXQ886bMu7mEB FFvDBtpAIcLGJuuZctCEIYMofUK6hCy XJ8 I0fLoOfOwCsz hLBGYdw

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 

GIZWqkcjLy9DR EjgefLXIvFAoYUCYT4t4iw kL4JMt0Enpxls8OY25l3F g80xXu JO8LKOaBaAfcWSVJDw g3j2bm1Jrp1XDJQQvcgPAI HMuVVZ4J0NZKpIwRujMDNNcw3yN60C9z

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.

Hg ZnASKyrTn9ZRylJdPqHRev4bfoORSw6HOAZ9byUNhfV2rBXen9meMQ4X YmGO8G4u

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.

Armchair Area

gIayvVWIdmhegN7i5miCGGXxDqQjhbuRkgu6p1lNltsXU745u0YYmD0sKAt84 tSg7JuO 1g2MhouHQ7jg eslKq8rLPyBJcA5D9jyFIV9MSYzqJQoHKRJ91 ZTO6AA0bZpCo3 Vmu6 fXII9Knpw0U

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 

meIpQUdPCczH2uPvNiNpK5OHi 1hzruad7LgreKLMP3fQDUv1NEVAeKeijw4tWZSK7sAh8eH jET93 PoX03EJOYRPfqtpQDQaVmkuH4UiSRTXBWYTLC8pD0cKrt6bsuTrTdB15UDQmyaJPI0p0TE I

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.

zEXUSiEnr8uy3IQX8fhCjgcerLGqOhSCy 3zCRBfeJTi6sodDGrjmDqNt0OVnWweP4f X4JPFcap7qcnSK0iEZDDBbz2r ezXHLb3zk1tw3NrlkceOHdTLC12ErNEL2SyRJ11oWTs9WeAR 3g70ORyA

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.

Conclusion

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. 

Watch also

📧 Subscribe to my newsletter

Join 20,000 others and get content not published elsewhere.
I share personal insights on tech, life musings and business – directly to your inbox.