For years I worked from a giant 6-foot-long plastic table that I’m pretty sure I bought at Target. It was big enough for two (hilariously small by today’s standards) monitors, and I used to have a bunch of sticky notes, diagrams, papers, and stuff all over it while working on AbsolutePunk. It was mostly a means to an end. I needed a place to work, and I put most of the money I could spend into the website or my computers. Over the years, my setup has changed quite a bit. I finally got a “real” desk made of wood and everything. And my back greatly appreciates an ergonomic chair.
My wife, Hannah, started a new job a few months ago. Her office is a few blocks from where we live, within walking distance, and she has her own private office. With many of her co-workers still working from home, she discovered she liked going into the office regularly because it helped her focus and stay in “work mode.”1
This change led to me rethinking how I wanted my office at home, which we had been sharing during the pandemic, to be set up. My computer was over eight years old and needed an upgrade, so I figured that if I was going to upgrade the computer, I might as well think through the entire space, since I spend 9-10 hours a day in there, to make it precisely the office I’d always wanted.
And because I have a blog, I figured I’d blog about it and share some photos and links for future reference.
To start, the current computer:
- Mac Studio
- Apple Studio Display
- Magic Keyboard with Touch ID and Numeric Keypad
- Magic Mouse
- Magic Trackpad
I’ve used a version of the Magic Mouse for almost as long as I’ve used a Mac, and it’s still my preferred mouse. I pair it with the trackpad for a few reasons, 1) because swiping is very useful for various things in macOS (moving between spaces, scrolling long documents, etc.), 2) I like moving between two different input devices throughout the day to avoid repetitive motion and stress. The keyboard is taking a little extra time to get used to because I haven’t used one with a number pad in a while. The extra keys are nice, and I’m using the extra function keys to put in various keyboard shortcuts, but it’s taking a bit to get used to the extra desk space being taken up with it.
The computer is absolutely incredible. The first computer I’ve ever owned where I think on a daily basis: yeah, this is probably too much machine for what I need to do. But, I bought it because I want something I can grow with. The Studio Display, despite an early mishap, I am also very happy with. There isn’t another display on the market that checks all the boxes I want, so even the part I’m not enamored with (the camera) isn’t enough to bring my joy in every other aspect down.
The desk itself is now over ten years old and starting to see some wear on it. To make it feel fresh, I started with a new desk pad that spans most of the top of the desk. This gives it a nice clean look and feel. I went with the Matte Desk Pad from Grovemade because I wanted something black to match the desk but not shiny. I’ve been delighted with it so far.
For a mouse pad, I needed something that fit perfectly in my keyboard drawer, and I found a leather pad from Beckett and Simonon. I like the feel, and sound, of the Magic Mouse on leather, and having something that spans the entire space lets me move the mouse anywhere I need throughout the day and remain comfortable.
Next, I knew I wanted to change the entire aesthetic of my workspace. Before, I had just the iMac in the middle, with one iPhone dock sitting next to it. To change how it felt to sit at the desk, I decided to go with a Desk Shelf to give myself this new look and add some extra storage space. After looking around, I went with one from Grovemade. I like how it looks (black top and sides, silver shelf), and they’re a local company.
The Studio Display sits on the desk and then “hovers” over the shelf itself. I tried putting it on top, but it was way too high, and I much prefer how it looks tucked away. On the left and right of the top shelf are two walnut mini-planters (also from Grovemade) with two succulents from a local shop.2 My Now Playing Raspberry Pi is on the left, with the cord tucked nicely behind and plugged into an Anker USB hub attached with a command strip to the back of the shelf. Under the monitor are two Oakywood walnut wireless chargers. I keep my AirPods Pro on one and my phone on the other. I’m a big fan of how they look with the planters, adding a little more natural color to the desk, and it is exceptionally convenient not to need to plug in my phone or AirPods during the day. Just walk in, set them down, and quickly pick them up throughout the day, knowing they’ll always be charged. They also plug into the USB hub, keeping the cords nicely tucked behind the monitor arm.
On the shelf, I keep a Moleskin notebook handy. I often sketch out various projects right when I start working on them, putting together flow charts, simple mind-maps, designing screens, etc. My favorite currently is the dot grid version. And on the shelf to the right, I store my iPad. There’s a charging cable coming from the back of the computer down into the shelf cubby to keep it charged as well.
Under the iPad shelf is a little pullout desk tray (also from Grovemade; yes, I gave them a lot of money). And in here, I keep my everyday pens (Zebra F-301), a fancy pen (Tactile Turn), and some extra charging cables for the peripherals. There’s also a fidget spinner from Etsy (look, we all get fidgety during Zoom calls), and a walnut iPad stand, also from Etsy. This is great to pull out when I want to use the iPad in conjunction with my computer but don’t need it attached to a keyboard.
On the back of my desk, I’ve mounted a LIFX lightstrip. This HomeKit-enabled light lets me add some ambient lighting to the space and is highly customizable with various colors and palettes. Currently, I have them set to mirror my orange and blue wallpaper, and since everything can be controlled through HomeKit, I have simple scenes setup to turn on and off the office lights as a whole, as well as control the strip from Keyboard Maestro.
Now, moving around the rest of the office. When I first moved into this space, I painted the back wall with dry-erase paint, turning it into a giant dry-erase board. It worked well for a few years, but in the past year or so, the “erase” part became much less reliable. It was more of a “smudge of random colors” wall compared to anything usable. I knew I wanted to redo the entire back wall, which meant first removing the dry-erase paint. A couple of hours of sanding later and a nice fresh coat of paint, and we had the foundation set.
I’m not sure where I first got the idea for using a pegboard here, but I think the idea stuck in my head after seeing them used on various “desk setup” Instagram accounts I follow. I liked the idea of something I could make changes to when I wanted, without feeling like I was drilling new holes into the wall over and over again. With a dark gray base on the wall, I also liked the look of a bright white board framed by the gray. The only pegboard I could find in the size I was looking for came from ULINE. It’s pretty massive. My wife and I went through some interesting hanging gymnastics to get everything leveled and attached to the wall, but the end result is a nice pop of color and a wall that I can easily attach things to and decorate and change up when the inspiration strikes.
The next step was deciding what would make it onto the wall. Given that any video call I’m ever on will have this as the background, I wanted something that not only was nice to look at, but also represented me as a person.
Going from left to right. First, there’s a shelf to store all my Yankee FUNKO. Under that we have a little mini replica bat. And then two hooks where I hold my two most used baseball caps. My office is right next to our condo’s front door, so it is extra convenient to grab a hat if wanted. Under that, we have three Fracture prints representing the three things I’ve created I’m most proud of: AbsolutePunk, Encore, and Chorus.fm.
Then I have an all-black, magnetic, dry erase board. I always like having a dry erase board of some kind, for making myself notes, sketching ideas, and I just thought the black with neon markers looks cool. It being magnetic is a bonus, and there’s currently an AbsolutePunk logo magnet on it.
Under that, I printed a canvas print of Hannah and me in Portland. I didn’t want my face plastered behind me, so I want with something where we are in it, but mostly you see the city skyline. I’m a big fan of canvas prints and have quite a few around the home. The ones on this wall were all purchased from CanvasChamp because they let you customize the exact size you want, giving me lots of flexibility.
Then we have my favorite part of the wall. A significant section all dedicated to the music I love and showcasing it. First, there’s a column using pegboard hooks to display three vinyl records. I swap these out each Sunday evening with whatever music from my collection I’ve been feeling lately.3 It’s often stuff I’m currently listening to or plan to listen to over the next week. This not only gives me a fun way to display parts of my collection in a place I see on a regular basis (I love my record collection, but only seeing the spine of the records is kind of a waste), but it also lets me define a big part of my office with my current music mood. Fun summer albums, cold, somber fall albums; always changing. And finally, I have a little ode to some of my favorite bands. The final touch was a Now Playing plaque, purchased from Amazon.
At the top, I have a canvas print of a fantastic photo from my friend Adam Elmakias of Travis Barker and Blink-182. It’s simple yet epic. In front are the Mark and Travis FUNKOS (soon to be joined by the Enema of the State versions). The next shelf has my Green Day FUNKO in front of a custom-printed canvas of a live photo of the band. And besides that are a couple of My Chemical Romance. That Black Parade album FUNKO is one of my favorites, and I’m glad I finally have a place to showcase it.
Attached to the underside of the shelf is an Elevation Anchor to hold my wired headphones (Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO), and three other hooks holding various charging cables we need regularly. Mini-shelf above has a walnut box that stores a bunch of different chargers to go with the cables below. It’s nice to have one place everyone in the house knows they can find a charger.
And that brings me to the other wall (if we discount the cat tree next to the window). Here we have a long shelf to display a bunch of FUNKO collected over the years. What started with two Spider-Man for my desk soon became a really easy gift for me for holidays, and now there’s an entire army of Spider-People and Bat-Men. The print was gift from Hannah and is Spider-Man swinging through the Portland skyline.
And finally, above my computer on the wall I look at daily is a collection of various gold and platinum records that I’ve been lucky enough to receive over the years.
And there we have it. My new office. A space that feels much more uniquely me, with a bunch of little flourishes that bring me joy throughout my day. It went from a place where I went to work to a place where I find myself smiling as I sit down each morning.
- My desk chair is the Chadwick. I bought it over nine years ago after hearing Gruber recommend it on the Talk Show. It’s held up great and remains very comfortable and breathable—my two main requirements.
- I also picked up a set of coasters made from the same material as my desk pad. Nice to keep my drinks on throughout the day and keep everything matching.
- My water bottle is the 32oz stainless steel model from Purist. I highly recommend it. I made it a goal to start increasing my water intake, and my current goal of at least 64oz per day means I need to get through two of these. The water bottle keeps my water cold without me needing to constantly run to the fridge for a refill.
- My current coffee mug is a 16oz one from Miir. I wanted something new and unique with the desk upgrade, and I liked the look of the coffee canister we have from them, so I decided to give this a try. It is very slim and fashionable. The drinking top is not something I was used to, but so far, it’s been great for both hot and cold coffee.
- The computer speakers are the same Klipsch speakers I bought when I moved in, and I still love them.
- I run the cords up the wall using a wire management kit, tuck everything out of sight using basic wire ties and buy black braided cables the exact length to avoid any extra mess. (3ft, 1ft)
- I run the headphone jack from my computer to a switch mounted under the desk, allowing me to quickly change between the desk speakers or a 3.5 adapter attached to the back of my keyboard tray. That adapter is where I can plug in a set of wired headphones if or when I need them.
- All the wires go under the desk into a Blue Lounge CableBox, and there are a few of their CableDrops under the desk to keep wires routed and out of the way. The CableBox has a surge protector in it to keep everything powered.