Fold away workspace. Does something like this exist?
September 20, 2016 3:22 PM   Subscribe

I'd like a workspace setup with a writing surface, laptop & mousing space, storage for pens, pencils and stuffs in a fold away table top setup system so that at the end of my work at home workday I can just fold it all up and stick it in a closet until i need it tomorrow.

I realize I could do this with a backpack and do some sort of unpacking, unfolding and setting up ritual but I'd like something more complete, quicker and contained. It only needs to portable in that it can be put away (though more portable would be nice)

Does this kind of thing exist?
posted by srboisvert to Shopping (17 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
In the olden days this would have been a lap desk, places for your pen and ink and paper and important nonsense. Nowadays the things called lap desks are more likely to be laptop shelf type things but some people still make them. Here is an example. There are also murphy-bed type fold-out desks which I have always sort of liked. I think the googleable term is wall-mounted desk.
posted by jessamyn at 3:39 PM on September 20, 2016 [3 favorites]

Another thing you might check out is a clamshell briefcase. The zipper goes along three sides and when it's unzipped, the case can open flat.
posted by wryly at 3:44 PM on September 20, 2016

I have a secretary style desk. I don't really use it much anymore, but back in college it was wonderful because I could literally, physically close the door on my work when I was ready to take a break. Also it's just a pretty piece of furniture.
posted by phunniemee at 3:45 PM on September 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

What about something like this, and at the end of the workday you stow your things and roll the unit away?

I feel like I've also seen drawer units with wheels at the Container Store, if you want all clutter to be fully out of sight.

It wouldn't have the advantage of a work surface, though you could just wheel it over to the nearest table.
posted by Sara C. at 3:49 PM on September 20, 2016

I have seen this sort of thing, but in a hutch style or a cupboard that unfolds to be a desk, and then folds away again. Ikea has them.
posted by jb at 3:52 PM on September 20, 2016

OMG! I think I saw what you want!

Will this work? Sold by Amazon.
posted by jbenben at 3:56 PM on September 20, 2016 [6 favorites]

The cupboard style that I am thinking of is called a secretary, as mentioned above. Ikea has a couple. There is another style where you can fit your legs under.

If you google "fold away desk", you also get a bunch of wall-mounted styles that would take even less room.
posted by jb at 4:00 PM on September 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

I use a vintage hard-case suitcase!
posted by crankyrogalsky at 4:06 PM on September 20, 2016

For "fold up flat and put away" the hard part appears to be a drawer, so you might need to prioritize your needs if a secretary or wall desk is out of the question. Is a pencil or craft box OK for your supplies?

I had luck searching "travel desk" and "foldable desk" though they're usually *just* laptop sized, like bed desks and couch tables.

This looks pretty good, but no drawer, but you could hack together a pen/cils/stuffs container and attach it to that top strip.
posted by rhizome at 4:29 PM on September 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

Does it need to actually go into your closet? I recently lazily hacked my Ikea Micke desk for this (you might do a more attractive job)

The *bottom* of the drawers are at a good height for me, ergonomically (given my chair height). So I took off the front of one drawer and use its (cardboard) bottom as a slide-out desk tray. It can only hold my keyboard, but it could be reinforced. (I taped the rough edges that are visible with white duct tape, whatever, matches.)

Mouse, cup, etc are used on a small foldout table to my right, get put away after use.

The other drawer is where ancillary stuff goes.

I still usually revert to the top right position in the graphic on this page. Because that legit feels the best. Could do that and get a rolling cart or drawer. (My stuff just ends up on a nightstand, often.)
posted by cotton dress sock at 4:30 PM on September 20, 2016

It's super-expensive, but I've been in crazy love with this thing ever since I first saw it.

Cheaper versions (not clad in aircraft aluminum) are available in various places. I often see them on Craigslist.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 5:09 PM on September 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

I live in about 600 sq feet so actual pieces of furniture in addition to what I already have are kind of out of the question.

I might not have been entirely clear but I would probably use this on top of my dining table. I want the surface so I don't have to worry about marking the wood of the table.
posted by srboisvert at 5:09 PM on September 20, 2016

When I used to do consulting work that had me working out of borrowed desks and hotels and stuff, I carried a leather blotter/desk pad in my suitcase and rolled all my supplies up in a hanging cosmetic bag. I don't know if that's closer to what you're looking for.
posted by Lyn Never at 5:31 PM on September 20, 2016 [5 favorites]

After your clarification: I don't know if they make them anymore, but they definitely used to make something like that for the military, from the Civil War through WWII This random gun forum thread has some pictures and discussion of them.

I've very occasionally seen them in decent condition at my local antique shop for between $200 and $300, and that seems to be about what they go for on ebay as well. I've always thought they looked wonderfully useful. Contemporary (custom and spendy) versions also exist.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 5:42 PM on September 20, 2016 [4 favorites]

I'd go with Lyn Never's desk blotter plus 1-2 Grid It Organizers.
posted by veery at 6:49 PM on September 20, 2016 [3 favorites]

They make these coffee tables, where the top pulls up and there is storage under. The desktop it makes is good sized, and then the laptop and everything, just goes in the underspace, until you are ready to work again. They even make arts and crafts looking tables like these. Here
posted by Oyéah at 7:45 PM on September 20, 2016

Maybe something like this Ikea gate leg table? You could add casters to make it easy to store away.
posted by Marky at 9:04 PM on September 20, 2016

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