Looking for the perfect desk!
September 17, 2018 11:38 PM   Subscribe

I'm trying to find a desk for home that has some specific criteria. I'm not sure where to shop or how to find what I'm looking for - snowflake details inside.

Do you have a home office desk that you love? My ideal desk:

- The top needs to be at least ~30 inches front-to-back.
- Sturdy. It doesn't shake or wobble - it's sitting on carpet but if I can put something under the legs that would keep it steady that would be fine.
- No need for a keyboard tray - I only use laptops.
- No need for standing desk capabilities.
- I want to put two large monitors side-by-side. Using monitor risers is fine - I don't need a built-in shelf.
- A cable-management channel or openings would be great.
- Under-desk space for the cable modem and external drives and charging a billion devices a day.
- It'll probably be in the corner of my living room in front of two large windows so I don't want it to be tall.
- The room has 8-foot-high oak paneling and I'm not sure what will look good with that. Glass? Modern? Antique? Mission?
- Storage - cabinet or drawers but shelves would be OK too.
- Since coding/development is my livelihood I want to get something I can use for several hours a day comfortably.
- Not cheap low-quality particleboard but I'm not going overboard.
- Budget is about $500 but I rather spend less than that.
posted by bendy to Home & Garden (8 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
This is my current setup and I'm cramped and have to constantly move stuff around.
posted by bendy at 11:42 PM on September 17, 2018

A dining table is deeper than a standard desk. Just find one that is sturdy and fits with your look. My desk right now is a metal and glass dining table, I think from IKEA. I got it off Craigslist for $20. It’s sturdy. And has plenty of depth for my large monitor.
posted by amanda at 12:18 AM on September 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

The IKEA Fredde might be almost what you want. It's easily wide enough for two monitors, and while it has a slightly raised shelf for them, that shelf isn't integral to the structure and can be left off. It's 29" deep, which isn't quite thirty, but felt close enough to mention. It's also about 52" wide, so you've got a lot of room. It has cable-management openings, and there are shelves under the desk.

IKEA's site shows it with light-blocking side panels, but those, like the riser, aren't actually structural, and can be left off--I didn't like how isolated they made me feel, so they're in my closet gathering dust.

The biggest issue for you with this desk is that there's a cutout on the front. It's maybe 5" deep and 20" across at its widest (measurements approximate; my tape measure is under a sleeping cat). If you didn't use the riser shelf, I don't think that you'd have any problem using a laptop and monitor(s). I have the riser shelf installed and a 17" laptop, which is a little awkward sometimes, but not so awkward that I've felt inspired to do anything like remove the riser. (Which, to be clear, is trivial.) There are a couple people (ex) who've patched the cutout so that the top of the desk is a solid piece--might be more work than you're interested in taking on, but for a $250 desk, it might be worth it.
posted by mishafletch at 1:58 AM on September 18, 2018

I recently had to buy a bunch of new furniture for my house, including a new desk, and I had similar requirements to you - sturdy, deeper than the average desk (I wanted at least 80-85cm), not particleboard, comfortable to sit at, doesn't look like a cheap office setup. Unable to find anything deep enough in desks except ugly-as-sin conference-room stuff, I ended up going with a dining table (more specifically the Ikea Stornäs), and I'm very happy with my choice.

Looking at your list of requirements, however, a dining table would be missing some of the things you want, since it obviously doesn't come with a cable hole, under-desk cable management, or storage space. For storage, I ended up buying a separate drawer unit on castors that's as tall as the table, to keep on the side of it (which also conveniently increases my work surface), but if you haven't got the space for that, you might instead get some kind of short drawer unit and tuck it under the table to one side. I would guess the average dining table has about 60-70cm clearance underneath depending on how it's built. For cable management, I would bet you anything that there's cable management systems sold separately that you would stick to the underside of a table.

A cheaper approach to getting the table, leaving you extra budget for the storage and cable management, might be to buy a tabletop of the exact dimensions you want and four legs, and put the thing together yourself. You could even do legs on one side and a set of drawers on the other.
posted by sailoreagle at 3:48 AM on September 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

I went to ikea and they have a build-your-own desk station that was REALLY NICE. you can customize the top, the legs, you can do a drawer under one side. We ended up with a great desk and it was only like $200.
posted by bbqturtle at 6:25 AM on September 18, 2018

I was amazed at how much room it freed up to use an inexpensive (less than $30) dual monitor stand

If you're a d.i.y. type, this Fancy X Desk plan from Ana White was relatively easy to build - although it cost me a closer to $100 than $55 - I bought a 30" deep prefab tabletop at Lowes, we whitewashed the legs and put a simple briwax mahogany stain on the top.
posted by ElGuapo at 9:57 AM on September 18, 2018

I'm not certain whether this fits your needs, but just in case it helps: I'm very happy with my IKEA home office desk composed of Micke corner workstation (the backdrop part can be installed or not), desk (comes with cabinet hardware but it also has holes for support pins to install shelves for modem/router, etc.), and drawer unit. Both the corner piece (shelf and desk surface) and desk have cable-management holes. Total for all 3 pieces came to $300.

I have a laptop and two side-by-side 20" monitors on the corner piece, and the other two pieces provide lots of desktop space for everything else. The side pieces are 20" deep, the depth of the corner piece from the back corner to the center of the curved part is 36". Total width of the side with the desk is 82", the side with the drawer unit is 54" (includes the width of the corner unit). Even though it's IKEA it's quite solid and has already survived 2 moves (with some simple minor disassembly, as otherwise the corner piece won't fit through a standard doorway).
posted by Greg_Ace at 12:53 PM on September 18, 2018

mishafletch - the Fredde was the closest thing I found in my googling to what I'm looking for. I was concerned about the depth of the cutout in the front but I'm very glad to hear that there are options that could make it work.

My current setup is an IKEA tabletop with legs and my monitor on a stack of hardback books and the thing just wobbles constantly. It drives me nuts.

I'm trying to avoid actually going to IKEA so I'll probably have the Fredde delivered - that combined with the monitor holder ElGuapo mentioned would tick most of my boxes.

Thanks to everyone for your help and suggestions.
posted by bendy at 6:56 PM on September 18, 2018

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