Work from Home - Ergonomic desk/chair, Small Space edition
April 6, 2021 10:38 AM   Subscribe

Help me find an ergonomic work from home desk/chair for a small space that isn't ugly.

I'm looking for a better ergonomic work from home setup, which is currently my kitchen table and chair. Right now, the kitchen table is too tall and hits at exactly the wrong point on my wrist and my chair is very uncomfortable on my back.

I'm five foot tall and my workspace by default is going to be in the kitchen. I use a laptop with a wireless keyboard and mouse, and need some writing space but not a ton of storage.

The functional items I find are just plain ugly, and the cute ones lack important things I need. In a perfect world, I could have an attractive fold up desk (or at least something portable to put away at night) with either a keyboard tray, or a raised shelf for a monitor, room for a mouse and writing space.

Can you send me links to items that are both cute, functional and work in a small space? Thank you!
posted by Space Kitty to Shopping (13 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
What's your price range?

The Hag Capisco is very cute/stylish. It also works best if you're looking for a chair that will be most comfortable if you sit up ergonomically rather than slouching or resting against the back. If your back isn't strong, it might be hard to sit on for long stretches.

With any chair, if you're not tall enough to have your feet on the floor when you sit and still have the keyboard and monitor at ergonomically sound angles, consider putting using some kind of footrest that will let you sit comfortably on a taller seat.

Are you typing on a laptop keyboard, or is your monitor separate from the keyboard such that you can set it at the right height?
posted by trig at 11:04 AM on April 6

There are clamp-on keyboard trays. I use one. But it's black, and probably doesn't look too good on the kitchen table.

I've seen "Origami desks", that folds up nicely, but they are not cheap. I have one of their multi-tier racks and they are VERY nice. They even make a sit/stand version now (manual) that still folds.

Another alternative is for you to get a proper office chair, and use a chair mount keyboard/mouse tray. They are expensive, but you're no longer limited to the kitchen table (except to prop up the laptop for display)

Folding table are not suitable for monitor arms and such, of course. But you can buy smaller cheaper desks. I think I got one off Amazon for like $50-60, put it together in 30 minutes. I run a dual monitor setup now and intend to upgrade to triple very soon.
posted by kschang at 11:05 AM on April 6 [1 favorite]

Also: do you need a smaller footprint than you'd get with the wheeled base on most office chairs?
posted by trig at 11:06 AM on April 6

Response by poster: I was hoping to keep it under $500 for both pieces, but we'll see. I'd prefer a smaller footprint than most wheeled base chairs, but honestly, I have to prioritize posture at this point. I like the smaller version of the origami desk but wish it had a place to put my laptop to raise it above my wireless keyboard/mouse.

I hadn't considered a chair mount, but if I find a good enough chair that could be an option. Please keep your suggestions coming!
posted by Space Kitty at 11:39 AM on April 6

I bought the Herman Miller Sayl Chair, the back makes it feel like it isn't taking up as much space and I found it to be super cute.

You can customize colors, if you can't get exactly the color combo you want on the site if you just chat them they will set up a custom listing for you. Example, I have it in all white with a red crepe seat.

I find it WAAAY more comfortable then the Herman Miller Aeron chair I have in the office.
posted by magnetsphere at 11:43 AM on April 6 [2 favorites]

Husky makes some elegant multifunctional workbenches that are within your price range and go from sit to stand easily. A smaller one could double as a kitchen table or be wheeled into the corner (or another room) when you're done for the day or a few hours, and they're much easier on the eyes than standard office-ish products.
posted by knucklebones at 11:49 AM on April 6 [1 favorite]

Ikea also has some fold-away desks that might be worth looking at, like this IVAR and this deeply ugly BJURSTA folding desk. If you have available wall space to mount a desk like the BJURSTA, I might find (or build) an alternative in the same style that's a little sturdier and more elegant.
posted by knucklebones at 11:53 AM on April 6

What about putting together an Ikea table top with Krille legs on rollers at desk level that could be rolled under kitchen table? The table tops come in several sizes and widths.

There are all kinds of articles about converting small closets, pantries, bedside tables to desks.
posted by Elsie at 11:55 AM on April 6

Perhaps this list of secretary desks is useful?
posted by fedward at 12:35 PM on April 6 [1 favorite]

I currently have the small version of this desk, which is ~30" wide and surprisingly attractive. I was wary of glass (I am clumsy!) but it's sturdy and looks good. It requires a little time to put together, and does not fold/collapse. The keyboard tray is also pretty shallow, so accommodates low-profile keyboards but not taller ergonomic ones. The top surface of the desk has enough space for a monitor and keyboard though.

I upgraded from this simple, sturdy, innocuous folding table. It requires zero tools to set up and minimal strength to fold/unfold. (It doesn't look like you're in the Bay Area, but if you were, I'd happily offer you this desk for free.)

Many people I know who also live in small apartments like this Fully adjustable desk, which comes in a variety of sizes and colors. It does not fold/collapse.
posted by rhiannonstone at 2:40 PM on April 6

>> a place to put my laptop to raise it above my wireless keyboard/mouse.

Please keep in mind that a decent laptop stand for a table is $20-30, and fully angle and height adjustable.

Another possibility is go without the kitchen table and use a laptop table / rolling table, which is actually quite affordable, and the height is adjustable.

If you don't like the center post style, you can get "overbed table" (you often see this in hospitals) for a little more.
posted by kschang at 11:17 PM on April 6

One last option: you can get a "monitor arm" and get a "laptop adapter" so it holds up a laptop instead of a monitor, if you need to adjust the height a lot. They often come in a kit like this: which then clamps to the desk of your choice.
posted by kschang at 11:26 PM on April 6

I am 5'2 and recently bought the workbench knucklebones links. It is the first time since I was 12 that I've had a desk that's the appropriate height for me, and I love it. (But after that, make sure whatever chair you want goes as low as you want it to... some don't.)

If it's not possible to replace your current table with that, consider options that will allow you to set them lower than the standard. I'd probably go for a wall-mounted fold-down desk myself, in that situation.
posted by metasarah at 6:40 AM on April 7 [1 favorite]

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