The Perfect Desk For Me?
April 24, 2007 9:12 AM   Subscribe

I need to find an inexpensive-ish desk with lots of storage, preferably utilizing the space above the desktop.

I need to move into a new apartment for grad school, and it's probably going to have substantially less square-footage than my current living space. I'd like to find a desk that lets me leverage all the space -above- my workspace. I haven't found an apartment yet so I don't have exact dimensions, but I'd like to start thinking about how I'm going to make this work.

I probably need 24"+ of vertical clearance above the desk for my monitor, but beyond that, shelves all the way to the ceiling please.

Other desirable design features:

-Security: I'd like to have at least one solid attachment point for a computer/monitor cable lock. If it has built-in locking cabinets, all the better. I need someplace secure to keep my camera and other small gear.

-Portability: Previous experience tells me I will move at least once during my time at school. I'd prefer something that I can tear down relatively easily to move. I'm not asking for a folding table, but the 300-lb solid wood monstrosity is out.

-Aesthetics: I'm partial to those brushed-metal-and-smoked-glass desks Staples sells -- I used a cheap glass-topped "L" desk in undergrad. I was happy with it overall, but but I want more storage space! This isn't super-critical, but I'd prefer a nice looking workspace.

Unfortunately, I doubt I'll be able to screw things into the walls. That's a real shame because I think my ideal storage solution would be my current desk plus cabinets and shelving over top. If anyone has any thoughts about safely and securely mounting cabinet units above a desk without damaging the wall, I'm all ears.

For the record, I have access to a well-stocked wood shop with limited metalworking capabilities and making portions homebrew is not entirely out of the question. However, the shop and I are currently on the east coast and I am moving to Tempe, AZ. Homebuilding bulky stuff, unless it knocks down real nicely, is probably out.
posted by Alterscape to Home & Garden (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
This may not fit your aesthetic, but one of the nicest desks I've ever seen was made out of black steel file cabinets and a used wooden door. Perhaps you could assemble such a desk (which would probably be quite sturdy) and then assemble some wide bookshelves on top of the desk? Afterwards, you could take out the bottom shelves, leaving space for your monitor/etc.

In fact, I'm doing this soon. File cabinets are usually very well-designed and sturdy, and not without their own industrial aesthetic. The large wooden door provides an amazing amount of desk space, which is amazingly useful as well. As a plus, many file cabinets have a lock built into them, or have capability for such locks...
posted by suedehead at 10:02 AM on April 24, 2007

Not sure that it will meet your needs, but I've been very happy with the Jerker. Adjustable desk height, ability to add more shelves on top.
posted by omnidrew at 10:04 AM on April 24, 2007

(missed this on preview) Seconding Suedehead on the file-cabinets-plus-door solution...that was my first desk growing up.
posted by omnidrew at 10:05 AM on April 24, 2007

I just posted this as an answer to another question, but I think it's even more appropriate for you, unless you're really attached to the dark/metal aesthetic: Skandia modular shelving with desks. It's solid wood; I've had a desk with a very heavy monitor on it for ~10 years. You'd probably want the type of desk that goes in place of a shelf between the shelf supports.

The supports come in two depths (12" deep shelves or 16" deep shelves) and several heights, up to 86" high (about 7 feet). You could easily set up a 7' high unit with a desktop and several shelves above.

I'm not sure whether they offer cabinet fronts, but since the components are all solid wood, it would be pretty easy to add cabinet fronts yourself.

The whole thing disassembles into components that end up being flat. Plus, the whole system is very re-configurable, so that if you move to a new place, you can change it around to fit - I've had my system as two shelving units in different places, but now it's one big shelving unit that covers almost an entire wall (I have a lot of it since I like it).

examples: Here's a smaller desk as part of a larger shelf unit, and here's large desktops.

The Container Store, which is the only retailer I know of that sells Skandia, has a location in Rockville, MD and a couple in Washington, DC. You can order online, too.
posted by amtho at 10:51 AM on April 24, 2007

I did something similar to Suedehead, but instead of a door I have a 6' section of laminated countertop. You can buy this at any large hardware store. It's got a smooth surface with a dark blue/grey faux-stone textured pattern.

It's also got a curving lip at the front that projects down slightly (which stops it from sliding back), and a vertical projection at the back that's about 6" high.

On top of the desk I built my own shelving unit from 10" wide boards. It's about 3' high. If it were any larger, I'd probably need to add vertical supports under the back of the countertop (which projects over the back of the file cabinets slightly).
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 11:15 AM on April 24, 2007

Response by poster: Re: Filing cabinets and desk, that's actually what I'm using as my desk right now, and it's what I've used (at my parents' house) for most of my adolescence. I'd been discounting it due to the difficulty of moving the heavy/bulky desktop + cabinets, but if I'm moving a mattress anyway, I suppose throwing the top on top of the mattress and buying new filing cabinets out in Arizona might be an attractive option, particularly if I can figure out a way to mount vertical storage on top.

Thank you for the Skandia suggestion, amtho -- I'm actually in Frederick, MD so I might give the Rockville Container Store a look.

In fact, I'm sort of wondering now if I could buy some of the smaller Skandia side-planes and mount them to my wooden-door-desk (maybe use a wood or metal tie screwed into the back of the Skandia side-planes and the back of the desk?) This has potential.

Thank you! :)
posted by Alterscape at 12:18 PM on April 24, 2007

My Office Depot Christopher Lowell Town collection desk is excellent. Two filing cabinet drawers, CPU storage, slide-out keyboard tray, room for writing, a laptop and a printer, plus upper cupboards and shelves galore.
posted by acoutu at 12:24 PM on April 24, 2007

So sorry. I somehow posted the Mefi page and didn't notice. Here's the desk. Scroll down.
posted by acoutu at 12:26 PM on April 24, 2007

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