Cheap, sturdy, modular desks, can it be done?
June 28, 2008 11:35 PM   Subscribe

Looking for a modular, reconfigurable desk--that will incorporate a miniature home theater, among other things. Your help needed.

(In a hurry? Just read the bold bits.)
Okay, so I spend most of my (free) time and money on my home computer. Perhaps too much. Because of this, I really need to restructure my desk space. I have a ton of equipment, and a reasonable amount of space to work with; (okay, let's just say all my previous bedrooms turned into a giant desk with a bed in the corner) but at this stage of my life I move around a lot. So a monolithic desk would be extremely inconvenient (and not configurable, stackable, or movable, either.)

Basically I need a home for a midsize LCD monitor, keyboard, fullsize tower, Harman Kardon audio receiver, a center speaker, largish uninterruptible power supply, large mousepad, large ergo keyboard, and a small steel mesh desk organizer. And the space immediately surrounding the space will have floorstanding surround speakers, as well as other audio equipment and what have you. The catch is, everything shelving-wise needs to be modular, very stable, and open front/back for airflow /wiring. Sort of a combination desk and audio component rack, with modular shelving and stackables. This setup would be easy if i could just buy a huge one or two piece desk with overkill shelving, but that's not an option. I'm almost certain to be going with multiple pieces, a desk plus some sort of rack or shelving. Cube shelves look nice, but most seem either extremely shallow or closed in back (i.e., useless.) And let's not forget, all this stuff is rather heavy so I can't use flimsy stuff.

And, err, I don't have a ton of money. I can't really spend more than $~150-200 at a time, although this will be modular so that's not too much of a limitation. But seriously, why do audio racks cost so much for such simple furniture?! Anyone have advice, suggestions, etc? Please no glass desks/shelving, i don't trust them as far as I can throw them. Which isn't far. Also, due to mobility concerns, wall-mounting not feasible.

Helpful links I've found so far:

Google: Cube Shelving
LOVE it but can't afford it
Perfect style, wrong dimensions/format
Virtually perfect but insanely expensive
posted by Phyltre to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I'm not sure you're going to be satisfied within your budget. I've recently gone through the same thing and finding modular stuff that wasn't complete crap (wobbly, ugly, etc) took a lot of work. I ended up using ellfa freestanding shelves and I've been really happy with it. They look great, are sturdy, easy to expand and reconfigure. However just to get started with a desk surface and a single drawer was something north of $250.

If you're really in the $100 budget area, you'll probably have to train yourself to like the lumber and milk creates look. Or check the trift stores and see if you can find some decent filing cabinets to use as a base and cut some plywood for desktop and shelves.
posted by Ookseer at 1:35 AM on June 29, 2008

Try for some good ideas on building your own desk for cheap.
posted by platinum at 3:26 AM on June 29, 2008

I've got one each of these, they're much better than the price tag suggests:

Z-Line Gemini L-Desk, $80
Z-Line Gemini Bookshelf, $90
Z-Line Gemini Printer Stand/File Drawer, $70

All from Staples. They're flatpack, not too big, box-wise (although you can probably get free delivery, depending on where you are). Note that the desk only assembles in one direction (i.e. sitting at main section, short leg must go to the left, you can't put it on the right).
posted by Nice Guy Mike at 8:49 AM on June 29, 2008

Response by poster: Err, Mike, your last Gemini link comes back to this page. But thanks for the great suggestions!
posted by Phyltre at 8:59 AM on June 29, 2008

Oops. Sorry, not sure how that happened.

If you look further down the page of the first link, the printer stand should be on there.
posted by Nice Guy Mike at 9:17 AM on June 29, 2008

Take a look at the IKEA Jerker desk. It's no longer in production but can be found used (try craigslist).
posted by jamaro at 10:46 AM on June 29, 2008

Don't completely rule out something custom made. If you search around for someone with woodworking skills (especially us old dudes) they can have ideas you might never think of for the efficient use of materials and space that could make you something that might cost a bit more than your budget, but actually deliver value never concieved of from the habits of mass consumption, factory made, cookie cutter crap furniture. Any resemblance to preaching is strictly involuntary!!
posted by Redhush at 1:29 PM on June 29, 2008

Seconding the Jerker desk if you can find one. If you can't try the IKEA Frederick desk.
posted by Susurration at 6:34 PM on June 29, 2008

There is a Jerker desk on eBay just now.
posted by Susurration at 6:38 PM on June 29, 2008

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