Last Updated: 30 September 2023
I’ve been refining my home office and productivity desk setup for several years, and I think I’ve finally found the perfect work-from-home setup as a software engineer and YouTube creator. In this article, I’ll share all the essentials.
2023 Desk Setup & Home Office Tour
For the desk, I’m using Fully Jarvis electric standing desk legs in the Alloy finish. I chose the 3-stage low version so I can lower it more than usual since I sit low in my chair and prefer shorter desks when seated.
It has four customizable presets, allowing me to click a button and switch between the perfect sitting height, standing, or a comfortable height for making videos with my elbows resting on the desk.
I purchased this in 2021, and it’s held up well. For the past couple of years, I mounted the legs to a butcher block-style desk top that I finished myself. It had a nice industrial look that suited my old YouTube set, but I decided to change things up for reasons I’ll discuss later.
The current desk top is a 3D laminate-wrapped desk from iMovR in designer white. I opted for the thicker version and downsized from a 30x59" desk area to a 24x52", which is perfect for my needs. It takes up less space, making the room feel larger and allowing easier movement of my camera and lights.
I really like the desk’s finish, and the rounded edges are comfortable for the wrists. The designer white color is a bright, clean-looking white. My only gripe is that they don’t offer this desk top without the two grommet holes unless you choose one of their solid wood options.
I mounted an industrial-colored compact desk drawer from Uplift, where I keep a pen light, some progressive locks for practicing lock picking when bored, and a Flexi-Rex my son printed for me. The drawer is well-built and just the right size for this desk.
When I’m not standing, I’m relaxing in a Herman Miller Aeron chair with an Atlas Suspension headrest. Adobe bought me one for my cubicle at work, and I liked it enough to get a second-hand one for my home office. The mesh is breathable, and the ergonomics provide excellent support, essential since I ruptured my lowest disc a couple of years ago.
I’d love to try a Herman Miller Embody chair to compare it to the Aeron, but they’re quite pricey.
Back to the desk setup, my primary monitor is a 34" LG Ultrawide IPS monitor (34UM88-P). It offers plenty of space for multiple open windows or side-by-side files in my code editor.
It’s been excellent, with the only downside being screen sharing on Microsoft Teams meetings, as I have to share specific windows or the display appears tiny for everyone else.
The monitor is held up by a sturdy Loctek monitor arm. It supports the monitor well, but the cable cover on the bottom falls off easily.
The monitor and several SSD drives for video editing are connected to a Caldigit TS3 Plus dock mounted on the back of the desk, along with all the cables to keep things tidy. I can run a single USB-C cable to my MacBook Pro.
My personal MacBook is a 2021 14" M1 Pro with 32GB RAM and a terabyte of storage, which has been terrific for my personal projects and video editing.
My main work laptop is a 15" Intel MacBook Pro that is several years old, but Adobe recently sent me a new 16" MacBook Pro. I just have to finish setting it up.
My keyboard is a Logitech MX Keys Mini for Mac that I’ve owned since its release. I’m a fan of the Apple Magic Keyboard, but the Logitech allows me to easily switch between devices and is slightly softer on the fingers.
My go-to mouse is the Apple Magic Mouse. I wanted to like the MX Master, but the scrolling isn’t great compared to a Magic Mouse on a Mac. The ergonomics don’t bother me because I don’t rest my hand on it.
A desk isn’t complete without some finishing touches. Fortunately, the stars aligned just right, and Grovemade reached out to me for a collaboration as I was finishing my office remodel and looking for a desk mat replacement.
They kindly let me choose several items that interested me. I went with a light gray wool desk mat that adds a premium look and breaks up the white desk surface. It took me a couple of days to get used to the feel of wool on my hands, but I hardly notice it now.
The mat matches the attractive maple MacBook dock, also lined with the same color wool. The dock is sturdy and helps give my desk a minimalistic feel.
I love working on my MacBook, but when it comes to taking notes, I’m a sucker for a pen and notebook. It helps me connect with my deepest thoughts and tap into my creativity. The best thoughts should be saved in something worth keeping.
This leather notebook from Grovemade is excellent because it’s easy to remove pages without leaving torn paper bits everywhere, and I can even reorder pages to keep my most important thoughts together.
Complementing the leather notebook is a finely crafted black metal pen—probably the nicest-looking pen I’ve ever owned. It writes well, and it’s easy to replace the ink cartridge.
In addition to my main desk, I also have a white Herman Miller Everywhere desk, perfect for shooting videos, taking top-down photos for thumbnails, and easily moving around when I want to work from my laptop and change scenery.
When not in use, it fits in my closet to keep my main room open and airy.
This maple laptop stand is also from Grovemade. I chose it for two reasons: I can use it as a laptop stand on the other table, and I wanted something to hold my iPad Pro when drawing or editing photos.
Under the stand is another desk mat from Grovemade. I liked the items they provided, so I personally purchased this light blue Grovemade matte pad to try out. It has a nice texture and is backed with cork. It’s not reflective, which is great for videos, and the color goes perfectly with my serene office vibe.
I liked that one enough to purchase two more large ones. I plan to use those as backgrounds for top-down photos and may give one to my wife.
I’ll leave links to the Grovemade products in the description if you’re in the market for some premium desk accessories.
Before revealing my newly remodeled work-from-home office, I want to share the important reasons behind all these changes. If you’ve watched my previous videos, you’ve seen my impressive gold rush-themed wall.
I have to admit it was an amazing-looking man cave. I poured my heart into building it, and the displayed items represented my experiences and interests. However, I discovered something important about myself when Adobe had us return to the office a couple of times a week.
The Adobe building I work in is airy, with white desks and lighter colors. Despite my anxiety about returning to the office, the visual aesthetic was quite peaceful. I was unaware of how much the darker colors of my previous office space with gray walls affected my overall mood and well-being.
I may delve into that topic in another video, but the short version is that I created a mood board of images that evoked a peaceful feeling, and I started changing my home office to create a more relaxed vibe.
Initially, I planned to keep part of the gold rush wall, but after enjoying the positive effects of the redecorated room, I replaced the gold rush wall with acoustic panels hidden behind light-colored curtains. This change helped compensate for the sound absorption I lost during the remodel.
The new space is much less cluttered and feels very open. Positioning my desk to face into the room helps a lot. If I weren’t making videos, things would be even more minimal, but I had to get creative. Inside the baskets, corner shelf, and closet shelves are sound-absorbing materials.
Even these decorative wall panels were altered to hide acoustic insulation. The overall sound of the room when recording isn’t as good as it was, but the trade-off is worth it since I spend so much time in this room.
I also simplified my recording setup, sold off all the camera switchers, and opted for a simple rolling light stand setup that can easily move around the room.
When I need to recuperate, I now have a nice place to sit back, read, or think. Perhaps it’s a little too good because my wife would like the rest of the house to look like this.
When creating a workspace, don’t underestimate the effect of room aesthetics and color on your mental well-being. I wish I had learned that sooner. If you want to see my previous setup, you can check out this video.
2022 Desk Setup & Home Office Tour
Today, I thought I’d do something unique by inviting you on a tour of my multifunctional home office, which doubles as my YouTube studio and personal sanctuary. This is where I spend the majority of my time, both as a software engineer and as the creator of these YouTube videos.
If you’ve seen my earlier videos from 2021, you’re aware of how drastically things have evolved. Previously, my recording desk was adorned with numerous decorations, the lighting was different, and my workstation was situated against that wall.
Although I still incorporate some of those clips in my current videos, I’ve dedicated the last few months to refining my programming and YouTube studio workflows. Consequently, everything has been consolidated onto a single desk.
If you’re new to software development, understand that most of this equipment isn’t essential for becoming a successful programmer. This setup is the culmination of several years of hard work. I’m fortunate to be in a position where I can focus on work productivity while cultivating an atmosphere that promotes emotional well-being and fuels my creativity.
None of my videos are sponsored, and I’ve purchased all of this equipment myself, except for the MacBook Pro provided by Adobe for work purposes. So, without further ado, let’s begin.
At the core of my setup are two MacBook Pros and a Mac Mini. The 15-inch Intel MacBook Pro on the left is used exclusively for my software development work at Adobe. I prefer maintaining a clear distinction between my professional and personal devices.
On the right is my personal 14-inch M1 MacBook Pro, equipped with 32GB of RAM and 1TB of storage. While this setup may be excessive for some, it’s incredibly convenient and enhances my video-editing experience. It reintroduces the SD card reader and includes a built-in HDMI port, as well as multiple USB-C ports, enabling me to connect multiple monitors.
Before the M1 MacBooks, I edited videos on a sleek, custom-built PC that I had specifically designed. However, it occupied a significant amount of space, and I disliked switching between Windows and macOS, so I decided to part with it.
The Mac Mini was previously dedicated to managing cryptocurrency transactions, but as I shift my investments back to stocks, I likely won’t need it for much longer.
My MacBook Pro connects to a CalDigit hub, granting me easy access to numerous external SSD drives where I store B-roll footage and video backups. It also enables me to connect to Cat6 for faster uploads and to my primary monitor.
My go-to monitor is a 34-inch LG UltraWide IPS Monitor. While I used a 40-inch 4K TV for a while, I realized I rarely utilized the top and bottom portions of the screen. This widescreen monitor offers ample space for video editing and allows me to have two coding windows and a browser open simultaneously. I typically keep my email, Slack, and Chrome DevTools open on my laptop screen. This setup enables me to work comfortably without straining my neck.
The monitor is mounted on a black industrial pipe stand I constructed myself. I removed the black coating with acetone and sealed it with an acrylic clear coat for a rustic vibe that complements the other tables I built for my studio.
Cable management… Please don’t judge my affinity for organized chaos.
The desk surface consists of two unfinished 61" x 29" IKEA Gerton solid beechwood table tops, which I sanded and finished with an Osmo Polyx smoke finish. I cut one down to create the desk stand and utilized the leftovers to construct these other tables.
The desk is mounted on a Fully Jarvis standing desk with alloy legs, which harmonize with the studio’s steel pipe aesthetic. Does any of this enhance my productivity? Not really. I’m not certain why everyone enjoys discussing their productivity-enhancing desks. The secret to productivity lies in planning effectively and typing efficiently. Ultimately, a desk is just a desk.
In addition to their exceptional sound quality, these Master & Dynamic MH40 headphones offer a charming vintage aesthetic. However, I primarily use them for video editing and recording. I’ve tried listening to music while coding, but I find it too distracting.
Although I appreciate the Apple Magic Keyboard, having three on my desk became tiresome, so I opted for an MX Keys Mini instead. I still juggle multiple Magic Mice because their smooth side-scrolling functionality is hard to beat.
I’ve replaced my other desk with two comfortable leather chairs and an antique ship’s wheel that evokes memories of my days on the water and childhood dreams of discovering a lost treasure ship. Concealed below is a glass float from an instrument pod that was sent to the depths of the Mariana Trench for underwater research.
I enjoy landscape painting, but finding the time and space for it can be challenging.
This wall, which may not be the typical backdrop for a software engineer’s YouTube studio, represents my past, present, and future aspirations. It features small symbols of adventures and interests.
I learned a valuable life lesson when my first bonsai tree died. My neighbor and mentor, who had spent weeks helping me prepare and transplant the bonsai, advised me not to dwell on the failure. Instead, I should learn from it and move on.
Many of these items are rooted in the American Gold Rush era. The history is captivating, and I enjoy gold panning and metal detecting as hobbies. I’ve always wanted to find a massive gold nugget. The object on display is actually a spray-painted copper nugget, serving as a reminder of the potential treasures that await discovery.
I designed and built this wooden sign from leftover materials when I aspired to become a woodcarver. I suppose you could say I’m a multipotentialite with a plethora of interests.
No, I’m not a hunter, though I do enjoy photographing wildlife. This mythosaur skull from Disneyland’s Galaxy’s Edge represents the planet Mandalore. Indeed, I’m a huge Star Wars fan. My son crafted this pendant for me, and my wife made these larger ones.
I illuminate the background with two Nanlite Pavotubes, and all of these accent lights are Aputure MC RGB lights that I can control via an app.
For key lights, I use two Aputure 120d Mark II lights with large softboxes—one for each camera setup.
I’ve experimented with numerous shotgun and hypercardioid microphones, but I eventually settled on the Shure SM7B, along with acoustic treatment to minimize room noise and echoes. The SM7B feeds into a MixPre-3 Mark II, which boasts exceptionally clean preamps. The audio then goes into a Sony A7SIII camera with a 16-35mm f4 lens. The video feed is sent to an ATEM Mini Extreme ISO, allowing me to switch between camera angles and control what appears on the teleprompter.
The secondary camera is also an A7SIII, equipped with a 16-35mm f2.8 lens. I chose A7SIII cameras for their superior low-light performance. This camera doubles as a backup and is used for shooting B-roll footage along with my other favorite lens, the Sony 24mm f1.4 G Master.
Sometimes, I rely on bullet-point outlines for videos, while other times, it’s helpful to write a script when I need to cover specific details. In some ways, using a teleprompter makes it easier because I can quickly glance at notes without looking away. However, scripting can be challenging, as I must read while attempting to appear natural and unrehearsed.
I split the HDMI signal from my laptop to this monitor, so anything displayed on this monitor will also appear on the teleprompter. This means that if I’m participating in a video meeting, I can use this camera as a webcam and move the meeting app onto the teleprompter. This allows me to maintain eye contact with the person I’m speaking to, creating a more engaging experience for both parties.
The teleprompter is also helpful for previewing my expressions and poses when creating thumbnails. All of this is routed into the ATEM Mini Pro, where I add a touch of audio equalization and save the recording to an SSD drive. It’s taken quite some time to figure this all out, and I’ve bought and sold a considerable amount of gear along the way. However, this setup now streamlines the recording and editing processes, making them far more efficient—an essential aspect of my life, as I have a wife and five children who also require my attention.