I’ve been a remote worker for the last 7 years, and during that time my office setup has evolved. So when COVID hit, nothing changed for me in terms of my work environment. However, what has changed for me is my at-home desk setup. Over the past few months I’ve done a lot of YouTube desk setup video watching (yes those are a thing!), and also perusing Reddit for inspiration on for a modern and comfy home office.
This post will cover my current incarnation of my home office, and the last half of the post is a detailed list of the tech items and links to where to buy them (all non-affiliate) in the US.
Before I jump right into my 2022 desk setup, I want to set the stage. I wanted a clean, modern, and semi-minimalist setup. Impeccable cable management was at the top of my list, right after the design. I knew I wanted high quality sit-stand desk with a beefy solid walnut top, layered Philips Hue LED lighting, retain my dual 27″ 4K monitors, and also accomodate my two Apple MacBook Pro laptops.
Several months ago I also fell in love with the Elgato Streamdeck, and knew it would be the centerpiece of my home office automation. YouTube inspired many aspects of my setup, and I’ll cover those in the sections below.
I also had two huge Iceland photos that I shot a couple of years ago that I wanted to incorporate into the design. Plus some small prints of other photos I’ve shot on the shelves sprinkled around the office.
For the lighting I wanted to be able to change the ambiance at the touch of a button, via my Stream Deck or control it via Homekit/Shortcuts and my iPhone. I also wanted some automation via a motion sensor. I settled on Philips Hue color recessed lights, a floor lamp with a Hue color bulb, and a LED accent strip on the backside of my desk. These all connect into my Hubitat home automation hub, as well as Apple’s Homekit.
After significant LED strip research I liked the Philips Hue system, but their LED strips weren’t very dense in terms of LEDs and could lead to unsightly hotspots. So I built a custom LED light strip using Hue compatible parts from Sowilo DS. This resulted in a ‘neon’ type lighting effect with no hotspots, but is fully controllable via the Hue app, Hubitat, and Homekit. The total cost was more than a Hue strip, but the effect is vastly better.
Take note that for the best LED strip ambiance and LED longevity you should use aluminum diffusion channel. This helps dissipate the heat as well as give you that smooth neon light effect. Also, depending on the length of your LED strip you may need a more powerful LED driver power supply than the one in my product links below.
To enhance my desk task lighting I got the newly released BenQ ScreenBar Halo light. The light bar is powered via USB, and has a wireless control puck (not shown) that lets you adjust the brightness, color temperature, and front/rear lights. And wow, what a difference this makes! At first I was skeptical I needed a monitor task light, but now that I have the BenQ, I’m totally sold on it. Highly recommended!
To automate the BenQ Halo light, I got an Aeotec z-wave plus smart plug that ties directly into my Hubitat Elevation automation hub. The BenQ remembers the last power state, so I can turn the BenQ on/off via automations and my Stream Deck. Pretty slick!
Note: For the best color reproduction of RGB lighting and ambiance, use white walls in your space. Darker walls absorb the colors, and greatly limit the RGB effect. I went against that recommendation in my office, as I prefer the grey/white color pallet, and don’t need the full RGB ambiance. I mostly use warm/cool whites, which work well enough even with darker walls.
Over the past 18 months I’ve slowly tried out various audio components, and finally settled on my current end-game. This includes the well reviewed Hifiman HE1000se headphones, Topping D90se DAC and Topping A90 headphone amp. For headphone EQ I use the settings from Oratory1990 on Reddit combined with the FabFilter ProQ3 audio plugin for my Mac. The system sounds amazing, and will provide me many hours of listening pleasure for years to come.
To mount the DAC and Amp under my desk I had a custom shelf fabricated via Protocase.com. They have free CAD software you can use to design your widget, and have a wide selection of metals and finishes. Very quick turnaround as well. My Topping DAC/Amp bracket is 11.625″ W x 4.25″ H x 8″ D.
For my desktop accessories I wanted products that complimented my walnut and black theme. To charge my iPhone and iPods Pro I chose the Belkin 2-in-1 charger. It is one of the only third-party iPhone chargers that supports the full 15w Magsafe wireless charging standard. It also charges my AirProds Pro, even through the leather case.
For controlling my environment I have the Stream Deck XL. I have a full blog post here on my Stream Deck configuration. The configuration regularly changes, as I find new tasks to automate.
Finally, I have a suite of Grovemade products. This includes mouse pad, desk pad, pen, and notepaper. These are high quality accessories that really finish the look of my desk while remaining modern and clean.
MacBook Pro Accessories
A couple of months ago I replaced my personal Intel MacBook Pro with a new 14″ M1 Pro MacBook Pro. I also have an older Intel MacBook Pro that my company provides. I really like a dual monitor setup for both computers, so I leverage the built-in KVM in the BenQ monitors. This lets me switch monitor inputs via the BenQ control ‘puck’ that sits on my desk. With two taps I can switch both monitors to either MacBook.
My personal M1 Pro MacBook Pro has a Satechi Thunderbolt 4 dock (under the laptop), along with an OWC Thunderbolt to dual DisplayPort dongle. You can read all about those details in my blog post here. The dock powers my MacBook and provides several USB-A and Thunderbolt 4 ports. The corporate Intel MacBook Pro is powered by the monitor, via USB-C PD. For my personal Mac I have a locally attached Western Digital SSD for backups.
Early on in the pandemic I had a Logitech Brio 4K webcam, but frankly, the image quality was terrible and colors were way off. I swapped it out with a Lumina 4K webcam. Much improved!
Finally, I have the Logitech MX Keys for Mac and the Logitech MX Master 3 mouse. I use both of these in conjunction with the proprietary USB-A dongle, which is plugged into my monitor so that it’s switched between Macs. Battery life on both is really outstanding, and the Logi Options+ really lets you fully customize the keyboard and mouse. I’m very happy with this setup and it’s all color coordinated with the space gray Macs. My only complaint about Logitech is that their control software is still not Apple Silicon native. It runs fine under Rosetta, but come’on Logitech get with it!
Desk and Accessories
The centerpiece of my office is the Uplift Standing Desk v2 in solid walnut, with a “T” frame. The top is 1.75″ thick, is 72″ x 30″, and has a beautiful rich matte finish. For cable management I got the Humanscale NeatTech large cable basket. This is mounted underneath towards the rear of the desk and makes cable management a breeze. For even better cable management I also got the Tucker cable chain, which hides the power and ethernet cables coming from the desk and going to the wall.
The office chair is the “Think” model my Steelcase. It’s a fine chair, but I wouldn’t rave about it. Chairs are very personal, so I’d recommend watching lots of YouTube review videos and going to your nearest store to try a variety out to see what you like best. If there’s one update I might do down the road, it would be a better chair. I did upgrade the castors to ones by Enso for smoother rolling.
Finally, I got a glass chair mat from Vitrazza. I opted for the optically clear model. It’s super strong (rated at 1000 pounds), and very easy to roll your chair on. Much smoother than the more traditional heavy acrylic office chair mats.
As part of my 2022 office refresh I also updated the non-tech room furnishings. I first had the walls repainted with Sherwin Williams Peppercorn (SW 7674) paint, in satin. I really love the color, the subtle sheen, and the contrast with the white trim and walnut floors and desk. As mentioned in my lighting section, dark walls aren’t deal for RGB lights so consider white walls if you want to fully utilize RGB lighting in your space.
Next up I needed more storage, so I opted for three floating solid walnut shelves and a tall walnut bookcase. To round out the wood touches, I also got modern black and walnut filing cabinets.
Temple 70″ Floor Lamp
Sowilo DS BiFrost-168 Pro LED Strip
Sowilo DS Amplified Hue Light Strip Controller
Sowilo DS Dotless 16 Aluminum Channel
Mean Well HLG LED 120w LED Driver
120v AC Grounded Plug
Philips Hue White and Color A19 Bulb (Floor Lamp)
Philips Hue 6″ Recessed Downlight (White and Color)
Philips Hue Motion Sensor
Philips Hue Hub
RunLessWire Hue Wireless Wall Switch
BenQ ScreenBar Halo LED monitor light
Aeotec Smart Switch 7 (for BenQ light)
MacBook Pro Accessories:
MacBook Pro Laptop Stand
Satechi Thunderbolt 4 Dock
OWC Thunderbolt to Dual DisplayPort Adapter
Lumina 4K Webcam
BenQ PD2725U 27″ 4K Monitor
ErGear Dual Monitor Mounts
Western Digital P50 1TB SSD
Logitech MX Keys for Mac
Logitech MX Master 3 Mouse
Desk and Accessories:
Uplift Standing Desk V2 (72″ x 30″, T-frame, 1.75″ Solid Walnut)
Humanscale NeatTech Large cable basket
Tripp Lite 16 Outlet Surge Protector
Tucker Cable Chain for Standing Desks
Humanscale FM 300 Foot Rest
Steelcase Think Chair
70 Okina Mu Casters for Think Chair
Vitrazza Glass chair mat
As you can see, I put a lot of thought into my new office desk setup both in terms of design and functionality. I’m very happy with how it turned out, and really love my new space!