Pushcarts: A Small Space WFH Desk Solution

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Small Space Living: Tip #17: Find Versatility in Carts

I am starting to like how my work-from-home space is coming together. It’s looking so good that I can almost call it official. For a year I’ve just been a migratory worker, finding space on the dining table, on the couch, in a corner of our living room, and occasionally, escaping on the tiny balcony. It’s nice to reclaim a dedicated work-from-home space and decorate it more permanently, the way I have always wanted.

I have decided to keep my Herman Miller Aeron Chair (affiliate link) because it is such a classic and have recently upgraded my desk to String Furniture’s Work Desk (affiliate link) in Beige/White. I wrote about my excitable desk upgrade here. However, in making the transition, I did lose drawer space, exchanging it for less clutter and a slimmer desk profile. I debated about buying a minimalist filing cabinet (this one from Branch furniture was my favorite) but decided against it when my frugal side won over my need to be esthetically pleasing.

Instead, I opted for a pushcart from Ikea that was equally pleasing to me, extremely affordable ($28!), and insanely more versatile. Hence, the tip for this post. To be fair, I am partial to pushcarts, having worked as a librarian at USC while going to dental school. While my classmates were studying or relaxing at home, I spent evenings after school in the dark aisles of my favorite, Harry-Potter-esque library on campus, organizing books and tidying shelves. I was left to my own, listening to podcasts whilst I pushed my push cart around. Some nights, the library would be so deserted that I would scare myself in the silence, especially when the vents turned on or the lights of the old building flickered. To say that pushcarts lend a bit of nostalgia would be an understatement for this bookworm, who also spent 200+ volunteer hours at the local library in high-school.

The idea of using a shopping cart in lieu of a filing cabinet for a WFH space actually first came to me when I was perusing Yamazaki Home’s website. Yamazaki Home is my favorite source for all minimalist household products. They mix a Japanese esthetic with modern minimalism and use materials such as ceramic, wood, and metals. I saw this rolling kitchen island cart (affiliate link) and the rest was history! They actually have a number of cart options, all of which can be viewable here (affiliate link).

The reason why the cart was a great solution for me was because of our tiny space. There is only approximately 14 inches between the wall and the desk where I needed to squeeze a filing cabinet through. The Nissafors cart from Ikea is less than a foot wide. It has three levels, with the bottom shelf being deeper. I use an organizer that I talked about in this post to keep my camera and unsightly chargers and cords hidden on the deeper shelf. I use the top shelf to hold a candle, a jug of water, a water glass, my phone, plus other things that I am currently using for that workday. The middle shelf holds paperwork, my planner, my TBC Eyewear Blue Light blockers, and other things that I may not be using for the day but I would like to use in the near future.

I love the wheels on the cart, which took me only fifteen minutes to assemble. I sometimes push the cart to the living room when I want to collect other desk supplies that are hidden in our media console. I sometimes push the cart to the kitchen, when I want to refill my jug of water, or pick up a cup of tea or coffee. When working at my desk, I can slide the cart out slightly so that it is right next to me, like an open drawer. At the end of the day, I tuck the cart back into the nook by the wall.

Apart from being a comrade for my work station, the Nissafors cart can double as a planter stand. I can place multiple plants on its three shelves and trolley them over to the sunniest of windows. If a plant is wanting of sunlight, this cart can easily bring them there for the afternoon, and then bring them home to their resting places in the evening.

The cart also doubles as a serving tray for gloomy weekend mornings at home, when scones and coffee need to be transported to the bed or by the couch. And on days when we host dinners at home, the cart can double as a bar cart, holding bottles of wine on the bottom shelf, stocking cans on the middle tier, and serving cocktails up top. I told you this girl has a penchant for pushcarts.

Anywho, chalk this post up to a simple desk solution for small spaces. Or an absolute nerd talking up storage carts. Whatever the case may be, this is a way for me to be more frugal, minimalist, and creative in making my WFH space a bit more me. Take it or leave it, but please do leave your own solutions to small spaces, in case other readers need ideas.

Play Pretend: A Morning At Your Work Desk

After writing about my new String work desk yesterday, I started to daydream about ideal mornings at my new ”office space”. When I first quit dentistry, I was very unhappy with where I was working. I spent an entire month brainstorming why things did not work out. I read books on how to organize your work space, how to make your work line up with your dharma, how to create a good work-life-balance, and how to create an environment that increases the chance of happiness at work. Books I read included Joy at Work by Marie Kondo, The Kinfolk Entrepreneur, and Think Like a Monk by Jay Shetty. I learned that my previous job did not align with my dharma. The environment I was placed in was not conducive to my personality.

I spent days writing lists of what items I imagined would be in my ideal workspace. Some of my requirements included a carafe of water, a beautiful everyday coffee mug, a minimalist laptop, a few plants, a scent diffuser or candle and a beautiful pen. I also jotted down activities I would like to do each morning. I thought about how items could help me to achieve things I wanted to do.

For example, a beautiful carafe of water be a great reminder to drink 8 glasses of water each day. A beautiful coffee mug will make fueling my energy more enjoyable or meaningful. A minimalist laptop will allow me to work on blog posts without distractions. A big work desk will help facilitate multiple tasks. A few plants will keep me joyful and breathing quality air. Meanwhile, a scent diffuser could help emit aromas that create a calm atmosphere. Lastly, a beautiful pen would inspire me to plan wonderfully productive days.

On the flipside, I also wrote down items I did not want in my space. I did not want a clock anywhere in my office, because I believe that creative work should not have a time frame. I also find the ticking sound distracting and stressful. Plus I would be ever-conscious of my progress, or lack-there-of.

I did not want a lot of drawers as I knew I have the habit of stock-piling paper. I did not want an insane number of pens (do you know I use one at a time and own no more than three?), as I get frustrated by clutter. And I did not want to face the inside of my home, because it would cause me to get up from my desk and do chores and errands. This is why my desk used to face the dark corner of the living room, and now faces out onto the street.

This isn’t to say that our work depends solely on the stuff we own, but it does make a difference. I find that having the right items really make or break my productivity level. Also, surrounding myself with special items make work more enjoyable. So in today’s play pretend post, I imagine all the things that I would love to eventually surround myself with in my future work space.

A Morning At My Work Desk

  1. A water carafe (affiliate link) as a reminder to drink plenty of water.
  2. A daily coffee mug that’s beautiful to use.
  3. A thick throw (affiliate link) for colder mornings.
  4. An accessory tray (affiliate link) that works as a pen holder as well as a coaster.
  5. A candleholder to write by firelight.
  6. A diffuser (affiliate link) to create a calm environment.
  7. A narrow filing cabinet to organize paperwork by.
  8. A plant baby for reviving the space.
  9. A desk lamp (affiliate link) that’s adjustable but doesn’t get in the way of work.
  10. A laptop dock (affiliate link) when it’s time to clock out.

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure to learn more.

My Minimal Work From Home Desk

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure to learn more.

Small Space Living: Tip #16: Choose a Minimal Work-From-Home Desk

Creating my ideal from-home workspace has been a long and arduous process. My intentional habits tend to get in the way of progress as I am quite particular in the function, overall look, and general meaning behind each item I introduce into our home. Couple that with my tendency to talk my way out of purchasing things, and it becomes easy to see how I get in the way of myself. It’s all migraine-inducing, but I finally feel like we are getting somewhere.

To say that we haven’t quite come to grips with our final WFH environments after a year-and-a-half into this WFH state does sound laughable. To be honest, I’ve been making do with the kitchen table, eventually upgrading to a tiny $50 Ikea Micke desk. My husband was holding meetings and conferences in our bedroom, and yes, it has been odd having no doors in our home to create any sort of privacy. In order to talk to someone during Mike’s workday, I have been stepping onto our balcony and shutting myself out, imposing my conversation on our neighbors, while the streets around us impose their city noise. We ended up getting Herman Miller chairs sometime earlier this year, and by doing so, cluttered our bedrooms and living rooms respectively. However, with the advent of our roommate moving out at the end of August, we reclaimed the downstairs space which we are now turning into Mike’s permanent WFH area, after the company’s recent extension of remote work.

Meanwhile, I’ve moved from my dark nook in the living room to the bedroom, where Mike used to be. And with this new location comes a bright, shiny new desk. Well, shiny to me, but in reality, it’s quite humbly muted. I upgraded to the ever iconic Work Desk (affiliate link) from the Swedish company, String Furniture, and I must say that I am beyond excited about this improvement.

Famous for the modular system that they created in the 1950’s, the work desk is made up of rails and a large, hanging platform. I chose beige for the rails paired with a classic white desk. Positioned right next to three window panes that look out to the downtown streets below, the rails allow plenty of light to pass into our home and my workspace, where many plants reside. I made sure to position myself right beside the windows, so that I may look out and daydream, as that is part of a writer’s job.

The entire desk took three months to ship from Sweden but came packaged in two thin boxes, lighter than the desk from Ikea. I could lift both boxes easily. Essentially, the desk is founded on the two light-weight side rails mounted to the wall by four nails. The desk sits on four pins hooked onto the rails. The height of the desk can be changed so that it can work for a child as well as an adult. The back bar for the desk holds the platform down, locking it into place.

This simple design and easily shipped product is the reason why they won the national competition in Sweden in 1949, and why they have been classified as Applied Art under the Copyright Act in 2009. So yes, the desk is a piece of artwork itself. This is something I have been trying to do in my home – that is, adding art in the form of furniture and design, rather than the traditional painting, print, or sculpture art. In essence, this is a way for me to add beauty AND function using fewer pieces, thus maintaining minimalism in the home. Let the furniture do the decorating.

String Furniture hasn’t just made a desk, by the way. This modular system was originally designed to produce a shelf (affiliate link), which once decorated the UN headquarters in NYC in the ’50’s and which became the best-selling Scandinavian furniture in Germany in the ’60’s. The shelf has turned into a system that can also be a nightstand, media console, desk, dining table, and kitchen cabinetry.

In true fashion, I’ve ordered the most minimal combination. The rails are floor panels that only reach halfway up, contrary to the original desk design that used panels that reach higher to place shelving above. I have the desk without the drawer as well, just the platform on which to work. Eventually, I would like to put a small filing cabinet in the 12-inch space between the desk and the wall, and I’ve got my eyes set on this one by Branch furniture. I want a filing cabinet that triples as a drawer, a paper organizer, and a side table as well.

Having the desk situated by the windows is useful as the sill doubles for a place to stack my planners and notebooks within arm’s reach. I also charge my phone on the sill at night, further away from my bed, which is a habit I’ve adopted a few years back to create distance between my phone and I. Meanwhile, my desk mates consist of plants which surround me on either side, adding a bit of life and fresh air to this space. Most of the plants I own are gifted, some from The Sill (affiliate link), a company that ships plants directly to your door, pottery et al.

I’ve also loved my Herman Miller chair but I recently saw this modern, ergonomic option by Noho Co (affiliate link)., and have been contemplating switching out my wheels for a more grounded sitting situation. The going is slow in my space but I am so happy with the current state and what I’ve put together so far.

My daily coffee mug is from Hasami Official and the water glass is Pokal from Ikea. The linen coaster is from Fog Linen.

I also wanted to share with you the contenders I had for desk options, in case you don’t love the String desk but are also hoping for your own minimal desk upgrade.

My favorite, runner-up desk options.
  1. Copenhagen 90 Desk by Hay (affiliate link)
  2. Rail Desk by Menu Space
  3. Shelf Library System by Frama
  4. George Console by Skagerak (affiliate link)