Small Space Living: My Minimal WFH Desk

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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)