Last year, I remodeled an upstairs bedroom and converted it into my home office. It was quite an undertaking… removing everything down to the studs and subfloor and doing all the work myself. There were a couple of reasons why I decided to make the move:
- Upstairs – I believe there are many reasons for having a dedicated workspace that is not adjacent to other living spaces. My old office was downstairs between the bedroom and kitchen… and was rife with interruptions. Now that it’s upstairs, I’m not as easily distracted, not to mention the additional flights of stairs I’m putting in every week!
- Size – The upstairs room has a ton more space and is far more flexible for laying it out. Instead of being up against a wall with my desk, I’m in the middle of the room. It’s incredibly comfortable. My dogs appreciate it as well since there’s room for their beds.
I’ve also updated the equipment and wanted to detail the purchases here. Here’s a breakdown of the upgrades I’ve made:
- Bandwidth – I cut the cord, upgraded to fiber, and both increased my upload and download speeds while saving a ton of money by getting rid of cable. The fiber company installed the network directly to my office, so now I have 1Gb service up and down to my laptop via a network router! For the rest of the home, I have an Eero Mesh Wi-Fi system installed with the fiber by Metronet.
- Desk – Since I’m getting fit, I wanted to have the option of standing up and having a vast work region to do it with. I opted for a Varidesk… which is built incredibly well, is stunning, and fits everything on it, so I can quickly go from sitting to standing.
- Desktop Mat – Forget a mousepad; grab one of these monster desk mats… they’re water resistant, feel great, and provide a ton of real estate on your desktop! I noticed some of them are even heated out there!
- Displays – While I’d love an ultrawide monitor, I can’t see spending the money on that right now. I like having a split between monitors to separate the windows and the work that I’m doing. Dual 27″ LG Gaming monitors do the trick. They have excellent resolution and no issues with compatibility.
- Display Mount – I have a HumanScale dual monitor arm. It’s built well, and my monitors don’t move at all. They were easy to install and mount as well.
- Docking Station – Instead of manually connecting ethernet, monitors, USB hub, mic, and speakers each time I sat at my desk, I opted for the GIISSMO USB-C MacBook Pro Docking Station. It’s one connection, and every device is plugged in… including power. The only issue that I’ve ever had with it is that my laptop won’t boot up unless it’s disconnected.
- Gaming Mixer – Instead of getting a microphone amp and headphone amp, I simplified my life by getting a FIFINE Gaming Audio Mixer. In addition to many more features, I can also control the audio and volume from my laptop to my speakers and headphones independently.
- Headphones – I needed a premium set of closed, over-the-ear headphones to hear the faintest background noise when mixing audio. I’m a fan of Shure, so I purchased their Shure SRH1540 Premium Closed-Back Headphones. They’re pricey but well worth the investment if you’re an audiophile or work with mixing audio.
- Keyboard – This may sound old school, but I ditched my Bluetooth keyboard for a wired, backlit keyboard. I didn’t like that my old wireless keyboard would miss a few keystrokes as I typed in my password and the laptop woke up.
- Laptop Stand – Putting a laptop up off the desk is essential… not just to protect it from spills, but to get it at a height in line with your displays and to keep it cool. I like this dark, low-profile stand from Twelve South. It’s nice and heavy so it stays put.
- Light Bar – To get great lighting for the BRIO web camera, I could have installed an overhead light but opted for a sleek alternative instead. The MediAcous LED Desk Lamp has a clamp, dual light sources, a flexible swing arm, four color modes, and brightness settings with memory.
- Microphone – After testing out many competitors and some really expensive studio mics, I opted for an Audio-Technica AT2020 Cardioid Condenser Studio XLR microphone. It both looks and sounds great – and the gaming mixer above can power and amplify it.
- Microphone Arm – Microphone arms that look good can be quite expensive. I upgraded my previous arm to this FIFINE Microphone Boom Arm which mounts to the back of the desk and then swings out just above my keyboard.
- Mouse – I like the Apple Magic Mouse but can’t stand that you must charge them by turning them upside down. I’ve purchased two of them and have both of them connected. When one dies, I turn on the other and keep working.
- Network Attached Storage – I’d also like to purchase a Network Attached Storage (NAS) device. I have a 3TB USB drive on a MacMini that I can connect to the desktop. My network doesn’t like seeing it out there, even though it’s shared. Network storage would be much faster for me to backup and move files from and to.
- Network Switch – I have a plethora of devices around the home that are networked, from a MacMini I use for processing jobs to my Ring security system, to the garage door, to Eero repeaters, and televisions… so I installed a Netgear Gigabit Unmanaged Switch. I installed Ethernet drops throughout the home to my docking station and each repeater.
- Speakers – I wanted a great set of speakers for the office that are wired up to the monitor output of the headphone amp, so I went with the Logitech Z623 400 Watt Home Speaker System, 2.1 Speaker System. One of the great features of these speakers is that they also have an audio input, so my television in my office is also jacked into the system.
- Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) – I installed an APC 1500VA Gaming Pro UPS for when the power goes out. While I’m relatively safe working on a MacBook Pro, now I have all of my network equipment, external monitors, external drive, and other hardware powered in the event of a power outage. With everything (a lot) plugged in, I’m running it at about a 30% load, and the UPS tells me I’ll have about 14 minutes of uninterrupted power. Because I’m on fiber… I can even keep my network up when the power goes out! Even better, MacOS detected the UPS, and I have settings to autosave and shut down my system if I’m not home and power is lost for an extended period.
- Webcam – One issue that you’ll see in the original video (below) is that the webcam was terrible at dealing with glare from my monitors when I had large white windows on the screen. I upgraded the webcam to a Logitech BRIO, a higher-end 4K webcam with plenty of customization and recording options. It also has a fantastic desktop app, Logi Tune, to adjust the picture location, zoom level, and lighting. I was using Ecamm Live until Logitech came out with their app.
- Wifi – I can’t say enough great things about Eero’s mesh network. From the ability to prioritize devices, group them, and see who’s on your network… to testing and optimizing your network, it’s incredible. My only regret is that I actually got the system with my fiber provider rather than purchasing it separately. Newer Eero models offer the ability to connect to your mobile device as a backup… but not the version my provider installed.
Video Walk-Through Of My Desktop
Here’s the original video walk-through but I’m continuing to upgrade elements and keeping this article up to date. I’ve updated the docking station as well as my webcam. I’ve also upgraded the lighting in the room to a large soft light overhead.
Webcam Upgrade: Logitech BRIO
Here’s a video with the upgrade to the Logitech BRIO.