Naked Desk

Rebuilding My Home Office

The office is getting a makeover.  I have not yet finished the batcave since part of it depends on me getting some stuff out of the living room and back into the office, where it belongs.  Which means the office is getting fixed up.

The Old Desk
The Old Desk

We used to each have a desk, like the picture there on the left. One left handed, one right handed.  We also used to have desktop computers, which made this make sense.  The desks are beautiful, don’t get me wrong, but they were heavy, awkward, and ended up being more ‘stuff’ without enough storage.  After we stopped using one (the kitchen table worked better), I thought we could replace them with a bookshelf, a filing cabinet, and one desk (for me, because I really do need that).  As you can see, my old desk is really cluttered.

New Bookshelf (unorganized)

The first thing we did was get a bookshelf and start organizing on it.  Well.  No, first we got a bookshelf.  Then it fell over and broke as we were building it (which was all my fault, I didn’t follow directions) and now we have a less than stable bookshelf, missing it’s top row of dividers and some from below.  I’m working on fixing it, slowly.  First up, though we shoved everything in it and prayed for the best.  The bookshelf is an Ikea Expedit 5×5 and I think I will never again attempt one that big by myself.  Yes, that’s why it broke.  Lesson?  Learned.

Then we waited a month.  I hate waiting.  We had a guy who wanted the desks, the old ones, and we got everything ready.  He flaked.  Four times.  He’d lose our email, our phone, or forget that he said “I’ll be by tomorrow at 5!”  Then it was the High Holy Days (we get something like 30 days of Jewish holidays in a 45 day span, yes, boredom like that does cause arson) and finally we hit November and the Chicago Chesed Fund picked up the desks on Halloween.

No More Desk!
No More Desk!

They can only come after 3pm, which made things tricky for us, but we pulled it off. Or rather, the worlds strongest young men did.  They spoke Mandarin, and my genius girlfriend turned to me and said “The little one just said ‘This desk weighs more than your mother.’ to the one in the white shirt.”  See folks?  And your parents said watching TV would never teach you anything.  Thank you Firefly!

Once the desks were gone, I cleaned the carpet.  That was the room that had ‘flodded’ back in May.  I know what you’re thinking.  All the computer things are off the ground, and the water wasn’t even an inch.  Heck, it was more like ‘Oh, wow, my carpet’s really damp.’  I’m pretty confident we’ll be okay.

Without the desks, the area was suddenly huge (you can’t tell from this picture, but I promise, it’s huge).  The weird molding all over was going to make it hard to place the desk correctly, though.  I thought about having it flat against that wall (between the pillar and the wall to the left) like I had before, but that just felt silly to me.

New Desk (boxed)
Unbuilt Desk

Still, the next step was to put the desk together so I could place it.  The desk is also an Expedit, the desk, from Ikea (it would match the rest of the furniture as well as the other bookshelf).  As you can see by the picture, there’s another weird ass soffit and pillar to deal with on the other site of the room!  The only stretch of wall without either … has the window.

Ah well.  The weird nook to the right of the boxes has the file cabinet and our printer.  Rolled up are the old floor-mats we used to use for our chairs.  I stopped using them after the flood because they trapped moisture and I figured the carpet was already trashed enough! So if anyone wants them, you can have them.  The plank of wood was dropped by the desk guys, and I’m keeping it since it’s solid pine.  That poster of the Tattinger lady was a present from my mother in law, and is, by far, one of my favorite posters.  I just need to frame it better.

Speaking of frames, I still need to sort out how to best frame my posters.  I think another trip to Ikea for a pair of $25 RIBBA poster frames in the 28×40 size will have to do.  One poster is 28×40, and the other is 20×36, so the big guy won’t use matting, while the smaller one will.  The only other option is to make them by hand, and I know I’d suck at that.

When I got around to building the desk, I was worried since the bookshelf had been such a mother.  The desk is a smaller, 2×4 bookshelf, with a desk ‘add-on’.  I cleared out room for the pieces and started to screw it together.  I really hate the damn Allen wrench.  If I keep doing this, which I might, I suspect I’ll break down and get their 17-piece tool kit or the right bit for an electric screwdriver.  Truth told, I’m not sold on using an electric anything for most Ikea stuff.  It’s too easy to slip and over-tighten things.

Naked Desk
Naked Desk

I laid out the components and remembered part of the problem with the Big Guy was that when you screwed the bottom and side, it didn’t ‘catch’.  I solved this by bracing one end of the bookshelf against the wall and pushing it as I screwed.  That got me an L shape. Then it was the work of gentle hammering of a million wood pegs and particleboard shelves until, at last, I had a frame.  I wedged in both the other side and the top, and had a wobbly bookshelf.  No good!  It took me about half an hour to get everything screwed in, using that wee Allen wrench, and it was still a little wobbly.  Then I stood the bookshelf up and started to tighten some more.  And more.  And I flipped it over and did it again.  It took three flips, but finally I had it tight and locked down.

The desk itself was two wood planks, with little levelers on the ‘leg’ plank, a brace that you’re supposed to install on the ‘far’ end from ‘you’ (which made no sense to me, since what if I was going to use it both ways?), grips for hooking it to the bookshelf, and these weird ‘turn till they hook’ screws.  The grips to hook it too the bookshelf took me forever to install, and since they used a regular Phillip’s head screwdriver, were oddly harder than the Allen wrenching!

Dressed Desk

At some point in all this I bitched “It takes less time to have sex than to screw this.”  Twitter is still laughing at me over that one.  I took a break for dinner, and afterwards came back and zipped through the final screwing in minutes.  Then I ‘positioned’ the desk.  After a few false starts, I realized facing the window (with my back to the door) would be perfect.  It took some more arranging, but I got the desk set up, with a Fantastisk Napkin Holder to hold up my laptop (no, really!) and my big monitor all rigged up.  I kept my wired keyboard and mouse plunged into my monitor, since they won’t waste batteries that way, and positioned my ‘things’ where I wanted.  On top of the bookshelf is ‘pretty boxes’ with ‘stuff’ in them (coin collections, pin collections, a first generation Scarlett and Cover Girl). Above the desk is for things I use a lot: books, pencils, etc.  Below the desk are laptop cases, extra plugs and travel gear.

Then my better half came downstairs and asked “Doesn’t it bother you not being able to see people behind you?”  So I got her old mirror off the big bookshelf and put it in the window sill.  “Now I can see your cleavage!” I announced happily.  Actually I could see the whole stairwell, so it was pretty much perfect.

Organized Bookshelf

The last step has been removing everything from the bookshelf, gluing and fixing the shelves in better, and then organizing that.  I think we’re nearly done.  This photo is about 90% organized.  You can see I’ve managed to get things in boxes on shelves and I’ve been labeling them so I know what’s going on.  This came with a lot of throwing out of things we don’t use anymore.  There was a bag of clothes no one wears (or fits), and we have a box left of cooking stuff we’ve stopped using.  And a monitor.

So if you want a 22″ LCD monitor, or a toaster oven, both in fantastic shape, they’re free to a good home!