My Home Office And YouTube Studio All-In-One Workspace Tour

When there’s a pandemic going on in the world and you work for yourself anyway there’s … a lot of time to think about home office improvements.

My workstation in my home office. Photo: author.

I take pride in my home office and making it better iteration by iteration — although given that I rent, it’s a space that’s still awaiting its final destination (and as soon as that happens. Well, let’s just say I have a laundry list ready to work on.)

There are also a few features that I think every work-from-home should consider having. I call these the technical prepper’s home office essentials.

Here’s what I have going, component by component.

An Office Door Sign

Yes, I really bought one of these things from Amazon.

An employees only door sign from Amazon. Photo: author.

A lot of work-from-homers–particularly the pandemic newbies — report difficulty in coming to grips with the idea that their home and workspace are no longer separated.

If possible, having a dedicated room for your home office makes a world of difference. Admittedly, this … typically involves paying more in rent. But on the flip side, you’re able to save on renting dedicated office space.

Ultimately, I would love to have an office space out of the house to call my own. But I’m also a big fan of private offices. Yup, I’m a contrarian all the way through and open plan WeWorks just don’t do it for me. I use them as meeting spaces. But when I need to get serious work done — a large part of what I do is writing — a door is an essential focus mechanism.

The home office doubles as a guest bedroom. It’s a square cube of about 3 x 3 meters. But it’s … a space to work in that’s my own.

(Note: for the first time ever I’m including Amazon Affiliate links here. The recommendations are impartial — it’s the stuff I have in my own home workspace).

— “Employee only” door sign. Available from Amazon.com.

A Doorbell. Or A Home Intercom.

Focus time is good but it’s also nice to provide other humans with a means of catching your attention.

A cheap office bell can never go astray either. Photo: author.

Another nice addition you can use: a home intercom system.

Home intercom from Amazon.com

A Custom Desk, A Custom Computer Running Ubuntu, And A 3 x LCD Monitor Array

My current desk setup. The desk was custom cut wood that I finished myself. Photo: author.

I’ve been working with a three screen array for about five years now.

Do you need three screens?

No. I find two almost just as useful.

But I find two having infinitely better than only one.

I’m firmly entrenched in the desktop computer camp. My current model is a custom build running Ubuntu Linux 20.04 LTS, although it’s reaching the point in time at which the next upgrade will probably involve swapping out the whole machine and not just one of its components.

Another great addition: a custom cut whole wood table that uses almost all the available horizontal space in the room.

This was more necessity than upgrade: monitor arrays can place a lot of weight on the table and result in bowing where they are mounted (mine’s a C-clamp that runs around the back of the table).

I bought my whole wood table from a local DIY store for about the same price as an MDF table cost in my local IKEA. Finishing it was my first ever woodworking project. If you have a wood workshop or scrapyard in your area, you can get something infinitely more solid than IKEA (although IKEA aficionados will notice that my setup is now a hybrid!)

Suggested purchases:

— Mount It! Three screen monitor mount. Available from Amazon.com.

— 200 x 60 cm wood table from a local woodworking store.

— Computer and components from local technology store.

The IVAR Modular Shelving System. And Lots And Lots Of Glas Boxes.

I own … quite a bit of tech gear.

Cables. Adapters. Microphones. Mixers.

The collection has kind of sprawled over the years.

Lots of sprawling tech gears means … you need somewhere to put it.

The apartment that my wife and I live in in Jerusalem is — as is typical in this city — relatively small. However it’s redeeming factor, from a storage perspective, is tall ceilings.

To take advantage of those, I picked up the IVAR modular shelving unit in IKEA. Every time I’m there — or whenever I run out of space — I pick up a couple more shelves.I have another vertical trellis cable-tied for when I have somewhere to build out to. For now, the room is pretty much full up.

The eagle-eyed IKEA fans on the (unofficial) IKEA subreddit (/r/IKEA) tell me that the Glas boxes I bought in bulk have sadly been discontinued. They’ve been replaced by UPPSNOFSAD. These storage bins are cheap but when you buy a lot of them .. can really stock a lot of gear.

I also have two Hyllis storage units joined vertically using an IKEA hack on the other side of the room.

My workstation and storage system. A bit crowded but it gets the job done. Photo: author.
The Ubuntu 20.04 LTS (Focal Fossa) lock screen wallpaper. Photo: author.
The IKEA IVAR is a terrific shelving system, although the cost of adding the shelves has really added up. My local IKEA has ranked as one of the most expensive in the world, which is in exactly zero ways surprising. Photo: author.
My home office typically has at least one random box of microphones / accessories / cables lying around it. It’s part of the atmosphere. Photo: author.
The double up on the Hyllis IKEA hack. Most Hyllis’s are pre-drilled for this but if not you can use a metal drill bit to drill through. Do this outside with proper ventilation, eye-wear, and ventilation protection. Photo: author.

Above: ‘Double Up The Hyllis’ IKEA hack. A cheap storage system perfect for small spaces with generous ceilings.

https://ikeahackers.net/2010/08/double-up-the-hyllis.html

What I’m using:

— IVAR shelving system. Available from IKEA.

— IVAR pine shelving unit inserts, 17" x 12". Available from IKEA.

— UPPSNOFSAD boxes. Available from IKEA.

Digital Prepper Essential 1: An Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) For The Desktop And Screens, With Extensions And Splitters To Provide Extra Power For Lighting And Accessories During Electricity Outages

Uninterruptible power supplies provide some passive power conditioning and also act as a power reservoir in the event of an electricity outage.

If you use a desktop computer, these are great investments irrespective of whether your power frequently goes out.

A UPS: a must-have for a home desktop user. I use a relatively small Eaton unit. We have a relatively high number of power outages during your average winter. Keeping the networking gear on the UPS also prevents the network going down due to momentary power losses. Photo: author.

I’m squeezing the most out of this UPS by using several adapters:

C14-to-C13 cable runs to bring one fork of the power supply to the networking equipment on the other side of the home office alongside a conventional power extender. (Available from Amazon.com)

An IEC-C14 to universal power adapter to run a power plug off one of the UPS forks (Available from Amazon.com)

C14 1-to-4 male to female splitter to run the power outputs for the 3 monitors. (Available from Amazon.com)

Using these adapters, the computer, 3 screens, and networking equipment are on a UPS (it would be more ideal to use two; next upgrade!). And I also have a plug that I can stick a light into in the event of a power outage.

Use an online speccing tool to ensure that the UPS you buy has a large enough reserve for the equipment you have on it. A 1,000 VA Eaton UPS should be generous for most home users’ needs.

Recommendation: think liberally about everything you might need during a power outage, including lighting. Find low-draw appliances. And wire them into the largest UPS you can afford.

And for the (fellow) preppers: glow in the dark tape. Affix it to the UPS’s backup power outlets to find your way to connectivity even if and when the lights go out.

— Glow in The Dark Tape — 15 Ft x 0.5 Inch — Bright, Rechargeable, & Long-Lasting Fluorescent Tape (Available From Amazon.com)

Digital Prepper Essential 2: Redundant ISP And Cellular (4G) Connectivity Sources With A Load Balancing Router To Make The Magic/Failover Work

If you’re working from home, your internet connection is your conduit to the world.

Where I’m based, data only cellular plans are widely available and affordable. I use mine for a variety of purposes:

  • The main internet running through the house is provided by load-balancing the ISP and cellular routers through a load balancing router. A WiFi router running in access point (AP) mode provides wireless connectivity that takes advantage of the automatic ISP-to-cellular failover.
  • I use ethernet runs to hard-wire both routers into my desktop computer and Speedify to bond the connections for enhanced speed and seamless failover.
A dual router setup minus the load balancer. Photo: author.

All my home networking tweaks this summer have been documented here:

Suggested purchases:

— TP-Link Multi-WAN Wired VPN Router (Available From Amazon.com)

— 4G VPN Router, Industrial Dual Sim 4G LTE WiFi Router (Available From Amazon.com)

Speedify, connection-bonding VPN (subscription)

Flat ethernet cabling is a controversial subject within the home networking community. Some claim that it doesn’t have proper crossed wires although most specs I’ve read suggest that they do.

As a renter, it’s often my only option for ethernet runs (I run one from this office to the a switch which has my NAS and the router serving as an AP on it).

Also, I apparently have less strong feelings on the cut-throat round vs. flat ethernet cabling debate than many home networkers.

Here’s a cabling option.

Explainer: Load balancing vs. failover vs. channel bonding

https://danielrosehill.medium.com/channel-bonding-load-balancing-or-failover-3ed78e810fac

Lots And Lots Of Cuttable Velcro, Cable Clamps, And Wire Organizers To (Try To) Keep Wires Tidy

There was my life before the discovery of cuttable velcro roles and there will be my life after it.

Cable management is really useful to reduce the visual clutter of your gear. I’m slowly getting better at it.

I picked up a few spools of cuttable velcro and got to work on all the wires in the room to make sure that everything was reasonably tidy.

Velcro cable ties are terrific for keeping your wire management under control.

Because we rent, I want to use solutions that won’t peel paint off the property. I use 3M-backed wire clamps to keep the ethernet wires tidy while they’re running aboard the skirting board.

Clip on cable clamps with 3M backing are great for keeping ethernet runs off the ground and, for renters like me, can be easily taken up without having to remove nails from the wall. Photo: author.
Some desk-mounted wire management for USB extensions. Photo: author.

Suggested purchases:

— Cuttable velcro and velcro cable ties. (Available from Amazon).

– Cable clip cable organizers, 50pcs (Available from Amazon).

Monitor Speakers And Headphones For Audio And Video Editing

For the past year, I’ve been slowly getting into YouTube-ing and video production.

Besides, listening to music over headphones all day gets boring. Sometimes you have to do what you have to do.

Both studio speakers and studio headphones are extremely useful for video and audio editing. They replicate the sound you’re editing as accurately as possible.

These are the first pair of halfway-decent speakers that I’ve ever owned in my life. Because I didn’t know much about what I was looking for, I turned to the good people at /r/BudgetAudiophile. I’m extremely happy with them.

The over ear studio monitors are the Audio Technica ATH-M20Xs. Also a pleasure to listen to.

My studio headphones and speakers. Photo: author.

What I’m using:

— PreSonus Eris E3.5–3.5" Near Field Studio Monitor (Pair) (E3.5) (Available From Amazon.com)

— Audio-Technica ATH-M20X Professional Studio Monitor Headphones, Black (Available From Amazon.com)

RGB Spot Lighting Clamped Onto The Shelving Unit — And Magnetized Into It

My home office could possibly be described as a workspace that also functions as a guest bedroom and a YouTube production studio. It’s a busy place.

But because it’s also a fundamentally small space, I had to get creative about where to mount lighting for the videos.

Mostly, I use a small LCD lighting panel that I telescope upwards using the Ulanzi MT-34 Multi-Function Tripod — one of the most useful pieces of mounting gear I’ve ever purchased. I use a clip mount to affix it one of the shelves (there’s a quarter inch thread on the top of it).

When I can muster up the energy to do so, I have a stronger panel light that I keep on a webcam scissor unit. I try to keep my desk as free from clutter as possible, so I put these away when I’m not using one. A typical setup is one for the fill light and another for the webcam.

Because I couldn’t think of a better place to put this RGB spot light in, I bought a clip on clamp and attached it one of my shelves. It ended up being a great place. To try to keep the shelves looking neat, I used cuttable velcro ties to hide the wire running down the side of it. Photo: author.
Rear facing RGB lighting in operation. I use a couple of Ulanzi VL49s. Photo: author. Unintentionally, the lighting setting here ended up color-coordinating with my screensavers.

These are the MT-34s set up on my desk.This would be a pretty typical recording setup for YouTube vlogging.

Two Ulanzi MT-34s with a webcam (Logitech C920C) and lighting. Photo: author.
A LCD lighting panel on top of a Ulanzi MT-34 telescoping tripod. Photo: author.

The MT-34 has a surprisingly decent telescopic length. And I can position one behind one of the screens and inflex it downwards (there’s a ball bearing on the top of it).

A fill light on top of the Ulanzi MT-34 multi functional telescope.
The MT-34 can telescope up to a sufficient height that it can crown over a monitor screen to provide fill lighting for a vlog. Photo: author.

Recently, I’ve been trying to improve the background lighting in my videos. The Hyllis shelf ends up looking a bit dull. I decided to buy a couple of RGB lighting bars.

Because the Hyllis is made of steel, if you can find ones with magnetic backing, you can affix and move them about very easily.

I use a couple of USB-powered RGB lighting strips with metal backings that magnetize to the metal surface of the double Hyllis hack. You could really go to town with this if you bought enough USB lights! Photo: author.
The office at night. Photo: author.
A moodier “all nighter” setup with the screens turned off. Photo: author.

I also have a floor-based mount stand for whenever I need to record audio. And a tripod for video.

A microphone stand I use when recording audio or podcasts. Photo: author.

Suggested purchases:

Hardware:

Logitech C920E 1080P business webcam (Available from Amazon.com)

Some Random Tech Accessories I’m Waiting To Try Out

This summer, I picked up quite a few video accessories. My plan is to really focus on this during the winter. I’m hoping that it’s going to be a great creative outlet.

Some of the tech products that are on my “to test list. Photo: author.

The Comica TraxShot is an extremely interesting microphone concept that I’m extremely excited about trying out. In fact, it’s one of very few transformational microphones on the market (you can swivel the microphones in different directions).

— Comica Traxshot Super Cardioid Microphone Transformable All-in-One Shotgun Microphone for Camera iPhone Smartphone (Available From Amazon.com)

A Compact HP Laser Printer And A Few Folders

I try to digitize as much as possible.

I have an IP network scanner in another room which I use for that purpose and would love to own one of those portable scanning wands (what can I say — I triage my purchases!)

A compact laser printer can save space while also giving you printing capabilities. Photo: author.

Nevertheless, there are some things that have to be printed on paper. Because it’s a small workspace, I use the HP M15W which is a compact laser printer. It works great.

— HP LaserJet Pro M15w Wireless Laser Printer, Works with Alexa (Available From Amazon.com)

A Noise Pollution Survival Kit

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been sensitive to sound.

Perhaps sensitivity is the wrong word.

Noise pollution really grates on my nerves. Unfortunately, it feels like I’ve lived in close proximity to a building site for more years then not over the past 5 years.

The noise pollution survival kit in all its sanity-saving glory. Photo: author.

The solution(s):

I introduced a globetrotting CEO friend to this appliance who formerly packed a fan (as in an actual fan) for it white noise producing qualities. There is a better way. This is that way.

(The combination of noise masking and passive noise isolation, which is basically what earplugs do, can be really effective).

As you may have guessed, I’m a big fan of online shopping. If I had to make a list of the top 5 things I’ve ever purchased from the internet, the LectroFan would likely be on it.

— Adaptive Sound Technologies LectroFan Premium White Noise Sound Machine (Available From Amazon.com)

A Handheld Label Printer

Label printers are extremely useful and this would probably be on my list too.

Currently on my wish list: a heat shrink-wrap printer for labelling ethernet cabelling. This I use for just about everything else. You can sometimes find me roving the house in the early hours of the morning sticking labels on plug adapters.

My Dymo Label Manager 160 label printer. Photo: author.
I attempted to create a sort of stock management system although mostly random things are stored in random boxes! Photo: author.

— DYMO Label Maker LabelManager 160 (Available From Amazon.com)

A Stuffed Animal Clutching A Beer

Don’t tell me that there’s an age limit on stuffed animal ownership — particularly when they’re holding a beer.

When half your clients are overdue on their invoices and you’re too exhausted to remember what the other half are even called …he’s there. No food (or beer) required.

Every home office could be livened up by a sloth stuffed toy clutching onto a bottle of beer. I wrestled it from his grasp after finishing this post. Photo: author.

Forthcoming Upgrades

I’ve finally gotten the hang of budgeting. But it’s still nice to dream.

My plans for V 1.2 include:

  • A motorized remote tripod system
  • Acoustic paneling
  • A surround sound system

Things This Workspace Has That Your Average Startup Space Doesn’t

I love remote working. And I absolutely love working in this space.

Hybrid working is fine. But if you can structure your way in a day that gives you plenty of reasons to get out of the house and meet people — like shooting YouTube videos — I think that fully remote can be great too.

If you got to the sound sensitivity part, you probably won’t be surprised to hear me tell you that I hate open offices. Not my thing at all. I find the visual clutter and the noise pollution overwhelming.

I’ve yet to see a workspace where I’m based that wasn’t almost entirely configured in this way. Workspaces are weird. Research has repeatedly shown that open plan offices are detrimental to concentration and productivity and yet most employees who enquired about what their workspace would look like at a company would get laughed out of the interview.

When you see the CEO working in the bullpen, you know that all hope is lost.

Quiet writers like me often prefer spaces like these to work from. Things I have that your average startup worker doesn’t where I live:

  • A door
  • A custom built computer
  • Studio speakers to blast music
  • Lots of tech toys to play around with during the day (okay maybe that they do).

Thanks for reading.

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Daytime: writing for other people. Nighttime: writing for me. Or the other way round. Enjoys: Linux, tech, beer, random things. https://www.danielrosehill.com

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Daniel Rosehill

Daniel Rosehill

Daytime: writing for other people. Nighttime: writing for me. Or the other way round. Enjoys: Linux, tech, beer, random things. https://www.danielrosehill.com

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