Standing Desk, The 6’4″ Edition

I’m pretty tall — 6 ft 4 inches (193cm) when I’m not stooping. I’d been wanting to try a switch to a standing desk for a while, and a recent move to New York meant I needed a new desk anyway, so it was the perfect opportunity. I had a few requirements for my new office-space:

  • Must be able to support an Apple Thunderbolt Display (23.5 lbs or 10.8 kg)
  • Need some space (didn’t have a specific lower bound, but saw a bunch that were too small)
  • Adjustable workspace height, of primary concern being that I could put the main one at (my personally determined height of) 47 inches (119 cm)
  • Storage space for random “desk stuff” that I’d prefer wasn’t on my actual desk, but would like nearby.
  • Not crazy expensive.

I looked around for quite a while and saw all kinds of ridiculous solutions. Some were designed more for drafting or reading. Some were tiny/flimsy looking. Lots of them couldn’t get up to 47 inches. Good ones were just plain expensive.

Not being happy with anything that I’d found, and not wanting to get a “normal” desk, I’d temporarily given up. Meanwhile, we were filling our new apartment with furniture, including a PAX double-closet arrangement from IKEA. As a bit of a joke, I put one of the shelves in half of the unit and tried it out with just my laptop.

It actually worked quite well, although I knew the shelf wouldn’t hold a Thunderbolt display. I was also a bit concerned about feeling claustrophobic (not that I normally do) in the small space, and about not having enough desktop room. After trying it out for about a week, I was getting used to the standing (this is my first standing desk) and also the smaller space. The only real issues were:

  • It was pretty dark in here
  • Strength of the shelf
  • Screen needed to be higher than the keyboard
  • The space heats up
  • No view

I’ve already addressed the first three issues, the first by attached a set of LED strip-lights to the back of the display, the second by adding a support brace across the entire width of the shelf, right under where the display sits. To raise up the screen I found this little unit at OfficeDepot. I’ve got a tiny USB fan on the way from Amazon to provide a bit of circulation (can plug it into the back of the Thunderbolt.

To address the final point (kind of), I’m planning to find a large-format print of a forest scene of some sort and cut it to exactly fit the back panel of the closet. That way I’ll feel like I’m working right in front of a window… hopefully 🙂 I’ve also mounted a whiteboard to the left side of the space (which is perfect for writing on with your right hand), and a small letter-holder/magnetic key holder on the right, which is where I keep tickets/receipts/random things until I deal with them properly.

The first shelf underneath my workspace is a drawer which has heaps of space (the same amount as the workspace itself) to store random desk things. I filled it already. On the bottom shelf (which you can see in the second picture), I have my printer and space to dump my bag. I also have a bit of a ledge to stand on when one leg is getting tired.

As weird as it may be, I’m liking it. One of my favorite things is being able to slide the door closed and “call it a day”. I’m really bad at being able to walk away from my computer when I’m done working for the day, so having a physical barrier in the way helps. It’s probably not something I’ll stick with “forever”, and sure, I’d prefer to have an open view out a window or something, but you work with what you’ve got 🙂

  1. Jeremy Herve said:


    I had a question about the depth of the self, though. I am trying to put together a standing desk as well, and so far I can only picture myself working with a lot of room in front of the keyboard, to rest my arms.

    Was that something that was disturbing for you at first?

    • Beau Lebens said:

      That hasn't bothered me so far actually. I think the dynamics are alittle different when you're standing. The depth of the main workspacein my setup is 25″, and I have a few inches in front of my keyboardwhich seems to be plenty. If I want some more room I can slide mykeyboard back under the monitor stand as well, giving me some clearspace if I want to write or whatever.

  2. Ellie K said:

    What you did was a really good idea! This is why: When I started reading your post, I thought to myself, "Suppose he doesn't like working while standing up? Yet he's pricing standing desks, and settling into a new apartment home based on the assumption of using one." It is an important issue, because it is how you earn your living, not some minor, fussy furniture or decorative choice! That's why it was a great idea to do a trial run, using your wardrobe (dresser? chiffonier? Ikea clothes thingy shelf)!

    I wouldn't want to use a standing desk. But there is precedent, other tall types who preferred working that way. I'm thinking of Thomas Wolfe, not the one who wrote "Bonfire of the Vanities", but rather, the Thomas Wolfe who wrote "Look Homeward, Angel" and "You Can't Go Home Again", in the 1930's. He was the same height as you, Beau, maybe taller. His biographer said that he was uncomfortable having to work with too-tiny writing desks. He wrote while standing, using the top of his refrigerator as a work surface.

  3. Nikki said:

    Hey, just thought I'd stop by with another good option for you super tall folks: an adjustable height desk, rather than just a standing desk.
    I have a NextDesk and I can adjust it to any height– and I mean any height. It gets much taller and much shorter than I need it to, but that is the beauty of it. I just push a button and it moves smoothly from one position to the next. I usually use it for standing, but sometimes I'll take short "sitting breaks" throughout the day (which I've heard is better for your metabolism anyway!)
    If you're interested in taking your standing desk a step further, check them out:
    And if you're interested in going a step further than that even, I hear they are about to come out with their own treadmill desk! (I'm not quite there yet…)
    Thanks for the post!

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