My Office hurts…literally.

Over the last little while, I’ve been experiencing some aches and pains beyond the usual complaints. I realized that these were particularly acute after I returned after my little vacation in February.

What was different? I went back to sitting at my desk all day.

That’s a picture of my desk. I adore my desk. It’s a totally old-school double pedestal desk. I’ve spent a lot of TLC on this desk painting it a warm white, to coordinate with my casual/cottage decorating style here at home. I’ve also distressed it lightly. Normally I don’t toot my own horn too loudly, but I really perfected my technique on this piece of furniture.

Add some nice rubbed bronze hardware, and a custom cut piece of polished glass for the top, and I have myself a Pottery Barn-esque desk. Charming, yes. Ergonomic? Absolutely not.

Sadly, I’ve realized that my desk is the wrong height for my laptop, and my adjustable (and crappy) office chair is as high as it will go. My wrists are at the wrong angle for my keyboard. The desk isn’t wide enough to put the computer monitor far enough away from my eyeballs. This, combined with the same crappy chair are causing wrist, neck, back and shoulder pain.

Since I spend a fair bit of time in my home office, it’s the place where I really do work all day, I realize that I need to invest in proper furniture designed for a computer to allow me to age at a normal rate, rather than at the rate I feel like I’ve been aging over the last short while.

The first thing I did was to call a local office furniture specialist. They said they were ergonomic specialists. Imagine my excitement! Well, they’re just really sales specialists. There was no ergonomic assessment. They did measure my space and propose a couple of desk solutions for me. The price of the two desk options wasn’t too astronomical, but add to that delivery (much more than usual because I have stairs…like nobody else in the world has stairs), installation and taxes. Suddenly, the options start to look a little out of line, particularly considering the aesthetic: particle board, cubicle inhabiting, uninspired design. Oh, and add another six-ish weeks for manufacture and delivery.

Speaking of particle board, I also took my hunt to IKEA. IKEA does have a solution that I quite like. However, the solution will come in just shy of $1000 without a chair. That price includes delivery, but I can conscript a kid for assembly. At least IKEA has an eye to some design aesthetic. Perhaps the office specialists weren’t counting on the home office business, and figured the usual cubicle hunk of wood is a one-size-fits-most solution?

After I chewed on the IKEA price tag for a while I realized that for that money I could have a real Pottery Barn desk. Guess who went to Pottery Barn? They have some nice options there, particularly this large Printer’s Writing desk, but I’m still not convinced that the IKEA solution wouldn’t be better.

I’m really torn. Pottery Barn will deliver in 4-6 weeks. My body isn’t crazy about that time line.

Yes, I’ve perused Craigslist. I see some of the components to the IKEA solution on Craigslist, but this means renting a truck, transporting assembled furniture, and then disassembling it to get it down my basement stairs. Insert huge hassle here. I know why people buy new from IKEA instead of second hand. Sometimes it’s just easier to bring home the flat box and assemble it on the spot. Plus, even if I went this route, I’d still have to pick up some other pieces at IKEA anyway. Why not turn multiple hassles into just one?

Meanwhile, the aches have escalated to the point where I have physiotherapy twice a week right now. I know I have to make a change. My old faithful desk is being offered up on Craigslist, along with my crappy office chair. Folks think they’re “cute”. Lots of inquiries so far. I trust by the weekend it will be sold. Then I’ll be totally deskless. Between the sale of my desk and a few other bits of furniture I was using to cobble together an office solution, I should come away with around $400 to put toward the new purchases.

I think the girls are hoping for the IKEA solution.  I’m seeing Pottery Barn, but wondering about my patience with the delivery time, and the issues around no cord strategy with a plain writer’s desk.

Since I still have Mom’s Costco card, perhaps I’ll take a closer look there on the weekend and make a decision. They do have an office chair that I find comfortable and reasonable at a sub-$100 price tag.

Too bad I’m not ready to retire quite yet. That’d solve everything.


2 responses to this post.

  1. Last year we replaced our old desk with a new one. We went the cheap route though, as we see this desk as a temporary solution. It is particle board and at just 8 months old, is already showing signs of wear, but that’s okay because it wasn’t much more than $175… an acceptable price to pay for an interim desk for 3-4 years. Hubby wants to design and make our computer desk but hasn’t found the time so with our cheaper purchased desk, we’ve been able to push back the timeline by a few years. When we get our new desk, THIS desk will be given to Little M, who will be close to 10 years old by then (Big M and J both have desks in their bedrooms already).


  2. The pottery barn desk is attractive but not as practical as your own model. What a dilemma. I had the same problems at work but no real solution as everything is built-in. The chairs are junk. I didn’t get relief til they gave me a new flat screen monitor which was so adjustable I could basically sit the screen on my desk so finally it was low enough not only for my neck and shoulders but for my BIFOCALS!
    I would go for the retire early option:)


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