A budget desk setup

16 Budget Desk Setups: from Artsy Nooks to Practical Workstations

Your home workspace doesn’t have to be expensive.

Editorial Team
Editorial Team
Home Office Ideas

Not everyone has the budget for a fancy, high-end workspace. And that’s not a big deal.

You don’t need to break the bank to create a functional and stylish space. In this roundup of 16 budget desk setups, makers from different corners of the world are showing us how it’s done.

From cosy attic nooks to sleek, practical workstations, we’ve scoured for some of the most affordable yet creative setups out there.

1. Artistic attic workspace with second-hand furniture. Cost: almost free

Item Model
Laptop MacBook Pro 13″ (2016)
Tablet Apple iPad Pro (2017) and Apple Pencil (2017)
Mobile phone Apple iPhone 11 64 GB (2019)
Label Makers Second-hand Dymo Maxi 1755, 1980s Dymo Omega Embosser
Desk Second-hand carpenters bench 1980s
Chair Second-hand Labofa work chair 1970s
Lamp Second-hand DEMKO architect lamp from the 1970s

“My workspace is on the sixth floor in the attic of a large apartment building from 1885, where we also live on the first floor. I was lucky enough to have an old, forgotten room handed over from a previous resident. The rooms behind the dark corridors are neither insulated nor have electricity. The room was completely bare, with walls of rough wooden planks and holes directly out into the open. But it was love at first sight,” says Zwitzh, a street artist from Denmark.

“Since it is illegal to use the attic for anything other than light storage, the first thing I did was to make it invisible. [...] After that, I connected electricity for light and heat from the power grid and started to set up my little secret hideaway. Most things are something I’ve either bought second-hand, found in bulky waste, or given as a gift.”

2. Budget study setup. Cost: $640

Item Model
Laptop ASUS
Laptop dock DIY
Wooden desk shelf DIY

“I wanted to have a nice workspace so badly that I started saving money,” shares Christian Realin, a student from the Philippines.

A budget DIY study setup
Photo: Christian Realin’s budget study setup

“After I had saved enough, I purchased a monitor, speakers, and other items one by one. Rather than buying other things I wanted, I decided to create them myself.”

3. Small nook workspace at home. Cost: $910

Item Model
Laptop Dell Inspiron (company-issued laptop)
Chair COMHOMA ergonomic office chair
Desk shelf Nathan James Theo 2-shelf wall-mounted desk
Accent chair CANMOV modern accent chair with ottoman
Mouse VicTsing wireless mouse
Mouse mat LeadsaiL mouse pad
Laptop stand SOUNDANCE laptop stand
Webcam cover MESMOS laptop camera cover
Selfie ring light GearLight selfie ring light

“When decorating the home office, my main goal was to design a tranquil and organised environment where I could fully concentrate while also making it a space where I’d enjoy spending eight hours a day,” shares Rochelle McNally from Georgia, US.

“I’m a huge Anglophile and have been to England many times, so one of the ways I personalised my office was by putting up all of the little trinkets I have gotten from England while visiting. From start to finish, it took me about two weeks to redecorate my office. I bought everything from Amazon. I wanted quick delivery and was ready for my office to be more than just the one sad work desk I had been using for the year prior.”

4. Home office with pre-loved items. Cost: $1K

Item Model
Monitor ASUS
External GPU Dell OptiPlex 3050
Keyboard Arteck K730
Mouse Logitech M220
Mouse mat Orange desk pad
Chair Vintage
Bookshelves Amazon Basics ladder bookshelves

Ashley Sainato, a constraction service coordinator and a working mom from North Carolina, US, loves all things mid-century and retro. She sourced lots of her workspace items from Facebook Marketplace and local vintage resellers.

“Although the space feels finished, I’m always on the hunt for new things to put on the shelves, so they just will be ever-changing.”

A mid-century home office for a working mom with a vintage orange chair and a dedicated baby corner
Photo: Ashley Sainato’s mid-century workspace with a dedicated baby playground

5. Affordable desk setup for a student. Cost: $1,2K

Item Model
Monitor BEZEL 32″ 144HZ 2K gaming monitor
Monitor mount BigLion Aluminum Vesa monitor mount
Monitor light bar Baseus i-wok Series screen light
Speakers Bose Companion 20
Keyboard AKKO MOD007 + Glorious Panda™ Mechanical Switches
Mouse Apple Magic Mouse 2
Chair SIHOO M57
Web camera Elgato EpocCam app on an iPhone 12 Pro Max
Tablet iPad Air 3 + Apple Pencil 1
PC case NZXT H510 Mid Tower
Keycaps Honey milk keycaps in English
Desk mat FIVERS Trading two-tone desk mat
Desk IKEA LAGKAPTEN / ALEX + ADILS
Docking station USB 3.0 Superspeed 4 ports hub
Audio interface Behringer U-PHORIA UM2
Wall clock 3D digital LED wall clock
Pegboard IKEA SKÅDIS
Figurine Funko POP! Pusheen: Super Pusheeinicorn
Microphone Razer Seiren Mini

“Do not let your budget constraints limit you. Be imaginative,” says Aliza Ceralde from Manila, Philippines.

“There are many things that you can actually DIY. The bonus part is you can tailor it to your liking!”

Photo: Aliza Ceralde’s budget study desk setup

6. Low-budget RGB gaming setup. Cost: $1,5K

Item Model
Monitor ASUS 24″ 144Hz IPS colour accurate monitor
External monitor 144hz DISPLAY IPS FHD Panel
Laptop ASUS TUF GAMING F15
CPU Ryzen 7 4800-H
RAM 32GB DDR4 3200MHZ dual channel RAM
Gaming SSD 500GB SSD NVME.2
Graphics card GTX 1650ti 4GB GDDR5
Internal hard drive 1TB HDD
Soundbar Clockwork Bluetooth soundbar
Headphones ASUS TUF GAMING H3
Headphone stand FANTECH tower RGB
Keyboard 1 RK918 RGB mechanical keyboard with custom EVA 01 keycaps
Keyboard 2 ASUS TUF GAMING K1 Membrane
Keyboard 3 GIGAWARE with custom white and grey keycaps
Mouse Custom Onikuma W95 wireless mouse, ASUS TUF GAMING M3
Desk mat MECHA-K

“While I’m a huge fan of neon lights and RGB, I didn’t just splash them all over the place. What I did was smarter,” says Gerwyn Manuel, a student, drummer and artist from the Philippines.

A low-budget RGB gaming setup
Photo: Gerwyn Manuel’s cyberpunk-inspired gaming setup

“I carefully planned where I’d put them and how they would affect the lighting of my setup. I’m quite proud to say my lights have a distinct style and uniqueness to them.”

👩‍🎤
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“The main purpose of my setup is to show the world that you don’t need a huge budget to build one. What’s more important is creativity, personality, and imagination.”

7. Budget studygram setup. Cost: $1,5K

Item Model
Monitor Fujitsu Monitor VL-200SSWR (secondhand)
Monitor mount KENLEI White Single Gaming Monitor Bracket Mount
Laptop MacBook Pro 2015 and MacBook Pro 2020
Speakers Divoom Ditoo Plus
Headphones JBL 600BTNC
Keyboard Akko ACR64, Tester68, Rumi61, AWS84
Mouse Rapoo M300
Chair Unbranded Ergonomic Chair
Desk mat Vegan leather desk mat
Laptop stand Height Adjustable Aluminium Laptop Stand
Web camera Cat 1080p Web Camera
Monitor riser Locally sourced and custom made
Docking station Generic aluminium laptop and tablet holder
Pegboard IKEA SKÅDIS

“Two main things I was aiming for while creating my setup:

1) it should be comfy enough for me to stay for long hours;

2) it should not be too cosy that I won’t be able to do my work.

I tend to go overboard with the first one, so I had to add the second goal,” says Isabel, a law student from Quezon City, the Philippines.

“I had a lot of trial and error before I figured out what my preferences were and which items I needed. I was heavily inspired by other content creators and what usually happened was the following: what worked for them didn’t really work for me.

Some desk setups looked good in photos but weren’t too useful.

I had to re-evaluate whether the item/setup was working for me or it was just an additional clutter to my desk because, aside from avoiding making it too cosy, it had to be tidy.”

How to Hide Clutter in a Home Office: 10 Life Hacks
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8. Creative and relaxed home office. Cost: $1,5K

Item Model
Laptop MacBook Pro
Monitor ASUS ROG
Monitor arm Ergotron
Standing desk Uplift sit/stand legs

“When creating spaces, I always start with function. First, I figure out what are all of the things a space or object needs to do. Then I start understanding how form can help serve that function,” shares Hazel Jennings from San Francisco, US.

Hazel’s desktop is from a desk she got second hand for $100, attached to sit/stand legs.

“This also isn’t a workspace that was set up all at once. I’ve had a desk in all eleven apartments I lived in between moving out of my mother’s house after high school and moving in with my (now) husband. And then my husband and I combined the desk setups we each had at our own spots and used one shared desk in all four apartments we’ve lived in together. So, nothing came together overnight. And, really beautiful, functional spaces never do.”

9. Custom PC desk setup. Cost: ~$1,8K

Item Model
Monitor Lenovo G27Q-20 27″ 2560×1440 165Hz
Monitor mount Loop Alloy Single Monitor Bracket Mount
Monitor light bar Mi Monitor Light Bar
Desk light Elgato Key Light Air
Speakers Tylex XM19 Wireless Bluetooth Speaker
Headphones Corsair HS80 RGB Wireless Headset
Keyboard Corsair K60 RGB Pro SE
Mouse Corsair KATAR PRO Wireless
Chair Ofix Deluxe 8 White Mesh
Desk Ofix Desk 17
Web camera C80 5MP 1080p Webcam
Mouse mat Corsair MM150 Ultra-Thin Mousepad
Plant IKEA Artificial Potted Plant

“My room doesn’t have enough space to accommodate my desk setup, so I had to build it in a little corner of my living room. Since I work at night, I’ve designed my workspace to be comfortable and look peaceful while maintaining the gaming aesthetic,” shares Jovie Brett Bardoles.

Photo: Jovie Brett Bardoles’s monochrome custom PC desk setup

“It was the first PC I built and it took me a year and a half to fill my desk with work-from-home essentials. [...] Whenever I had the extra money from work, I’d buy the next part for my PC.”

10. Small and savvy bedroom desk setup. Cost: ~$2K

Item Model
Computer M1 Mac Mini
Monitor LG 27UL850
Tablet iPad Pro
Keyboard Apple Magic Keyboard
Mouse Apple Magic Mouse

“Since I still live with my parents, I have a workstation in my bedroom. This room is the smallest in the house,” shares Bram van Duijvenvoorde from Netherlands.

“The small size of my bedroom was definitely a challenge. Yet, I managed to make it work by measuring pretty much everything I got before buying anything.”

11. Cut-price and cable-free home workstation. Cost: $2K

Item Model
Monitor Lenovo ThinkVision P27h-20 27″ QHD Type-C Monitor
Monitor mount NB North Bayou Monitor Stand H100-B
Laptop Acer Predator G3-605
Speakers Samsung DVD Home Theater HT-E330K
Keyboard Keychron K8
Mouse Logitech MX Master 3
Computer table Height Adjustable Desk Black/Oak-ET114G/ZB01-14070-BH-H18
Chair IKEA TÄRNÖ
Cable manager Monoprice Cable Management Spine White
Desk mat THMINS Desk Pad
Desktop flower pot eWinner Desktop Glass Flower Pot 3 Bulbs Vase
Wrist rest pad SKEIDO Wooden Keyboard Cushion Hand Wrist Rest Pad
Screen light bar Quntis Screen Light Bar with No Glare (22~29″)

“I’m the type of person who doesn’t want too many things in my surroundings. Finding the best and most affordable items takes a lot of time, so do your research. That’s my main piece of advice,” says Michael Medina, an IT support specialist based in Dubai, UAE.

A cable-free, well-organised and affordable desk setup
Photo: Michael Medina’s сable-free вesk setup

“You should determine your workspace budget first, then start with the larger items (desk, chair, monitor, CPU, mouse, keyboard) and work your way down to the smaller ones (accessories).”

12. Custom-made moody desk setup. Cost: $2K

Item Model
CPU Ryzen 5 2600
GPU Zotac GTX 1660
RAM Corsair 16 GB
Motherboard MSI B450
Motherboard MSI B450
Monitor AOC C24G1
Monitor AOC C24G1
Monitor mount Loop Alloy Single Arm
Keyboard iKBC MF87
Mouse Corsair Ironclaw Wireless
Speakers Edifier R1280DB
Gaming headset HyperX Alpha Gold Edition
Headphones Skullcandy Crusher Wireless Immersive

“The main problem was the cost. A desk like this would normally cost me around 20,000 Philippine Pesos, or $400,” says Jason Dela Cueva.

“I was lucky to have a friend of mine who had been upgrading his setup at that time. He knew I was struggling to find a nice and affordable table desk. So he offered to have one made for me by the same guy who built a custom workstation for him.”

A moody budget-friendly battlestion
Photo: Jason Dela Cueva’s moody battlestation

So Jason found a reference for the desk he wanted on Pinterest and asked the carpenter to make his desktop look like it was a dark walnut one.

🪴

“It is not the actual walnut. My desk is made from marine plywood on a laminate dark walnut texture. But the lamination he did was superb. The price was also too good to miss the offer. The carpenter only charged me 6300 pesos ($130) for my desk! He also built a beautiful shelf for me for only 1300 pesos ($27). I like this desk a lot.”

13. IKEA desk setup. Cost: $2,5K

Item Model
Computer M1 Mac mini
Monitor LG 32QN600-B
Desk IKEA SÄLJAN worktop
Drawers IKEA ALEX
Shelving unit IKEA VITTSJÖ
Chair IKEA MILLBERGET

“My setup is about what is important to me. I love music and that explains why I have a bigger speaker. I do a lot of multitasking, hence why I have a big monitor. When you know what’s important to you, it makes it easier to decide on what to buy,” says Nilson Gaspar, a freelance photographer, videographer and graphic designer based in Birmingham, UK.

A budget IKEA desk setup
Photo: Nilson Gaspar’s IKEA desk setup

Most of Nilson’s home office furniture is from IKEA. “The worktop is SÄLJAN and the drawers are ALEX. The shelving unit is VITTSJÖ. The chair is the IKEA MILLBERGET, and I would say it is a decent chair. It is not a chair that you would sit and say “wow, this feels so comfortable!” but it is good enough for the price.”

“It took me almost a year to make the setup look the way it is right now. So, don’t be discouraged if your setup is not looking the way you want. Keep making small improvements over time until you’re happy with the way it looks.”

14. Practical Scandinavian workspace. Cost: $2,5K

Item Model
Monitor HP X34
Monitor mount Ergotron LX
Monitor light bar BenQ Lightbar
Tabletop Local wood store
Laptop MacBook Air M2
Speakers Edifier R1080BT
Headphones SteelSeries Arctis 7, Apple AirPods Max
Keyboard Keychron K2
Mouse Logitech MX Master 3, Logitech G Pro X
Mouse mat Glorious XXL White
Chair Kinnarps Free Float 6000
Desk shelf DIY Desk Shelf
Laptop stand Oakywood
Docking station Dell DA310
Web camera Logitech C505e

“Having a functional, aesthetic space without distractions, but where I feel at home, is important to me. Just like my practical approach to my blog and job, I really aim to get the most bang for my buck,” says Lars, a data scientist from Copenhagen, Denmark.

“This means not going for those super pricey Instagram and YouTube setups. Honestly, most are sponsored and out of reach for most of us. IKEA or second-hand will do just fine.”

IKEA Desk Setups for WFH
Budget-friendly solutions to give your setup a functional upgrade.

“I got my chair second-hand from an outlet. I bought the legs for my standing desk from a company that was moving and selling off their furniture. I then added a tabletop that I liked. Most of my posters are DIY in A4 size, so I can change them out whenever I want. I made the desk shelf myself. You can see how I did it in my post called How to Build an Easy DIY Desk Shelf and Monitor Stand in 5 Minutes.”

15. Vintage L-shaped desk setup. Cost: ~$2,7K

Item Model
Monitor 1 LG Ultrawide 29″ IPS monitor
Monitor 2 LG 24″ IPS monitor
Monitor mount WALI Premium Dual LCD monitor mount
Desk Mccaslin L-shape executive desk
Laptop HP ZBook Fury 17.3″ G8 mobile workstation
Speakers Edifier R1280T powered bookshelf speakers
Keyboard Logitech MK520 wireless keyboard
Mouse Logitech MX Master 3 wireless mouse
Chair Unknown Brand, 8-Way Adjustable ergonomic chair
Desk shelf Nathan James Theo 6-shelf tall bookcase
Desktop PC Dell Inspiron 5680 gaming desktop PC
Mouse mat KTRIO large mouse pad
Docking station USB-C to HDMI cables for laptop hook-up

“My ambitious goal was to create a budget-friendly yet sophisticated space that incorporated my individual style with mid-century class, showcased in an exhibition-like manner,” says Ty Faulkner.

A well-organised L-shaped desk setup
Photo: Ty Faulkner’s L-shaped desk setup

“Look for deals on second-hand items from places like MercarieBay or a local thrift store. I’m a huge advocate for reselling & refurbishing and the used market as a whole.

More expensive doesn’t always mean better.

As a seller, you’re able to declutter your space by getting rid of unwanted items, and you get to make some cash while you’re doing it. Plus, you’re essentially upcycling and saving an item from making its way to a landfill. As the buyer, you’re getting to buy an item at a heavily discounted rate. It’s a win-win for all parties.”

16. Budget-friendly WFH desk setup. Cost: $3K

Item Model
Monitor LG 32UN880-B 32″ UltraFine Display Ergo
Laptop MacBook Pro 2019 (work), MacBook Air 2020 (personal), ASUS ROG Strix 15 (personal)
Speakers Logitech Z333
Headphones Bose 700
Keyboard Logitech MX Keys
Mouse Logitech MX Master 2S
Chair Herman Miller Sayl
Mouse mat Razer Firefly V2
Docking station Belkin USB-C 11-in-1 Multiport Dock
Web camera Logitech Business Webcam
Microphone Wacom Intuos Pro L
Wireless charger Energea MagDisc Trio

“I think there is no ‘one-size fits all’ solution when it comes to setting up a workspace,” shares Sigit Adinugroho from Singapore.

“At first, you might look for inspiration on social media, but you might quickly realise that the desk setups you see are unrealistic because… maybe you don’t have the budget or the space. I think it’s best to start with the space and budget you have and work up from there.”

Low-Budget Desk Alternatives for Small Spaces
No space and budget for a desk? Here are some inexpensive desk alternatives that work in small spaces.

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Home Office Ideas