Name: Cam DiCecca

Location: Boston, Massachusetts, US

Occupation: IT Systems Engineer

Room size: o,8 m² (9 ft2) — desk area

Cost of the setup: ~$1,5K (without PC & monitor), ~$4,1K (with PC & monitor)

Social media: Instagram

Website: camdicecca.com

Hey, Cam! Tell us a bit about yourself

I’ve had a passion for computers and technology ever since I could remember. I would always be so excited when I was allowed to use the family computer growing up and loved “Typing Class” in my early school years.

I graduated from college/university with a degree in Information Technology & Computer Networking, and my passion for technology has perpetually grown ever since. During this time, I also stumbled upon photography on a whim and must’ve watched every YouTube tutorial video that existed just to figure out how to even use my camera.

After college, I got my first full-time job working for an IT company just outside of Boston, Massachusetts as a Systems Engineer. During this time, one of my life-long friends floated the idea of us taking a trip out to Utah to hike, and I thought it would be a perfect chance for me to practice my photography as well as push myself into a new chapter of photography.

Many trips later, photography had become such a strong part of my life. With this newfound passion, I began to utilise Instagram more and more, as it started to become much easier to connect with other photographers, and most importantly, get inspired to continue shooting.

Cam's versatile maker station serves him as a workspace, battle station, and so much more
Cam’s versatile maker station serves him as a workspace, battle station, and much more

Fast-forward to July 2019, I’ve left my job in Boston and moved to Austin, Texas, where I worked for a similar company as my job in Boston and had a fresh, new apartment to set up with my girlfriend.

For the first time, we had an extra bedroom, which we knew we would share as an office. March 2020 came around, and I started to find my mind aching for another hobby to stay busy while abiding by the worldwide lockdowns taking place due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Now, I’ve always known that the big tech companies tend to just “know” what you’re thinking, but somehow, Instagram knew what I wanted before I even knew what I wanted.

Sure enough, I began to discover a few Instagram pages that had amazing aesthetics and even better desk setups. These pages just randomly popped up on my feed, and I couldn’t look away.

I was immediately fascinated by these pages and setups. Each desk/room setup was completely different in its own respective way.

I loved seeing how people used their spaces differently, incorporating tech with furniture to end up with their own personal sanctuary.

I was inspired to use these ideas and create my own space, where I could feel more than comfortable, have everything I need within short reach, and even express a part of my personality.

I’ve realised that this technology bug (pun intended) isn’t going to go away any time soon. Technology still fascinates me to this day, and reading about new technology coming out continues to excite me.

I currently have my main photography page on Instagram, a new technology/desk setup-focused page that I recently started, as well as my website, where I continue to post my photography, desk setup, and tech I’m using that I think others would like as well.

Can you describe your home setup?

I like to think of my home setup as a large, clean space to work from, that is multifunctional.

Some key features of my workspace are my desktop, lights, and pegboards, and the three of these items help give it a true multifunctional vibe.

The desktop is the IKEA Gerton (Beech) tabletop, sitting on three IKEA OLOV adjustable legs, and one HELMER drawer set. I chose this tabletop because, at the time, I was looking for an affordable option to provide me with a large workspace to utilise.

The tabletop is unfinished, so I’ve been considering sealing and staining the wood to provide a bit of a darker look to it along with water protection, but I still love the look as is.

The adjustable legs have allowed me to set the height to a comfortable level and provided a perfect way to make sure the drawers fit perfectly.

While the drawers are a bit small for my liking, I love the look they provide, as they seem to make the overall setup look like a workbench instead of an office.

There are endless design possibilities when setting up the lights, but according to Cam, he has always preferred to stick with a design that either frames a desk or a monitor
There are endless design possibilities when setting up the lights, but Cam says he has always preferred to stick with a design that either frames his desk or a monitor

The lights I currently have around my desk are the LIFX Beams, along with an LED strip behind my desk, and another smart LED strip behind my monitor. I fell in love with the LIFX Beams as soon as I saw them and knew I had to get them.

The Beams provide access to millions of colour combinations, patterns, motions, and link back to my Google Home where I can control them with my voice. I truly think these lights help give the workspace a distinct look, while also providing great amounts of light when working.

Finally, the pegboards I have mounted above my desk both serve as great style pieces, as well as vertical storage. Being from IKEA (the SKÅDIS collection), the possibilities are endless when it comes to configuring them.

I’ve seen people use them for storage, book/magazine displays, charging stations for their batteries, and many more uses. I like to use my pegboards for a combination of storage and displays, but I do find myself always adding/removing items, as well as re-organising them.

Other items in my setup that I enjoy are my Google Nest Hub, my BenQ LED Screenbar Light, Keychron K4 Keyboard, and my Peak Design Everyday 20L v2 Backpack.

I genuinely cannot recommend the Google Nest Hub highly enough. So much value in such a tiny and affordable device!

The Google Nest Hub is great — when not in use, it’s a clean, simple clock, but when I need to use it, it controls the smart devices we have (lights, thermostat, cameras), can play videos (Netflix, YouTube), can make calls, and so much more. For such a seemingly inexpensive price, I think it can be a great addition to almost any setup.

BenQ’s LED Screenbar light is fantastic, with touch controls, brightness controls, light temperature controls, and an auto-adjusting light, it truly helps elevate my desk in low-light. Even with a curved monitor, I don’t find any glare from the light showing on my monitor — I couldn’t say enough good things about it!

Moving on to the Keychron K4 keyboard — this is my second mechanical keyboard, and I absolutely love how it looks. I often find myself just staring at it like a loser, mainly because of the red keycaps that help give it some accent colour.

A mechanical keyboard provides the feel and feedback that regular keyboards lack
Each key has a distinctive click sound and a tactile bump that non-mechanical keyboards often lack

I know, there are hundreds of other solid mechanical keyboards out there with adjustable caps and switches, but I just love my K4!

Last but definitely not least, my backpack. I’ve been wanting the Peak Design Everyday 20L v2 for quite some time. I know a good amount of content creators that swear by them, so I finally decided to make the move when I found one largely discounted.

The bag itself just looks amazing in my opinion and is extremely functional as well. Whenever I’ve been going out recently, this is the bag I’m grabbing to put my camera & batteries, Pixelbook, some snacks, chargers/power bank, and anything else I think I might need with me.

I’ve seen a few other people hang their bags up (mainly @chelsey_horne), and agreed that this bag should be displayed when not in use like the piece of art it is!

They say that everything in home should either be functional or beautiful. Seems like a Peak Design Everyday 20L v2 backpack can do both
Peak Design Everyday backpack comes with internal slip pockets for wallet, ID and other important items

In total, I’d say the first iteration of this setup took at least a few hours to complete. From thinking through the initial design, trying out different layout options, cable management, testing functionality of everything, and adjusting accordingly, a good amount of time was put into it.

Knowing I’d be spending a lot of time at my desk, I like to make it comfortable, clean, and accessible. Also, being someone who hates the sight of cables, I’d say a large portion of the setup time was spent trying to hide every cable in sight.

The room my workspace is currently in is part of my living room, as my girlfriend and I are in a one-bedroom apartment just outside of the city. Space is a bit limited, but we have an amazing view of the city, so we can’t complain. The ample amounts of natural light pouring in from the window next to my desk help keep everything bright during the day and provide a great nightscape to look at during the night.

Cam's workstation is designed to have the right ambiance at different times of day
Cam’s workstation is designed to have the right ambience at different times of day

Some of the struggles I’ve faced when creating my setup were probably just trying to achieve the setup I wanted while living in apartments.

When my girlfriend and I lived in Austin, TX, we were able to afford a large apartment (due to the inexpensive prices), so I had more space to spread my setup out, Moving back to the Boston, MA area, apartment prices are much more expensive, so we ended up downsizing our space to live closer to the city.

Aside from size, apartment living has other drawbacks when it comes to creating a desk space, such as how temporary everything can be. We aren’t sure if we’ll be living in this apartment for a few years, or until the one-year lease ends.

This causes me to be hesitant about making any “permanent” changes, such as painting, going crazy with hanging things up on the wall, etc., which brings me to another struggle.

Living in an apartment, depending on what the lease agreement says, you normally can’t go wild with hanging things up, making huge changes, painting/wallpaper, etc.

I would love to not have plain white walls but would prefer either dark patterned wallpaper or dark blue/green paint.

While we might be able to get approval to paint/put up wallpaper, being an apartment, we know that we’ll just have to revert it to how it was whenever we decide to move out.

Nice wallpaper is expensive, and good paint can be too, so it’s just easier at the moment to try and leave the apartment how it is.

What’s your favourite item on your desk?

It’s a bit challenging to choose one favourite item on my desk, as each item has been chosen for a specific reason and purpose. If I had to choose, though, I think it would have to be my LIFX Beams.

Right when the pandemic started happening over here in the US, I came across a page on Instagram (@spawnpoiint, check them out!) that had these amazing light bars on their wall. I had never really seen anything like them before, and I was amazed at how clean and professional they looked.

The yellow Parks book featured on Cam's pegboard showcases nearly a century of art, cartography, and prints in a captivating visual history of America’s national parks
The yellow Parks book featured on Cam’s pegboard showcases nearly a century of art, cartography, and prints in a captivating visual history of America’s national parks

A quick visit to the LIFX.com website and I was sold. Fortunately for me, they were having a sale on refurbished products, and both my wallet and I couldn’t say no.

I purchased one set of beams for about $99 (with free shipping too, woo!), and they arrived shortly after.

Setting them up was pretty easy, with the hardest part is deciding what design I wanted them to be in. After maybe 10 minutes, they were up, configured in the LIFX app, added to my Google Home, and I soon knew exactly how Clark Griswald felt once he got his Christmas lights finally working.

I loved these lights so much, that within a week or two, I had already placed another order for the second set of Beams.

What makes me love these Beams so much is just how customisable they are, the number of colour combinations (millions, maybe billions?), and how much attention they always seem to get whenever I post a picture of my desk setup.

I think they are such a great conversation starter and definitely help separate my setup a bit from the rest.

What does your typical day look like?

A typical day for me normally differs between a weekend day or a weekday.

During the workweek, I normally go to bed around 11 PM and get up around 7:30 AM to start work at 8 AM. During the weekend, I find that my bedtime slightly varies depending on what I’d like to accomplish the following day, so sometimes I might be going to bed around 10:30 PM, and other times it might be closer to 1 AM.

I’m working 8-5 as a Systems Engineer at an IT company in the Boston area. I’ll normally spend most of that time at my desk, occasionally getting up to stretch, walk around, get food, etc.

Since I’ve been WFH for almost a year now, my workspace has continuously evolved into a space that I can work in, as well as relax in.

Once I’m done with work for the day, I try to get away from my desk for a bit, cook with my girlfriend, go for a walk, or watch something on Netflix. A few times a week, I’ll finish off the night by playing some CoD Warzone with friends.

During the weekend, I’ll tend to wake up a bit earlier and get some gaming in, normally playing F1, CoD MW/Warzone or CW, Battlefield 1, or Flight Simulator. I try to avoid playing with friends this early as I don't want to be too loud and possibly wake my girlfriend up.

F1, anyone?
GeForce RTX graphic cards support real-time ray tracing that makes reflections, shadows and global illumination close to reality

As the day continues on, I’ll try to get any photos I had in mind, which normally involves me cleaning up my workspace a little, setting up external lights, etc., followed by some editing and maybe prepping some Instagram posts.

My girlfriend and I like to try and get out during the weekend, so we’ll normally be driving somewhere for a COVID-safe day-trip.

During both the weekday and weekend, I’ll spend a lot of time watching some of my favourite creatives on YouTube or Instagram, notably TheStraightPipes, Justin Tse, MKBHD, Peter McKinnon, Michael Soledad, Chelsea Horne, YCImaging, FortNine, and many more.

I’m almost always scrolling through Instagram or Reddit admiring people’s desk/home setups and trying to garner as much inspiration as possible.

I feel like my current workspace setup is really a culmination of many of my favourite creatives who have inspired me in some way, with each contributing to some aspect of the setup.

To some extent, COVID hasn’t necessarily changed my full-time job, as most IT jobs can be done 100% remotely (except for emergencies requiring me to head on-site somewhere). Being WFH for the inevitable future, COVID has certainly changed how I spend my time at home, and especially in my workspace.

While I don’t think my setup was too bad pre-COVID, once I knew I’d be spending most of my days there I figured I should make this space somewhere I enjoy spending time at, and it’s quickly progressed from there.

Your tips for working from home?

Before COVID, I had only really worked remotely from home for about three months.

My girlfriend and I were moving to Austin, TX in July of 2019, and I had acquired a job in Austin a few months before we moved. As we were still in the Boston area, I got the approval to work remotely from Boston until we moved, and worked from home from April to July.

This was a huge change for me, as, before this job, I had hardly ever worked from home aside from the occasional snow day. Spending all day at my desk, without seeing anyone (as my girlfriend was still going into her office every day), was wildly different from what I was used to.

I quickly started to develop some daily habits and routines to help adjust to working from home, which I have since carried into the COVID-era of working from home.

One thing my girlfriend taught me was not getting up right before I have to work, but instead getting up a little earlier. Normally, during this WFH period, I’d find myself staying in bed until 5-10 minutes before I started work. Often this made me feel rushed and made it seem like all I did most days was wake up, work, eat, and go to bed.

Starting my day a little earlier by getting up 30-45 minutes before work has helped me ease into work each morning and prevented me from feeling as rushed as I normally would.

My girlfriend practices the same discipline, and will often be up early reading with a cup of coffee, writing notes down in a journal, or just looking out the window enjoying what's outside.

Going right from sleep to work can seem brash for some, but giving yourself a buffer to get yourself situated well before you have to work can help make that transition a bit easier.

One of the biggest challenges I find is trying to fully separate myself from work at the end of each day, especially if I still plan on being at my desk after work for photo editing, gaming, or just researching things.

Regardless of how comfortable a maker station is, it is crucial to spend time outdoors to unwind and differentiate work from personal life
Regardless of how comfortable a maker station is, it is crucial to spend time outdoors to unwind and differentiate work from personal life

I’ve found that having your space be different when working or “relaxing”, whether it’s a change of lights, moving things around on your desk, sitting vs. standing, or anything that can make work and play feel different helps me keep the two separate.

Lastly, make sure you get outside (if you can safely), go for a walk, drive somewhere, and make sure your weekends are spent exploring if possible!

I often find myself inside for a week straight, and after a while, it takes its toll. Walking around outside, driving somewhere to just sit and have a coffee or tea, making lunch at home and having a picnic somewhere — literally, anything that’s not inside can help refresh your mind and help break up your days and weeks.

More often than not I find my days and weeks blending into one another if I don’t do something different in between them.

Being safe during these COVID times is obviously critical, but many activities can be done safely and still allow you to do something other than sitting inside all the time.

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