A modern IKEA hack gaming setup with a curved monitor displaying anime

Audiophile’s IKEA Desk Setup in Virginia, US

“I went with a traditional IKEA desk hack so that I could better spend money on equipment”

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Editorial Team
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Name: Emmanuel

Location: Virginia, US

Occupation: Senior Engineer

Room size: 16 m² (169 ft²)

Social media: Instagram

Hello! Tell us a bit about yourself

I’m a Project Manager/Senior Engineer for a Telecom company.

My hobbies are tech, cars, gaming, anime, music, and recently, resin figure collecting.

Growing up, I was your typical guy who enjoyed playing sports, gaming, and watching anime.

As I grew up, I expanded my hobbies out of curiosity and discovered there are many fun things to do in the world, some more expensive than others.

A close-up of a wooden-cup headphone on a mannequin head next to the Phonitor XE headphone amplifier and a gaming console controller in the foreground

While I’m not technically working my “dream job”, I am fortunate for the opportunities my employer has provided, and I am a firm believer in always trying to better yourself.

I was a full remote worker from 2017 up until 2022, when we transitioned to going to the office once a month. The same continues today.

I’ve been with my current company for nearly ten years, originally starting in sales.

Through hard work, I was able to get promoted to manager, then project manager.

A close-up view of a tidy gaming desk setup, featuring a large Samsung Odyssey Ark 2 monitor with an anime display, a mechanical keyboard, a gaming mouse, a Stream Deck, and a RØDE microphone, all arranged neatly on a wooden surface

Coincidentally, we had a company realignment, and several of us found ourselves in new roles as Senior Engineers.

Although technically in an engineer role, I perform the same duties as a project manager with additional responsibilities as an engineer.

Take us through your setup

Item Model
Monitor Samsung Odyssey Ark 2
Monitor mount Base stand
Desktop 2019 Mac Pro — 24 core, 256GB RAM
GPU Pro Radeon Pro Vega 2 GPUs
Accelerator card Apple Afterburner Card
SSD 2TB OWC Accelsior 1M2NVMe PCIe SSD
USB card Sonnet Tech Allegro 4-port SuperSpeed USB 3.2 Charging PCI Express 2.0 Expansion Card
Storage Promise Pegasus J2i 8TB internal storage enclosure
Speakers Klipsch the Sevens with Klipsch sub
Headphones ZMF Caldera, ZMF Atrium, Meze Emp II, HiFiMan Arya Stealth
Keyboard Work Louder Creator Board, Black Diamond 75, Custom GMK67 65%, Keychron Q4
Mouse Logitech MX Master 3S, Logitech GX Pro Superlight (Black & White) and many others
Desk mat Currently Orbitkey Desk Mat Regular Slim. I rotate mats monthly
Desk shelf Hexcal Studio
Docking station CalDigit TB4 Element Hub
Web camera Opal C1
Microphone RØDE PodMic and Loupedeck Live S
Chair Herman Miller Embody with Atlas Headrest
Desk IKEA KARLBY + Fully Jarvis Standing Desk Frame + Uplift caster wheels

After many years of moving around and being a remote worker for the past seven, we finally found a home where I can have a dedicated office.

I needed a room where I can work uninterrupted and where I can relax, unwind, and have some alone time.

However, having children makes the alone time impossible.

A modern gaming setup with a large curved monitor displaying an anime character, a mechanical keyboard, a gaming mouse, a Stream Deck, and headphones, all neatly arranged on a wooden desk

Officially, I had the room completed within the first few months at the height of the pandemic.

For the next two years, I kept a minimalist mid-century home office.

In the summer of ‘22, I decided I wanted a complete refresh, something that was a little bit more my personality.

The highlight of my office is the desk itself.

The desk is what ties in all my equipment. However, the placement of the desk I chose proved to be difficult.

My room is approximately 13×13 ft.

Two walls have large windows, one wall has a door in the centre leading to the downstairs bathroom, which left me with one wall with a tiny window to the top right.

A spacious and stylish room featuring a gaming setup with a large curved monitor, a “GO BEYOND PLUS ULTRA” LED sign, a black ergonomic chair, and shelves displaying action figures

I knew I wanted a larger-than-typical desk, so I opted for the wall with the tiny window and painted it black to make it stand out from the rest of the room.

With the desk in place, I had ample space to start placing all my equipment.

I went with a traditional IKEA desk hack so that I could better spend money on equipment.

I purchased the widest KARLBY you can buy and mounted it to a Fully Jarvis Standing Desk Frame standing on Uplift caster wheels.

What the desk lacks in depth, it made up for in width. (Though the ideal depth should be about 30″, in my opinion.)

A modern gaming setup with a large curved Samsung monitor, an LED sign ”GO BEYOND PLUS ULTRA” sign, ergonomic chair, audio equipment, and wall-mounted headphones in a minimalist black and wood-themed room

Originally, I went through several trials and errors to see which setup I enjoyed the most, and my current setup is my favourite.

Although I used the same IKEA desk, I first had it resting on furniture legs which were mounted to my ALEX drawers, with a much smaller Apple Studio Display and Apple Studio.

I then realised that I change my setup and rotate my equipment quite often, and so I needed a way to do that without it taking up so much of my time.

That’s when the idea of mounting it to a sit/stand frame and installing casters came to me.

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The casters allow me to easily pull my desk forward and access the back.

It also provided a sense of relief as I was always afraid my youngest might push the desk back and it would cause the desk to fall, breaking or severely damaging my equipment.

While I have a pretty good system in place for how my setup is configured, another challenge was where to display my ever-growing resin figure collection.

A sleek gaming setup featuring a large curved monitor, an ergonomic Herman Miller Embody chair, audio equipment, and gaming consoles in a minimalist room with a grey sofa in the corner

Early last year, I displayed several figures on my desk, but I found out soon after that they cluttered my desk and they didn’t specifically flow well with my setup.

I wanted my setup to consist of just my consoles, computer, and audio equipment. I now place my figures on certain shelves after completing a DIY shelf build.

That’s a topic for a whole other conversation.

Overall, I am happy with the setup and the room, though I wish I had another blank wall or two.

On the flip side, with so many windows, I have tons of natural light.

At the end of the day, my original desire to have a dedicated office has turned into a “man cave”.

It sparks many conversations when guests come over as my room is the first room seen after opening the front door.

What’s your favourite item on your desk?

As of writing this, my Hexcal Studio monitor stand is my favourite item on my desk.

The Hexcal Studio comes with a host of features, most importantly several outlets where I can plug in all my audio equipment and peripherals on my desk.

A close-up of high-end audio equipment on a wooden desk, featuring a silver Schiit Lyr 3 tube amplifier stacked on a black Schiit Bifrost DAC, and a custom Feliks Audio Euforia tube amplifier with a wooden enclosure and exposed vacuum tubes.

The top of the monitor stand slides off, allowing you to hide your cables inside.

It has built-in lighting, wireless charging, and a few other features.

By plugging everything into the Hexcal Studio, I only have one power cable that runs to my power strip from my desk.

This makes swapping out audio equipment quite easy without having to stand behind my desk.

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What apps or tools do you use to get things done?

For apps and tools I enjoy using Apple’s built in tools and all of Google Suite.

For work purposes, we are fully integrated into the Google ecosystem, but for personal use, I am fully integrated into the Apple ecosystem.

I previously used Notion and was a big fan but have opted to use Apple Notes.

Although I’m not a content creator, photographer, videographer, etc., I started using the Loupedeck Live S, which allows me to have open up my most common apps/websites with just the press of a button.

Necessary? Absolutely not. Convenient?

Absolutely yes.

For web calling, I use WebEx for work and Zoom for personal life.

Since I work with dozens of projects at any given time, I have transitioned from Excel to Google Sheets.

This provides me the opportunity to work from anywhere without the risk of corrupting my data in the event my work laptop crashes (which it did, twice).

A close-up of a grey Keychron mechanical keyboard with custom keycaps, including an orange escape key and red return and shift keys, backlit with yellow LEDs, placed on a black desk mat next to a Logitech G Pro wireless gaming mouse

I built my own tracker with just the information I need to successfully complete my work.

I have observed first-hand how convoluted Excel spreadsheets can be when people input too much information.

I use several other tools and applications at work which I am not at liberty to discuss, but they significantly help with my workflow.

Ultimately, my setup is geared towards personal use, while my laptop is for the sole purpose of work.

A few apps that I use for my Mac Pro are Permute, Adobe Suite, Downie, Freeform, Roon, MS Office, Numi, etc.

During my personal time, I typically game, watch content, and research/study various topics.

The tools help when it comes to researching or studying for certifications.

What books, blogs, or podcasts recently caught your attention?

Honestly, I don’t have the time to watch any podcasts.

I divide my free time into sections.

A portion is for studying scripture, studying for certifications or personal growth, followed by any leisure activity (gaming, anime, Netflix).

Any tips for other makers who want to improve their workspaces?

I recommend watching TechSource.

Ed is great, and you can get inspiration from all the setups he reviews.

Also, don’t get discouraged when you see setups that cost thousands of dollars. Every one of us starts somewhere.

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Honestly, the journey is sometimes more fun than the destination.

I would say pick an area you want to improve so as not to overwhelm yourself.

If you want better audio, then focus on that until it’s done.

What does your typical day look like?

I’m a father to four kids, all eight years old and under.

My day is never typical.

One second it’s peaceful, then the next it’s chaotic.

During the week, I get the kids ready for school, prep breakfast and lunch, and drop them off.

Once I return, I begin my work day while taking breaks here and there to exercise, fold laundry, clean up, etc.

A modern desk setup featuring a large curved monitor displaying anime, a grey Keychron Q4 mechanical keyboard with custom keycaps, a Logitech G Pro wireless gaming mouse, a Stream Deck, and an Apple Pencil on a black desk mat, with high-end audio equipment and a Mac Pro tower placed underneath the desk

The kids are picked up in the afternoon, and when we return home, I continue to work until the end of the workday.

When the kids are sleeping at night, I use that time to relax in my home office.

Unfortunately, I sense the days of remote office work ending. In 2024, our return to the office increased from once a month to once a week.

Now there’s talk of two to three days a week in the office. Only time will tell.

Your tips for working from home?

It’s important to take scheduled breaks. If possible, take your breaks outside the office.

Create that separation from work.

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You can get easily distracted working from home. It took me over a year to even like it.

I’m a big fan of music and usually listen to my headphones while working.

A collection of high-end headphones displayed on stands, featuring the ZMF Caldera, ZMF Atrium, Meze Empyrean Elite, and HiFiMan Arya Stealth, all arranged neatly under a window with white shutters

Don’t forget to do some physical activities during your break. You’d be surprised how much you eat when you work from home.

Since I still have to work when the kids are home from school, I complete my most important tasks in the morning, when I am the most alert and focused.

Nothing is more frustrating than getting interrupted by loud kids every five minutes when you’re crunching numbers, writing reports, or doing anything that requires your complete focus.

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We’re a reader-supported publication. This article might contain affiliate links. It means we may receive a commission if you click a link and buy a product that our maker has recommended. The interview was done independently.

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