Pros/Cons of L-shaped Desk?


After two years of undergraduate study on the same desk I've been using since I was 10 years old, I've decided it's time for an upgrade.

As a student, money is a bit of a constraint, so I've been looking into Ikea's 'Galant' desk series. The price seems to be quite reasonable, and I've heard mainly good things about the desks themselves.

Without getting into much detail about the environment the desk will be placed in (because I doubt it will be there for very long), I would like to hear about people's experiences with L-shaped desks? You know - the desks where the laptop/monitor supposed to be placed in the corner of the L?

The reason I ask is, having never used anything but straight desks, I can't decide between buying a nice long setup or one which runs in the shape of an L?

FYI, I spend most of my time at the desk on my laptop, but I do also need space (1000mm +) for book work and drawing. My proposed computer setup will entail a MacBook Pro, adjacent ~23" monitor, keyboard and mouse - so the workstation will obviously have to cater for this, plus the additional drawing space.

I think I've come to the conclusion that desktop real estate is my primary objective - ie. the bigger the better.

On that note, here are two setups that I'm considering at the moment: one is long and straight, the other is making use of the L.

Laptop & monitor are there just to give you a vague idea of proportion and the sort of setup I'd like to achieve.

My primary concern with the L-shaped desk is the apparent dead space (behind the monitors in corner, the rounded end to the left of the laptop, etc.) whereas nearly all of the space on the long/straight setup is accessible. I'm also a little concerned that the far left legs may interfere with my chair positioning behind the monitors

I do, however, appreciated the way the L-shaped desk will almost 'wrap' around me in the corner. I guess this will be advantageous? Also, I feel the L-shaped desk will lend itself to future extensions and changes (can extend in two planes) to develop a larger/more user-friendly workstation (when I have the money & space!), whereas there isn't much that can be altered in the long/straight desk.

Lastly, is this particular L-shaped desk meant to be for a left hander or does it not matter? I'm right handed.

I've got a few more ideas/concerns, but I'd like to get some feedback first.. Let me know what you think.

Feb 18, 08 6:20 am
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Feb 18, 08 6:21 am  · 

You have way too much time on your hands.

I feel like L-shaped desks waste a lot of space, particularly if you put your flat panel monitor in the corner. They were great when we all had big old tube monitors, but those days are gone. The corner just ends up being totally useless space.

My favorite setup (though it requires a lot of room to do this) is two straight desks running parallel with about 3 feet in between. That way you can have one for a computer setup and another for drawing - and you can also use the entirety of both desks with very little wasted space.

Feb 18, 08 8:01 am  · 

for project management activity (my primary job these days) i actually like an l-shape but, again, not with the computer and monitor in the corner. i use one side as space for computer/writing/memos/schedules/misc stacks of paper and one as drawing/layoff table. that way i can computer with one hand and be looking at drawings on the adjacent wing. if i had a second table behind me, this wouldn't work.

Feb 18, 08 8:05 am  · 

I have a Galant L. It is a good deal, but make sure you talk to them about the dimensions. I had it all figured out, but turns out they switch which direction is "Long" and what is "Short", depending on the options.

Overall, I won't buy from Ikea again because of all the hidden costs (Filing cabinet did not come with the mechanism to hold the files, unit is discontinued, so I almost go screwed, bathroom cabinet did not come with hinges, etc., etc.). It's still a good deal, but my time is worth more than the headache.

Feb 18, 08 8:31 am  · 

much maligned but always fine: DOORS

in this case, two solid core oak veneer doors salvaged from a demo'd project, mounted to the wall, filing cabinets tucked underneath, a bookshelf and a old-school drafting board sitting on top.

Feb 18, 08 8:49 am  · 
Sarah Hamilton

I like the 'L' as Steven has it set up. Where the corner is not reserved for the monitor, but is instead crammed with other stuff, and I like it for the very reason obvious in his photos. With a swivel chair, I can easily twist back and forth between paper and monitor.

When in studio, I prefered sitting between two drafting tables, as 4arch mentioned because I wasn't doing heavy computer work, and model and paper work were the main goals of the space. Oh, and I only spaced them about 2 feet apart so that I was sitting at two desks at once, again, for the swivel option. Maybe I just like to twist.

Feb 18, 08 9:03 am  · 

if you go with the 'L' def. dont but your monitor in the corner.

Feb 18, 08 9:42 am  · 

pretty nice steven - that would of been my comment as well. If money is tight go for the doors instead.

Feb 18, 08 10:12 am  · 
Sarah Hamilton

Obviously, these need to be 'Flush' doors, as a nice panel door would be hard to draw on.

Feb 18, 08 11:22 am  · 

Had doors for about twenty years and worked just fine. I had added a lower tier on one of the sides for plans ( ie zoning maps, my own house plans... the important stuff) I just moved on to 3/4" birch ply desks ( good one side with a clear lacquer finish ) works very well good price and depending on the design you can get a good span with a little strong back rib on the edge. The lacquer finish is good to clean off the coffee stains etc. I fitted out the whole office with a dozen desks / tables for about $1000.00 in material and another $1000.00 in labour to build it and finish it ( not all the desks were the same either )

Feb 18, 08 12:14 pm  · 

Don't forge to think about what hand you use the most. There is nothing more aggrevating than drafting w/ your right hand and having all your crap on the wrong side of your body.

Feb 18, 08 3:19 pm  · 

An "L" or "U" shaped desk is the way to go in my opinion. Your computer in the middle, a place for your phone and writing/sketching materials on one side (in my case usually on the left), and a plan layout area to the other. If you have the option then about 50 million other places to lay out plans hehe. You basicly want to just be able to pivot in your chair to get to your basic work areas. If you have to roll sideways or even worse get up, then you are going to be very inefficient and lose your train of thought when your are really cooking.

Feb 18, 08 11:47 pm  · 

I like a straight desk with a smaller, mobile matching table that I can move around as needed.

If you want desk space, get a monitor arm and keyboard tray. LCD stands and a non mobile monitor really take up space. the ability to push the monitor out of the way when you need the desk space is great.

Humanscale has a 70 or 80% designer discount. I got my $480 keyboard tray for $87 through the local rep. right now I'm designing a new series of small desks based on using ergonomic accessories to save space.

Feb 19, 08 1:31 am  · 

yeah agreed with Shuellmi on the hand thing.

Go for a donut shaped desk.

Feb 19, 08 2:02 am  · 

i've had el-shaped desks in every office stateside.

in germany, we had massive tracks of linear tables, similar to this

only with 1.5x as much table space.

there is something nice about being able to spread out, about not having something hard on either side of your seat to confine you.

current office is way too cramped, with desk in front, table on right side, file cabinets on left. there isn't much room to lay out plans, either. and storage is a huge problem.
alot like this, only with a better view.

Feb 19, 08 2:50 am  · 

Thanks for the responses guys, much appreciated.

"The corners of an L were useful back when we had huge CRT's sitting there but I don't think they're helpful anymore."

Yeah, the more I think about it, the more this makes sense. In reality, I keep seeing 'dead space' in the L-shaped setup - whereas the straight/long setup offers almost 100% accessible desk space.

"Have you considered a double bar scheme. One desk for drawing and one desk for the computer... both could be smaller than what you're showing but could also be quite task specific."

For the moment being (room size & cost constraints) this cannot be achieved. But I do think this would almost present my ideal home-office setup. I can't really think of anything that would be more efficient. So I guess by investing in one straight/long desk now, I'm halfway to my dream setup.

Okay, I'm like 90% sold on the straight/long setup.. Unless anyone has any further objections?

Anyone had any experience with this [Ikea] Galant system? Does anyone have a preference for the 'A' or 'T' legs? ATM, I'm leaning towards getting the 'A' legs in chrome with a nice black/brown table top..

Feb 20, 08 6:46 am  · 

I hope OP hasn't been going without a desk for 10 years awaiting your link quangmoon.

Feb 1, 18 10:46 am  · 

+++ Steven.

Doors on filing cabinets: Architect work space the way God intended.

A good, old gut-height drafting table is great too, as the furniture world has finally discovered.  But the arrangement needs to be solid (for leaning) as well as tall (for standing).

Feb 2, 18 5:39 pm  · 
furnidon's comment has been hidden

If you wear multi-focus glasses (bifocals, progressives), I'd suggest you want the monitor lower than all the standard ergonomic diagrams show. Essentially, you want your neck straight, eyes angled down to look at the monitor through the "close up" part of your glasses.

Want a good office chair for not too much money? Try a used office furniture dealer.

Basic with mice: gross motions (like across the screen) with the heel of your hand off the desk surface, but when it gets to fine motions (photoshop, whatever), put the heel of your hand down and just use your fingertips. I'd thought we all knew this one, but I end up showing somebody this 'easier way' at least once a month.

I personally find trackpads more comfortable, but off to the side, where a mouse would be.

Keyboards: at least try a negative tilt(back lower than front). IMO the 'normal' angled position is for people who type like we learned in typing class, on typewriters - hands in the air. Everybody I see these days has their hands on a cushion, so that 'normal' angle is angling your wrists unnaturally. You can see what I mean with a book laying on a table. First put the heels of your hands on the table with your fingertips up on the book. Then try the other way: heels of your hands on the book and fingertips hanging off. Which is more comfortable?

Jul 15, 18 7:00 pm  · 

I like an L-shape desk because they'll provide just as much, if not more, surface space as a straight desk, but everything is more easily accessible. It's not out of reach at one end of the desk because the desk itself curves around your chair. 

Jul 16, 18 12:22 pm  · 
Wannabe Frank Gehry's comment has been hidden
Wannabe Frank Gehry

Well L shape works fine if you use a free rolling drafting table to move around when you design. Also be mindful of the angle where you place the table as you might get a differential glare on your PC vs Laptop. If they are lined up on your desk along the long L then you would have the same glare. However if you place your laptop on short L and the PC on long L glare might interfere. If you are planning to move around...word of advice is to choose a drafting chair with care. This would be the 2nd most important set up decision.

Sep 27, 18 5:01 pm  · 

L or U... prefer the U to keep the coffee further away from spilling on the keyboard

Sep 27, 18 6:09 pm  · 

Nobody has mentioned the standing desk,,,,,is it already a thing of the past??? I hope so..... You could always do one straight desk and then do a Murphy desk for when you need to look at drawings, it's there when you need it and then lock it away when you don't..... I plan to do two solid core doors for my Jewelry crating space, I am going to use the pre-drilled door knob holes for the cords to my Dremel and Grinder....Hope this helps.

Aug 17, 19 3:04 am  · 

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