When we moved into a new home last year I found myself with a writing room for the first time ever. It still feels like an absurd luxury, and I love spending my days here. Finding furniture was tricky, though. When I was researching office desks and chairs, I realized that all the desks on the market were simply too low for me. I’m 6’6 and I find it uncomfortable to sit for long periods on a normal chair at a normal desk. I briefly considered standing desks, but I worried about stability and in any case the cost was prohibitive. Eventually I found a solution that worked well. I am describing it here solely for the benefit of other tall people looking for home office solutions.
If you’re building a desk for a super tall person, you will need to source desk legs and worktop separately. Second hand desktops are the cheapest and most environmentally friendly solution. We have SOLO near us in Croydon (UK) a not-for-profit social enterprise that stops wood going to landfill. If you don’t have a wood recycling centre near you, you can pick up a cheap second-hand desktop on ebay. If the surface is dirty or discoloured, you’ll need to spruce it up a bit. I was grateful for this video on how to stain and varnish a desktop. I’m not a very practical person, but even I was able to manage three coats of this walnut wood stain and two of this varnish.
FINNVARD trestles from IKEA are the perfect solution for tall people wanting a custom-sized desk. They have seven holes, so you can mount your desktop at the height that suits you. The standard ground clearance for a normal desk is more or less 760mm. The holes in the FINNVARD trestles, by contrast, allow ground clearance of 738mm, 771mm, 804mm, 837mm, 870mm, 903mm and 936mm (I couldn’t find this information anywhere online but I’ve measured them myself just now because that info would have been invaluable to me when I was trying to work out how to buy a desk that would fit me). I bought two FINNVARD trestles second-hand on ebay. I painted them hague blue, which I now regret. I think they would look nicer if I had left them white. My desktop sits on the third lowest setting, which means that the ground clearance is 804mm and the writing surface itself is at 830mm (83cm).
For comfortable typing I use a keyboard tray mounted underneath the desk. I chose this Flexispot sliding tray. It’s 66cm wide, which is enough for a full-sized keyboard and a large, ergonomic mouse. It feels good and sturdy.
If you are tall and work at a desk all day, don’t skimp on a good chair. I paid five times more for the chair than I did for the rest of the setup combined, but it’s worth it to avoid debilitating back pain.
I rang Posturesmart and a very friendly and thorough salesperson asked me to take three measurements while sitting in a normal chair: ground to inside knee, inside knee to back, and seat to shoulder blades. Two days later, she recommended a couple of custom-built chairs that would fit me. I went for the Bolam XHB and it suits me ever so well. I can sit for hours without discomfort.
I suspect this post was eighteen months too late for most people suddenly making the switch from office working to home working, but I hope it helps someone out there. We tall blighters must stick together and help each other out where we can.
Now, back to writing!