It’s a reasonable question. Working with two monitors can definitely introduce a bit of extra clutter and variability to your desk and, if you’re like me, you likely need as much space as possible to keep things looking neat and clean.
There are many things that you can do to make your setup look nice even with two monitors. From keeping your desk clean to finding ways to reduce clutter and some general design concepts, we’ll learn about some different strategies you can implement. In fact – the extra monitor can actually help make your setup look better if done properly. Let’s dive in.
You’ll find pretty quickly that some of the strategies I’m going to suggest to make your desk setup look nicer with two (or three) monitors don’t actually have anything to do with the monitors themselves.
Find ways to create extra space and reduce clutter
Raise your monitors off your desk
I’ve written at some length about the benefit of lifting your monitors off of your desk with a monitor arm so I won’t go into too much detail here. Here’s a quick overview of the different reasons to consider getting a monitor arm, especially if you have multiple
Monitor Arms Look Better
I mean, come on – it’s a cool, clean look. I will certainly grant that putting the monitors on certain stands can add its own slick look but putting your monitors on an arm will give you that really clean look.
Monitor Arms Add Extra Desk Space
By raising your monitors up 4 to 8 inches you’ll be able to put whatever you want under them. If you have monitor stands you’ll be giving up all of the space both underneath and behind your monitors (since you won’t be able to access them).
Monitor Arms Will (Literally) Save Your Neck
Take it from me – consistent computer use without considering ergonomics is going to royally mess things up for you, sooner or later. In my late twenties, I started feeling a dull pain in my neck…at first, it wasn’t bad but eventually, it got to the point where I realized something was wrong.
It took a complete revamp of my desk and chair set up to finally fix (and I’m still living with the consequences of my years of ignoring desk ergonomics).
Don’t be like me – take care of this before you need to.
Monitor Arms Help With Cable Management
If you don’t have a monitor arm you’re going to find it’s a bit harder to manage the cables that you need to run to them. Monitor arms all have built-in cable management (some better than others). Essentially they allow you to run the cables along or through the arm rather than just hanging down behind the monitor.
Monitor Arms Allow For More Flexibility
I change my desk setup fairly regularly – daily even. For example, if I’m playing some video games I’ll power on the console and then the picture will switch automatically between my laptop and my PS4. I’ll then want to center that screen a bit more after I shut off the other one.
This would be a hassle if the monitors weren’t on monitor arms that let me rotate and swivel them. With the monitor arms, it’s a breeze – I just move it and move it back later. No desk rearrangement needed or cables to shift.
Use creative, modern or functional monitor stands
Not everyone can use a monitor arm. They’re not compatible with every desk out there (they require a lip of less than a few inches to clamp on to).
Not everyone wants to use a monitor arm. Some people prefer the look of other types of monitor stands and the storage that can come hand in hand with something sitting on your desk that your monitor sits on. And other people don’t want to spend the extra money.
There are plenty of examples of beautiful monitor stands that will help to make your desk look nicer.
Add some storage near your desk
If you have some storage near your desk you are more likely to put the extra clutter on your desk into that storage. Consider removing and unplugging extra electronics when not in use – if you have multiple monitors the fewer devices you have cluttering your desk the better it’s going to look.
Keep your desk clean
This one is really basic but making sure that your desk area is clean and organized is going to help make your setup look nicer even with a few bulky monitors on your desk. It’s admittedly not related specifically to monitors (or multiple monitors) but keeping an otherwise clean desk is going to make your multi-monitor setup look better.
Hide those ugly wires
This might be the most important one in this section. Visibile wires are the easiest way to make your desk look sloppy and unkempt. It doesn’t really matter what else you do – wires hanging down from your monitors, jutting out from under your desk, and between all of your electronics just looks bad.
Do you know what looks even worse than having a monitor with multiple cables hanging down behind it and drifting around your desk? Having two monitors with multiple cables streaming behind it. Declutter your wires, people – it makes a huge difference.
Dust your desk & electronics periodically
Another good way to make sure that your desk is visually in tip-top shape is simply to make sure you’re cleaning it every now and then. No matter how careful you are, your desk will start to pick up dirt, dust, and more.
Your monitors are also dust magnets. If you’ve added a second monitor you now have two large, black dust collectors. Do you know what the dirtiest parts of your desk are? Your keyboard, your mouse, and that little piece of the desk where your palms sit when typing on the keyboard.
Keep surface cleaner wipes around to give your desk and your electronics a quick rub down every now and then. Not only will it keep things looking good but no one wants a dirty (and possibly greasy) desk.
Clear any cups, plates, papers every time you sit down
Alright, I think it’s honesty time. I eat at my desk…a lot. And when I get in the zone at work (or at play) it’s really hard for me to stop what I’m doing and take my dishes and cups downstairs to the kitchen.
I’ve implemented the rule that any time I sit down to work in the morning I first will declutter my desk of all of the items that have built up on it (or near it) from the day before. This helps reduce buildup.
Focus on symmetry
Sometimes, desk setups that feature two or three monitors can look bad because they’re not symmetrical. The monitors might be not be centered on the desk. Or maybe they’re on completely different monitor arms that look a bit odd when near each other. Or perhaps the monitors aren’t level and are at different angles.
Whatever the case is, leaning on symmetry can really help to make your multiple monitor setup look better.
Get two of the same monitor
This might not be possible for everyone.
Your desk might not be large enough to handle two of the same monitors. Maybe your main monitor is a really high-quality one and it’s not feasible to purchase another one to match it.
But if you can, this is a nice way to make your setup look very orderly – two of the same monitor will make it look like you put a lot of effort into a clean, consistent look.
Alternatively, completely avoid symmetry
Some people find symmetry to be completely overrated and, when done right, I completely agree.
Take a look at the picture above – it’s sort of all over the place but it works and looks really interesting. The desk features a vertical monitor (great for writing and coding), another horizontal monitor, a laptop on a stand, and all sorts of other items on it. There’s really not a lot of rhyme or reason to it but it looks cozy and is a workstation I’d love to work at.
Focus on other aspects of desk design
Monitors are bulky and, while sort of sleek, take up a lot of visual space. Try adding some other design elements to your desk to distract from the multiple monitors and make your workspace more interesting.
Adding LED lights to your desk can make working a night a lot of fun. In this particular picture, there are a few different light sources all providing a slightly different color ranging from cool blue to hot pink. Adding different lights can be a great way to illuminate your space and create beautiful gradients behind your desk and your monitors.
Adding greenery to any room is a surefire way to make it look nicer. We generally spend too much time indoors – adding plants to your desk is an excellent way to brighten up your space and improve your mood. They look fantastic, are cheap and (if you get the right ones) are really low maintenance.
Over-ear headphones by themselves range from “look cool” to absolutely gorgeous. If you have a pair of these types of headphones it could be worth looking at getting some headphone holders. It will be a nice style choice while also remaining functional.
If you’re strapped on space, try getting an under-desk adhesive headphone hanging system.
A desk is literally just a large piece of (generally, all the same color) material. Breaking up that monotony with a desk mat can really add something to your desk and create a sort of centralized work area where you keep your keyboard, mouse, notepad, etc.
They’re cheap, come in a variety of colors and materials and add a lot visually.
There are many types of speakers, ranging from very basic ones to very expensive designer ones. Adding speakers, especially symmetrically like in the photo above, is a great way to add some functionality to your workspace while also looking really great. Just don’t forget the cable management.
Shelves & Pictures
Don’t forget about the space around and above your desk. Adding shelving can add a lot of storage and make things a bit more visually interesting around your workspace. With two monitors you’ll find that your desk is always going to look a bit busy – adding more around it can actually make your work area more interesting and distract from the monitors themselves.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my different tips to make your workspace look better with multiple monitors. While I recognize some of these are just general tips I think they apply even more when you bring two monitors into the picture.