Guide | Desks

How to Choose a Desk

Setting up an office can be at once exciting and stressful. So many selections in layout, furnishings, and décor must be made, and the options are practically endless. Your desk will be the central piece in your room, whether at home or at the office. So, you may be asking yourself, “how do I choose desks for my home or office?”

With that goal in mind, we’ve created this handy desk guide to answer all your questions. You’ll find out about the types, shapes, styles, and costs of desks on the market.

What is the perfect type of desk for me?

First, you’ll want to determine just how you will be using your desk and where. There are five general ways most people use their desks. Defining this one element to begin will give you a great start to your desk search.

  • I will use my desk mainly for computer work: You’ll go forward looking for computer desks or workstations explicitly designed for computers. They will have ample surface space for holding an all-in-one or a CPU tower under the desk. These units often come with a pullout keyboard tray and holes on the top for channeling your power cords.

  • I will use my desk for paperwork: The desk you’ll search for will have a large top surface to accommodate spreading out of spreadsheets, papers, books, and files. Choosing a top hutch unit with full shelves to hold file boxes or slots for documents will add more functionality to your space. Desks for paperwork are best when they have enough space between top and floor to accommodate a rolling file cabinet.

  • I will use my desk for a combination of work activities: To successfully support a mix of computer work, paperwork, and meetings, you’ll need a more robust setup. An L-shape desk provides two work surfaces, one for your computer and one for paperwork. A U-shape desk offers an open forward space for meetings while a section on either side works nicely for paperwork and your computer.

  • I will use my desk for home management activities such as bills and schedules: A small writing desk in the kitchen or corner of the living room will accommodate a laptop or bills nicely without overwhelming your space.

  • I will use my desk mainly for decoration:Executive desks, X-base desks, and secretary desks tend to have a more decorative style. They will add beauty to your décor by placed facing out from a corner in the living room or the bedroom.

Dark White Chocolate Melamine Manufactured Wood U Shape Executive Desk With Hutch
Black Ash Solid Wood Corner Desk
Charter Oak Manufactured Wood Black Metal Rectangular Writing Desk
Black Manufactured Wood Metal Iron Multi Functional Drafting Table
Dark Walnut Laminated Manufactured Wood RectangularComputer Desk
Split Oak Manufactured Wood L Shape Computer Desk
White Clear Glass Metal Height Adjustable Standing Desk
Clear Tempered Glass Rectangular Desk Shell

What is the right height for a desk?

Most fixed desks average between 28 inches and 30 inches tall and accommodate height wise most adjustable office chairs. For those who are taller, you may want to find an adjustable desk as well. Alternately for those who are more comfortable standing and working, standing desk styles are available.

How much room do I need for my desk?

When seated at your desk, you’ll need at least 3 ½ feet between your desk and the back of your chair. And, 3 feet between your desk and another piece of furniture. This allows for moving around your space comfortably and sitting down and getting up from your chair.

What chair do I pair with my desk?

Choose an office chair that fits with your shape and style of the desk. Make sure the arms don’t hit the desk where you can’t pull your chair to it properly. Your feet should rest flat on the floor when seated, and your knees should easily slide under the desk when you pull your chair up to it.

What types of materials are desks made from?

Desks come in a vast range of materials and finishes to suit your purpose, place, and taste. You’ll find:

  • rustic and sleek wood desks,
  • MDF desks for a more casual look,
  • painted or lacquered desks with versatile style,
  • metal or metal/wood mix for industrial spaces,
  • marble, or glass top/metal base desks for a touch of glam.

How do I pick a desk style to match my office or home?

You can select your desk style based on the design, shape, material, and finish. Below we’ve outlined the most popular styles.

Transitional desks: Choose a desk with straightforward design and subtle detailing in wood or painted wood.

Washed Gray Manufactured Wood Transitional Writing Desk
Weathered Gray Manufactured Wood Melamine Paper Rectangular Transitional Writing Desk
Smoked Oak Black Solid Manufactured Wood Transitional Writing Desk
Antique Storm Manufactured Wood Rectangular Transitional Writing Desk
Black Solid Manufactured Wood Transitional Writing Desk

Traditional desks: Select a more ornate desk in fine-grained cherry or mahogany with claw feet or Queen Anne legs.

Walnut Mahogany Solid Wood Traditional Executive Desk And Chair Set
Grayish Brown Solid Manufactured Wood Writing Desk
Antique White Manufactured Wood Traditional L Shape Computer Desk
Oak Elm Manufactured Solid Wood Secretary Desk With Hutch

Contemporary desks: Find a rectangular or curved desk with simple design in MDF or light wood with medium grain.

Pure White Manufactured Wood Rectangular Contemporary Writing Desk
White Manufactured Wood Contemporary Writing Desk
White Manufactured Laminated Composite Wood Contemporary Floating Desk

Modern desks: Look for designs from the mid-20th century from iconic makers of the period in wood or metal.

Manufactured Wood Metal Modern Desk
White MDF Manufactured Wood Metal Steel Modern Writing Desk
Metal Steel Glass Modern Computer Desk

Rustic desks: Search for large to medium-grain woods in pine, oak, or reclaimed wood with a natural finish.

Brown Oak Solid Wood Metal Rustic Writing Desk
Peppercorn Pine Solid Manufactured Wood Rustic Desk
Weathered Charcoal Pine Solid Wood Rustic Credenza Desk With Hutch
Brown Pine Solid Wood Metal Cast Iron Rustic Computer Desk
Curado Cherry Manufactured Wood Rustic Writing Desk

Quick Tips for Choosing Your Best Desk

Below you’ll find quick tips for selecting the best desk for your purpose and style:

  • Choose your desk type based on how you will use your desk.
  • Leave 3 ½ feet around your desk and chair to allow for mobility.
  • Make sure your chair can slide under the desk freely without hitting your knees.
  • Office chair arms need to allow the user to pull up to the desk easily without rubbing on the underside of the top.
  • Select the materials for your desk to match your décor style.
  • L-shape and U-shape desks allow for a mix of work activities such as computer work, paperwork, and meetings.
  • A curved desk affords you more room between chair and wall in smaller spaces.
  • Perch a hutch on the far side of the desk to keep books, papers, and files close at hand.
  • Secretary desks or computer cabinets work nicely in small spaces.
  • Adjustable desks are ideal for accommodating tall users where the standard height doesn’t.
  • A small desk is excellent for doing household planning and scheduling in the kitchen or bedroom.
  • Straight lines and clean finishes work in contemporary casual spaces.
  • Fine woodgrain desks lean towards a more formal traditional style.
  • Marble and glass top desks create a glamorous aesthetic.

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