How to Choose a Desk

This pivotal piece of furniture can make any room more functional and fabulous.

By Jan Soults Walker

Probably more than any other furnishing, a desk sparks the imagination. After all, what kinds of creativity or productivity might emanate from this multipurpose piece? If you're planning to shop for a desk, mull over these considerations first.

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Susan Fredman

Peg the purpose

What tasks will happen at your desk and how many people will use it? Knowing what roles your desk will fulfill, as well as who will sit there, will help determine what size it should be and how much storage it should offer. A long desk could accommodate a pair of computers side-by-side, allowing two people to do research and homework simultaneously, for example. As a multiuser alternative, a wide partner desk allows people to sit on opposite sides.

Will this be a spot where you plan to simply write a few thank you notes, keep a journal, or jot a grocery list? Then you may only need a small desktop with a drawer or two for supplies. If you require an area for household bookkeeping, bill paying, menu planning, and spreading out resource materials, then a large desk surface might be in order. Complete your work zone with a desktop storage hutch to organize books, printing paper, and other supplies.

Plan size and scale

Determine the most logical spot for your desk and know the available dimensions. A home office may be able to handle a sizeable desk since it may be one of the most important furnishings in the room. If it will be tucked into one corner a gathering space, a desk needn't serve as a focal point, so a smaller model may be in order. If you need a desk but lack available floor space, consider a one that folds out of sight inside an armoire.

Get ideas with Office Obstacles: Carve Out a Home Workspace.

Peruse styles and options

Desks are available in all kinds of shapes beyond rectangles, such as ovals, curves, and configurations that include L- or U-shapes. There's also a desk to suit your style, from contemporary to vintage to traditional and everything in between. You'll find desks in a wide range of materials too—metal, wood (both painted and stained), glass, acrylics or laminates, and combinations of materials.

Check out optional features that include built-in lighting, soft-close drawers, adjustable heights (including tall desks that let you stand up to work), cord ports, keyboard trays, and more.

For more home design ideas and advice, check out:

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