Somehow, over the years, we’ve managed to acquire and set up three desks in our home. That’s not including my office outside of our home. We have a huge desk, mid-sized desk and a small desk. All offer pros and cons.
Choosing a desk is an important decision. There’s an aesthetic element to consider as well as dimensions, ergonomics and features. Some desks are massive that include shelving, storage and take up a large footprint. Others are compact that you can stuff into a closet or some small nook in your home.
Rule 1: Figure out how much space you have for your desk (and measure it)
A good starting point is dealing with how big of a desk you can buy. In order to figure this out, you must measure where the desk is going. It is critically important that you allow for at least 3 feet of clearance for your chair. I prefer at least 4 feet of clearance because I like wheeling around and I don’t like having to squeeze myself into a chair.
If you set your desk off the wall with the chair back against the wall, you’ll need side clearance as well to access behind the desk.
Here are your three foundational home office desk configurations:
Desk examples by size
Small Desk Examples
Rule 2: Desk height and ergonomic considerations
Fortunately, desks come in various heights including adjustable height desks so you can get the perfect height for you. Here’s a chart setting out the ideal desk height based on your height:
Rule 3: Purpose: What will you use your desk for?
This is pretty key in deciding which desk to buy. Desks have many different uses. Here are some of the main desk uses:
Home/family computer desk:
It’s the family computer that’s used once in a while for the home. It is not a dedicated desk/office for someone working full time at home.
Dedicated “work-from-home” office and desk (executive desk):
This purpose is for the person who works at home often and so the desk and office space is a dedicated professional space.
If your desk and computer is for gaming, that could very well dictate the style of desk you opt for… perhaps it allows you to buy something smaller and definitely something that’s focused for a serious computer:
Desktop vs laptop computer desk:
will your desk have a large desktop with CPU or will you use it with a laptop? This dictates whether you need CPU storage or not.
Old school handwriting and correspondence:
Is it going to be a stationary desk where you go old-school and hand-write notes and correspondence? If so, you’ll want a desk optimal for stationary storage and handwriting.
Two or more monitors:
I actually use three monitors which is why I have a huge L-shaped desk set up. If you’re using two or more monitors you will need a larger desk.
Will you craft on your desk? If so, you’ll probably want something larger and perhaps consider an adjustable desk where you can raise it for standing.
Any desk will work for kids but there are desks designed specifically for kids. Here’s an example.
Rule 4: Understand your desk design and style options – what’s out there?
It’s impossible to figure out what you want and need without knowing what’s out there. One of our goals with this site is to help folks break down different product lines into categories to help with research. For desks, we published a very popular article that sets out all the different types of desks. We published a companion piece focusing on your large desk options.
Rule 5: List out the desk features you want
Do you want a simple surface or an executive desk system? Shelving? Drawers? L-shape? Just a flat surface?
I’m more of a simple flat surface type of guy. For storage, I bought a separate filing cabinet and bookcase. However, I get the allure of a large executive desk system as well. The desk-add ons you want will definitely dictate the desk you buy.
Here’s an illustration setting out various “desk add-ons” to consider: