- Writing Desk
- Computer Desk
- Executive Desk
- Credenza Desk
- Corner Desk
- Secretary Desk
- Floating Desk
- Roll-Top Desk
- Standing Desk
- Wood Desk
- Glass Desk Top
- Metal Desk Top
- Laminate Desk Top
- Natural Wood Desk
- White Wood Desk
- Black Wood Desk
- Gray Wood Desk
- Murphy Desk
- Treadmill Desk
- Carrel Desk
- Peninsula Desk
- Ladder Desk
- Partners’ Desk
- Gaming Desk
- Lap Desk
- Workstation Desk
- Lectern Desk
- Wave Desk
- Bench System Desk
- Drawing Board/ Architectural Desk
I love desks. It’s one of my favorite pieces of furniture. I had one as a kid growing up and have had many since then. I remember going to the used office furniture store to pick it out.
It was a huge, solid wood desk that I had throughout childhood and high school. I loved that desk. I still love desks… and currently have two desks and two tables in my home office.
This gallery shares our enthusiasm for desks of every conceivable stripe for all types of home offices (see our epic photo gallery of home offices featuring over 150 amazing home office designs). Our hope is that this detailed guide can act as a primer for those looking to purchase a new desk for the home or office.
Desks are the best single piece of furniture for work and play, the office and home. A great desk can be the centerpiece of any space dedicated to a specific activity, whether it be a hobby, schoolwork, a job, or simply having fun.
One of the most singularly varied pieces of furniture anyone can own, the options you’ll encounter when purchasing a desk are limitless. We’d like to help break down the varieties of style, function, and form to help you seek out the perfect desk for your life.
Desk construction comprises a wide variety of categories, crossing a spectrum from the more traditional, sprawling wood models to high tech, minimalist steel and glass designs.
Each category focuses on a specific range of utilization, including writing, computer, secretary, credenza and executive desks. Each style, material and finish grants a unique touch to the room it is housed in, so choosing the right model involves appraising the looks and function equally.
Related: Types of Office Equipment | IKEA Desk Facts | Desk Dimensions | Types of Desk Chairs | Desks vs. Tables for Home Office | Parts of a Desk
Main Types of Desks
Desks are classified in a wide range of categories. From slim, minimalist pieces to office-filling sprawls, the one you choose will define the room it stands in.
1. Writing Desk
Minimalist, open furniture with minimal storage and a large work surface. Writing desks are perfect for placing along a wall or in the middle of a home office floor. The design is better suited for a laptop than a desktop computer for office work. The direct, conservative styling works elegantly in nearly any space. Check out our collection of small home office desks here.
2. Computer Desk
In a modern home office setting, computer desks are the most practical and utilitarian of all home office equipment. They provide plenty of space for both a computer tower and monitor, as well as storage for any accessories, cables and peripherals you may need.
Like the writing desk, the computer desk is built for efficiency and simplicity, but with added space for hardware components.
Key elements include a keyboard tray and large storage area for the CPU.
That said, more and more people no longer have large desktop computers and instead opt for laptops and tablets since they have more than enough computing power to manage everything digitally. This potentially renders the computer desk obsolete since you don’t need space for features such as a keyboard tray and CPU storage section. Nevertheless, you may still want a computer desk for your home.
3. Executive Desk
The executive desk is the king of the home office world. With loads of drawer storage and surface area, along with an often massive footprint, these carved wood specimens impart a sense of grandeur and timeless appeal that stands apart from other styles.
Often what is pictured when considering traditional desks, the executive desk can encompass a wide variety of styles and shapes including:
- Rectangle desk
- L-shape desk
- U-shape desk
- Massive desk systems
4. Credenza Desk
Credenza desks, as the name implies, combine a desk with a cupboard-packed credenza. This is a piece of furniture normally reserved for dining or living rooms, valued for its fashion and utility. When combined with a desk, you gain the benefits of both pieces of furniture, so long as you have the space to hold one.
5. Corner Desk
Corner desks can be a convenient solution to space problems in their compact iteration, or a sprawling suite of surface area in their more elaborate configurations. They can provide more desktop space in a smaller area, or a large L-shaped spread, depending on the size you’re aiming for. The best aspect is their ability to provide extra leg room.
6. Secretary Desk
This is a type of desk topped by a hinged-desktop surface, which is in turn topped by a bookcase, usually closed with doors or drawers. The whole desk is usually a single, tall and heavy piece of ornate furniture. They were originally for people who wanted a luxurious desk yet lacked the room for a formal roll-top model.
7. Floating Desk (a.k.a. Wall-Mounted Desk)
Mounted directly onto a wall, completely saving all available floor space. Often mounted with shelving and cubbies, taking advantage of the vertical frame, these desks are incredibly useful for those with limited space. The floating desk is perfect for dorms or bedrooms.
8. Roll-Top Desk
Growing up my parents had a spectacular antique roll-top desk in they living room they had bought at some old antique store and refinished. However, you don’t have to buy an antique one; you can still buy them new, as well.
A roll-top desk is one where a hood rolls down over the desk surface to secure all contents. While not the most practical, especially for computing, it can be a beautiful piece of furniture in any office, living room or primary bedroom.
- Drawers on both sides
- Drawers on the left side
- Drawers on the right side
9. Standing Desk (i.e. Adjustable-Height Desk)
In recent years, there’s been a lot of discussions around how unhealthy it is to sit for extended periods of time. The result is the growth in the popularity of stand-up desks due to the purported health benefits of working part of the time at a stand-up desk.
There are three main types of stand-up desks:
- A desk accessory that gives you the option to work at your regular desk standing up
- Entire desks that can be raised and lowered
- Static stand up desks that are always in an elevated position
While the above gallery showcases different types of standing desks, my favorites are the motorized Herman Miller adjustable standing desks (but they cost a lot of money).
Desk Surface Material
The desktop itself is where you’ll make contact with the desk, and where the vast majority of interaction with the furniture occurs. Whether concealing storage below or acting as a simple table top, the material determines most how the desk looks and feels while it’s being used.
10. Wood Desk Top
Wood surfaces are the most traditional form of desktop. These often manifest on top of an all-wood desk, but can also be mounted atop metal frames
11. Glass Desk Top
Glass surfaces add a boldly modern touch to any desk. Paired with wood or metal construction, the glass expands visual space and lightens the entire piece of furniture. Often removable for cleaning, maintenance, or moving purposes, glass desktops can be found in a variety of shapes and configurations.
12. Metal Desk Top
A metal desktop is the ultimate in utilitarian design. Resisting stains and scuffs, and remaining cool to the touch, it’s another modern material that’s often paired with a modern design desk, like glass. As you can see, metal desktops can be paired for a high contrast look with traditional wood-constructed desks.
13. Laminate Desk Top
Laminate surfaces overlay a protective material on top of the wood construction. This coating is usually plastic of some sort, meant to keep the desk stain and warping resistant. These are not the most luxurious desktops, but they provide practicality, versatility and peace of mind.
Wood Desk Finishes
As the most common desk construction material, wood models come in a range of finishes, with the most popular being natural, white, black and gray.
14. Natural Wood Desk
The natural wood tone, whether stained lighter or darker, is by far the most common desk finish available. With a classic look that conveys timelessness, it’s no wonder these have remained popular to this day.
15. White Wood Desk
White finishes have gained in popularity recently. Adding a bright, sparkling tone to any room, a large swath of white can open up any space.
16. Black Wood Desk
A black desk holds a slightly more modern tone than traditional natural wood styles, yet retains a more stately, serious look. Metal frame desks often come in black as well.
See more at Amazon and Wayfair
17. Gray Wood Desk
Gray wood finishes impart a calm, neutral tone, with a modern edge. Less warm and traditional than natural wood, yet brighter and less serious than an all-black model, they strike a fine balance.
18. Murphy Desk
A Murphy Desk allows you to pull it down or fold it down when not in use. It works perfectly if you have limited space in your home. Murphy desks come in several styles, including:
Industrial-style murphy desks are a good choice if you have a soft spot for that type of décor. The design is usually combined with natural wood.
If you are a minimalist, a white or black murphy desk will do the trick.
Traditional murphy desks have a natural wood finish and some feature integrated cupboards.
Consider getting a glamorous murphy desk if you want to add some pop to your space.
19. Treadmill Desk
As the name suggests, a treadmill desk allows you to walk on a treadmill while completing your office tasks. The desk was designed to help people live a more active lifestyle since office workers tend to be sedentary for long periods of time.
The desk was invented by Dr. James Levine, an endocrinologist at the Mayo Clinic. Treadmill desks come with a safety key, which the user can pull anytime to stop the treadmill instantly.
20. Carrel Desk
A carrel desk is what you would expect to find in an academic library. These desks may have integrations such as shelves, Ethernet ports, electrical outlets and illumination. However, they lack facilities like file drawers.
Carrel desks originated in monasteries to help contain the discordant sounds of monks reading out loud.
21. Peninsula Desk
A peninsula desk usually has one end up against a wall, while the rest of it is open to the room. That means people can sit on both sides of the desk, making it ideal for small casual meetings.
Some peninsula desks stand alone, but you can find some attached to a storage space or bookshelf. Most of them tend to lean towards a modern style.
22. Ladder Desk
As you might have guessed from the name, a ladder desk has shelves going up like a ladder — the main priority being ample storage space. Thanks to the shape, it uses the room’s height, saving up on horizontal space. On the downside, ladder desks don’t have privacy.
23. Partners’ Desk
A partner’s desk is a large office desk, which usually accommodates two workers facing each other. One of the most popular partners’ desks was a gift to the American president, Rutherford B. Hayes, from Queen Victoria in 1880. It’s sometimes used in the Oval Office and in presidents’ private residences. These desks usually have two pedestal bases, which double as storage spaces.
24. Gaming Desk
A gaming desk is ergonomically designed with gaming enthusiasts in mind. For instance, it can accommodate several screens and allows gamers to switch from one keyboard to the other quickly.
Comfort is paramount for gaming desks since gamers can pursue a challenge for hours. Some have extra features like a storage area for snacks and compartments to hide wires.
25. Lap Desk
Lap desks are also commonly referred to as portable desks or writing boxes. Modern-day lap desks are designed for when you need to work from the bed. Some lap desks have collapsible legs, so they can suffice both on the bed and on a lap. More advanced versions have built-in battery-powered lamps and cup holders.
26. Workstation Desk
A workstation desk is similar to a conventional office desk. The only difference is that a workstation desk is tailored for a specific task. It could be designed for typing, call-center work, or other activities. A workstation desk may have partitions to give everyone privacy to do their work.
27. Lectern Desk
A lectern desk has a slanted top, which holds documents or books from which a speaker reads out loud. A lectern desk is usually attached to a stand.
You will notice that some lectern desks have an adjustable height so the speaker can maintain eye contact with the audience. These desks are usually used in lecture theatres and seminar rooms. They are also a common sight in religious contexts.
28. Wave Desk
A wave desk is characterized by a curved front, making one end deeper than the other. This design makes it easier for you to support your dominant hand while using the mouse. The broader end of the desk can also hold larger office equipment.
29. Bench System Desk
A bench system desk connects what would be two or more free-standing desks to create the illusion of one continuous desk. They are ideal for employee collaboration. Employees can work from both sides of the bench. However, these desks only work in spacious offices.
30. Drawing Board/ Architectural Desk
Architects use drawing boards to place plans for buildings and communities. Besides having a big surface, these desks may also have special lighting to make sketching easier. Most of them are also adjustable to the architect’s height.
Top Brands of Desks
Steelcase is a leading American furniture brand headquartered in Grand Rapids, MI. The company was founded over 100 years ago by Peter Wege, Walter Idema and David Hunting. Back then, Steelcase used to create safes and filing cabinets — hence the name Steelcase.
Fast-forward to over a century later, the company has grown tremendously, serving leading organizations across various sectors, such as health, business and education. They also make more than just safes and filing cabinets.
They are best known for ergonomic desks with a dozen color choices. If you are in the U.S., you can enjoy your Steelcase desk with free shipping. They also offer installation services.
Over the years, Steelcase has received several prestigious awards, such as the sustain [HUMAN]ability Leadership Recognition Program award in 2020.
The company also garnered an impressive 100 points on the Corporate Equality Index. In 2021, the U.S. Department of Energy recognized Steelcase as an innovative and industry-leading company.
2. Herman Miller
Source: Herman Miller
Like Steelcase, Herman Miller has been a market leader in furniture and design for over a century. Originally named the Star Furniture Company, it was founded in 1905. In 1918, D.J. De Pree got a clerk job at Star Furniture Company.
A decade later, he climbed the career ladder to become its president. A few years later, he convinced Herman Miller, his father-in-law, to buy the company. Pree later changed the company name to Herman Miller.
In the beginning, Herman Miller only sold traditional bedroom sets. It wasn’t until 1942 that they transitioned to office furniture. Herman Miller has quite a reputation as one of the most green companies in the world.
If revenue is anything to go by, Herman Miller is the largest office furniture manufacturer in the world — a title Steelcase held for a long time.
3. Global Furniture Group
Source: Global Furniture Group
Global Furniture was founded in 1996 by Alex Vaysman and Alex Rubinshteyn and has since stayed true to its commitment to affordable and quality furniture. Although it has been in the market for less than three decades, Global Furniture now serves several markets.
It has a cumulative value of at least $101 billion and annual revenue of $20.76 million. Besides office desks, you can also buy other furniture, such as dining sets, living room sets and computer accessories.
Global Furniture has sales teams in several locations, such as the Mainland USA, the Caribbean, Central America and the Middle East. They have partnered with several retailers, including The Room Place, Kanes, and Rooms To Go. Their products are also available on online retail platforms like Amazon and Wayfair.
4. Urban Office
Source: Urban Office
Urban Office is your go-to brand for modern office furniture. It’s relatively younger than the other three we’ve mentioned so far, having been established in 2005 in the U.K. Their desks are designed to promote activity-based working.
Before buying, you can walk into one of their London partner showrooms to test the desks in different scenarios. They can also discuss the details remotely if you can’t make it to the showroom.
5. Groupe Lacasse
Source: Groupe Lacasse
Groupe Lacasse is a leading furniture company with its headquarters in Saint-Pie, Quebec, Canada. It serves the commercial, educational and healthcare market segments. The company dates back to 1956 — it started in the Lacasse family garage.
By 1976, it had grown to become Canada’s leading manufacturer of sewing machine cabinets. Fast-forward to 2013, Groupe Lacasse won its most significant contracts since its inception. They have showrooms in multiple locations, including Montreal, Toronto and New York.
Haworth was founded by G.W Haworth, who was formerly a high school shop teacher. Initially, building furniture was just a hobby for him, but he hoped it would help him finance his kids’ education. That was over sixty years ago.
What started as a side hobby in the garage is now among the largest office furniture manufacturers in the world. Interestingly, Haworth still has its headquarters in Holland, Michigan, where it started. It has also remained a family-owned company.
In 2018, the headquarters underwent a massive transformation to make the building more energy-efficient and sustainable. In celebration of its 70th anniversary, Haworth gave its employees generous bonuses totaling around $5 million.
Humanscale is a premier office furniture brand based in New York. The company was established in 1983 by CEO Bob King to create a more active way of working. Humanscale has made revolutionary products throughout its existence, such as the famous Freedom chair in 1999.
Currently, Humanscale is present in over 28 countries. Its products have even graced the sets of famous television shows, including Newsroom and The Bourne Ultimatum.
Where to Buy Desks
Not surprisingly, you can purchase nearly anything manufactured globally from Amazon, including desks. This mega platform offers numerous options, allowing you to find the exact fit for your needs and space.
You can sort the desks by brand, wood finish, price and furniture material. You can also search through desks by filtering by the desk’s shapes like a peninsula, corner, U-shaped, L-shaped and rectangular desks.
Shipping is mostly free, and since Amazon is a popular retailer, you can be rest assured of receiving your item.
• Wide range of products
• Plenty of reviews on the site
• Zero shipping charges in most cases
• Third-party sellers might have different return policies
Walmart is another popular retailer with a wide selection of stylish furniture. The office selection includes various desks like standing desks, L-shaped desks and computer desks.
You’ll also find ergonomic chairs, gaming chairs, task chairs, filing cabinets, standing desk converters, chair mats, shelving and footrests. Moreover, most of Walmart’s furniture is affordable.
• In-person stores
• Easy to navigate the site
• Great furniture selection
• Purchases from a third-party seller are mostly non-returnable
Overstock specializes in furniture offering discounts and designer brand names. This retailer carries private label brands, like Carson Carrington, available for sale.
The available desk options are well laid out, with a special section for popular desks on the platform. You can use filters to browse easily: sort desks by style, material, size, and brand to narrow your choices. You can also sort by price point, especially if you’re on a budget, as options are available even under the $150 range.
• Free standard shipping
• Plenty of shopping filters
• Offers and discounted prices
• Return shipping expenses only cover defective products
4. Crate & Barrel
Crate & Barrel offers well-made, pleasant, and expertly designed furniture. The high-quality products include classic but modern desks, statement chairs, stylish filing cabinets, handsome-looking cabinets and elegant credenzas.
You’ll also find kids’ chairs and desks for remote learning. Most products in the home office section can be shipped quickly.
• Interior design service
• In-home delivery option
• Modern, aesthetic furniture
• Strict return policies
5. West Elm
West Elm is popular for providing both modern and mid-century desk options. You’ll also find selections that are fit for small areas as well as desks that sprawl along a wall offering storage, bookcase options and a writing surface.
Prices start at about $350, and plenty of browsing filters are available to sort your search by color, length, material, features and price. There is also a “ship to store” option for some products. This will help you save some bucks on handling and shipping costs.
• In-store pickup options
• Great options for small spaces
• Easy to read and detailed product information
• No assembly service
Branch sells a great variety of ergonomic, minimalist office furniture. You’ll find six types of desks: office desks, standing desks, double standing desks, six-person desks, quad desks and L-desks.
Six-person, double-standing, and quad desks are ideal for collaborative spaces because they usually accommodate more than one person. This retailer offers free space planning services.
You only have to send along your floor space, and a professional will send you tips and hacks. Moreover, the retailer offers a two to 10-year-long warranty on most items.
• Free space planning services
• Two to 10-year-long warranty policy
• Offers desk sizes and designs ideal for collaborative spaces
• Short window to alert company on the damaged items
Apt2B is a top choice for both mid and high-range desks. The retailer offers a decent selection of office furnishings for all spaces.
This is the best place to order if you’re looking for cool but practical desk chairs. Apt2B has rolling chairs upholstered with 1960s-esque twill smooth vegan leather, gorgeous velvet, and other options with sleep acrylic seats and aluminum frames.
• Straightforward site
• Modern and unique options
• Flat-rate white glove delivery
• Limited desk selection
IKEA is another excellent e-commerce site to buy elegant office furniture if you’re on a budget! The Swedish brand offers all sizes and types of desks, lamps, task chairs, drawer units, storage cabinets, floating shelves, paper and media organization solutions, window covering, etc.
Overall, you’ll find modern designs with simple silhouettes and clean lines. IKEA is known as the place for starter furniture, but most pieces are impressively long-lasting and sturdy.
• Great return policies
• Budget-friendly options
• Online planning services
• Lacks unique options
Frequently Asked Questions
Below are answers to frequently asked questions about desks.
Can desks be recycled?
It can be somewhat challenging to recycle many desks, particularly because of the lack of materials inside of the design of a majority of desks. The most common material that can be recycled in desks is plastic, but it can be challenging to effectively accomplish this recycling task.
Can used desks be sold?
There are many places that sell used desks, including independent auction platforms like eBay. Used desks also occasionally pop up on Amazon from independent sellers and thrift stores. Used desks are particularly useful for household office spaces for work-at-home employees.
They are typically much more affordable than brand new desks, and their only setback is usually minor deterioration to the original condition. In many cases, the condition of used desks is still extraordinary and can be considered in ‘Like New‘ condition.
Can desks be painted?
Desks can certainly be painted but usually not without extraordinary efforts of sanding and priming. Oil-based paints and other specialty paints are typically the most common for furniture painting.
Desks are somewhat easier to paint than many other similar types of furniture, but it is a time-consuming process that can be tedious and complicated.
What are desks made out of?
The most common materials found in household desks are metal, wood and plastic. The amount of each will vary depending on the design of the desk, although these are certainly the most common types of materials that you can expect to find.
Oak wood is usually one of the more common types of wood that is found in general desk designs. Maple wood or cherry wood are also used for desks as well.
What are the common desk shapes?
Household desks and school desks are typically constructed in a rectangular shape with four strong legs to withhold the weight of the standing desks. In rare cases, specially designed desks may take the shape of a circle or oval instead of a rectangular cube shape.
Some office shaped desks actually curve like a ‘U’, to make working conditions more convenient and for organizational purposes. These desks are more popular in office conditions and are less likely to be used within a household or school classroom.
Can desks be repaired?
There are many common problems with office desks that users typically consider fixing. It can be challenging to find a service that fixes furniture for an affordable price. One of the more common issues with desks are the legs being uneven or faulty in some way. This usually requires completely remolding of the desk leg, in order to establish additional layers of strength.
In some cases, the repair can be more difficult and actually require a completely new desk frame. These are less common repairs and are typically more costly than other smaller problems.
What are the standard desk dimensions?
Most desks are approximately 30 inches tall and range from between 48 – 72 inches wide and 24 – 36 inches in depth. These measurements are typically the most common, although there are instances where the design of a desk can vary from these projections.
The size of a desk is subject to change depending on its intended purpose. A school desk is likely to be smaller and more compact than an office desk because of its purpose inside of a classroom.
How tall are desks? How high should a desk be?
Everyone is a different height, so your specific desk may need to be higher or lower, depending on your needs. The average desk is about 29-30 inches tall, but taller people may require a taller desk height in order to sit comfortably while working.
For example, someone who is 6’5” or taller should choose a desk height of at least 31 inches or more. The key is to select a desk with a height that allows you to sit upright comfortably while keeping your eyes level with your computer screen.
How much does a desk weigh?
A simple computer or drafting desk typically weighs between 50-100 pounds. Larger desks or desks made of solid hardwood will weigh more and can range between 115 to 200 pounds. A desk with a hutch or an additional file cabinet will usually weigh much more than a traditional desk without the add-ons.
What are school desks made of?
Most school desks are made of particleboard covered with laminate or melamine, or they may be made of solid plastic, mainly when used by elementary school-aged students. Plastic is safer and more durable, but particleboard or fiberboard is cheaper, and will also hold up well for many years of use in the classroom.
Are standing desks good for you?
Yes, overall, standing desks are good to help reduce back pain and improve circulation. One study found that people who used standing desks were up to 45% more productive every day than those who sat down for their entire workday. Standing upright while you work may help to promote alertness and therefore, improve productivity.
Are treadmill desks good for you?
Treadmill desks help to combat inactivity, and some users may even see some degree of weight loss. Like standing desks, treadmill desks also promote better circulation and may help to improve or eliminate back pain over time. One small study also found that workers who used a treadmill desk saw lower blood cholesterol levels.
What desks do gamers use?
Most gamers use a large desk with plenty of room for gear and multiple monitors. Some gamers like to use an L-shaped desk so that they have room for two monitors next to each other. Some manufacturers make special desks that cater to gamers.
Ideally, a gaming desk should be at least 60 inches wide, 30 inches deep, and 30 inches high. It’s best to try out several desks before you buy one to determine which one suits your specific gaming style.
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