How to Choose Your Work at Home Desk


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Your kitchen table or that folding table that you got from the garage has served its purpose. Now it may be time to invest in an actual desk. Nothing too fancy or too big, but definitely something that better fits your work at home office needs.

 The desk you choose will be the centerpiece for your entire work at home office. All of your other equipment and furnishings will be placed on or around your desk. Therefore, the role your desk will play must be considered before purchasing it.

In the past, I have purchased a desk or two without considering certain factors. I would see the desk,  declare that I wanted it, and then I purchased it without considering if it would fit the area where I intended to place. Nor did I consider the quality of the desk or if it had enough storage for all of my office supplies and tools. With a couple of more desk purchases under my belt, I have learned a few things. I am happy to share with you what I have learned while shopping for desks.

Things to consider when shopping for a work at home desk

Size

How much space do you have in your work at home space to devote to your desk? Desks are available in different lengths and widths. So there are likely many options available to fit your size requirements. Make sure to measure the width and length of the area where your desk will be placed. This measurement will guide your search.

Color

While the color of your desk can be considered a personal preference, also consider the other elements in your work at home space. Will the color go well with the color of the walls? Will it go well with the other surrounding furnishings – file cabinets or chairs? Being able to pair the color of your desk with other items within your space can help the work environment that you are setting up. Color, in general, affects a person’s mood. A good color scheme may inspire your productivity and creativity.

Material composition

In the search for your work at home desk, you will primarily come across desks made of real wood or a particle board composition or some hybrid of the two. Traditionally, desks have been made of wood and allowed for great pieces of art to be carved throughout history. However, real wood desks are not cheap. If your budget allows you to afford real wood, definitely go with the best that your money can buy. However, if your budget is limited, desks made of particle board can work well. 

Many people are drawn to newer desk designs that include metal and glass or metal and wood. These desks tend to be very stylish and make a big impression. Like a good color scheme, a stylish desk may inspire productivity and creativity.

Height

There is very little difference between the heights of most types of desks. However, if you are a generally tall person, height will be a consideration in your purchase. Therefore, in your search be mindful of this specification to make sure that you have enough leg room.

Storage

For me, storage is a very important characteristic of a desk. I like to have my office tools and supplies and certain files and documents right at my fingertips or at least within arm’s reach. I love a desk with multiple drawers because having connected storage is very convenient. 

I previously had a desk that had a keyboard drawer with enough space for a mouse and mouse pad. The opening to the drawer fold would fold up, giving the appearance of an actual drawer. I loved that feature!

An attached hutch on top of a desk also allows for a great deal of storage. A hutch is basically a bookshelf for your desk. It is a great place to store books and supplies that are used regularly.

Assemblage

If you are able to purchase a desk made of real wood, it will likely be delivered to you already assembled. However, more affordable desks made of particle board or glass and metal will likely require assembly. This may seem like an inconvenience, but often the necessary tools are included along with the parts of the desk. Most ready-to-assemble desks can be put together by a single person. If the desk seems to be on the sturdier side, two sets of hands may be required. 

*Make sure to assemble the desk in the area where it will be placed so that you can spare yourself having to move it once you have completed it.

Types of Desks

L-shaped

Just as described, these desks have two sides that form an “L.” The shape allows you a sufficient amount of space to use your computer, write, perform research, or to place your printer or an additional monitor. L-shaped desks often come with an attached hutch on one side of the “L” allowing for additional storage. They fit well in corners when the corner of the “L” is placed flush with the wall. However, they take up more space than most desks. Therefore, measure your office space carefully before purchasing one.

Standing

A relatively new addition to office furnishings, standing desks are being promoted as a solution for the health problems that are believed to come from sitting and being inactive for long periods of time. These desks usually have enough surface space for a computer and a writing area but not much more, since they don’t tend to be very long. So it may not be too difficult to find space in your home to accommodate one. Also, many are height-adjustable to accommodate different user heights.

As an alternative, you can choose a standing desk converter that can be placed on top of a standard desk. Standing desks can be pricey, and a converter will give you more flexibility since some of these are also height-adjustable and can be lowered for when you are actually sitting at your standard desk.

Executive

Classy and traditional, these desks are designed to be visually appealing and usually have a set of multiple drawers stacked on each end. Executive desks tend to be sturdy and sizable. The surface area is usually big enough for a computer setup, a writing area, as well as space for office supplies and decor like a desk lamp, picture frames, knick-knacks.

Computer

This type of desk generally fits into several of the other categories of desks listed here but are distinguished by one or more of the following features: 

  1. Separate storage for a desktop computer unit
  2. Keyboard shelf/drawer
  3. Attached elevated stand for computer monitor
  4. Separate area for monitor within a hutch
  5. Tend to be shorter in length making them ideal for tight or otherwise small work at home office spaces.

Computer Cabinets

These are actually designed to look like armoires. They have double doors that open up to a small countertop for a monitor or laptop. Space for a desktop unit and printer is found under the countertop.  Shelf storage is located above the counter. When not in use, the doors can be closed, allowing it to blend in with the surrounding décor.

Writing

These desks tend to be shorter in length than other desks and have very little, if any, storage. They fit well in smaller spaces and can be used well with a laptop. Writing desks are designed for the activity of writing. However, many current designs allow for at least the placement of a laptop.

Mobile 

These types of desks provide a lot of flexibility in creating your work at home office space. To be honest, they are my favorite type of desk for that exact reason! Mobile desks are primarily desks on wheels. However, you will also find some without wheels that instead have a smooth base that allows the desk to slide easily on a carpeted flooring.

When thinking of a mobile desk, you may picture something like a hospital bed tray. In fact, many mobile desks fit that design. However, some very smart designers and engineers have taken that design and added features to upgrade it to create fully functional mobile office spaces. There are mobile desks that can accommodate full CPU towers, monitors, storage space, and even a separate writing space.

A mobile desk is a great option for the at-home workers whose home is not big enough to carve out a dedicated work at home space. Instead, they can set up their office by the couch in their living room or their bedroom or whatever room is most convenient on a given day. These types of desks are also a great option for workers who have physical limitations and are more comfortable working from their beds or recliners.

Potential Desk Accessories to Consider for Additional Functionality

Here are a few work at home office accessories that can be added to your desk for organization and comfort.

Cable clips – These are small clips that can be attached to your desk with an adhesive on their backing. They help you to organize the connector cables and power cords that extend from your office technology, such as your computer and monitor as well as your wired peripherals like your keyboard and mouse.

Keyboard drawer or Mouse platform – A keyboard drawer or shelf is a common design feature of many types of desks. But they are not included on all desks. Purchasing one to add on to your desk is a good investment. They can be found in clamp-on style or they can be bolted to your desk.

Keyboard drawers are usually designed to be wide enough for a keyboard and mouse. However, if you find that you only need extra space for a mouse, a mouse platform can also be easily attached to your desk.

Laptop stand – If you primarily use a laptop for work, you find that viewing your laptop while it is placed flat on top of your desk puts a strain on your neck muscles. Investing in a laptop stand can address this issue for you. It is height adjustable which allows you to position it so that your screen is viewable at an angle that is ergonomically comfortable for you. 

Monitor stand – For the same issue of ergonomics, monitor stands are designed to lift a computer monitor a height that reduces neck strain. A monitor stand can also free up surface space on the desk itself and allow additional room for office supplies or tools.

Standing Desk Converter – I mentioned this accessory above when discussing standing desks. If you already have a standard desk for your work at home office space but would like to have a standing desk or the option to stand while working sometimes, a converter is a cheaper and more flexible alternative. Most standing desk converters are height adjustable and can be used while standing as well as sitting.

Final Notes

Try not to be overwhelmed by the different characteristics and specifications to be considered for your work at home desk. Just remember that the most important thing is that it fits in your work at home space and allows you to work comfortably.  So make sure to measure your space first. 

Once you figure out how much space you have to work with, then consider your personal preferences like color, available storage, and the type of desk that works best for you.  Once you have chosen your work at home desk, then consider an accessory to make your office more comfortable and organized. 

I have had a number of desks in my home over the years. My current desk is a mobile design and is my absolute favorite by far! (Check out my desk review here.) So, if at all possible, when choosing your desk, look for one that will allow you to design an atmosphere that inspires you to create and produce your best work.

Have you been using something other than a standard desk for your office space? Or have you found the perfect desk? I would love to hear all about it. Let me know in the comments below!



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One Reply to “How to Choose Your Work at Home Desk”

  1. Found your article to be insightful and highly relatable. I too have purchased desks in the past without thinking of measurements, only to find myself having to completely rearrange the room once I got home to make the desk fit. Lol

    Assemblage is another major factor that I’m glad you touched on. For I had to learn the hard way once or twice, that an item may look great on the shelf at the time of purchase, but be the biggest pain you could have ever imagined to put together. 

    Thank you for sharing your tips. Hoping that it saves someone the experiences we had to face, so they get just the right desk, the first time around. 

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