In the realm of office design and architecture, desks stand as pivotal components, directly influencing functionality, aesthetics, and ergonomics. With the evolving needs of professionals and the continual advent of technology, the types of desks available have diversified immensely. This article offers a comprehensive enumeration of 31 distinct types of desks that cater to various office requirements, ensuring optimal utilization of space and user comfort.
By understanding the nuances of each desk type, one can make informed decisions tailored to specific tasks, spaces, and organizational needs. Whether it’s for your home office desk or skyscraper office, whether you need the compact efficiency of a writing desk or the expansive capabilities of an executive L-shaped model, recognizing the key characteristics of each type is crucial for architects and designers alike.
Dive in to explore the world of desks, their variations, and the architectural considerations that define them.
A home office desk can be broadly classified into various categories ranging from the minimalist type of desk to a practical one with ample storage space, and wider surfaces for large desktop computers. Here’s a list:
1. Writing Desk
This home office desk is usually smaller in size, with a minimalist design for lighter use. It has minimal storage space yet a larger thin rectangular writing surface for a better working area. With an open space beneath the writing surface, this desk may offer a sprawling leg space.
However, writing desks are not suitable for desktop computers; it is advisable to use a laptop since it is comparatively lightweight.
Place the writing desk along a wall or in the middle of the floor space to make your home office look elegant.
2. Computer Desk
A computer desk is often the most common office equipment for people who are dedicated desktop users. This type of desk is known to focus more on utility than aesthetics.
So, besides desktop space, there are separate shelves for the computer monitor, computer tower, and other accessories and peripherals. Computer desks also feature a keyboard tray and dedicated space for the CPU and are, therefore, built for efficiency and convenience.
However, with people gradually shifting to laptops and tablets, computer desks are slowly becoming obsolete. But these are your best bet if you own a large computer monitor and require extra space for the computer tower!
3. Executive Desk
An executive desk has been a standard office solution for ages, especially due to its vast storage space and writing surface. Usually, an all-wood desk with intricate carvings, multiple drawers, and a large blueprint, executive desks add grandeur, elegance, and spaciousness to any room. Traditionally, an executive desk can overlap with other designs, including an L-shaped desk, a rectangle desk, or a U-shaped desk.
Moreover, executive desks are ideal for people who require more leg space and hidden storage units for complex tasks. Considered to be the traditional desk, it is ideal for furniture enthusiasts and connoisseurs.
4. Standing Desk
With a massive shift to working from home in recent years, people are now paying attention to the dangers of sitting for extended periods. To tackle this health risk, office furniture brands began manufacturing standing desks that have an adjustable height to stand in intervals at work.
After thorough market research, I found that a standing desk can be either of these three types:
- A desk that has an attachable mechanism to help you work at your regular desk while standing
- An adjustable standing desk whose height can be easily lowered or raised
- Static standing desks that remain in an elevated position
For additional information on the best standing desk, take a look at my Uplift V2 review.
5. Corner Desk (or L-shaped Desk)
As the name suggests, a corner desk is usually placed in a corner to tackle floor space issues. I find corner desks extremely useful for my restricted home office space. Usually having an L-shaped desk spread, they offer an extensive work area where you can fit two or more computer screens and office supplies without taking away room space.
These L-shaped desks are often transformed into wall-mounted desks for corners; however, I prefer adding another unit to turn it into a double workstation desk. Another key feature of these desks is the sprawling leg room even when placed in a narrow area.
6. Secretary Desk
With a movable hinged desktop surface and a shelf unit on top, secretary desks are ornamental furniture that usually stands solitary in a room. These are ideal for people who prefer intricate desks with a traditional style but don’t have enough space for an executive desk. The prototype of a secretary desk has changed over the years; however, one of its main features is a well-organized space for documents and other office supplies.
Originally, a secretary’s desk was a mix of an office desk and a dresser with several shelves, cubby holes, and hidden drawers. The new versions are more compact and sleek, but they are not ideal for computers and laptops.
7. Floating Desk (or Wall Mounting Desk)
Designed to fit into small spaces like the bedroom or living room, a floating desk saves most of the floor space, similar to a corner desk. It is fitted onto one wall since it does not have legs; thus, floating desks are ideal for dorms and small closet areas.
Also, this desk type can often be foldable, so many use it as a folding desk. Moreover, floating desks provide a good surface area for writing and using computer screens or laptops.
I recommend mounting filing cabinets and cubby holes to take full advantage of this modern design desk for enhanced utility.
8. Roll-Top Desk
Most of the roll-top desks I have come across resemble an antique executive desk that has been refinished and renovated with a hood top. However, new roll-up desks are also available with three kinds of configurations, including drawers on the left, right, or both sides.
This type of desk has a hood or covering that secures all the content on the writing desk in place–it is quite fancy and can be a bold statement piece in your living room. However, it is not a practical option for computing and desk accessories.
9. Credenza Desk
As the name suggests, a credenza desk is office furniture combined with a cabinet-filled credenza. Valued for functionality, storage, and aesthetics, this type of desk is ideal for dining or living rooms where you may need to store household products.
In a standard office setting, a credenza desk is placed against a wall to act as a backup for another executive desk or to add storage to a corner desk. However, it is only appropriate for people with enough room for a regular desk and other furniture since it has several drawers and filing cabinets. Moreover, it has sufficient legroom similar to a plain desk.
10. Workstation Desk
A workstation desk is frequently confused with a writing desk, but the former is used for specific tasks involving frequent calls and typing. Typically used in a professional office setting, homeowners who require more privacy for their computer screens have also started preferring this type.
Its built-in screens on either side provide the illusion of a cubicle and allow more privacy. These office desks have only one computer terminal with some spare space for a keyboard tray and office supplies.
11. Gaming Desk
A gaming desk has an ergonomic design that caters to a comfortable gaming experience with more desktop space required for multiple screens. What sets this desk apart is its desktop which works like a sizeable mouse pad.
Coupled with an office chair with good cushioning, a gaming desk can act as a comfortable surface for both office work and playing games. Besides, gaming desks offer additional storage solutions for hidden cables and snacks for a long gaming session.
Lastly, a gaming desk can have designs similar to L-shaped desks for a larger workstation. These desks are often made from tinted glass, which further adds style and privacy to every gamer’s environment.
12. Lap Desk
These portable office desks are typically used in bed for a more comfortable work experience. They have recently gained popularity since they have the perfect height and sturdiness to work from your bedroom, sofa, or any other spot in your home office.
Lap desks are widely customizable due to their collapsible legs that help work both from the bed and lap. Moreover, a lap desk can have padding, ventilation, and smaller drawers for storage.
If you are someone who requires to keep their phone or tablet close at hand, consider purchasing a lap desk since it may also have a dedicated phone holder.
13. Trestle Desk
A more compact version of a writing desk, this style is more cost-efficient and advanced for simple writing and other office tasks. These are usually lightweight with a modern and ergonomic design, which gives them a futuristic appearance.
Very popular among European families, this desk is made with two wooden planks supported by two trestles. It is both foldable and portable, which is perfect for small homes.
14. Carrel Desk
Carrel desks are comprehensive office units generally used in university libraries and study rooms. They usually include built-in lighting, shelves, an office chair, and sometimes Ethernet ports and power outlets for charging devices. However, these desks are unlike cubicle desks, which have attached file cabinets and other office essentials.
Usually installed alone or in groups, carrel desks need to be close to a wall for support. Students prefer them since they offer privacy and individual light fixtures for better productivity and concentration.
Fun fact, carrel desks originated in monasteries and were used to contain the sound of monks praying.
15. Treadmill Desk
Treadmill desks are standing desks that allow you to walk on a treadmill while working on your tasks. With more health-conscious people advocating the risks of a sedentary lifestyle, treadmill desks have become popular for home office setups.
Moreover, a treadmill desk can have an adjustable height that caters to individuals with different body types. So, if you want to fulfill your desk tasks, while working out, a treadmill desk will help you achieve that.
16. Lectern Desk
A lectern desk is commonly found in seminar rooms, lecture theaters, and religious places like cathedrals and smaller churches. This type of desk has a slanting top attached to a stand for holding books and other documents. It acts as an adjustable standing desk that enables the speaker to keep eye contact with the audience while delivering a speech.
These types of desks are known to be very mobile since they are foldable, making them easy to store and handle when not in use. You can also add a display mount for holding laptops or tablets for easier reading.
17. Ladder Desk
A ladder desk is widely used in living rooms as it looks like a bookshelf instead of a writing desk! This new desk has shelves going up a sleek ladder which provides ample storage space by utilizing the height of the room. They also have enough room for writing and storing computer screens and laptops; however, they do not offer much privacy.
As such, ladder desks can be ideal for people with small rooms who want office desks that can also serve as home decor shelves or furniture. Moreover, they can be classified as floating desks as the work surface is detached from the ground.
18. Murphy Desk
These are probably the best office desks for a home with little to no space available for a home office. A type of floating desk, it can be folded down when not in use, thus requiring no space for storage.
However, there are several types of Murphy desks, including industrial, minimal, traditional, and glamorous desks categorized according to materials and storage units.
If you want a natural wood finish, go for the industrial type. But if you want to add a pop of color to your home decor, consider purchasing the glamorous murphy style.
19. Partners’ Desk
A partner’s desk is a large desk where two workers can work on their projects by facing each other. With two pedestal bases and ample legroom, it can offer enough storage space between the desk legs. The best partner’s desks are commonly seen in the Oval Office and the private residences in the White House.
Also compatible with computers, this style consists of a large desktop, two pedestals, and two pairs of drawers. Moreover, most partners’ desks are made from high-quality wood like mahogany, oak, or walnut.
20. Peninsula Desk
A peninsula desk bridges the gap between people on either side of the tabletop while simultaneously providing more space without restriction, like in bow front desks. This desk is usually added to another office desk to create an L-shaped desk or attached to an L-shaped desk to form U-shaped desks. These types of desks provide a larger conference area for client meetings and office discussions.
Moreover, they can be customized by adding different laminated layers to ensure they complement the color palette or texture of your other office furniture. I also recommend adding shelves or cubby holes while attaching them to other desks.
21. Circular or Round Desk
A circular or round desk allows both individual and group work or projects. With free leg spaces and an unrestricted desk surface, a circular desk has a modern design compatible with various dimensions and finishes. This stylish desk can be used with or without cable management to provide a more relaxed working environment than traditional conference desks.
22. Wave Desk
These writing desks have a curved front with one end deeper than the other for a more eccentric look. Aside from its unique style, this design has additional support for the dominant hand while using a mouse. Thus, many prefer this as a computer desk, especially for desktops with navigation tools.
Moreover, the broader side of the desk can hold various office equipment and storage solutions.
23. Bench System Desk
This design includes two standalone office desks combined to create an illusion of a single continuous workspace. It is typically used in office spaces to encourage collaboration and teamwork by increasing the chance of communication between employees.
Since these office desks are customizable, you can also turn them into an L-shaped unit. However, this desk style requires a spacious area, so it’s inappropriate for a home office.
24. Architectural Desk
It is a type of standing desk with a drawing board for architects to plan buildings and community blueprints. An adjustable desk that caters to individual height, it also offers special light fixtures to prevent eye strain and make sketching easier. Besides, architectural desks usually have small lower drawers to store office supplies and drawing essentials.
Moreover, these decks have rolling wheels attached to the end of the desk legs for easy transportation in construction sites and personal studios. And since this desk is often used for drafting, some brands sell it as a drafting desk.
25. Desk with Wooden Top
A wooden desktop is commonly preferred for a traditional writing or modern standing desk. It’s often paired with an all-wooden frame and desk accessory, but in recent times, wooden desktops are also used with metal frames and office chairs. However, a desk with a wooden top may be prone to desk stains over time.
This type also adds elegance and antiquity to the home office space or living room. So, if you can properly maintain it and regularly polish the surface, a wooden desktop can give ideal attention to the space.
26. Desk with Glass Top
To add a modern touch to your home office and increase the illusion of light, consider purchasing a desk with a glass top. When paired with a metal or wooden frame, a writing desk with a glass top can expand the visual space and make the furniture in the room appear lighter. It is also easy to clean with a simple glass-cleaning solution; however, placing sharp objects on the surface can lead to scratches that may be unsightly.
Glass desktops also have easy portability since they come in various shapes and configurations. This is why some people prefer purchasing a computer desk with a glass top instead of a wooden one.
27. Metal Desk
An adjustable desk with a metal desktop is one of the most practical office desk solutions. It can be the perfect addition to a modern home office space and it’s often paired with glass or laminate wood tops.
What sets a metal desk apart is its durability and resistance to stains and scuffs while remaining cool to the touch, even on the hottest days. Often, interior designers use metal desks to create a high-contrast ambiance by pairing them with traditional wooden furnishings for a minimalist look.
28. Laminate Desk
This type of computer desk usually includes an extra layer of protection on top of a high-quality wooden top. A laminate is a plastic coating that prevents any damage to the finish and makes it warp-resistant. Even though these are not the most elegant, they are a practical choice for versatility and durability.
However, it is essential to learn more about the type of laminate used on your desk before purchase since it might differ in its protective traits. For example, some low-quality laminate options can incur damage from water, which is not ideal for a computer desk.
29. Kitchen Desk
Usually found in the kitchen, this type of desk is a small designated area to work while cooking or doing household chores. It occupies very little floor space but can hold a variety of items like bills, documents, letters, and even a computer.
Sometimes, a standing desk is used as a kitchen desk as it helps in working while doing kitchen chores that involve standing. I like to attach some charging ports on my kitchen desk to turn it into a charging station for the family’s electronic gadgets and other devices.
30. Black Wood Desk
A black wood desk is a popular desk style found in both wooden and metal top desks. It is a slightly modern concept compared to traditional natural wood finishes since it is essentially purchased to complement other furniture.
Moreover, a desk with a black wood finish is resistant to tough stains and debris, making it long-lasting and easy to maintain. It is ideal for people looking for stately yet serious office furniture.
31. Gray Wood Desk
With the increasing popularity of neutral-tone furniture, many people are now opting for office desks with a gray wood finish. Imparting a modern edge to the office space, a gray wood desk is calmer, brighter, and less warm than a natural wood finish. If you want a serious office look but do not like the severity of black furniture, purchasing a gray wood desk can be an excellent choice.
What are the standard dimensions for a home office desk?
Most office desks are 48 to 72 inches wide and 30 inches tall, with an average depth ranging from 24 to 36 inches. These are typical dimensions; however, to find the right office desk, you need to ensure that it complements the size of the designated home office. To learn more about home office dimensions, refer to my article “What is the average size of a home office?”
What are the common desk shapes?
Most household desks are rectangular with sturdy legs to support the weight of books and equipment. But some people prefer U-shaped desks for their home office, especially for more organizational and collaborative purposes. And many luxury designer brands manufacture circular or oval-shaped desks today.
However, you should consider your preferences and available room space before settling on a desk shape for the home office.
What are the different wood options for a home office desk?
While choosing the desk material, you should see if it can withstand a substantial weight and complement the aesthetic of the home office. As such, the most commonly used wood varieties for this purpose are oak, walnut, cherry, and maple. Oak and walnut wood are ideal for durability and hardness, while cherry and maple are preferred for their smooth grain and attractiveness.
However, maple can be fragile and difficult to cut or customize into different designs.
Which is the best wood for desks?
If you want to add an expensive look to your home office, go for maple or cherry. Maple is more durable than cherry, but it is also difficult to repair and remodel. So, for optimal efficiency, I suggest purchasing an oak desk, as the material is durable yet inexpensive. Moreover, it has been used for office desks for generations and is, therefore, trusted worldwide.
What makes laminate desk tops better than plain wooden ones?
Wooden tops are the most traditional yet elegant desktop preference, but they often require more maintenance and care to prevent any damage to the finish. This is why a laminate layer on the wood is preferred for ensuring resistance to stains and warps. However, a laminate desktop may not look as luxurious as a plain wooden desk, so you need to decide between functionality and aesthetics.
What should you choose: a glass or metal desktop?
Available in various shapes and sizes, a glass top can offer a modern look to any space by creating an illusion of light and free space. It’s also easy to clean, repair, or relocate to different rooms.
However, glass tops can break and incur scratches, unlike extremely durable metal tops. So, if you want to purchase a long-lasting desktop material that remains cool to the touch and stain-resistant, you can consider metal desk tops or legs.
How to look for a desk with a large storage space?
If you want larger storage space and a work surface, look for additional shelves and cubby holes. Likewise, a tall, narrow side compartment can help to store the CPU and other computer elements.
Purchasing a desk with drawers on both sides is also a good option, but ensure it doesn’t compromise legroom. And you can cover the shelves with cabinet doors to hide the items from view. Hutch panels are other innovative storage solutions.
Can home office desks be repaired?
The main issues that these desks face are uneven legs due to corrosion or desktop damage. However, finding services that fix furniture at an affordable price is quite challenging, so you should find desks with good customer service or repair clauses.
Lastly, the cost of repair will depend on the intensity of the damage and the usage. For example, desks that undergo rough use may require an additional protective layer.
What is a pedenza?
For people who require extra side storage, a pedenza can be attached to create space for more files and electronic gadgets. Briefly speaking, it is a desk extension that typically has two drawers- one centralized locking filer, and a shelf with a sliding door system.
Each office desk design is tailored for specific needs or types of work. Optimal usage requires selecting a design that suits your tasks. For instance, for multiple computer screens, a computer or gaming desk is ideal. If you experience backaches from prolonged sitting, a standing desk might be beneficial. Conducting research and observing options before purchasing is a crucial step.
Budget is crucial, especially since certain desk varieties like executive or partners’ desks can be relatively expensive. In conclusion, for more informational guides, check out my article “Mechanical Pencil Lead Size Comparison.” Until next time, happy hustling!