Desks are staples in offices, home offices, and study rooms in the home. They combine form and functionality, holding various study and office tools from computers, printers, books, and more. But did you know that although we generically call our office and study work tables as desks, there are at least 15 different kinds of desks and we probably have not known this until today.
In this post, we go through the different types of desks and find out how they standout from each other in terms of build and function. This shall help you in choosing the best desk for you.
In this article:
- Types of desks
- 1. Armoire desk
- 2. Bargueño desk
- 3. Bedside desk
- 4. Butler’s desk
- 5. Coffee table desk
- 6. Computer desk
- 7. Corner desk
- 8. Credenza desk
- 9. Sketch desk
- 10. Dual-sided desk
- 11. Executive desk
- 12. Floating desk
- 13. Hallway desk
- 14. Lap desk
- 15. Lectern desk
- 16. L-shaped desk
- 17. Roll-top desk
- 18. Secretary desk
- 19. Standing desk
- 20. Telephone desk
- 21. Treadmill desk
- 22. Trestle desk
- 23. Writing desk
- Desk materials
- What are old-fashioned desks called?
- Should your desk face the wall?
- Is a standing desk worth it?
- What size is an executive desk?
- What is the height of a typical desk?
- How much space do you need behind a desk for a chair?
- What are the common desk shapes?
- What is the best wood to use for desks?
- Can desks be painted?
Types of desks
So, going into these types of desks, here are 22 of the most common desk types that you should know of. Sift through the list for you to have a mental image of what desk to go for depending on your needs.
1. Armoire desk
Expect an air of elegance and opulence in a room or office that has an armoire desk. Typical in hotel lounges and lobby desks, this one has built-in storage units which keep everything away. Here, the desktop keyboard is tucked in a sliding panel.
Documents and other equipment are hidden in different drawers. As for form, it usually has an L-shaped look.
|Very functional.||Little desk space.|
|Ornate and opulent look.||Heavy and takes a lot of floor space.|
|Beneficial for home offices and study rooms.||Not moveable.|
2. Bargueño desk
This one is a Middle Ages desk whose major feature would be a jewel chest and a drop front.
Modern Bargueño desks are now made of two chests, with bottom drawers and a hinged work surface on top. The interior of this drawer is also full of storage ranging from cubbies, shelves, more drawers, and pigeonholes.
|Vintage visual impact.||Takes a lot of floor space.|
|Very functional, storage-wise.||Expensive.|
|Good as a sewing table and for safekeeping.|
3. Bedside desk
Also called as the bedside table or nightstand, this one features a small top surface but with two to three drawers underneath.
It is more of a decorative piece which holds the lampshade and where the keys and alarm clock are placed, and not for working.
|Small and ergonomic.||Made for holding minimal stuff.|
|For bedrooms, home offices, and study rooms.||Limited use.|
4. Butler’s desk
This one is a standing desk and can be traced back from the 1800s, first emerging in England. It is a desk found in noble houses and offices designed for positions whose main role is to write, keep, and file documents.
It has a tabletop surface, a drop-down apron which can be retracted to have an additional desk and to keep documents in the interior drawers. It has another set of drawers beneath and generally does not have leg room.
|Offers a vintage vibe to the room.||Not made for seat works.|
|More permanent standing desk.||Bulky, heavy and hard to move.|
|Has ample storage and sturdy work surface.||Looks outdated.|
5. Coffee table desk
This one is bankable for its ability to upscale a living room and its function in holding different living room items too. As a matter of fact, coffee table desks are default decorative pieces in accenting a living room.
It is positioned in front of the TV, in the middle of the seats. They hold food, drinks, vases, magazines, books, and more.
|Offer high aesthetic value.||Not made for very compact living rooms.|
|Comes in different shapes, sizes, and finishes.|
6. Computer desk
Almost all modern home offices now feature a computer desk. As the name suggests, the work surface for this type of desk is made to hold computers, printers, scanners, and other office staples.
On the sides and underneath, you can find storage for computer cables, accessories, and more.
|Ergonomic, stable surface and durable.||Not that visually appealing.|
|Customizable and very convenient.|
|Offers streamline workstation.|
7. Corner desk
If you have a cramped-up space, a corner desk is the perfect fit for you. They come in different shape setups and other customizable configurations.
They can be L-shaped for a streamline workspace and can have built-in drawers beneath. And if you are more into more leg room, you can just leave it bare under.
|Compact desk with lots of function.||Can only be placed in one location.|
|Surface is good for desktop computers.||Not moveable.|
|Have open bases for wide leg room.|
8. Credenza desk
As the name implies, this one is the fusion of standard desks and the cupboard credenza of dining and living rooms.
The credenza is that standing shelf featuring our prized silverware, figurines, picture frames, and more. So, if you want a workspace with shelving on the side, the credenza desk is the best thing for you.
|Customizable.||Needs a large floor space.|
|High visual impact.||May be expensive.|
9. Sketch desk
This is considered a multifunctional desk which can be used for sketching, drawing, painting, and in creating architectural and engineering plates. This one is considered as a standing desk, comparable to the frame and look of lectern desks.
|Stable for precise lines and illustrations.||Unstable for heavier work.|
|Can also be used for reading books or in laying down oversized prints and documents.|
|Inexpensive and customizable.|
10. Dual-sided desk
If you want an extra work surface for more people, the dual-sided desk which is staple in conference rooms and coffee shops, is the best choice for you.
Aside from the extra work space, they are also convenient because they offer ample leg room and in adding additional seating.
|Practical for conference rooms and large home offices.||Made for larger rooms.|
|Durable and can be polished with different finishes.||Can make the room feel cramped-up.|
|Adds symmetry to a room.||Not that visually appealing.|
11. Executive desk
Well, this is considered as the gold standard of office desks because as the term suggests, it reeks of formality being made for the bosses.
Aside from having a large surface area for work, laptops, and other working essentials, it also has a lot of storage space.
Traditional executive desks are heavy and occupy a lot of floor space, giving them that regal and timeless appeal.
|Comes in many shapes (i.e. rectangle, U-shape and L-shape).||Massive and heavy desk.|
|Wide working surface.||Takes up a lot of floor space.|
|Comes with lots of storage.||Expensive.|
12. Floating desk
This is also called the wall-mounted desk. As the name suggests, this is directly mounted on the wall, like floating shelves.
The vertical frame of floating desks makes it an aesthetic addition especially to a bedroom. This one is a space-saving desk and is usually found in bedrooms and dorm rooms.
|Does not take any floor space.||Comes with minimal storage and workspace.|
|Can be virtually mounted anywhere in the wall.||Semi-permanent fixture.|
|Comes with lots of legroom and side spaces.|
13. Hallway desk
This one is exactly what it says it is: sleek, minimalist and compact, fit for small hallways.
They are often located in the hallway entrance so that you still have ample leg room to work efficiently. The paradox to this is that they are built for people who do not use desks all the time but need a desk nonetheless.
|Adds a decorative look to plain hallways.||Takes up unnecessary floor space.|
|They can be used as accent tables too.|
|Sleek, modern touch to hallways.|
|Easy to position.|
14. Lap desk
This one does not have a standing frame and structure. As the term implies, this is a simple, portable desk which you can use as a solid surface to extend your writing work in bed. Some feature pencil and cup holders, making it an ergonomic desk.
|Portable and functional.||Does not have storage.|
|Can be made of reclaimed wood plank.||May be unstable in movement.|
|Inexpensive and customizable.|
15. Lectern desk
This one is made for standing presentations and in delivering speeches. This is a standing desk where you can place your speech copy, holding notes and your laptop for presentation. Modern lectern desks also now feature laptop mounts for more efficient use.
|Adjustable.||Not that sturdy looking.|
|Can be customized to attach microphone and screen cables.||May feel unstable compared to podiums.|
|Inexpensive choice compared to podiums.|
16. L-shaped desk
The best thing about L-shaped desks is that they streamline work in a decluttered look. They can be a neat focal point in bedrooms and offices, especially for asymmetrical shaped spaces.
Mobility and leg room are also ensured with this type of desk so it really is a convenient desk choice to consider.
|Practical investment.||Takes up irregular floor space.|
|Offers a streamlined work.|
|High visual appeal.|
17. Roll-top desk
We have all seen roll-top desks in our old homes and in our grandparents’ homes at some point because they speak of tradition and antiquity.
This one features a hood which rolls down over the work surface so that all the contents are protected. It is also full of drawers on both sides plus drawers and cubbies all over the back panel.
|Very durable.||Not practical as a work desk especially for computing.|
|Beauty, form, and function in one.||Very heavy.|
|Perfect for home offices, in vintage style living rooms and bedrooms.||Expensive.|
18. Secretary desk
If you want a desk that is more than a work desk because it could hold more items and has storage, the secretary desk is the best choice for you.
One can say that it is the fusion of a desk and a dresser because it has a lot of compartments, drawers, and cubbies beneath the flat surface but they are covered with sleek panels to make them look formal still.
|Sleek, ergonomic use.||Larger than a writing desk.|
|Formal looking.||Not apt for compact rooms.|
|Comes with lots of drawers, cubbies, and compartments.|
19. Standing desk
This is perhaps the most common desk at par with work desks and computer desks. It is also called the adjustable height desk and was specifically designed to address the health issue of extended seating hours.
There are three configurations of standing desks: it can be a desk accessory placed in normal desks to give you an option to stand up while working; can be raised or lowered while you are seated; can always be in a raised position.
|Gives the opportunity to work at any angle, level, and position.||Not the most attractive desk.|
|Adjustable (manually or electronically).||Depending on features, it can be relatively pricey.|
|Ergonomic features and comfort over style.|
20. Telephone desk
This is considered as the smallest type of fixed desks. Its main function is to have an ample work surface to hold notes while on the phone.
It is also used to hold logbooks, and telephone books for convenience. It also has a built-in vertical drawer.
|Can be used as an accent table.||Outdated look.|
|Good as a hallway desk.|
|Small and easy to position.|
21. Treadmill desk
It is both a subtype of standing and computer desk but with a twist. It is adapted to active workers who can think better while on the treadmill. And if you need a steady surface to work, you can just turn off the treadmill and work on a freestanding position.
|Incorporates health and wellness in work||Not made for everybody.|
|Specifically designed to lessen stress and burnout.||Takes a lot of space and can be distracting.|
|Heightens activeness and work alertness.||Expensive choice.|
22. Trestle desk
This one is more of a portable, semi-permanent desk. As the term implies, a trestle desk is made from linking two to three trestles using a stretcher.
On top of it, a tabletop or wood plank is placed for it to overall resemble a desk. When it comes to leg room and ample work surface, a trestle desk is a practical choice.
|Practical investment because it can also be used to hold stuff during events.||Needs ample space to get the most out of it.|
|Stable and sturdy.|
|Semi-permanent; can be moved.|
23. Writing desk
The major opinion is that anything can be a writing desk but that is not always the case. It has the flattest and most stable surface, often with a depth of 24-inches and 36-inches in terms of width.
They can come from the sleekest design to a rustic touch but all share having thin legs because writing desks often do not come with storage.
|Fits tighter spaces because they are generally small.||Does not come with storage.|
|Flexible to position and install (mounted writing desks).||Narrow surface to work on.|
Desks are essential because they give us a functional surface to work on any task. From computing, encoding, to making arts and crafts and other work, the desk material defines how much we could exhaust from the desks we choose.
It is the most common and most traditional desk material. It is most used on work desks, executive, secretary and roll-top desks.
It can also be mounted on metal frames, and other materials. From solid wood to softwood materials, wood desks are indeed very versatile.
If you dig an industrial and utilitarian look, metal desks are fine choices. For one, it is a material that is resistant to scratching, scratching, stains, and scuffs.
It is also perfect as a combo material for wood and glass. Only choose high grade metal materials to have a desk that is built to last.
For a more modern or contemporary flair for your desks, glass surfaces for desks offer an upscale look.
Almost often paired with wood and metal frames, it has the ability to expand the aesthetic value of desks and lightens the space because it reflects light.
While customizable, versatile and easy to clean, it is vulnerable to cracking and scratching.
If you want a desk that looks like wood but is more cost-effective than solid wood, laminate desks are the perfect material for that preference.
Laminate desks are made of high-quality plastic coating, keeping the work surface stain and warp resistant. They do not offer the most luxe look but laminate desks are versatile, and very practical.
What are old-fashioned desks called?
There is no generic term for old-fashioned desks because there are a handful of them, each following a vintage style and function. Here is a list of old-fashioned desks and what they are called:
- Kneehole desk: Bureau Mazarin and Bureau a Gradin
- Drop front desk: Butler’s desk; Escritoire
- Small stand desks: Cheveret
- Case desk: Davenport’s desk
- Fall-front desk: Bargueño desk
- Solid desk: Partner’s desk
- Slant-front desk
- Wooton desk
- Bonheur Du Jour
- Carlton house desk
- Fire screen desk
- Liseuse desk
- Plantation desk
- Spinet desk
- Tambour desk
- Typewriter desk
Should your desk face the wall?
It is not required but it is very practical. One is that having a desk facing the well eliminates distractions, helping you to function and work more efficiently. However, on the downside, it could make the workstation feel cramped-up and claustrophobic. The best way to position a desk is by considering your work pace and work habits.
Is a standing desk worth it?
Health and posture wise, yes, standing desks are worth it. This type of desk is a response for sedentary working and extended hours of slouching.
It offers mobility, free movement and working while, well, standing. We could benefit a lot from these features so it is practical to invest on standing desks especially that they come in different configurations.
What size is an executive desk?
As per rule of thumb, executive desks have a dimension of 60x30x30-inches. Nonetheless, depending on the size of your room and the nature of work that you have, executive desks are also customizable.
What is the height of a typical desk?
Globally, the standard height recommended for desks would be at 28-30-inches tall. Kids desks on the other hand are at 18-24-inches in height. These height standards are tested to give a good reach to the work surface and ample height for us to achieve a comfortable working condition.
How much space do you need behind a desk for a chair?
Relative to the standard floor space given to desks which is 42 square feet, the space you need to position a chair behind the desk must be around 20-30-inches. For more space clearance and ease in movement, consider 30-inches and beyond.
What are the common desk shapes?
Given the fact that desks are more commonly used for offices, bedrooms, and schools, the most common desk shapes would still be square and rectangular. But with streamline work and more ergonomic purposes, the emergence of L-shaped and U-shaped desks are now also very common.
What is the best wood to use for desks?
If you are embarking on DIY wood desks, you should consider using cherry, Maplewood, elm, cedar wood, and rosewood. And if these wood materials are not available, you can always go for cheaper alternatives which include particleboard, plywood, and MDF.
Can desks be painted?
As with other pieces of furniture, yes, desks can be painted. Some require more sanding and priming, however. The best type of paint used in desks and furniture would be oil-based paints and other specialty paints. Depending on the material of your desk, always ask the hardware of recommended paints to use to get the optimum aesthetic look.
We have revealed here that when it comes to desks, nothing is generic. Depending on your floor space, needs, and function, you can find a desk type that fits your preference. From standard work desks, computer desks, to something more aesthetic and vintage, you can incorporate various desk types in your home for whatever purpose.
With what we have covered here, there should be no shortage of desk choice for you. Just opt for the one whose function would be well maximized for your needs.