Not just an implement for the college dorm room, a built-in desk is an architecturally stylish and surprisingly practical addition to the modern home.
Beautifully situated and equally convenient, a built-in desk eliminates clutter in small spaces and conversely adds a touch of the updated chic to larger abodes.
The question is, which model is right for you?
Depending on your spatial desires, these built-in desk ideas and designs can feature any number of drawers, shelves, and top space compartments, with additional storage units and concealed cubby holes for all that extra paperwork.
From sleek single-occupant nooks to fully appointed New England secretary-style models, the array of built-in desks featured in today’s leading design guides are destined to keep you working in endless ease and unabashed splendor. What’s more, with every imaginable material available, from marble to repurposed wood, you can be sure your desk will blend seamlessly with your home’s interior, year in and year out.
Every well-outfitted gentleman needs an office space in which to conduct his affairs and keep his life running smoothly. You don’t need to rent out an entire office to enjoy the benefits of a fully equipped desk, nor purchase bulky furniture that is sure to lose its relevance in no time. The right built-in desk will keep you in good stead and even better style, no matter the task at hand.
1. Built-In Desk Cabinetry Ideas
Do you have a wall of cabinets somewhere in your home? This is an ideal spot to create your built-in desk. You can blend the desk into the cabinetry so that it visually “disappears” as the cabinet doors hide the desktop, and the rest of the shelving distracts the eye.
To successfully incorporate your built-in desk, try to keep the desktop in line and flush with the rest of the cabinets. You don’t want it to extend out beyond the face of your cabinets because this will break the continuous cabinet illusion. It also shouldn’t be a different height than the cabinets on either side of it. If you need more workspace and the desktop comes out further, then create a decorative edge so that it looks artfully done. Then stick with drawers and cabinet doors on the bottom half of your cabinetry. You can then pair this with more cabinet doors or shelving on the upper half of the cabinets.
Use the cabinets to hide your technology. You can create a cubby for your printer and wireless router to hide in. Just be sure you build power outlets into the back of your cabinets. You’ll want them evenly distributed throughout. This will prevent you from having to run cables from one shelf to another.
2. Lighting Ideas for a Built-In Desk
Having the right lighting is vital to making your desk area a usable space. You’ll want to focus on creating task lighting. This is a bright, direct light that’s focused on where you plan to sit and do work.
You could create this illumination with recessed or track lighting in your ceiling. Or you could mount spot or LED lighting underneath the shelving. For a traditional look and additional light, you can place a tabletop lamp on your desk. Finally, don’t forget the beauty of natural lighting. You could put your desk under or near a window and enjoy the sun’s rays filtering in.
If your desk is a part of a larger shelving or cabinet unit, then add lighting to the rest of the unit. Put this on a separate control from your task lighting. This will allow you to create a visually appealing accent lighting effect. You can turn this lighting on to highlight the rest of the shelves on display and darken your work area by comparison. This will make a beautiful display and enhance a room’s ambiance if your desk is in a commonly used space.
When choosing your light bulbs, stick with energy-efficient CFL or LED bulbs. These bulbs use less energy, last longer, and come in a wide range of color temperatures. Choose a light that is labeled white or daylight. It should be between 3500 and 5500 Kelvin. Anything above this and it will be too blue. Anything below this and it will be too yellow. This middle ground is the sweet spot for eye comfort and maximum productivity.
3. Nook Built-In Desk Ideas
Take a look around your home and look for unused or wasted space. You can build your desk into this small nook and create a built-in desk. You could create a desk in the space under your staircase, on the landing at the top of your stairs, in a larger hallway, or the nook meant for your laundry appliances.
These small spaces have a cubby quality about them and are ideal for creating a built-in desk with shelving and drawers. The trick to making your nook feel inviting is to have plenty of light. This will keep your built-in desk from feeling like a dark cave.
When creating your desk, think about how you intend to use the space. If you need a simple workspace, then you need the bare minimum of a floating shelf to use as the desktop and additional shelves above. If you need a more robust and functional space, then you can add cabinets or drawers underneath the desktop and above your workspace.
Get creative with how you create the workspace. Work with the space that you already have, such as building shelves of different lengths for your desk under the stairs. Also, consider installing your lights into the ceiling to complement the natural light coming in through a nearby window.
4. Home-Office Built-In Desk Ideas
If you find yourself working from home, then you’ll want a desk that can closely replicate the functionality of the one in your office. But instead of looking like a soul-less cubical desk, it should seamlessly blend into the design and style of your home. The most important thing is to dedicate enough space to your desk and have a way of separating yourself from the rest of your home. This will enable you to conduct phone calls and video conferences without fear of disruption.
Give yourself plenty of workspace with a desktop that extends beyond your immediate work area. It could extend the entire length of one wall, or wrap around to create an L shape.
These are also the best types of desks if you aren’t the only one working from home. You can create multiple workstations so that you and your significant other can each have your own workspace.
Just because this is your home office doesn’t mean it needs to feel like work. Add homey touches and personalize the space, so you feel comfortable. Add items that have inspirational or emotional meaning as decor to your shelves. Place plush pillows on the seating. Drape a cozy throw over a guest chair. Use a plush chair or love seat as your guest furniture. Lay a beautiful rug on the floor to both define the space and add warmth.
5. Children’s Built-In Desk Ideas
Desks aren’t just for adults. Your children need a space where they can do their homework and study. This creates a dedicated space that is meant for educational purposes. But that doesn’t mean it needs to be serious or boring. Try to create a desk that is both functional and fun.
Keep the desk design simple and user-friendly. You only need a flat workspace and storage that holds your children’s belongings. The simpler the space, the more likely your child will be able to keep it clean.
Don’t be afraid to go vertical with the desk. The area you have to work with may be small, but the vertical space will allow you to create additional needed storage. Try using a combination of open shelving and closed cabinets. This will give your child easily accessible shelves while also keeping the space looking tidy.
Don’t forget to make the desk fun by personalizing it. Consider your child’s tastes and interests when creating their desk. You could paint it their favorite color. You could even frame and display their artwork. Place some of the favorite toys or most cherished belongings on the shelves.
Finish the desk area by choosing a chair that works perfectly for them. You could choose a child’s size chair to make it comfortable and easy for them to sit. A couple of cushioned boxes on wheels will give your child functionality and comfort while sitting at their desk.
6. Small Built-In Desk Ideas
Is your home limited on free space? Maybe you only need a laptop to do your work. If either of these situations applies, then you’re a prime candidate for a small built-in desk in your home. Small desks fit into tiny nooks and require a minimal amount of space. Thanks to their size, these desks are the most versatile. You can install them in your kitchen, hallway, living room, or the corner of any room.
You can have cabinetry or drawers, but most small desks are a simple workspace just large enough for your chair and laptop. You can make the space more functional by having overhead shelving or cabinetry. You could even paint the wall above your desk with chalkboard paint. This will give you a built-in note board.
To make this desk work in your home, skip the typical desk-looking furniture. Your desktop, cabinets, and shelving should blend into the surrounding cabinetry and home design. This includes using decorative trim, cabinet hardware, and even painting the space to match.
7. L-Shaped and Wrap-Around Built-In Desk Ideas
If you need more space for your work or have an unused corner in your home, then you’re the perfect candidate for an L shaped desk. A small L shaped desk will allow you to pivot left and right as you work. A larger L shaped desk could create two separate workspaces on each of the legs of the “L”. This makes it a good solution if you need a workspace at home for more than one person.
When creating your desk, choose the area where you will sit and perform the majority of your work. You’ll want to ensure you have enough task lighting and outlets in this area. You can use the rest of the L for additional storage under the desktop.
If you’re creating two workstations at your desk, then you’ll need to consider the functionality of both workspaces. Both areas need enough lighting and dedicated storage. You’ll also need to have double the number of electrical plugs to accommodate the additional technology. Pay attention to how each person will maneuver at their desk as both chairs need enough space around them so that you aren’t bumping into each other.
When setting up your desk, think about how you want to work. Which side do you have more room at? Which direction do you want your back to face? Do you have more maneuverability if you sit in one spot versus another?
8. Built-In Desk Ideas for Kitchens
Kitchen desks tend to be a small workstation that are perfect for doing quick tasks or paying bills. These built-in desks are in the middle of the most used room in your home, so they don’t make great desks for those looking to work from home full time. Most kitchen desks are a few feet wide and are framed by your kitchen cabinets.
The advantage of these small workstations is that you’ll have plenty of light. Kitchens tend to have the most built-in lighting, which will work in your favor when working at the desk. They’re also close to the snacks and drinks, which makes working at your desk more enjoyable.
If you decide you want a desk in your kitchen, build in plenty of organization and storage space. This area tends to collect mail and other papers, so you need a way to keep all of it organized. It’s also helpful to have a way to hide the clutter. Cabinet doors and drawers can help you close the space in and keep the paper clutter out of sight.
Built-In Desk FAQs
How do I choose the right location for my built-in desk?
Consider the traffic flow patterns in your home and your ability to ignore distractions. If your family spends the majority of their time in the kitchen and you’re easily distracted, then placing your desk here is a bad idea. At the same time, you don’t want to stiff yourself on space. Your desk should be placed somewhere that you’ll want to spend time. Try to place your desk where you’ll be able to concentrate and stay productive while working from home.
How do I make my built-in desk beautiful and functional?
While you can’t do much to make your phone, printer, and computer more attractive, you can minimize their visual impact. Start by creating cubbies or cabinetry that you can tuck these items away in. That way, when they aren’t in use, they’ll be out of sight. Another thing you can do is hide the cords. Place your technology near the outlets and create holes for threading the cords behind your desk. This will keep the area looking neat, organized, and less like a cubicle.
Must I use a traditional desk chair with my built-in desk?
No, you can use any chair you want with your desk. The most important thing is to find a chair you can comfortably sit in for hours at a time. Look for a chair that helps you sit in an ergonomically correct position. You can find these qualities in a wide variety of chairs, so look for one that fits the style and feel of your home.