How To: Buy a Desk | Playing Office

No matter what your task, desks are office centerpieces you can't live without. Here are tips for choosing the right one for your space.

by: Rachel Machacek | Log Home Living

How to Buy the Perfect DeskLooks are always important when you're outfitting a home, but when it comes to purchasing a desk, comfort and functionality trump the aesthetic card. According the American Home Furnishings Alliance (, desks that offer storage, functionality and instant organization are topping wish lists, and the features to look for in the latest designs include hidden storage, cord management and charging stations.

As you consider the centerpiece of your home office, whether it's a room unto itself or a corner carved out of the kitchen, make sure it provides the right kind of workstation for what you'll be doing there, has enough space for the equipment you'll be using and that it's well made. Also, the desk should fit the space you've allotted for it. Ultimately, desk shopping requires you to do a little product test-driving. Here are guidelines to finding a good fit (we cover the perfect chair, too), whether you're investing in a massive desk with a serious head for business or a simple writing table to pen holiday cards.

Design Challenge
A desk is only as good as its fit and function. Things you'll want for your workspace:
  • Adequate work surface. 24 to 32 inches deep is typical.
  • A keyboard drawer. It saves space, and one with an articulating platform is the most ergonomic. Make sure it's long enough to hold a mouse, too.
  • Clearance for your legs. You'll need 2 to 3 inches between the tops of your thighs and the underside of your workstation.
  • Room for accessories. If you have a computer, chances are you have a printer, too.
  • Storage. You don't want to pile items underneath your desk with your legs.
  • More writing space versus shelving. Shelves can interfere with the express purpose of your desk (to work).
  • Routing holes for wires and cables. Even better? A depressed area for a surge protector.

Quality Assessment
When it comes to spotting well-crafted wood furniture, the truth is in the drawers.
Chances are high you'll be buying a desk made of wood. You definitely want quality, since there are so many moving parts. Here are some of the American Home Furnishing's Alliance ideas on how to spot the best. Look for:
  • Doweled and dovetailed drawer joints.
  • Glue-blocks reinforcing the bottom of the drawer.
  • Drawers that fit into their opening, and open and close easily with guides to aide this.
  • Smooth drawer interiors.
  • Hardware and pulls that are secure and straight.
  • Wobbling and creaking. The piece should sit squarely on the floor.

View our Gallery of Gorgeous Desks