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How to Choose the Best Desk: A Guide to Buying a Cool Desk

The vaccine is rolling out across the country. Americans are shedding their work from home Zoom friendly shirts they've been stylishly pairing with their favorite pajama bottoms for the past year, dusting off their business casual attire and preparing to head back to the office. Some companies have adapted to the "new normal", and work from home remains an option.

Whether you work from home or a commercial office, selecting a desk can be a daunting task. With so many options, features, design styles, types of desks and price points, it's hard to know where to start. The challenge is how to choose the best desk, the one that works for you. Whether you need a home office desk, a statement desk for a busy executive's office or home office, a reception desk, a functional L desk, or a straight forward writing desk, there is the perfect desk out there for you once you know what you need.

The pandemic changed the way Americans work, and offices and work styles across the country are evolving. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American worker spends approximately 260 days a year working. That's a lot of hours behind a desk. This article covers helpful things to think about when choosing a desk to help you can decide what style and features best suit your needs. Knowing these thing in advance will help you maximize the time you spend sitting behind that desk, and make your shopping experience easier when you know what you need.

Before publishing this article, we surfed the internet to see what manufacturers were saying about buying a desk. There was one glaring thing in common. They expect you to adapt your work style to their product. They have completely removed YOU, the user, out of the equation. They push their bells and whistles, their price, their free shipping, but they don't put you first.

We wrote this article based on our seven years experience in building handmade custom desks for both commercial offices and home offices. It wasn't until we had completed the article that we decided to compare what we wrote to what others were saying, to check on what value we were adding to our readers. While there is some overlap, much of the view presented by the manufacturer was narrowed to their own standard product line. It was surprising to find that manufacturers don't want you to think about how you work, and instead ask you to focus on their talking points. They spend a lot of time telling you how you would be able to make their desk work for you, without knowing what your needs are. At Invictus Steelworks, we help you make your desk work for you with custom configurations, dimensions, finishes and unique and original styles paired with features that you need to make your desk and working space perfect for you. We hope you find this guide to finding an awesome desk helpful in untangling all the information out there about this necessary piece of office furniture.

Things to Consider when Buying a Desk

A little knowledge will go a long way helping you decide what desk to buy. Our list provides you with a brief overview, and more detailed information can be found below. Narrowing down your search before you start will make finding the perfect desk for you easier and less time consuming because you know exactly what you are looking for.

  1. What is your work style? A desk should complement your work style, not the other way around. Adapting your work style to your desk isn't the best option. Knowing how you work, or understanding how you work best is one of the most important things to know before you start shopping. As workers, we spend more time doing than we do thinking about how we do it. Start by thinking about how you do it. Little details like where you keep things, things you reach for without any thought, they are important to know.

  2. Measure your space. Know how much space you have to dedicate to a desk. When determining the size of a desk the your space can accommodate, don't forget to include ample room for a chair or other furniture in the room

  3. Desk size. There is no magic gold standard regarding desk size. They, being manufacturers of desk in standard sizes, tell you there is. Guess what? There isn't. The truth is, the best desk size is the one that best fits your space properly. A better way to put it is that companies offer standard sizes, but there is no actual designation of size that makes a desk a desk. At Invictus Steelworks, our standard size executive desk is 6'x3' and our large executive desks are 7x4, but we can adjust the dimensions to suit your needs. L desks vary widely in length of main desk and return. Writing desks and computer desks are available in many sizes. With regard to depth, anything less than 24' deep is going to be a very small workspace. Height varies, from 28"-34", and height plays a role in what features are possible, as does length. You probably don't want a sliding keyboard tray with a 28" high desk. Your knees will hate you every time the bump into it. A double pedestal desk with file size drawers down both sides has to be wide enough to accommodate the filing drawers with room left over for you to sit comfortably between them. Leg room is important when you spend so much time sitting behind a desk. You probably don't want to compromise the space you have to sit and stretch your legs. Ergonomically designed desks make a big difference!

  4. Features. There are many features available for desks, and depending on your budget and the quality of the desk, the sky's the limit as far as bells and whistles are concerned. Here is a list of common desk features:

  5. Sliding keyboard trays

  6. Under desk top shelf

  7. Side drawers, pencil drawers and filing drawers

  8. Sliding or stationary shelves or cubbies.

  9. Wire management systems

  10. Power grommets and built in phone chargers, electric, USB, and other options can all be built into your desktop.

  11. PC cabinets or shelves/cubbies

  12. Matching credenzas, hutches, filing cabinets, office lockers for coats and storage, side tables etc. to round out the rest of the office furniture.

  13. Budget: You can spend as much or as little as you want on a desk. Decide what you want to spend or can afford. Shop around. See what's out there. You may be surprised to learn that custom desks are often better quality than off the shelf manufactured desks, and comparable in price. With a desk, you will get what you pay when it comes to quality, and the range in pricing is as varied as the options and styles.

  14. Other office furniture: Consider other furniture you will have in your office space. Can you find other pieces to match or complement your desk? Credenzas, hutches, book cases, filing cabinets, office lockers/storage side tables and other pieces of office furniture may come into play in deciding what desk will work best for you. Buying a desk that doesn't go with anything else in your office is a only a good idea if you like a more eclectic style.

  15. Style/Genre: Desks and office furniture in general come in every design genre imaginable. Here are some popular choices:

  1. Industrial: Modern industrial, industrial, or rustic industrial, all variations of vintage industrial style. You can even toss in Victorian to this category. Think patinated metal for an aged look, metal and wood combinations, or all metal, even the desk top. Rivets, banding and other metal accents define this style.

  2. Modern or Art Deco: Sleek and classic, always stylish. Think a metal base with glass or stone desktop and nice clean lines.

  3. Traditional: These are the old fashioned all wood desks, in varying degrees of quality. Not as popular as they once were, but they have their place in the right room.

  4. Transitional: A transitional style desk is somewhere between Traditional and Contemporary. Transitional style is not exactly defined by one piece of furniture, but more of a mix of traditional and modern in one room, giving both a bold new look.

  5. Mid Century Modern or MCM: This is a retro post WWII style from the mid twentieth century. Simple flared legs, geometric shapes and bold colors often, but not always, define this signature style. Understated, organic and minimalist are traits of MCM furniture.

  6. Minimalist: Minimalist design is, in a word, simple. Functional without bells and whistles.

  7. Contemporary: Popularized in the latter part of the twentieth century, this style has gentle curves, rounded edges or sides, and is in stark contrast to the straight lines you'll find in modern furniture, or the flared legs of MCM.

  8. Sculptural: We are adding this to the list because it's near and dear to our heart. Used mainly for turning a writing desk into a work of art or a statement desk, there is nothing quite like using an original steel sculpture as a base for desk with a glass table top.

Office Storage, Office Furniture, Office Locker with coat rack, Welded Office Cabinet
Office Locker or storage cabinet with coat rack

Buying a desk starts with you and your needs.

Plan answering email on your laptop and paying a few bills? Your requirements are going to very different from someone who will be using multiple monitors and spreading out with files and paperwork. Do you need filing, or does a shelves or a cubby work for you to tuck away some random papers and keep your desktop organized? Are you looking for a gaming desk or a computer desk for a student? Desks are task oriented, and every type of desk suits a purpose. Knowing how you will use your desk will help you choose a the type of desk you need.

Know your work style:

  • Do you like to have a place for everything and everything in its place? If you prefer everything in its place at all times, consider a desk with at a storage shelf or drawers and wire management.

  • Where do you like your keyboard? Do you use a sliding keyboard tray? If you are like me and you prefer your keyboard on your desktop, choose a desk that has enough depth to accommodate the keyboard, monitor, mouse or other accessories you like on top of your desk surface.

  • Do you use a laptop, or do you use a PC with a tower and monitor, or multiple monitors? Again, how you utilize your desktop space will be important in choosing the best desk for you. 3-4' deep is what we recommend for executive desks. L desk offer more flexibility.