How to buy a Home Office Desk

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Planning a great home office starts with knowing your measurements.  Before heading out to find the perfect set of furniture, do your due diligence and measure the space with this in mind:


  • Locate all light switches
  • Locate all receptacles, (plug-ins)
  • Locate TV cable
  • Locate computer attachment
  • How high is the window sill?
  • How high is the ceiling?
  • Where is your main light source for the room?
  • Do you want a stand-alone desk set-up?
  • Do you want an “L” shaped desk?
  • Do you want a “U” shaped desk?
  • Do you require storage? (Hutch, wall mounted storage, bookcase, filing, credenza storage, shelving)
  • What equipment will you be using? (Computer, printer, telephone, fax, TV)
  • Closed or open chassis?
  • Full, ¾, or ½ modesty panels

Confirmation of these questions will allow you to move forward in your process.  By starting with an accurate floorplan of your space, this task will go far smoother and will help you greatly when it comes to picking your required pieces.  Knowing that you have 400 hundred books means you will need a lot of bookcases or shelving units. Do some math at home and figure out approximately how many inches you will need to store your books.  The same goes for electrical equipment or for filing cabinets, you need to have some idea of how much stuff you want to store.  Do you want your books sitting where you can see them or behind closed doors?   For determining your file storage space, think of how many bankers boxes you could fill with your paperwork or file folders.  Each file drawer in a pedestal can hold approximately one bankers box.  Draw everything that you are wanting in the office onto the floorplan and try to judge how many of anything you require.  Once you have completed your floorplan you can safely move ahead with your shopping.

Most office furniture is made of plastic laminate, melamine, wood veneer or solid wood.  Many plastic laminate and melamine desks have PVC trim on work surfaces, gables and back panels to save money and keep the look consistent.  Plastic laminate desks are available with wood veneer trims, but typically at an upcharge.  Wood veneer desks are commonly made with wood veneer edges on work surfaces, gables and back panels but again, for an upcharge you can get solid wood trim for the work surface edging, which allows the manufacturers to add in extra edge details (called profiles) to create different looks.  It is rare, if ever, that companies will make solid wood desks because of the cost of the product and the potential of warping in the future.

The connecting hardware comes in a variety of ways.  If a manufacturer is doing KD (knock down) furniture they generally use some type of cam lock, which is the metal fitment that goes into the wood pieces, with pins added to the adjoining pieces so you simply turn the cam lock with a screw driver to complete the connection.  The nice part with this construction is that you have the option of being able to completely disassemble the furniture if you wish to move it to another space.  When a manufacturer makes a completely assembled desk, generally all of the connections have been glued and screwed to make a solid and rigid piece of furniture that can take all of the weight that you want to add to the top and into the drawers.

Most companies create a series of units that are available in a line of furniture.  They start with a specific look or edge detail and then have a set of units available in a variety of sizes.  The desks will come as a 30” x 60” or 30” x 66” or 30” x 72” and so on.  This is normal for the collection to have four desk sizes, four hutch sizes, and six different bookcase sizes and so on.  As the consumer you need to decide what series you like the look of and does it come in the predetermined sizes you are looking to acquire.  Many companies who offer the series are also willing to customize other pieces to help get the sizes you require, for an upcharge.  More often than not you will be able to find some beautiful furniture collections with the ability of getting any other pieces you need to complete your look.

Another option is custom.  This is easy.  You call a company to your home office, let them measure the room, tell them what you are looking for and they go off and plan out your entire office.  Then they bring back the drawings and pricing for your approval with colour samples in hand or even a custom colour, if so desired.  The only thing you have to do is pay for it Custom doesn’t always mean more money but it is a pretty safe bet that once you decide on a custom-built desk arrangement, it will be more expensive than the price of a prebuilt one.  The best part of custom is that you get exactly what you want, in the material you want, and in the colour that you want.  No compromises.

Whether you purchase prebuilt or custom, the product will take on average six weeks to arrive to your door.  A manufacturer has to get the order, enter it into their system, make the units, stain the units, finish the units, package the unit, and then ship the units.  All of this takes time, so don’t be looking out the front window of the house waiting for the furniture to arrive quickly.  Even once it arrives in your city, it still has to be off loaded to a warehouse, then picked up by the delivery team and brought to its final destination for installation, which all takes time.  When it comes to case goods furniture, patience is a virtue.

Make sure that the furniture is installed correctly.  All the product should be leveled from front to back and side to side. If you are not certain that it is level, then ask the installer to show you with his leveling tool.  Make sure that your drawers don’t roll open by themselves because of inadequate leveling.  Make sure that any overhead storage units are attached to the walls (into the studs) safely and securely with no chance of falling off.  Are the bookcases or shelves securely attached to the wall with a bracket?  Make sure that all units are connected together and feel solid and rigid.  Once your desk configuration is in place you should be able to walk around on the counter tops without any feeling that it is going to collapse.

Trust me, you are going to appreciate your quality home office furniture every day that you use it!  It is well worth the investment.