Your home office shouldn’t just be a workspace— it should also inspire. The fastest way to inspiration (minus your social Pins)? We nominate vintage desks. Whether you opt for a sleek Parsons style that could double as a console, or a Danish Modern marvel from a master like Jens Risom or Hans Wegner, used desks are ideal for slightly blurring the lines between work and play. Maybe it’s just us, but overtime has never looked quite so appealing.
HOW TO PICK THE PERFECT VINTAGE DESK
If you find yourself paying more heed to your virtual desktop than your literal one, you’re not alone. True, our virtual desks don’t accrue stray paperclips and wayward brunch receipts the way our real-life ones can, but that’s certainly no excuse to forgo a workspace spruce-up every now and then. In fact, whether you’re in the midst of a remodel—or just another work week— there’s never been a more apt time to ask if yourself if your desk is working for you (or if it’s haplessly turned the tables on you…)
First and foremost, when opting for a vintage desk, it’s best to keep in mind that they’re, well, vintage. Most used desks weren’t designed with computers and their excessive entourage in mind. Understandable, but it can pose some serious wringers when it comes to planning the modern home office.
The best way to tackle it? Take an inventory of what you need most from a vintage desk. This includes honestly assessing your intended office space and determining what it can handle square footage-wise. Still, it may be that you have studio art needs and a pint-size alcove in which to fit them. Sound familiar? If so, don’t fret! Thankfully, a secondhand desk is one of the easiest pieces of furniture to merge with others in the home—a console makes a fine desk in a space-minded pinch—meaning that with a little ingenuity (and our handy vintage desk guide below), you’ll be desk-prepped!
An expansive workspace anchored by four square column legs makes the Parsons desk one of our absolute favorite creative docking spaces. Its roomy surface space (which is blissfully sleek and unadorned) is perfect for those who routinely work on projects that need a little extra leg room. Be it a home craft business or a work from home situation, a vintage Parsons desk (and a multitude of similar table-desks) offer an unfussy solution to those who need workspace, but not necessarily a bold, statement maker.
Which isn’t to say the Parson’s desk is boring. Beyond the typical white lacquer look, keep an eye out for desks in richly polished burl wood or brass (these were popular in the 1970s, served up in the plenty by designers like Milo Baughman. Glam and undeniably festive, these kind of desks are ideal for use as a buffet or DIY bar when not in use.
While we won’t deny the cozy, isn’t-life-grand? vibes induced by working from home in bed, urbanites needn’t consider it the only option. Whether you’re in a studio apartment or a one-bedroom that leaves the office co-oping with either the living room or the bedroom, a floating wall desk can be a manna. The design was popular in the Mid 20th-Century, embraced by the Modernist makers who valued function just as much as style.
Designs range from simple floating beams equipped with a fold-out surface (Danish designer Arne Hovmand-Olsen made some divine ones) to multiple-shelf units banded together by steel. In an especially small space, a floating beam desk could be placed in an entry, double-timing as a place to drop keys and mail when not in use. A shelving unit model merges desk and bookcase, making it a killer choice for efficiency-style living as well. As a bonus, these desks can be hung at your preferred height. Meaning if you’re ergonomically inclined, go on and opt for that standing desk!
Have an entire room to dedicate to an office? First off, we’re enviously green! Second, don’t be afraid to go bold! With an entire room to unleash creative forces, an executive desk is inspired way to conjure up some drama and cultivate that boss-like persona (without garnering eye rolls from your co-workers). While traditional styles will always hold appeal, we cannot deny the moon-to-tide pull of a vintage Mid-Century Modern desk. Golden maples and umber-tone teaks play beautifully off strong right angles, while file-style drawers make these pieces as practical as they are swoon-worthy.
In a small space, falling in love with a vintage writing desk can be a bit like falling in love with a hundred-pound, shaggy-haired, mud-loving pup. You adore it, but do you have the room (not to mention patience) for it? Vintage writing desks—also known as ladies desks and secretaries—are as romantic as can be, but working at them for extended periods of time can often cramp (up) your style. As a workaround, use these old-school girls as a second desk in a bedroom, where they’ll come in undeniably handy to pen a note or shoot off an email before bed, or refashion one as a bar in a living room. If needed, a fresh coat of bold paint will ready them for any room.