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Published Sep. 26, 2021

While a TV tray or dining room table may be great in a pinch, neither is a long-term solution for at-home work. Only a desk will do if you want to create an ergonomic space where everything you need is at arm’s reach. If you hear “desk” and immediately think “giant old-school wood monstrosity bigger than my entire home,” good news: The newest generation of desks are as diverse as the country’s workforce. 

If you have minimal space and need something you can fold up and move around, there’s a desk for that. If you want an option that alternates between sitting and standing positions, there’s a desk for that! If you happen to like a big, old-school style with drawers  there’s a desk for that! If a drafting table / desk hybrid is more your thing, then that’s an option too. Whatever your particular needs and budget, one of these top five picks should get the job done for you. 

How We Picked these Products

Methodology:

I examined brands that are at the top of their fields for particular reasons, as well as others that are highly rated, popular, and or affordable. I did not include any desks that were prohibitively expensive based on their function, and focused instead on utility, especially where it concerns the at-home worker. I picked styles that could seamlessly fit into small spaces, go with established decor, and offer the least intrusive addition to a home office.  

  • Versatility: I factored versatility, picking options that are meant to stay in place and blend in with the aesthetic of a room, as well as styles that are more mobile and less bulky, so you can work wherever you want to.
  • Value: You can spend thousands of dollars on a desk or under a hundred. While none of the options I chose are exorbitant, some are pricier than others. The main question I asked in determining whether something was worth the price is: Is this something I want to keep for a long time, or is it a placeholder right now while I’m spending more time working from home? 
  • Materials: Some materials are made to support hundreds of pounds, meaning you can feel confident that your double-monitor setup is safe as you peck away at the keyboard. Others favor maneuverability, which is fine for some people’s needs. If you plan to sit at a desk and write in a notebook for short stretches, you don’t necessarily need a heavy-duty (and likely more expensive) option.

The Best Desks: Reviews and Recommendations

Best Desk Overall: Novogratz Brittany, Walnut Desk

A Little Bit of Everything

A clean, simple design at an affordable price point, but with a little bit of storage, with coordinating pieces for those who want to go matchy-matchy. Novogratz

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Why It Made The Cut: Cortney and Robert Novogratz are known for their stellar style, and their eponymous desk model marries all the aesthetic gifts their brand is known for, with the utilitarian requirements of a modern home desk, while keeping a relatively affordable price point. 

Specs:

  • Materials: Wood-veneer top with real-wood legs
  • Weight capacity: Sturdy enough to support up to 100 pounds
  • 30 x 47.44 x 23.62 inches

Pros:

  • Looks more expensive than it is
  • Coordinating pieces and accessories
  • Less than 30 pounds

Cons:

  • No storage space
  • Assembly required
  • With only 100 pounds of support, not ideal for someone with lots of tabletop gear

If the name Novogratz sounds familiar, it might be from their 2010 Bravo show, 9 by Design, or their 2011 HGTV show Home by Novogratz. Both series spotlight the family matriarch and patriarch—who owned NYC-based design firm Sixx—and their impossibly cool kids, (all seven of them) as the family takes on some seriously amazing interior design projects. 

If you like their taste, then this desk—along with its coordinating pieces—is an easy way to steal the Novogratz style. Purchasing pieces from a collection takes the guesswork out of furnishing a room (or multiple rooms). Instead, you get furniture that goes together. The Novogratz’s Brittany desk has a Mid-Century Modern vibe. It is part of a mix-and-match set that includes an entryway bench, a turntable stand, a bar cabinet, and other super-hip must-haves for any home designer going for a cool California aesthetic. The best part is that even the most expensive piece in the set—the Brittany Tall 3 Drawer Dresser— comes at an under-market price . With coordinating pieces at affordable prices, you can furnish more than just your workspace without breaking the bank. 

Best Standing Desk: Fully Jarvis Standing Desk

Good for Your Bod

With just the touch of a button, this desk goes from sitting to standing, saving your spine, circulation and overall health. Jarvis

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Why It Made The Cut: This durable option weighs 92 pounds but can support more than triple its own weight; with a sustainable bamboo top and a steel base, this desk offers maximum stability when sitting or standing.

Specs: 

  • Dimensions: ‎30 x 48 x 25.5 inches
  • Weight: 92 pounds
  • Material: Bamboo

Pros:

  • Fully automatic, so no elbow grease required when it comes time to switch positions
  • UV-coated top to protect against fading
  • Quiet operation

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Heavy

It’s rare to meet someone who’s invested in an electric standing desk and regretted it. Studies suggest that going back and forth between standing and sitting every half hour is ideal for productivity and health.  An electric standing desk is an investment, for sure, but one that’s likely worth it in the long run in the long run. Unlike cumbersome desk converters which turn your regular desk into a standing version but only let you stand, and manual models that are difficult to operate, Fully’s Jarvis desk goes up, down, then back again with just the touch of a button: meaning you can alternate positions as much as you want.

Perhaps the best thing about this model is that it doesn’t look like an electric desk or an industrial piece of office furniture at all. It has a sleek Scandinavian vibe and is fully customizable, meaning you can choose different materials, colors, and configurations. Also, if you’re a shopper who likes investing in companies dedicated to sustainability and social justice, Fully is a B-certified corporation—meaning it is committed to “mindful and responsible practices at every level of a business.” 

Best Folding Desk: GreenForest Folding Desk

Compact and Versatile

With tiers for your gear and X-shaped metal legs for extra stability, this folding desk is perfect for apartments and other small spaces. GreenForest

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Why It Made The Cut: With one shelf and easy folding stowability, this desk puts the more in “less is more.”

Specs: 

  • Dimensions: 32.01 x 32.01 x 32.68 inches
  • Weight: 23.9 pounds
  • Material: Metal

Pros:

  • No assembly required
  • Affordable
  • Easy to move from room to room

Cons:

  • Somewhat small workspace
  • No cable-management features

If the prospect of complicated assembly is daunting, that may be enough of a reason to choose GreenForest’s simple pre-assembled folding desk.  Once you unfold it, you’ll find a 32-inch desktop plus a 5.9-inch shelf (for your monitor, trinkets and/or anything else that will fit). Easily storable when not in use, this desk is tiny but mighty, supporting up to 80 pounds. That means you can possibly fit two monitors or something entirely different, like a sewing machine or build space. 

The biggest perk of the GreenForest is its stowability. It folds to 1.6 inches, meaning it slides behind doors, under the couch, or into that weird space between the fridge and the pantry that always seems to remain unfilled. This versatility is a lifesaver in easily cluttered, tight spaces. (On the other hand, anything that sits on the desk when it’s upright will need to find a new home when it’s not, which can create a clutter problem if you’re not careful. Of course, just because you can fold this desk up doesn’t mean you have to, and with a folding desk this good looking, plenty of people set it and forget it, using it just as they would a more cumbersome, permanent desk.   

Best Desk With Storage: ROCKPOINT Axess Computer Desk

Drawers and Shelves for Days

If compartmentalizing is your jam, look no further: This one is the stuff that TikTok organization-ASMR videos are made of (even your junk drawer will look pretty). ROCKPOINT

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Why It Made The Cut: For an affordable price, you get a generous workspace and lots of storage, so everything is close by and neatly organized. 

Specs: 

  • Dimensions: 20.1 x 42.1 x 36.9 inches
  • Weight: 70 pounds  
  • Material: White-paper-laminated engineered wood

Pros:

  • Adjustable-height shelves
  • Cable management
  • Clean lines
  • Additional back shelf leaves room for knickknacks and other personal touches

Cons:

  • Assembly required, and tools not include
  • Open cabinets support only 15 pounds

With so many bells and whistles but at such a relatively low price, you’re probably thinking this desk has a catch, and it may, depending on your standards. The Axess is made of particleboard, which is lightweight and affordable, but not necessarily durable. If you’re a design snob, this is not the model for you. It’s not hard on the eyes, in fact, it’s quite sleek and clean looking, it just doesn’t have the presence of, say, a wood or steel model. 

But where function’s more important than style, you can’t complain about the Axess. With its dedicated workspace, storage drawer, neat cable storage, and shelving, this desk works.  It’s only real downside is its durability, if you’re looking for an heirloom, then this particle board piece is not the one.

Best Value Desk: Cubiker Computer Desk 40 inch Home Office Writing Study Desk

Lots for a Little

This value option combines the utility of a drafting table with the look of a classic wood-top and side pockets. Cubiker

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Why It Made The Cut: With options ranging from 32 inches to 63 inches, you get storage, easy assembly, a range of colors to pick from, and a generous workspace, all for a budget-friendly price. 

Specs: 

  • Durable steel legs
  • Multiple tabletop sizes
  • Medium Density Fiberboard 

Pros:

  • Amazing value
  • Range of desktop sizes
  • Sleek look
  • Waterproof and scratch-proof

Cons:

  • Minimal storage space
  • Assembly required

This one takes a licking and keeps on… desking, thanks to medium-density fiberboard (MDF), which is composed of wood shavings and sawdust. MDF is hardier than its cousin particleboard, and won’t warp like real wood. On the downside, MDF is heavy and not naturally water-resistant, so proofing (like the Cubiker’s melamine top) is key. If you’re someone who is sensitive to a table that rocks ever-so-slightly, this is a good choice: Highly sturdy, the Cubiker stays put and doesn’t move back and forth, and therefore won’t drive you insane while you work. 

That said, due to its formaldehyde emissions, there have been some health concerns surrounding MDF manufacture. As a result, most manufacturers have moved to low-formaldehyde options to minimize emissions and toxicity. It’s worth noting that any mass market material made of wood will emit some formaldehyde, a carcinogen. Still, if formaldehyde in the home is a concern, then it’s good to read up before you buy If you’re shipping to a particularly tough compliance state, like California, be sure that the item meets the California Air Resources Board’s (CARB) stringent emission standards for formaldehyde emissions.

Things to Consider Before Buying a Desk

Space

If the idea of getting a desk is to help organize your life, then the last thing you want to do is buy a desk that’s way too big for your space. The desk will dominate, and maybe not in a good way. If all you need is a surface because you have none, a simple fold-away style may do. If you are creating a home office because the family needs the dining room table back for dining, then think about something more permanent, that you’ll like and will suit your needs for years to come.

Cost

You can spend very little or very much on a desk. Unless you want luxury or a motorized standing desk, there are plenty of affordable desk options out there.

Storage

Do you want a flat desktop, or do you also want drawers, shelves, a hutch, and/or other organizational and storage accoutrements. You can go as major or minor as you want when it comes to the bells and whistles. You may want some, none, or all, and there are options for everyone, even Goldilocks.

FAQs

Q: Do I need to spend a lot of money on a desk?

You really don’t! How much you spend—and how major the desk you buy—is completely up to you. If all you need is a large dependable surface on which you can place your laptop, desktop, notepad, or other work tools, then a simple, affordable drafting board or fold-up desk will do. If you want the benefits of a non-manual stand-up desk, it will cost you more.

Q: Are standing desks worth it?

If you are considering a motorized (and therefore pricier) standing desk and think you’ll actually use its functions, then yes! Meaning, the health benefits—improved core strength, and spine and cardiovascular health—are documented. If you’re the kind of person who… maybe buys gadgets and then discards them (we see you, Peloton bike in the corner that’s now a clothing rack), definitely think about it before you invest.

Q: What is the most ergonomic desk setup?

A lot of it is common sense: If you’re buying a conventional desk, when you’re seated, your knees and legs should feel comfortable (i.e. not touching the underside of the desk). Your knees should be level with your hips, and your hands should be at elbow level as you work. Your desk should be big enough for your monitor to be arm’s-length away from you. And an adjustable standing desk, if you’re ready to make that sort of investment, helps with ergonomics even more by keeping your muscles and core engaged, changing your position (which is good!), and getting you moving.

Final Thoughts

Any desk is a winner if it provides you enough room to work, has the storage space that you need (which may be none at all), is sturdy enough to support whatever you plan to lay on top of it, and works with your style. The five I picked stood out from the field in their respective categories based on various factors, with the Novogratz Brittany, Walnut Desk ending up as my overall favorite.

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