3 Expert Tips To Choose A Secretary Desk

Secretary desks have their design parentage in the 18th-century French escritoire or writing desk. Befittingly ornate and royal, the contemporary secretary is back in vogue as a multi-functional focal feature of a living room or a bedroom.

Choosing furniture with a rich, centuries-old legacy calls for an informed decision. It's a bit like buying art. Let us help you zero in on your type of secretary desk.

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What are my choices of a secretary desk?

Compact cabinet

It is for compact spaces, meant for multiple purposes by multiple persons. The design is compact yet feature-rich. This type is usually partially foldable. For example, the drop-down workspace would fold and become a cabinet-door when not in use. The top can sit a vase, personal memorabilia, and décor items. The drawer and shelf in the lower half can store adequate material of a 3-member family.

Is yours a small family living in a 900-1,000 square feet urban apartment, and need a desk-cabinet for common use? Look no further. Being mostly wood-finished, it will match softer wall shades from the yellow family. Green planters on the sides will accentuate the desk's dark finish.

Compact Foldable Secretary Desk with Hutch in White
Simple Compact Foldable Secretary Desk
Compact Metal and Wood Secretary Desk
Compact Grey Wood Foldable Secretary Desk
Compact Wood Foldable Secretary Desk in Black
Compact Solid Wood Foldable Secretary Desk with Hutch

Full-featured workplace

Versatile, elegant, and as hard-working as you, this secretary desk scales up to a comprehensive workspace. Adequate working space, file and stationery storage, shelves for personal things, drawers, and cabinets, it has got it all. Whether you are a busy executive who brings the office home or a work-from-home professional, this one is your veritable office space.

Match this workplace with formal, office-like décor. Landscape and still-life photo-frames, deep-thick carpet, and concealed lighting will create an appropriate ambiance.

Full featured Wooden Secretary Desk
Wooden Full-featured Charging Station Secretary Desk
Full-featured Black Solid Wood Secretary Desk
Industrial Full-featured Secretary Desk
Cream Solid Wood Full-featured Secretary Desk with Hutch
White Wood Full-featured Secretary Desk

Vintage storage cabinets

This type is reminiscent of the 18th century Chippendale and other furniture traditions. Standing on solid ornate legs and having multiple drawers in the lower and middle body, this cabinet is often monotone - in natural medium to dark finishes. Cherry, mahogany, or ebony are classic examples. The upper body often has a sloping drop-down cabinet with a narrow top that can sit a lampshade or a flower vase. Brass hardware is the signature feature of these vintage pieces.

At about 25"W x 15"L x 40"H, the size is versatile and adaptive. It can be an excellent accent piece in a large living room and bedroom, or morph into a primary cabinet for smaller homes. Either way, it will suit your needs and taste if vintage is your watchword while selecting furniture and décor items. Contemporary versions of midcentury ambiance are ideal matches.

Roll-top desks

Standing on carved legs, these desks have roll-top writing, computing, and working space at its center, with in-built shelves and drawers. The front profile has carved or inlaid forms and shapes.

This desk is an ideal combination of class and function. Made from combinations of wood and processed woods, this type will be a natural fit for wood-oriented interior décor. This includes wood-textured vinyl flooring and wood-framed paintings.

Roll-top Solid Wood Secretary Desk
Hand Carved Roll Top Secretary Desk
Brown Solid Wood Roll-up Secretary Desk with Hutch
Roll-top Secretary Desk with Hutch
Roll-top Solid Wood Secretary Desk in White

What secretary desk styles are there to check out?


These are the closest to the original French escritoire style, retaining its 18th-century aura - baroque and lavish in looks, and crafted with passionate intricacy. Their prominent characteristics:

  • Predominantly solid-wood construction
  • Elaborate carving and inlay with mainly decorative forms
  • Paw-legs with an outwardly curved shape
  • Rich high-gloss wood finishes
  • Decorative metal handles, knobs, bolts, and rivets

They will integrate well with like-minded surround - ornate sofa, mirror, photo-frames, and an entertainment unit are some examples.

Antic/rustic secretary desks will "stand tall" in spacious duplex apartments or independent homes, amidst an opulent culture. Proceed to pay for one of these pieces if you are in this league.


This style is characterized by low-relief hand-carving and natural wood finish in glossy and semi-glossy luster. The slanting-top and roll-top products belong to this traditional style. They can belong to medium-sized apartments and independent homes. Match a traditional desk with a hard floor - preferably wood or vinyl, dry flowers, and sepia-tone pictures above the desk.

Rustic Secretary Desk with Hutch
Antique Solid Wood Secretary Desk with Hutch
Rustic Secretary Desk in Antique Brown
Large Traditional Secretary Desk
Traditional Secretary Desk in Brown
Traditional Secretary Desk in Cherry Wood


This furniture era has the Scandinavian footprint of simple shapes, angular rather than a curved body, nil or minimal surface decoration and embellishment, and slanted legs. The tradition has manifested in secretary desks as a functional and feature-rich style with quiet elegance. You would notice it for its simplicity.Departing from the dark wood finishes, this style successfully experiments with lighter tones, even white and ivory shades. Mid-sized homes are best-suited for this style. Ceramic flower vases with white lilies, a white or pastel cushioned-sofa, light-net flowing curtains, and an elegant chandelier - that's the idyllic imagery for the mid-century style.

Modern and contemporary

This is an independent American desk style that breaks free from European influence. It is cosmopolitan, bold, and liberal, not afraid to experiment with colors, shapes, forms, and materials. Modern and contemporary secretary desks will spoil you with functional convenience and striking looks. A white wooden frame with a bright orange desktop and black drawers, or black-powder coated aluminum legs supporting a white working plane with olive green drawers - "hybrid" defines the American modern and contemporary style.

Whichever desk you buy, complement it with a deep-sinking black sofa and a lounge chair, we Americans love comfort after a day on the work-desk.

Contemporary Cherry Solid Wood Secretary Desk
Mid Century Secretary Desk in Brown
Mid Century Secretary Desk in Grey Wood
Mid Century Secretary Desk in Deep Brown
Modern Secretary Desk in White and Brown
White Modern Foldable Secretary Desk


These desks are created to provide maximum functional value within a compact area so that they serve their purpose within limited yardage. They are light, informal, even casual, yet efficient, and they are adaptive across working spaces - be it an office, home, or commercial establishment.

Urban desks' design orientation is toward perpendicular vertical and horizontal surfaces with angles and sharp edges. And they are usually light-colored. They will look attractive in a light and airy surround with pastel walls, planters, and a fireplace.

What should I be mindful of when choosing a secretary desk?

For all their popularity, some secretary desks fall short of comfort and ergonomics relevant to a seated working posture. Be mindful about:

Leg-room. Some secretary desks overlook this aspect totally, while some others consider it as subsidiary to physical charm. If you are going to be seated at your secretary desk for long, make sure that it sits you with straight legs (45° to torso). Also, choose a design with a footrest. This will help you work most efficiently without the fatigue factor.

If you are going to compute and write a lot on this desk, make sure that you have an unobstructed horizontal working space of at least 4' X 2 ¾'. Considering the average American height of 5'-9" (male) and 5'-4" (female), this will give optimum elbow room and working efficiency.

Modern working lifestyle has shifted most documentation, recording, and other administrative work to the computer. This means that we don't need much storage space in our working desk. Rather than many drawers and shelves, look for a design that provides space for a desktop scanner-printer or other workstation-related accessories.

Jessica started out as an interior photographer, but her love of pretty settings took her to the field of interior design, where she can combine two of her greatest passions, creating and then capturing the beauty of homes.