It happens to nearly all homeowners at some point: they might be happy with their current kitchen but feel they either need new inspiration or they have so much clutter it ends up ruining their renovations. But there’s an answer to that: kitchen desk ideas.
Adding a desk to your kitchen is just one of five useful ways to repurpose a kitchen and optimize space, according to Rachel Brougham, writer, and editor for Family Handyman. Updates such as adding granite counters, making a kitchen open concept, and making use of nooks and crannies are some of the major changes we recommend for the best kitchen renovations.
But according to Brougham, adding a kitchen desk may be a nice final touch. Drawers provide extra storage space and countertops can be transformed for nearly any purpose.
On the other hand, Carla Aston, an interior designer, and design blogger sound a note of caution about kitchen desk ideas, going to far as to question if they are ‘outdated’.
One of the problems with kitchen desks, she claims, is that people do not always use them well. She also points to the long history of kitchen desks, and how some kitchen–likely more minimalist and modern designs–have turned away from the concept.
So which is it? Can a kitchen desk provide inspiration to transform your space and even give you ideas to handle your clutter?
Or is the concept of the kitchen desk better left in the past?
In this article, we’ll discuss the pros and cons of having a desk in your kitchen, some common misconceptions, and give you some ideas to modernize the design to make it work for you. Hopefully, this will provide you an inspiration to utilize your space to the best of your ability and make this renewed trend work for you.
Have Kitchen Desks Been Around For a While?
As Ms. Aston, the interior designer hinted, kitchen desks have been used in past decades. Kitchen desks were popular in the 1980s and 1990s and some into the 2000s. In the past decade or so, many homeowners have not only not embraced the trend of a desk in the kitchen but thought of ways to remove them.
She considered a number of things: taking it out entirely, removing the tile backsplash, or trying to find a way to reinvent it. Not only did it not fit in with her kitchen concept, but it did not fit her design concept and to her, felt like wasted space.
Installed desks are not uncommon to find from past kitchen trends. Many kitchen desks from the past were installed directly into the wall and counter units, with heavy backsplash. While the idea was to add storage space to the kitchen, many designs now look outdated and even bulky.
Are Kitchen Desks Outdated?
Whether or not a kitchen desk is an outdated idea depends on who you ask. Certainly, if you look at desk models from the past, they do appear outdated. Some do not make efficient use of space, the designs themselves do not fit into the more open concept feel of modern kitchens, and some are not even that useful for organizing your space.
Vanessa Hunt, author co-author of Life in Season and founder of the home and lifestyle blog, At the Picket Fence, argues that kitchen desk ideas are not outdated–in fact, it’s all about how they are designed and utilized.
In fact, she credits her kitchen desk with helping her utilize space and as a helpful nook in her kitchen that she wouldn’t want to replace. The problem, she says, is worrying too much about trends and not thinking about how renovations can work for you and your lifestyle.
In fact, there are signs that kitchen desks aren’t even considered a thing of the past. Millennials especially are apt to latch onto a trend like a kitchen desk ideas, as part of a way to optimize space through integrated living spaces. In fact, this may be just as popular as other kitchen trends beloved by millennials, including farmhouse sinks, hidden outlets, and lighting under cabinets.
What Are Integrated Living Spaces?
Integrated living spaces go hand and hand with open concept rooms and homes. The reason homes in the past were mostly sectioned off into distinct rooms rather than presenting a more open, free-flowing concept was in part to manage to heat and cooling efficiently.
As heating, cooling, and insulation has improved, as well as innovation in the interior design market, more and more homes are gravitating towards free-flowing versus compartmentalized space.
Integrated living spaces is all about using space as efficiently as possible, adding in nooks and under surface space to optimize storage and make your rooms work for you. Integrated living spaces are all about using spaces to their utmost efficiency, no matter their size. Examples include:
- Kitchen desks
- Under counter storage
- Wine cabinets
- Under counter outlets and lights
- Installed cabinets and cubbies
- Other space savers
The trend is especially popular among younger or new homeowners, in part because they may be living in more cramped quarters that requires storage and living to be optimized.
Is It All About Optimizing Space?
While integrated living spaces can free up storage space, it’s also about the design overall. More and more homeowners want their kitchens to feel not just like a kitchen, but a social space where company and family can gather.
You can see that in other trends, like window seats and book nooks. These kinds of additions transform the kitchen by making it more multipurpose and dynamic.
What Are The Pros and Cons of Adding a Desk to Your Kitchen?
Even if a kitchen desk sounds like a good idea, first you want to consider both the disadvantages and advantages to adding one to your home.
While a kitchen desk ideas need not be a major project that requires much work, it still is a decision you shouldn’t take lightly, especially if you’re trying to prioritize projects. Let’s take a look at some reasons why you might want to, or not want to add a desk to your kitchen:
- Adding a charging station gives you a safe and convenient place to charge smartphones and laptops. Many times kitchens have outlets that are used for charging devices, but it’s not a safe place to do so, what with food, water, and other elements.
- A place to work. Of course, this is an easy application, but adding a desk to a kitchen is ideal for a family in some ways. Homework can be done while parents cook. It can also be a great space to plan meals or prepare for the week ahead.
- A place to multitask. Sometimes cooking requires on and off attention. If you’re cooking something that’s rather hands-off, but still requires to be watched, a desk in the kitchen allows you to answer emails or whatever else you need to do without leaving the room.
- A way to organize. Keeping future grocery lists, monthly or weekly calendars, are all great ideas. The kitchen in many cases is a central room in the room, and a great place to be reminded of the week ahead and to-do lists. If you make grocery lists, you’re more likely to remember items you need to get when you’re still in the kitchen. It’s also a nice place to keep something like mail, especially if your kitchen is close to the front of your home, as they often are in the United States.
- Clutter adds up quickly. Perhaps the greatest drawback to adding a desk to your kitchen is getting ideas that it will help you organize–and in fact, misusing it and resulting in the opposite. If drawers are not given a specific purpose, or if the desk itself is not given a specific purpose, clutter can add up and it can quickly become a space where just about anything is left. That’s about the last thing you want if you’re looking to remodel your home. In some ways, it’s like starting to paint your walls and leaving them unfinished: the inspiration is there, but the purpose is entirely defeated.
- Poor spacing can lead to problems. Of course, a kitchen in of itself is not the best place for electronics or important papers–which in some ways, a desk even more so invites. For that reason, it’s especially important to make sure the desk is situated in a strategic spot. Otherwise, it can be prone to collecting stains and even damaging important devices and papers.
- Takes up precious space. While there are designs that can make use of space efficiently, the fact is that kitchen desks are best in larger, and usually open concept kitchens. Otherwise, it might feel cramped and instead of optimizing space might in fact make it feel more congested. Whether or not a desk makes sense for you, of course, depends not only on the size of the kitchen itself but also how space is being used currently. You may also have to sacrifice something else to add in a kitchen desk.
What Are Some of The Best Kitchen Desk Ideas for 2019 and 2020?
To keep inspiration fresh, updated and modern, the following are all ideas for you to hop onto the kitchen desk trend and making the most of it. Every idea works a bit differently depending on your kitchen, so remember to work with the space you have.
Blend It In
If you’re most worried about your desk sticking out too much from everything else in your kitchen, try this trick. Go for something like a mid-century modular desk unit (you can even build it yourself) that has a minimalistic design. Overhead, install cabinets that match the rest of your kitchen, and have counters that match the rest of your kitchen installed on either side of the desk.
By surrounding the desk with counters on either side and cabinets above, it will more seamlessly fit in with the rest of the kitchen. While this works for any desk type, something more minimalistic makes this process easier and the desk to blend in a bit more–but that mostly applies if you have cabinets and counters that are more understated.
Match The Style and Feel of Your Kitchen
That brings us to our next point. Another way to ensure that your desk feels like a part of your kitchen and not just a last-minute addition is to select a desk that matches the general style and feel of your kitchen. This isn’t to say you have to exactly match the style, but it’s still a good idea to find a desk that complements it.
Farmhouse: For a kitchen that has a more rustic, country or farmhouse vibe, opt for a desk with a wood finish that matches your floors; you could also go for a more rustic, weathered look. Other options include classic but warm paint finishes, just as creamy whites–all depending on the rest of the decor in your kitchen.
Modern: Modern kitchens thrive on sleek, minimalist designs. A desk with a streamlined, minimalist design can often be found in metallic finishes. For mid-century modern, modular desks fit in well. Horizontal lines with little ornamentation and simple hardware work best.
Traditional: To keep traditional-looking fresh, add some decor above the desk area or a useful space (more on this later). Traditional calls for desks with distinct molding, whether it is on the legs or face; elegant hardware, and smooth finishes, normally in timeless colors–think white, blue-black, etc.
Craftsman: Craftsman kitchens are marked by rich wood tones, and your desk should do the same. The risk here is the desk feeling too heavy, so make sure you keep the hardware and any accessories simple and understated.
Mediterranean: Kitchens with bright splashes of color and mixes of material call for a desk that complements, rather than fights with what’s already there. Instead of matching exactly, opt for a desk in an accent color. You can get buy with a desk featuring tile or wood, or a combination of the two.
Industrial: To add to an industrial feel, opt for a desk with a metallic finish on the legs and wood grain on the surface, keeping hardware and the rest of the desk simple. One mistake some make when going for an industrial vibe is making it too heavy when in fact industrial is rather minimalistic.
Use a Freestanding Desk to Your Greatest Advantage
If you don’t want the cost, installation hassle, or commitment of a built-in option, a freestanding desk can work–you just have to know how to use one to your greatest advantage. Ideas include:
Set it in a corner with plants or another decor. Find a corner or nook that doesn’t get much traffic, then dress it up with a standing accent lamp or an indoor potted plant.
Make it an entry space. This really works best if you have a generous hallway width or a generous space before the heart of your kitchen, but you can place a freestanding desk up against a wall as you come into the kitchen. Add decors, such as a vase of artificial flowers or a statement piece.
Save Space With a Built-in Option
A built-in desk may not seem very modern but it can be when done right. In fact, a built-in desk fits more seamlessly and is less likely to stick out. By placing a mounted cabinet above, it fits into your kitchen. Select a nook that’s within the same room but far enough away from the stove and sinks. Corners are the best places. Built-in desks feel like they’re a part of the kitchen rather than an add on.
Corner Desk: Corner desks often work well if you have an island with a sink unit or extra space. The cabinet is extended, and the desk fits right up against the wall. If at all possible, corner desks should be kept simple, with a less noticeable design.
The Nook: For a modern or contemporary look, opt for a nook desk. These desks sit in a back corner normally, a space that is not being used but are built into the wall. Many are suspended, with a bookshelf overhead but no legs. This suspended look is both efficient and stylish.
Computer Desk: Yes you can have a computer desk, and yes you can make sure it looks and feels updated. Opt for a built-in computer desk with granite, marble or some complementary finish. Many prefer to match the surface of the counters in the kitchen. Tuck it away in a nook or corner; these work best with cabinets overhead and more distinct mouldings and hardware, such as you would see in a country, cottage, or traditional kitchen. While not as efficient space-wise, they provide a good amount of area to work with.
Writing Desk: For an elegant, timeless option, add a writing desk; these can either be installed or free-standing. Place it beside a seating area, such as a window seat, near natural light and use white or a light color, with traditional but simple hardware.
Understated Addition: Want desk space but don’t want to make a big fuss over it? This option draws little attention and gives you just a small nook to work with. Instead of a full-size desk, opt for a half size, with just enough surface area to work on without feeling imposing. Have the desk install right against a counter on a corner and extend cabinets overhead. This can work with almost any style.
Coffee Bar Desk: Why not combine two in one? Another option that can either be installed into the wall or for more versatility, also be freestanding, this can be used both for enjoying a coffee and having a place to work. Opt for a simple style, skip the cabinets or hutch overhead, and have drawers that march your kitchen cabinets.
Island Counter: Make your island counter pull double duty by adding shelves underneath, cubbies on the sides, and under the counter outlets. While this technically isn’t a desk area, it works if you want multipurpose space without fully committing to kitchen desks.
Make Your Space Distinct
Want to make sure your desk doesn’t stick out too much but also want to make it feel like a purposeful and distinct space? Make the rest of your desk match or complement your kitchen, but add details that mark the space for a specific purpose.
Add a bulletin board. By adding a bulletin board directly overhead, you’re not only distinguishing the space as a desk area, but also making the most use of your space, by providing somewhere to stick up flyers, notes, and other things you don’t want to become more paper clutter.
Add a minimalist overhead shelf. Hutches can feel imposing, so instead opt for a contemporary shelf overhead. This can be a less expensive option than cabinets, and also a way to make the desk area feel more distinct. The shelves can be used to add bits of decor, such as picture frames and stylized decor to add some of your personality into the room.
Add a family calendar. Add a whiteboard calendar so you can easily adjust your schedule for the week. It’s a great place for everyone to see what’s going on and also makes the desk space feel purposeful. If you want a very rustic vibe, you could go for a chalkboard or something that resembles one.
Add wallpaper or backsplash. If you’re placing or installing a desk in your kitchen, one idea to help it feel purposeful is to add some detail on the wall it’s facing. A playful wallpaper with color is a great idea. Backsplash works as well, though keep in mind a tile backsplash is going to be more permanent and also less affordable.
Add a pop of color. We’ve talked about making the desk feel like it’s part of the kitchen, but get some inspiration by adding an accent color. An accent color makes the desk area stand out while adding interest to the room overall. This works best in modern, contemporary, mid-century modern, and eclectic kitchens, or kitchens that already have quite a bit of color. If you don’t want the entire desk to be colorful, make the shelves overhead colorful instead.
Final Advice: Get The Most Out of Your Space
Optimize your work and storage space. Add cubbies or baskets underneath, under the desk outlets for charging, and built-in light units you can easily turn on and off. Desk with sliding doors and drawers underneath feel modern but still provide storage space. Shelving units overhead, bulletin or whiteboards, and even something like a hanging storage organizer are all ways to help you organize, all the while using your space efficiently.