During the pandemic and related lockdowns, a home office has become essential to many people. While a traditional desk is fine for some, others need a larger work surface, and are considering a built in desk in a home office. In this post, we’ll be talking about some countertop ideas for your home office.
In addition to working from home, many families are now dealing with remote learning and the need for a quiet place to do homework. A built in desk can function as a homework station for the kids as well. Especially more than one. Rather than having multiple desks, a more efficient, long, built in desk can be installed that has space for each child.
A very economical option would be a simple countertop with open space underneath. Or, it can have cabinetry like the image above. It really depends on your tastes and budget.
For more built in desk ideas for a home office check out our Home Office Inspiration Pinterest board.
Home Office Built in Desk Design – A Few Details
Before you get to the design of the desk, you’ll want to look at the home office space as a whole. Whether you’re adding a built in desk to be used as an adult’s workplace or a child’s homework spot, there are some details that need to be sorted out first.
Start with space planning and the layout. Create a scaled drawing of the space. This can be a simple sketch on graph paper, where one box equals one square foot. Draw in any doors, windows, bump outs, and anything that is permanent and can’t be moved. Now you know the space you have to work with.
Begin laying out the desk using the dimensions in the following section. Make sure you have enough room for how you want to use the space. Then think about the other things that you want to include. Things like:
- Adequate storage for files, office supplies, samples, etc.
- Technology – internet, screen sizes, computer requirements, etc.
- Fun stuff – mini fridge, snacks, TV monitor, art (might as well make your home office a place you enjoy spending time!)
Be sure to check out our Built in Desk Ideas Pinterest Board for more inspiration!
Built In Desks – The Important Dimensions to Know
When designing a home office workstation or homework station as a built in desk, you’ll want to keep a few dimensions in mind.
When laying out the location of the desk, leave a minimum of 30″ from the front countertop edge to the back of the chair. This will allow you to get in and out of the desk. Add an additional 36″ minimum for a walkway behind the chairs.
Desk Countertop Height
Most office chairs have a seat height of 16″-22″, which puts the ideal desk countertop height around 30″. However, this height may be uncomfortable for shorter or taller than average people, so you might want to adjust the height to a more ergonomic dimension. (Ergotron has a nice ergonomic desk height calculator that can help determine the best height.)
The standard desk is about 30″ deep, and countertops are usually 25″ deep. Depending on your space and budget, either depth can work.
At a minimum, allow a 24″ wide opening for chair space. A more generous 30″- 36″ is nice if you have the room.
If more than one person will be using the area, you’ll want to provide adequate spacing between work areas. At a minimum, a work area should be 48″ long to avoid feeling crowded, and 60″or more is better. Homework stations can be spaced a little closer, say 36″ or so, but that might take you into “he’s touching my stuff!” territory.
Standard kitchen base cabinets are 36″ tall, and will be too tall to work as a built in desk. Look for desk height cabinets which are about 28.5″ tall; adding 1.5″ thick counter will give a 30″ desk height. Or have custom cabinets made.
In order to avoid seams in a long countertop run, keep the maximum slab length for a particular material in mind. Natural stone and engineered stone countertops are limited to about 10′. Plastic laminate countertops can be a bit longer at 12′. Fabricators can do a pretty good job disguising seams, but sometimes it’s nice to just avoid them completely.
Home Office Built In Desk Countertop Ideas
Now that some of the basics of built in desks have been covered, let’s move on to the office countertop materials.
Granite is an excellent choice for a home office. This durable natural stone comes in such a wide variety of colors and patterns. It also has several different price points and can be an economical choice. Our Countertop Costs Calculator can help with ballpark numbers. Check out our Quick Guide to Granite Countertops for more info on this durable choice.
My local bank has a lovely white and gold marble writing surface at each teller window. It has developed a lovely patina in the fifty or so years it’s been there, and just has a wonderful warmth to it. A home office would be a great place to splurge on marble, especially if you have clients visit or if you’re too persnickety to have it in the kitchen. Our Quick Guide to Marble Countertops has lots more information.
The popular new kid on the block would make a great choice for a home office desk countertop. All the beauty of a natural stone countertop without any of the maintenance. So many choices of color and pattern!
Quartzite is my new countertop crush. The colors and natural movement across a slab are so striking! While it does fall on the higher end of the countertop cost spectrum, it’s definitely worth it. Fantasy Brown quartzite would look fabulous in a dark and masculine home office with lots of wood. Be sure to check out the Quick Guide to Quartzite post for more information.
Plastic laminate (you’re probably more familiar with its trade names – Formica and WilsonArt) has come a long way since the days of burnt orange and avocado. Updated edge profiles and natural stone patterns have really changed the overall appearance. It’s an economical option that can look great, and would be great in a home office.
Well, that wraps up our countertop choices. A built in desk can be a great way to organize your home office and make you feel much more professional and productive. With so many office countertop options to choose from, you’re sure to find something that fits your tastes and budget.
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