Why You Need A Secretary Desk

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Glamorous gold painted fold down secretary desk

Courtesy of FancyDecors.co

Whether you’re a student moving into a dorm, a young adult moving into their first apartment, a busy family in need of a command center or you’re just simply short on space in your home, the BEST solution is a Secretary Desk. Secretary desks are cheap, versatile, multi-functional, easily refinished, and have great resale value.

One of the most famous Secretary Desks was the one in the movie Sex and the City 2  that held the tv that Big gave Carrie for their anniversary.

Modern mid century fold down secretary desk from the movie Sex and the City

Sex and the City 2 Secretary Desk courtesy of HickoryChair.com

They’re like a dresser, desk, office, nightstand, vanity, and library all in one. Add two book cases on either side and a hutch on top for the ultimate craft station like the combination below from Ikea.

Secretary Desk with hutch From Ikea. Perfect craft desk.

Ikea Hemnes Secretary Desk w Hutch and Book Cases Courtesy of Indulgy

COMPLETE BUYER’S GUIDE

Here are all of the reasons why you need one, ideas on where to put it, and tips on finding the best one for you at the right price. At the end of this post you’ll also find a gallery full of DIY inspiration.

A SECRET COMMAND CENTER
Modern Secretary desk with hutch. Cheap and Easy Clutter Proof Hidden Family Command Center for Busy Moms

Image without graphics courtesy of No29Design.com

One of the best purchases we ever made was our $40 secretary desk. We were able to fit ALL of the contents of a bulky, 5 foot long desk into a compact, efficient, versatile hidden office that doubles as a beautiful piece of furniture.

Wooden antique fold down secretary desk in bedroom

Courtesy of Lonny.com

The best thing is when we’re finished with work or have company over, we can just close the desk door and our office is safely hidden away from prying eyes or flying toys.

 
You can get one with a lock on it or have a small lock installed for security against nosy roommates, parents, visitors or kids looking to doodle.
Secretary desk with lock and key

Secretary Desk Lock and Key

 
There’s nice counter space on top to place nick knacks, a computer monitor, tower, modem, printer, or even food or drinks while we’re working. As a matter of fact this post is being typed on a Secretary Desk right now!
 
Ours has 3 drawers including a cedar lined bottom drawer that we can use to store sweaters. We haven’t done it yet, but we plan on refinishing it to a silver metallic.
The Secretary Desk is The Perfect Small Office Space Solution l Dorm Furniture l Apartment Furniture l DIY l Small Office l Home Office l Organization

Courtesy of FancyDecors.co

What Is A Secretary Desk Used For?

You can place a secretary desk in any area of the home but it’s especially great for bedrooms since it can act as an office, dresser, vanity, and nightstand all in one. 

Secretary Desks are perfect between two beds which can save a ton of room in small spaces like dorms.

Fold down secretary desk between beds

Courtesy Pinterest.com

For an extra space saving tip, a storage bench or chaise lounge at the foot of your bed can double as your office seat when needed. Just be sure you purchase furniture sliders, available at dollar stores, for underneath the legs of your bench or lounge so you can easily slide it to the desk and back to the foot of your bed. The Secretary Desk is The Perfect Small Office Space Solution l Dorm Furniture l Apartment Furniture l DIY l Small Office l Home Office l Organization

In a living or dining room Secretary Desks can be used as a china closet, bar, dresser, and desk or even as all in one.

Photo Credit: Black bar Courtesy of Mandy Clayton/Pinterest.com White China Cabinet Hutch Courtesy Pinterest.com
 
Secretary Desks can vary greatly in shape, size, design, and price so here are some tips on finding and purchasing the right one for you :
 

How Much Is A Secretary Desk?

Our personal favorite is buying older antique or used desks from sites like Craigslist, Facebook Market Place, and apps like Letgo. You can sometimes find them for as little as $25.
For the secret to getting the best price possible on resale sites, check out our post Get The Best Deals On Craigslist Without Bargaining.
Antiques are a fraction of the price, come with their own unique characteristics, can be repainted, and are usually made of real wood in a variety of finishes (Mahogany, Walnut, Maple, etc).
You can also purchase new secretary desks from stores like Pottery Barn, IKEA, and even Home Depot for anywhere from $140- $1,400.
TOP COMPARTMENT
When deciding which Secretary Desk to purchase you’re going to want to think about what you’re going to use it for and pay attention to the compartment at the top that pulls out converting it into a desk.
White painted fold down secretary desk

Empty top compartment

Some secretary desks are completely empty inside the top compartment but many come with shelves and drawers that can be great for smaller items but limit the inside space for storing bigger electronics.
 
Be sure to see pictures of inside the desk (when the desk is open) especially if you plan on storing a computer or laptop in it to make sure the shelving inside the top compartment leaves enough clearance at the bottom to slide in a closed laptop.
Painted white fold out secretary desk

Enough room to slide in a closed laptop, and a hole drilled in the back for wires.

The depth size is going to give you a good idea of whether or not it can fit your laptop or computer when it’s closed.
The Secretary Desk is The Perfect Small Office Space Solution l Dorm Furniture l Apartment Furniture l DIY l Small Office l Home Office l Organization

18 inch deep Secretary Desk

The shelves in some secretary desks are removeable so be sure to ask the seller if that’s the case.
The Secretary Desk is The Perfect Small Office Space Solution l Dorm Furniture l Apartment Furniture l DIY l Small Office l Home Office l Organization

Removeable shelving unit

Secretary Desk With Hutch

Some Secretary desks come with a tall cabinet on top known as a “Hutch”. Think of a hutch as a bookcase or glass cabinet on top of your desk.
Some hutches are detachable from the desk and some aren’t. A hutch can be useful in adding additional storage if needed.
You can also make a DIY hutch with a small bookcase as seen below or hang shelves above the desk.
 
We chose not to purchase a desk with a hutch because it was going under a window.
The Secretary Desk is The Perfect Small Office Space Solution l Dorm Furniture l Apartment Furniture l DIY l Small Office l Home Office l Organization

Courtesy of LynnSteward.com

Secretary Desk Dimensions  

Secretary Desks come in different sizes spanning anywhere from 29 – 42 inches wide, 14 – 20 inches deep, and 37 – 72 inches high. Whether purchasing new or used, be sure to ask what the measurements are for the width, depth, and height of the desk. Don’t forget to also ask what the span or depth of the desk is when open so you know how big your work space will be.

 
Below is an idea of the best uses for each desk size range.

28-30 INCH WIDE SECRETARY DESK

Best suited for a kids room, dorm or small space, this mini Secretary desk is great for light office work, paying bills, writing letters, kids craft storage, china cabinet, as a bar or dresser.

 
Since they usually come with a depth of only 14-15 inches, most medium to large sized laptops cannot be stored inside of a 28 inch wide desk unless the top compartment is completely empty or sparse.
The Secretary Desk is The Perfect Small Office Space Solution l Dorm Furniture l Apartment Furniture l DIY l Small Office l Home Office l Organization

Sapphire Blue Secretary Desk courtesy of LilyfieldLife.com

 
Larger laptops or a desk top computer can however be placed on top of the desk. You can also store a closed laptop in the drawers.
The Secretary Desk is The Perfect Small Office Space Solution l Dorm Furniture l Apartment Furniture l DIY l Small Office l Home Office l Organization

28″W x 14″D x 39″H

If you purchase one with a hutch you might even be able to store a desk top monitor and tower inside of it along with books. Many classic antique Secretary desks that include a hutch are this size.
The Secretary Desk is The Perfect Small Office Space Solution l Dorm Furniture l Apartment Furniture l DIY l Small Office l Home Office l Organization

Courtesy of TouchTheWood.Co.uk

31-42 INCH WIDE SECRETARY DESK

If you want the best replacement for a full sized desk, this size range is probably your better option.

They can vary from 16-20 inches deep allowing more room for storage inside of the top compartment of the desk.

The Secretary Desk is The Perfect Small Office Space Solution l Dorm Furniture l Apartment Furniture l DIY l Small Office l Home Office l Organization

37W x 19D x 42H

Our desk is 31/32 inches wide, and 17 inches deep allowing us to store three 14 to 15 inch closed laptops within the top compartment. The desk is 40.5 inches tall meaning the drawers are deep allowing for a whole lot of storage.

The Secretary Desk is The Perfect Small Office Space Solution l Dorm Furniture l Apartment Furniture l DIY l Small Office l Home Office l Organization

We are two petite women and we can both sit next to eachother at the desk comfortably.

THE BEST TIME TO BUY

Don’t be discouraged if you can’t find the one you want right away especially when seeking used. It took us 7 months to find one that we liked and we ended up finding a second one shortly after. You’ll have the best luck between July to December when people are moving or cleaning out their home for the holiday season. You might also have some luck during the spring cleaning season.

The Secretary Desk is The Perfect Small Office Space Solution l Dorm Furniture l Apartment Furniture l DIY l Small Office l Home Office l Organization

Courtesy of AndreaSteed.com

A dresser, office, nightstand, and book case all in one for as little as $20 makes secretary desks a unicorn product and the ultimate space saver.

Cute black and turquoise secretary desk. Perfect for small spaces like dorms, apartments, and bedrooms.

Courtesy of SKONAHEM.COM

The best part is that they’re so much fun to refinish. For make over inspiration check out the gallery below. The possibilities are endless.

Secretary Desk Ideas And DIY

Secretary Desk DIY Inspiration. The best desk for small spaces like dorms, apartments, and bedrooms. Great for home offices too.

Secretary Desk DIY Upcycle Inspiration. The best desk for small spaces like dorms, apartments, and bedrooms. Great for home offices too.

 

Have you purchased a Secretary Desk? Share your experience or tips. If you have any questions or comments, let us know!

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Hide Your Clutter in Minutes With a Secretary Desk

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Cheap and Easy DIY Clutter Proof Hidden Family Command Center ideas for Busy Moms in small spaces.

The Ultimate Craft Desk and how you can get it for cheapEverything you need to know about secretary desks. Great DIY inspiration for home offices, apartments, dorms, bedrooms, and livingrooms

Secretary Desk DIY Inspiration. The best desk for small spaces like dorms, apartments, and bedrooms. Great for home offices too.

Dish it to your friends!

2 thoughts on “Why You Need A Secretary Desk”

  1. Stevehounc says:

    Interestingly useful information

  2. Vennie says:

    The article is very current for what we live, and life is getting harder.

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