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.
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.
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.
37″W x 18″D x 44″H
A SECRET COMMAND CENTER
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.
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.
Courtesy of No29Design.com
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 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!
Secretary Desks are perfect between two beds which can save a ton of room in smaller spaces like dorms.
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.
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.
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 secretary desks new from stores like Pottery Barn, IKEA, and even Home Depot for anywhere from $140- $1,400.
Ikea Hemnes Secretary Desk
Pottery Barn Graham Secretary Desk & Hutch
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.
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.
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.
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.
Removeable shelving unit
TO HUTCH OR NOT TO 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.
We chose not to purchase a desk with a hutch because it was going under a window.
Courtesy of LynnSteward.com
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.
33″W x 19″D x 41″H
36.5″W x 20″D x 41″H
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/super small dorm or space, this size desk is great for light office work, paying bills, writing letters, kids craft storage, china cabinet, as a bar or dresser.
They can vary from 16-20 inches deep allowing more room for storage inside of the top compartment of the desk.
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.
We are two petite women and we can both sit next to eachother at the desk comfortably.
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.