These 15 Modern Desks Have Been Handpicked by a Shopping Editor — They're Beautiful, but Practical Too

A modern desk is a mainstay of the modern home office. Below, our style editor walks you through the selection process before sharing a few of her current favorites

contemporary home office with wooden desk, wall of windows, and zebra hyde rug
(Image credit: Tom Merton/Getty Images)

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Thanks to COVID-19, the home office is back and better than ever. While many of us have returned to the office full-time, there are still plenty who work at least a few days a week at home, trading the water cooler for Slack and burnt office coffee for a home-brewed cuppa. As a result, furniture for the home office — particularly stylish furniture — has never been more vital.

Luckily, most if not all of the best home decor brands offer modern, contemporary variations of standard function-forward office furniture so that we can decorate our personal workplaces according to our personalities and the trends of the moment. If this sounds like something you're interested in, buckle up — this guide contains everything you need to know about selecting the centerpiece of this very space: the contemporary desk.

No office is complete without a desk. You can buy a rug, an end table, a floor lamp ... but it just won't come together unless you have a desk. Where are you to work? And, from a design perspective, at what is a guest supposed to look? What other piece would ground the room?

As far as trends go, there is 'definitely' a 'shift in how people are thinking about desk designs in home offices,' says Aisha Lewis, interior designer at Functional Conceptz. 'It's less about the traditional, bulky wood desks with tons of storage and more about integrating the desk as a piece that fits seamlessly into the room.' Many are finding that the best desks for them are 'built-ins that feel like a natural extension of the space,' while others are drawn as of late to 'freestanding desks with sleeker designs.'

Moreover, there's a trend toward 'customization and mixed materials' in the desk-buying world, Aisha continues. These investment pieces are no longer 'one-note'; instead, they offer a 'modern twist that allows for personalization.'

Identify the ideal placement of your desk

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contemporary home office

(Image credit: L.Ercolani / Portrait Communications)

Before you go about buying your new modern desk, figure out where you want it to go and 'what type of work you will be doing,' recommends Nadia Watts of Nadia Watts Interior Design. To that first point, 'floating your desk and allowing access from both sides is both functional and pleasing to the eyes.' If you plan to do a lot of writing, you probably want it in a place that receives lots of natural light; if you are going to be working off computer monitors, direct sunlight would probably prove frustrating, so plan your desk ideas accordingly.

And to the second: 'If you are drawing, drafting or have multiple monitors you will need a larger desk, wrap-around desk or possibly even two desks,' Nadia advises.

Consider your personal style

contemporary home office

(Image credit: Jonathan Adler / Portrait Communications)

Your home office should be a reflection of you. After figuring out size and placement, take some time to find a desk that looks and feels like you, too. 'If your home has a modern mood, look for a modern streamlined desk,' Nadia says. 'If your home is filled with historical treasures, look for an antique desk or a new desk with old world design features.'

The 'non-desk' trend could really come in handy here. 'Swap out the traditional desk with a small dining table, kitchen table, or console,' Nadia says. 'Or build your own desk from storage pieces and slab tops.' For something more traditional, 'an executive desk is a great option as it has tons of storage and lots of desktop space.'

And re: material, 'I love using burlwood or a finish with lots of contrast and movement to create some excitement,' she goes on. 'If the desk is going to go in an office, it most likely will be the star of the show, so make sure it has some personality' and plays with color, texture, or expectations.

Shop and measure

contemporary home office with desk

(Image credit: Jonathan Adler / Portrait Communications)

At this point, options are a good thing. If you can, Aisha recommends 'visiting at least three different stores' to try and find the right desk. Perhaps you start with a 'specialty store that focuses exclusively on desks, then check out a couple of general furniture stores that have a broader selection.' This allows you to 'physically see the desks, touch them, and really get a feel for the materials and build quality.'

While you're there, do not forget to bring a tape measure — but make sure you first measure your home office size where the desk will sit. You'll use both numbers as you shop to 'properly assess the size and scale of the desk in relation to your intended space.'

Consider a designer

ladder-style desk

(Image credit: ercol / Portrait Communications)

If all else fails, a designer could always help execute your vision for your home office (and would therefore select the ideal desk for you). A designer would 'ensure that your desk not only meets your functional needs but also complements the aesthetics of your space,' Aisha says. 'A desk that looks good doesn't necessarily mean it's practical, so balancing both aspects is key.'

The best contemporary desks

Using your newfound knowledge, it's now time to shop a few of the best desks available now. And when you're done, be sure to check out my guides for shopping on-trend wallpaper, on-trend sofas, and modern outdoor coffee tables.

Style Editor

Brigid Kennedy is a Style Editor at, where she is responsible for obsessively combing the internet for the best and most stylish deals on home decor and more. She was previously a story editor at, where she covered both U.S. politics and culture. She describes her design style as colorful and clean, and in her free time enjoys reading, watching movies, and curating impossibly niche playlists on Spotify. She lives in New York.