9 best small desks that are perfect for compact spaces

Upgrade your working from home set-up with one of these space-saving designs

Ali Howard
Wednesday 28 April 2021 18:00
<p>All our picks are under 100cm in width</p>

All our picks are under 100cm in width

While we’ve had to get creative with our working from home set-up over the past year – kitchen table, dressing table, sun lounger with a laptop and a pina colada – for many of us, it’s likely an element of WFH is here to stay.

With space at a premium, a full-sized desk is often a 20cm luxury too far. Enter the mini desk, a small but mighty furniture piece designed to save on precious floor space yet award us a calm and comfortable workstation or study spot.

Whether you’re after a versatile desk that doubles as a stylish console in the living room, or something more permanent for your home office, choose your seating wisely.

Some diminutive desks don’t allow for larger office chairs with arm rests to tuck in, for example. If you’re after an occasional workstation, however, a simple stylish stool will save important inches.

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We put a range of small desks to the test – all of which are under 100cm in width – looking for the best in form, function and affordability.

You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.

Brayden Studio Sondra desk

Dimensions: H94cm x W65cm x D52.5cm

This nifty furniture piece pays playful homage to the wooden school desks of yesteryear. Utilitarian in style and compact in dimensions, it has everything you’d want from a small desk for home working. The Sondra is crafted from sustainably sourced hard wood with a manufactured painted wood top (choose from an array of contemporary colours) while a simple drawer that sits underneath the top and glides out smoothly offers a fair bit of storage. This can be detached to save on knee space if someone taller needs to jump onto your petite workstation. What we loved most was the old-school ink well, reimagined as a handy void for tech cables – a cute design feature.

Symple Stuff writing desk

Dimensions: H74cm x W80cm x D45cm

Sometimes all you need out of a desk is a simple surface – open your laptop and you’re good to go. This sleek and chic writing desk from the aptly named Symple Stuff caught our eye for its slimline silhouette and its fuss-free, contemporary design – perfect for minimalists who like to keep things clean-lined and clutter-free. It’s crafted from a sturdy metal frame and a manufactured wood top that’s painted in a cheery canary yellow. And while its space saving qualities are obvious, what’s not immediately apparent is the fact that it easily folds down when not in use. A small desk that shrinks even further.

La Redoute Interieurs Quilda wall desk

Dimensions: H76cm x W65cm x D38cm

Using the wall as support, this cleverly designed mini desk makes the absolute most of available inches. With fittings at the back and just two slim, tapered legs, it’s one that tucks into the smallest of spaces. But make no mistake, the Quilda, with its subtle mid-century lines and attractive honey-toned oak, is no wallflower. Effortlessly stylish, the unit boasts an open drawer for storage and a reliable surface to lean on. This one’s perfect if you need a little WFH set-up in the living room but of course it functions beautifully as a compact console in the hall or a diminutive dressing table in the bedroom or bathroom, too.

Made brennan lift-top desk, oak and blue

Dimensions: H76cm x W90cm x D55cm

This is another stylish small desk with design roots in the classroom. It’s crafted from a mix of rubber wood, engineered wood and oak veneers and features a bold blue lift-up top with a striking, asymmetrical cut-out. Its angled legs, supported with metal rods on three sides, allow for ample room to tuck your chair in underneath, while its two storage compartments keep your laptop, books and paperwork neatly tucked away yet close to hand. We loved this one for its contrast in colour and materials, and its cool, contemporary Nordic aesthetic.

Urbansize leaning desk, small

Dimensions: H76cm x W60cm x D30cm

Urbansize’s raison d’etre is stylish space-saving and so we had to include the brand in our small desks round-up. Sleek and streamlined, the small leaning desk was designed in response to lockdown frustrations and the need for a calm workstation no matter how cramped the conditions. Crafted from 100 per cent Baltic plywood, the desk is wonderfully light in both look and feel. Cleverly, the legs are angled to sit against the skirting board, further maximising on space, while offering good support to the wall-fixed unit. We loved the circular cut-out drawer handles, which celebrate the desk’s top quality woodwork.

Futon Company mini desk

Dimensions: H75cm x W70cm x D55cm

With its contrast in natural wood and snowy white, Futon Company’s offering is pure Scandi chic. The mini desk is crafted from MDF, painted in a smooth finish, while the frame is fashioned from bamboo – earning points on both style and sustainability. What it lacks in surface space it makes up for in generous storage by way of a simple pull-out drawer, as well as depth: the top, unusually, is an almost-square. We loved this one for its contemporary, boxy shaping, and older kids will love it too for home study.

West Elm Penelope mini desk

Dimensions: H76cm x W81cm x D51cm

This is a versatile furniture piece that doesn’t look office-y in the slightest – ideal if you need a makeshift WFH set-up but don’t want your nine-to-five to encroach on your stylish living room. The Penelope is oval in shape with a beautiful marble top, while its solid frame is made from a sturdy eucalyptus wood. And the cool stone against the warm honey-toned wood makes a heady contrast. Further to that, the diminutive desk has mid-century inspired tapered legs and a sizeable drawer that, rather wonderfully, doesn’t interrupt the line of the curve.

Lime Lace butlers foldable writing desk

Dimensions: H78cm x W90cm x D40cm

This is a humble looking piece but it is beautifully made. A butlers table comes with a writing desk, it is a wholly versatile addition if you don’t have a permanent home office set-up. In fact, with its folding frame and practical handles, you can move it from room to room, or even outdoors with your laptop when the sunshine allows. Winning points on sustainability, the desk is handcrafted from 100 per cent solid mango wood from a certified commercial plantation programme – the wood boasts a lovely variation in tone, from light blond to honey to dark beige. And of course the cut-out handles double as voids for cables.

Habitat office desk, beech effect

Dimensions: H72cm x W70.5cm x D50cm

Offering incredible value for money is this simple and stylish piece from Habitat. As a sturdy space-saver, it more than does the job. But beyond its obvious functionality, it boasts cool, contemporary boxy shaping and in a beech effect finish, a warm and homely feel. We loved the addition of the low shelf, it’s ideal for keeping books or box files close to hand while freeing up precious surface space above.

The verdict: Small desks

We loved Brayden Studio’s Sondra desk for its quirky design that reimagines an old fashioned school desk – the ink well turned cable tidy is an inspired design feature. It is compact, boasts quality craftsmanship, and comes in a range of funky colours, putting the fun into functional. A cheaper option, but one that’s similar in style is Futon Company’s mini desk, which we loved for its cool Scandi aesthetic.

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