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Simple Desks – Five Plus One

Five Plus One is our weekly series of buyer’s guides. We pick a specific category and dig up five great options along with one that’s a little outside the norm.


Everyone needs a good, solid desk to work at, but there’s no need to go for one that is massive or overly ornate—a simple desk will do most of us just fine. Besides, they have the innate ability to blend into different spaces, so if you ever move, you won’t have to get a new piece of furniture to match the new room. That said, simple desks aren’t necessarily cheap, but we’ve done our best to include pieces that cover a wide range of prices.

1) IKEA: DIY

Simple-Desks---Five-Plus-One 1) IKEA: DIY

It doesn’t get much simpler or more inexpensive than a DIY desk from IKEA. First you need to choose the tabletop, and we suggest the GERTON because it’s solid beech wood, rather than veneered particleboard or plywood. It comes in at 61″ long, which is a pretty standard size for a desk—if you want something longer than you can go with the HAMMARP Countertop, which is also solid wood and longer, but also requires finishing work. For support you have a wide range of options. Personally, I’d go with an ALEX drawer unit on one side with two legs on the other, or with a single trestle on either side, but the combinations are seemingly endless.

GERTON tabletop for $90 from IKEA. Legs/Trestles/Cabinets for $30+ from IKEA.

2) Herman Miller: Airia Desk

Simple-Desks---Five-Plus-One-2)-Herman-Miller-Airia-Desk

If you don’t want to go the DIY route and don’t mind dropping a fair amount of cash, it’s hard to beat Herman Miller. Their Airia Desk is a simple but very functional piece of furniture, and it has plenty of storage and a slightly-deeper-than-average footprint to ensure that you have all the workspace you need. It features a walnut skeleton, laminate top, aluminum legs, and cork-lined drawers.

The design does make it a bit difficult to use a computer with this piece, but a wall mounted monitor, sufficiently narrow monitor stand, or laptop should make it perfectly functional for any modern desk setup.

Available for $2,500 from Design Within Reach.

3) Thomas J Collection: Minimalist Desk

Simple-Desks---Five-Plus-One-3)-Thomas-J-Collection-Minimalist-Desk

I’ll be honest: I didn’t like Thomas J Collection’s Minimalist Desk the first time I laid eyes on it, but while developing this list I kept coming back to it. And, each time I looked at it, I liked it more and more. While the concept of elevating plywood as a furniture material is nothing new, it’s accomplished beautifully in this piece. With the darkened ply edges, unique drawer layout, and simple shape of this piece, it’s sure to make for the perfect, understated workstation.

Available for $649 from Thomas J Collection.

4) Hay: Copenhauge Desk CPH190

Simple-Desks---Five-Plus-One-4)-Hay-Copenhauge-Desk-CPH190

Hay’s CPH190 Copenhauge Desk is another fantastic plywood desk, but one that was built with the always-appreciated molded plywood method. With its curved back piece, this desk is ideal for those needing to reference a wide range of books or diagrams, and look great while doing it. It’s constructed from oak plywood which is available in a range of finishes, and the work surface comes in a range of linoleums and veneers, so you can be sure to find a combination that’s perfect for you.

Available for $926 from Mohd.

5) John Lewis: House Airframe Desk

Simple-Desks---Five-Plus-One-5)-John-Lewis-House-Airframe-Desk

Like many desks on this list, I’m sure John Lewis’ House Airframe Desk is pretty divisive. The design is very minimalist and doesn’t offer much in the way of storage, but for many—myself include—this just serves as a way to cut down on clutter and ensure that only work essentials exist at a workstation. The body of the desk is made of MDF and wood veneer, which certainly aren’t my favorite materials, but they help to keep the cost down. That said, the glass top is quite substantial and is really the star of the show, anyways.

Available for £299 from John Lewis.

Plus One – Artifox: Desk 02

Simple-Desks---Five-Plus-One-Plus-One---Artifox-Desk-02

I’ll admit it: I’m a sucker for modular furniture and accessories. So when I found out about Artifox’s Desk 02, I knew it had to be included in this list. This desk starts off pretty basic with its self-described dock, grid, and hook that accompany the simple flat writing surface. It’s available with walnut legs (with matching or white steel top), oak legs (with matching or white steel top), or black (with black top). And beyond that, you can add various slats, trays, and stands to make this desk have all the storage you want. Plus, if you prefer a bit of a higher working surface, standing desk versions are available as well.

Available for $950-1390 from Artifox in Black, Walnut, or White Oak.

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