So Much Desk, So Little Room

Today’s post was inspired by fellow blogger Lacy Surber’s recent lament about the lack of space in her shared condo. Lacy + Hubby are forced to use their only table as both dining room table and workspace. Of course, Lacy isn’t alone. Most of you probably feel that you don’t have as much space as you would like. So how to reconcile the need for a distinct work area with the limitations of a confined space? Here a few space-saving solutions:

Fold-out Desk

Take a cue from all those people in white coats. Fold out desks are a common staple in hospitals because they allow doctors immediate access to a desktop on which to make notes in charts, and then fold it away for a clear and gurney-friendly hallway once again. These can function similarly in your home; open the desk when you need a surface at which to work, and fold it back up when you’re through. This gives you all the benefits of having an actual desk without permanently sacrificing the space.

You can easily find fold-outs for purchase at many different retailers. If you’re the handy type or trying to pinch pennies, then the fold-out desk is also a do-able DIY project. Apartment Therapy offers a guide on how to build a bookshelf fold-out desk, and Ana White shares the flip down wall art desk she built for her daughter, which could easily be adapted to grown-up use.

Image credits: HomeKlondike.comWorldMarket.comApartment Therapy

Bitty Desk

If you’re not digging the Murphy-desk vibe, then the next best solution is simply a very small desk. If you streamline your workspace essentials (which you should do anyway) then you can still fit the things you need access to on a small desk.

The Bitty Desk is also fairly easily to erect yourself. A certain medialite named “Almost Bunnies” created this look, located in the corner of her dining room, using only a panel of wood and some legs from IKEA.

Image credits: DominoThe Inside Source, 6th Street Design SchoolAlmostbunnies Flikr

Nook and Cranny Desk

When you’re dealing with a small space, it’s important to make the most of any and all free areas. Many companies make desk units that fit snugly into corners, allowing you to utilize otherwise under-valued spots.

Look out for other nooks where a desk might be able to just squeeze its way in; A bedside table can be resurrected into a desk area, as seen below:

You can also try the Bitty Desk mentioned previously, and apply it using the Nook & Cranny strategy. Place your small desk in a tight corner to maximize space.

This next desk space goes to show that if you work with the nature of the space you’ve got, you can certainly achieve a workable workstation. While the owners didn’t have a wide space to work with, they did have a tall one. So what did they do? Erected a really skinny and lanky set up.

Last but not least in this category is the desk-at-the-foot-of-the-bed. This option definitely depends on your comfort level with bringing work into the bedroom. If you feel okay about it, this is an excellent way to make use of space that would otherwise be pretty purposeless.

Image credits: IKEAHouse and Home, BHG, Sarah RichardsonKate Collins Interiors, , The Elegant AbodeMini Manor BlogHouse Beautiful

The Closeted Desk

If, by some rare and extreme good fortune you have closet space to spare, you’ve got a ready-made office at your fingertips.

This last example may be my favorite of this grouping because it goes to show that you don’t necessarily need to have a large, expansive closet in order to convert it to an office. The stylist of the space below transformed a very shallow set of what I would classify as “storage shelves” into a desk. She tacked on a small (and what looks to be a very easy DIY) fold-out table feature, and left the bottom shelf empty for leg room. Close the door, and it all stays tucked away. Open to expose workspace wonder.

 Image credits: Sara Menuck via SunsetReal SimpleIheartOrganizing, Stijlbloem

Boxed-up Desk

If all else fails, and your quarters are really so cramped that adding just one more surface would cause the place to burst at its’ seams, then I suggest using storage bins.

Make it a habit to keep your work related items in containers which can be easily stowed away after use. These will help you keep your work things organized, and allow for easy transition from desk to dining room table, and back again.

Image Credit: West Elm



  1. Annie!!!! I am so Thankful for your tips today – I’m going to have to take a harder look at my space and see if I can’t make this work for our tiny space!! So thrilled to count you among my blogger connections – you’re so inspiring!

  2. Great ideas! Your blog is filled with “wonderfulness”. :)

  3. Love your blog! I also suggest having some of the basic desk items on a pretty tray (pens and pencils in a cute cup, stationery, calendar, rolodex, etc.) that you can easily move from one place to another.

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