How To Bring Your Organized Kitchen Desk Into 2020

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Kitchen desk: an outdated trend of the past? I think that depends on who you ask. Perhaps you’re like us, and you don’t have an actual office in your home. We don’t have the need (right now) for a full separate office – but a small dedicated space to work for short amounts of time is ideal. Today I am sharing you some built in desk ideas – right in your kitchen – and how to make them work! 

The kitchen table wouldn’t work because I don’t love piles of my things left out. But we did want to get work done and be centrally located near the children. A built in, customized, small kitchen desk sounded perfect!

kitchen desk organized with open shelving

(Source via Monika Hibbs)

So we designed a kitchen desk area. You could make the case that a kitchen desk is outdated – a 90’s thing when everyone had a kitchen landline phone. That being said, for us it was exactly the space needed when we had to sit down at the computer for just a moment, or the kids needed a place to do homework. And lastly, we wanted to keep piles of paperwork neat- a mail organizer of sorts.

Creating A Kitchen Desk & A DIY Mail Organizer

When building our home, I considered all types of kitchen desk ideas. We wanted to avoid our desk becoming the clutter container. I had to talk myself out of the beautiful open shelving pictured above  – it wouldn’t be practical for our situation. This would be our home office of sorts, and we have ugly office items to hide in a small space. Custom cabinets were the answer.

Built In Desk Ideas That Inspire Us

Cabinetry that was at least partially closed was a must, and some type of organizer for mail or bills. These were the 4 built in kitchen desk ideas that inspired us the most!

1. Built In Desk With Form and Function

kitchen desk

via My Domaine

a kitchen desk with open shelving

Via Sita Montgomery Interiors

I love both of these images of desks utilizing open shelving and closed storage space for form and function! If we had just a touch more space I would love to have done something like this. I love the wall of tile that extends behind the open shelving.

2. Small But Mighty Built In Desk

built in desk in a kitchen with a black chair

I love this space from Sunny Circle Studio and how Erin made us of a small corner. This is about the size I was working with, but I chose to forgo the drawers for more legroom. (We also have 4 little kids who all want to pull 4 different chairs up to watch the same video). If you know you can keep a space relatively neat than glass doors are a great option for making a desk more aesthetically pleasing!

Shop Cane Desk Chair:

4. Pretty Busy Built In Desk

kitchen desk with blue chair

via Bless This Nest

Scroll to shop this Bistro Desk Chair + Letterboard:

The classic bistro chair (comfortable and wipeable) makes a great kitchen desk chair for families with children. The bulletin board behind the desk is such a clever idea to make desk space useful! You could actually use a large piece of cork to create this look. Just make sure it’s at least half an inch thick (like this cork sheet on Amazon) so the tacks can adhere.

Our Kitchen Desk / Kitchen Landing Station

We took a few of these ideas and built in 2 separate organized desk areas in our home. One small built in desk in the kitchen with closed cabinetry, and one diy mail organizer in our mudroom. Scroll down to the end to see our entryway mail organizer- I’m hoping it helps keep the mail and paperwork at bay. 

Desk To Kitchen Island

This is how the desk cabinets sit in our layout. When planning this space, I was worried the fridge door opening could bother someone sitting at the desk, but it has been a non-issue. 

white kitchen with a built in kitchen desk area

Do be sure your desk area is not within the cook’s triangle (sink/oven/fridge). You also want to look at how the desk to kitchen island sits.

The dimensions of our built in desk are 40″ wide by 26″ depth.

As far as the best chair for your desk, we had our West Elm chair in here for a while that hides all the kid’s grimy fingers! It is fairly affordable too. I wanted something upholstered so it would be comfortable for long term desk sitting, but I needed it to be dark because… kids in a kitchen. This chair was the same height as the desk so it didn’t slide under. We hired my friend who is a woodworker to take an inch off the bottom of each leg- so make sure you measure before you buy a desk chair with arms.

Since we didn’t have pretty open shelves to style, I gave this space a bunch by tiling up the little wall to the ceiling. A small cost because we have a small kitchen desk, and totally worth it!

Update: I switched the blue chair out recently when this one wasn’t being used in our dining room anymore.

built in kitchen desk

(Edited To Add: I reorganized this desk when our kids went back to school again in the Fall. Read that post here!)

How To Organize A Kitchen Desk

1. Paper Organization 

Paper organization is paramount and will be your biggest battle in keeping a desk clean (even in today’s world!). This is especially true if you have children. Fix the paper battle, and you’re more than half way there!

I love these fabric covered magazine files to hold folders. The first file holder is dedicated just for the kids. Each child has their own labeled folder holding paperwork sent home from school/camp (field trip info, class information, etc). In the other magazine file holder are more folders for household paperwork. These magazine files keep the folders upright and make everything clean looking!

kitchen desk cabinets with organized paperwork

folders for holding paperwork

On the right side of the cabinet, we found this popular paper organizer. (I posted more about it here!) I love this paper tray because the landscape shape means we can easily grab the paper, but it fits sideways inside the cabinet.

paper organizer inside kitchen desk area

Shop Our Stackable Paper Tray Here:

2. Lighting

For lighting, we considered a few options in this area since it is a tad bit separate from the rest of the of the kitchen. We even considered pendant lights. In the end we kept it simple with under counter lighting. We carried the under counter lighting through the rest of the kitchen cabinets as well. The small lamp just adds a touch of coziness. I already had the lamp, but if it gets in the way I will end up moving it or replacing it with a slimmer design.

3. Covered Storage

Most kitchen desk areas are small. Get rid of as many items as possible. For me, I moved the art supplies to a new location where the kids could reach it without stepping on my chair and desk.

Storage systems are everything when it comes to clutter. If you have closed cabinetry to hide storage behind like us, the options are endless and you can quickly make your space nice and neat! Every item at your desk space should have a dedicated place where it lives behind those cabinets. 

inside the cabinets above a built in desk

We used boxes with lids very similar to these. The matching fabric boxes contain items we don’t need too often but still want easy access to at this desk- and are ugly. One is checks and receipts, one has all our chargers and cords that seem to collect around the desk area. If you have open shelving, you will probably want a few baskets or boxes.

4. Baskets for Easy Access

The plastic basket on the bottom left keeps what a person without babies would keep in a desk drawer. Camille is only 2 and she loves to explore all our drawers, so we keep office supplies like scissors, tape, envelopes etc. in the basket and the desk drawer sits empty for now. The basket on the right holds some blogging supplies I use frequently.

Shop The Products I Used:

(I labeled all of these products using my favorite label maker!)

kitchen desk with computer and lamp

kitchen desk in kitchen

Get The Look:

DIY Mail Organizer

But where does the clutter go? The invites, the incoming/outgoing mail, the coupons you need access to later. We did not want all that paperwork piling up at the kitchen desk. Our mudroom was just big enough for a simple desk of sorts. Not the sit down kind, but just enough space for paperwork.

diy mail organizer

We had our trim work guys build out some simple slots to organize this kind of clutter. It was in the simplest form of a built in desk you could possibly create. If you are handy with tools at all you could easily DIY this mail organizer.

mudroom with a black light and a diy mail organizer

Shop metal letter bins here:

Sources below. Scroll through and click on the photo to see the item.

You Might Also Like:

Our DIY Giant Billiton Board Wall

Cork board wall with kids art

Back To School Organization:

Pinterest image of how I organize my home for back to school

Our whole family appreciates sitting here now that it is well organized and pretty to look at. And if you have a kitchen desk area and are in need of a kitchen desk… then who is to say it is outdated?