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Shopping Guide: Everything You Need to Create the Perfect Writing Desk

Our picks for the best pieces of desk adornment covers note-taking, writing, organising, reading and charmingly studious ephemera

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By Kimberley Schoeman  | February 27, 2024 | Shopping

For freelancers, remote-workers, and at-home creatives alike, the stylish desk needn’t be bare. In fact, your desk is more than a practical surface on which work gets done, but a self portrait of the artist.

In an era where more folk are trying to keep their work and personal life separate, the desk is a unique liminal space where the two converge. But, the question of how to decorate you desk can become a conundrum.

Beyond a stand or mat for your laptop, a cup for your pens, and a desk lamp that illuminates, adorning your desk creates the perfect bespoke vignette to every task at hand.

Our picks for the best pieces of desk adornment covers note-taking, writing, organising, reading and charmingly studious ephemera. With a collection of stunning desks and office areas from the House & Garden SA archive, we have distilled a curation of inspiring writing desks.

For the Bookworm’s Desk

The library area doubles up as a home office space, Image supplied.

You don’t have to sacrifice a lot of precious desktop real estate to liven up your writing desk. Instead, assign a set spot for every kind of book, paper, and paperweight that each item will return to at the end of the day. Stacking your favourite books or a collection of first edition classics adds an element of both authenticity and whimsy.

Like the library of this Cape Town home, a dedicated library desk is adorned with only the basics: A desk lamp, a writing book, and a decorative orchid. If you haven’t picked one up yet, we recommend picking up a classic desk planner from Moleskin, or for a locally-produce diary, linen diaries from Azor goods are available in a plethora of limited edition colours every year.

For the Desk in a Meeting Room

When working or freelancing from home, consider the position and layout of the your workspace very carefully. Remember that clients will be visiting, so try to separate it as much as possible from the rest of the house.

In this Bishopscourt home, the study is a vibrant area where work aesthetically meets play. The desk remains cosy in the corner, while shades of pink adorn couches and the rest of the seating area.

The home office of a Bishopscourt family home. Photography by Greg Cox

For this style of desk, colour and finish make a statement without taking attention away from the task at hand. Brass desk pots with corresponding stationary from stores like Present & Correct add sleek yet professional finishes to the desk. Add scent to the space by virtue of luxurious candles by Diptyque as well as a vibrant leather notebook from Smythson.

The Minimalist Desk

The minimalist’s desk also needn’t be without aesthetically-pleasing ephemera. Like the desk in the picture-perfect home of interior designer Dylan Thomaz, the desk and tray match, and are topped off with a carefully curated selection of stationary.

A designer’s minimalist desk in his Hout Bay home. Photographed by Greg Cox