If your house was built before 2010, odds are there’s a little nook in your kitchen fitted with a desk and various shelves or drawers. By now, it’s probably piled high right now with mail, office supplies, and other items you rarely use that add to the clutter. Despite countless homes boasting kitchen desks, few owners use them for their intended purpose, leading many to wonder if they’re an outdated design you’ll see less and less in modern homes or if they’re more utilized than we think.
Most homeowners agree that a kitchen desk dates their home and is rarely used for anything practical. Instead, many used it as the home of wayward objects they didn’t want to organize elsewhere, making them an eyesore in what is now a more sociable space than ever. Thankfully, there are ways you can repurpose your kitchen desk for a more modern function.
This article will talk about the popular kitchen feature, the kitchen desk, and discuss whether this feature is the sign of an outdated space or if they’re still a preferable layout design choice in the modern home. We’ll also discuss when the kitchen desk trend started and how homeowners can repurpose this space if preferable.
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Why Modern Homes Don’t Need Kitchen Desks
Home design trends are constantly changing as social mentalities change, new technologies are released, and materials become more accessible.
One of the most common design elements you saw in kitchens built between the 1980s and 1990s and even into the 2000s was kitchen desks, many of which have survived in modern-day homes. However, many homeowners question this kitchen feature’s relevance and whether it should be utilized more, repurposed, or replaced entirely.
For the most part, modern homeowners don’t use kitchen desks, or if they do, it isn’t for its intended purpose. Instead, the desk becomes cluttered with unorganized objects or permanently neglected, rendering it unnecessary and outdated.
While some people still avidly use their kitchen desk to create shopping lists, schedule appointments, balance checkbooks or even work on their laptop, they are far and few between.
One of the reasons why kitchen desks are so outdated is because more people are able to have their own private office space, either in the home or elsewhere, with much more space and storage. Therefore, they don’t have to cram their laptop, computer, keyboards, cameras, books, and other objects into a tiny kitchen space that also lacks privacy for concentration.
Another reason why these spaces go unused is that the purpose of the kitchen has shifted. Not too long ago, kitchens were private spaces where people made dishes they’d proudly present to their family or guests, but the magic of how it was made was always behind closed doors.
Nowadays, the kitchen is one of the most prized rooms in any house that many homeowners like to show off. Rather than cooking alone, many people value having a kitchen with a more open layout where people can sit and socialize with the cook while food is being prepared. To do this, they need as much space as possible to accommodate guests while also having all the necessary tools and spaces available, a desk not being one of them.
Why Do People Have a Desk in the Kitchen?
After reading all of the reasons why kitchen desks are outdated by modern-day standards, you might be curious why they were even popular in the first place.
Kitchen desks were avidly incorporated into homes from the 1980s to-2000s because they helped homeowners optimize the space they had. Here, people could perform daily financial and organizational tasks without needing a full office or making another space in the home double in function, such as the kitchen table.
One could argue that a mere forty years ago, it was much easier to use a kitchen desk for its intended purpose because you weren’t cluttering it with hefty pieces of technology. Instead, it was carefully organized with calendars, notepads, balancing checkbooks, and simple utensils. This is why most kitchen tables are too small for the modern-day person because they weren’t intended to house our modern-day tools.
People also enjoyed that the kitchen desk was similar enough to the rest of the kitchen’s design to fit in but different enough to feel like a separate space where they could be productive. This adds to the social mentality we discussed earlier regarding kitchens being places of productivity rather than socializing.
Still, there are a number of people today who use their kitchen desks to the fullest, although you might find that the more appropriate word to use here is that they’ve “repurposed” this area.
Ways to Repurpose a Kitchen Desk
A kitchen desk doesn’t have to be a waste of space or a cluttered eyesore in your home. In fact, there are a vast number of ways you can repurpose or reinvent this space to suit your needs and lifestyle, and it’s easier to do than you’d think. Below are our top suggestions for ways you can repurpose a kitchen desk for any modern home so you can finally use and enjoy this space as much as the rest of your home.
A Beverage Bar or Alcohol Station
One design element many kitchen desks have is that they’ll utilize many elements of the overall kitchen in their design but still have enough unique elements of their own to feel like a separate space. This lends itself particularly well to creating a beverage bar or alcohol station, a kitchen feature many modern homeowners dreams of.
If you’re an avid lover of coffee, your kitchen desk might be a fantastic place to organize all of your materials and equipment, such as a coffee bean grinder, Keurig, mugs, and more.
Alternatively, if you enjoy your cocktails and spirits, you can make them into a cocktail or wine station where you neatly tuck away liquor bottles, proudly display lavish decanters and cocktail sets, even install a wine fridge.
Both options are exceptional for entertaining guests, especially if you spruce them up with some lighting and pieces of personalized décor.
Built-In Cabinet With Landing Station Niche
Some people like using their kitchen desk as a type of landing station for their keys, wallet, and other daily essentials. However, they rarely actually sit down at the desk, which is one of its main features.
If this is the case for you, we recommend turning the desk into a built-in cabinet with a landing station niche. The cabinets will give you more storage (a high priority in modern houses), and the landing station will give you a space for those small necessities.
Another alternative you might not have thought of is repurposing your kitchen desk as a cookbook library. This works extremely well for kitchen desks that already have cabinets or shelves above them to store the books.
On the desk itself, you can still keep a list of ingredients you’d need or recipes you want to make. You can even place a tablet or laptop here to read recipes if it’s close enough to the rest of the kitchen. If you rarely sit at the kitchen desk, use this as an opportunity to add more storage underneath instead.
Extended Countertop and Cabinetry
If the cut-off style of the kitchen desk really isn’t for you, don’t worry. You’re free to repurpose this space to suit whatever needs you might have, and often, this involves counter space and cabinetry.
Far too many kitchens come with limited counter space or not enough storage, and it can be hard to add these elements in without completely changing your kitchen’s layout and costing a fortune. Fortunately, if you have an unused kitchen desk, you can raise the desk to lay flush with the counter, turn it into additional counter space, and then add cabinets above and/or below as you please.
We recognize that not everyone will be able to utilize this alternative depending on their kitchen layout, but those of you who can be surprised by how well this repurposing idea works out.
If your kitchen desk is slightly separate from the rest of your kitchen and situated closer to a front or back door, consider turning it into a mudroom. This works great for larger or full-sized kitchen desks that are paired with shelves or cabinets above.
All you have to do is lower the desk until it is the height of a bench, turn desk drawers into shoe cubbies, and use the shelves or cabinets for other storage. You can even install hooks underneath the cabinets to hang bags, jackets, umbrellas, and more.
Kitchen desks might be outdated, but that doesn’t mean they’re lost causes or complete wastes of space. All you have to do is look at your home and consider your needs and how this kitchen desk area can fill those needs.
For some, the kitchen desks of old are perfect the way they are and allow them to stay organized and productive without being tucked away elsewhere in the home. For others, this space could do with a face-lift and would be more beneficial as a coffee bar, built-in cabinet, or even a mudroom. The possibilities here are virtually endless, and the choice is all yours.