How to Use a Table as a Desk

How to Use a Table as a Desk

The world is changing at a breakneck pace. Many more people are doing work from home now, finding it a great way to balance work and home lives. As such, a lot of people are needing to suddenly incorporate workspace into the home which can be easier said than done.

Desks take up a lot of space, can be expensive, and also tend to be rather small. So, if there is a need to optimize the space, there are plenty of people who turn to tables instead. Keep reading to find out some ideas on how to use a table as a desk.

Take Full Advantage of the Wider Workspace

A major bonus of a table over a desk is that a table typically has a lot more workable space. For big projects, computers with lots of monitors, or for jobs where a lot of supplies need to be out at once, a table is an excellent choice. Spread out the supplies to be more comfortable and make it so everything can be seen all at once. It ends up being extremely effective and timesaving when stacks don’t constantly need to be waded through, drawers opened, or shelves rifled through.

To top it off, if small shelves or even sideways boxes, baskets, or similar storage is placed on them, it gives yet another layer of space that makes them far more utilitarian than their desk counterparts while also being able to be moved around to suit the present need.

Split in the Center for Double the Workspace

Whether there needs to be two desks in the same area or two different workspaces for different things, splitting a table in half with a divider or a partition can make that possible. It can also be given shelves or other organizers to make each side like a desk in its own right, and costs only a fraction of what similar desks would.

This can help make it so two people can work in the same space wile still being nearby each other, or to simply have their own space to do their own thing. It can also help visually put someone in the appropriate mindset for multiple different projects in a way a simple desk cannot.

Consider Vertical Space

An often-overlooked part of all design is vertical space. Many executive-style desks consider this by adding in a hutch. Tables don’t typically come with anything like that, so it can be a little more difficult to visualize. However, there are still walls and open space above the table that can be considered which will help to organize and make use of all of that extra space that a table offers over a desk. 

Consider mounting shelves to the wall or hanging objects from the ceiling in order to make the most of that space that is otherwise doing nothing. It really helps make the table more of a proper workspace.

Clear Off Part of the Dining Table

Chances are the dining table is already readily available and thus is great to use in a pinch as a desk. Typically, they come long enough that there is plenty of space to use a small portion of it as a workspace. This is especially true when there is a large table for only a few family members too, or a spare table in a formal dining space.

While this might not be a good long-term solution or a good one for smaller dining tables, it is still a viable method of using a table as a desk. It can make it a little more difficult to separate food from work when using this method, but it’s definitely good for smaller spaces or those really in a pinch.

Rotate the Direction of the Legs

Most tables have one critical flaw when trying to use them as a desk. Their legs are mounted on in such a way that the bracing makes it difficult to put a chair underneath. When using a table as a desk, this is much more of an issue than it is when using the table for eating or storage. The good news is however that most of the time the tabletop can be removed and rotated so that the legs are mounted the other direction.

While sometimes this can be done DIY, most of the time it’s best to take it to someone with experience in furniture refurbishing in order to not damage the tabletop or legs while also ensuring it stays level. This is especially important when trying to redo an older table that may have had lead-based paint used on it, as a professional can clean that off more safely and effectively than someone else might be able to.

Changing the direction of the legs helps make it so that a chair can more comfortably fit underneath it but can also change the balance of the whole table. When swapping the direction of the legs, make sure that it is balanced and can still support all of the equipment that’s planned on being used on it.

Cut One in Half and Mount to the Wall

Some tables have intricate edges that give them a little extra flair. On these sorts of tables, they can make for very attractive desks if they are cut in half and then mounted to the wall. This can also be used to make two desks out of one table, or to cleverly use a bit of space that would have otherwise been wasted. Additionally, it also helps make for some good space saving in smaller areas where a normal desk might not have fit.

This option is also great as a way to mentally separate workspace from other sorts of spaces and allows the walls themselves to help add vertical space. One could also be mounted just under a window for some nice natural light that will help make the space feel more open and cozier instead of like being stuck in a corner.

Use Baskets as Organizers

Baskets are godsends in the organizational world. They also work great when using a table as a desk as there is much less storage space on a table than there is on a desk. A basket is a perfect way to keep cords out of the way, organize supplies, and help keep everything in one, easy to move space.

Decorative boxes are also an option in place of a basket as well. Both of these options come in so many different colors and styles that it can really help add some custom flair to the space and give a good personal touch. Little things like keeping out the clutter while still having one’s own touch really helps increase work productivity as well, so might as well do both at once.

Mount a Magnetic Strip and Stick Metal Supplies to It

One very clever way to utilize a table as a desk is to mount a magnetic strip on the underside of the table. Then, attach metal holders to it in order to keep things organized. Another option is to mount a thin strip of metal to the underside and put magnets on whatever is meant to be held up such as a jar full of small odds and ends. It helps keep everything organized and tucked away while also being extremely accessible. 

Additionally, a magnetic strip can also be installed on the top to keep metal supplies such as staplers, scissors, and the like in one place without slipping about but also allowing for easy movement away from that space.

Customize an Inexpensive Folding Table

Folding tables are cheap, but many of them are incredibly sturdy. The only problem with them is that they are not very pleasing to the eye. With some good paint and primer however, even the ugliest folding table can turn into something chic for the workspace. 

The best part about this option is that the whole thing can eventually be folded up and tucked away if space becomes an issue. Just be sure that if going with this option to use appropriate paint and primer for the material of the table, allow it to dry fully, and also make sure that it can withstand the weight of all the materials planned to be put onto it.

Painting the table is not strictly necessary, but it does help make it feel more like an attractive workspace rather than just a sad, cheap setup to drudge through work on. Some do also come in already decent colors and styles. A tablecloth can also be put over one in order to add a little more of a personal touch or to hide the cheap look of it.

Stuff Shelves or Filing Cabinets Underneath

Most desks come with some form of storage underneath the desktop in order to organize files or other materials. While many of these sorts of things are becoming more digitized in the modern era, there is still a need for physical storage space. In order to accommodate for this with a table instead of a desk, consider putting small shelves or filing cabinets underneath the table, potentially even between the legs.

This is also a wonderful option to help fortify a table that is not totally stable, sound, or even level as the tops of the shelves or cabinets can be used as additional legs. Sticking them between the legs also uses up that space that would otherwise be worthless and can help make the most of it.

Another option is to use an old tabletop and either set it on top of some cabinets or shelves if it’s heavy enough, or to mount it to them. This is a fast and effective way to upcycle old furniture and use it in a new way. The shelves or cabinets become the legs and storage all at once.

Why Use a Table Instead of a Desk?

With the recent need to do more work from home type of jobs, many people are needing to make appropriate workspaces in their homes. That almost always means a place to set up a computer or other supplies rather than being a vagabond wandering around the house and finding inappropriate places to try and work.

There are many reasons to want to use a table instead of a desk as a workspace. Some of these reasons might include:

  • Tables look good on all sides
  • Their use is more versatile
  • They have a wider workspace
  • Typically, they are more cost-effective
  • Almost always are less bulky
  • Can be better at saving space
  • Chances are there is already at least one in the house
  • More opportunity for customization
  • A table can be moved more freely

Most desks need to be placed against the wall to be used to their full potential, whereas tables do not. Desks also can come with large, bulky hutches that tend to end up more about function than aesthetics. A table can be used in a more utilitarian way and are much easier to customize than a traditional desk.


Tables and desks aren’t all that different when it comes to being able to be used as a workspace. In fact, a table typically has more flat, workable space than a desk does making it a viable choice for someone needing to spread out their work. Desks also typically take up a lot of space, are bulky, expensive, and only look nice on one to three sides. A table on the other hand might already be in possession, looks good from all sides, and fulfills the same needs a desk might.

Utilizing good organizational methods and adding a little bit of a personal touch can help make any table feel more like a true workspace over just another table. They have quite a few more uses, styles, and functions than a desk might as well, making them attractive options as a workspace.


Hi there! I’m Alex, the one behind this website. I ran and operated a Local Furniture Store in Southern California. The store opened in 2010, during the “Great Recession,” It is still thriving today; however, I have dedicated my time to helping our online customer base. My primary focus is to help you with all your furniture & mattress questions.

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