Furniture shops pick up on home office trend

  • This O-leg desk is a popular choice for homeowners wanting a small, uncluttered workspace that can be placed in nearly any room.

    This O-leg desk is a popular choice for homeowners wanting a small, uncluttered workspace that can be placed in nearly any room. Courtesy of Villa Park Office Equipment

By Sherry Giewald
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 3/29/2019 6:26 AM

Office furniture products fall in step with the trend toward smaller workspaces and the diminishing role of the home office.

As people integrate work into their everyday lives, desks are scaled down, and we're seeing more writing desks with a lighter, cleaner look, said Kate Radman, manager of Geneva Home Works.


Sharon Heyde notes a similar trend. With today's open floor plans, workspace has shrunk from a designated room to a work space with smaller-scale, lighter desks with little storage.

"We're selling table desks with no drawers and the O-leg desk with a metal leg on one side and a small set of drawers on the other for office essentials, which keeps the top clear," says Heyde, who works in sales and design at Villa Park Office Equipment.

"We're not seeing many of the large executive office desks anymore," Radman said.

Heyde also sees the days of the big corner office with executive desk and built-in bookcases going the way of the living room.

However, people who work from home might have a designated work space with storage. But they're more decorative with nice furniture pieces rather than the standard file cabinet; and many people buy upholstered chairs that are nicer to look at than the traditional desk chair.

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When people do have a home office, it's often on display for guests to see, and so it's a room that's nice to look at rather than just a cluttered, utilitarian space, Radman and Heyde said. However, free-standing bookcases are still popular.

In Crystal Lake, Amish Furniture Gallery doesn't do any computer stations with keyboard pullouts, but still sells double pedestal desks, said George Rook, manager.

In a more upscale world, O'Reilly Furniture in Libertyville specializes in custom Amish furniture. Whatever a customer wants in a desk, they can do it. For example, a husband and wife wanted a partner desk where they would sit next to each other. The husband told the store he didn't want to be sitting across from his wife where they would be staring at each other across a desktop while working.

"We do a lot of home offices, and the cool part is we can make a desk any size, a file cabinet lateral or vertical and in various colors," said Gary O'Reilly, previous owner who is still involved with the store. "We have 14 desks on the floor right now; if you like one, we'll deliver it tomorrow; and if you want to order, it will take eight to ten weeks.

"We have a small desk for $869 that's solid wood, no particle board, American made, and people resonate with that. Then there's a custom, more contemporary antique slate gray that goes for more than $4,000."

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