Reception Desk

A reception desk is a special type of desk normally in a waiting room, lobby, or in front of an office, that is used for anything from greeting customers, answering the telephone, and scheduling appointments, to dealing with transactions. This makes them one of the most important pieces of furniture in any business. There are plenty of different desk options, styles, materials, and sizes to meet any and all needs required.

An Incredibly Important Investment

A reception desk is unlike other types of desks in that not only is it used for work, but it also is like the face of your company. Depending on where it is situated it is normally the first thing customers and clients see when they walk in the door. And because it is the hub of interaction between employees and those customers and clients, it will make an impression.

And it is up to you what that impression will be. A good looking reception desk conveys professionalism, success, and generally a business or company that people would want to do business with. Therefore it is a wise idea to think of one as an investment, because it really is one.

Reception Desk


Questions To Consider

What Type Of Business Is It For?

The type of business it will be used for will greatly determine the reception desk you choose in style, function, and material. This is because different types of businesses generally have different requirements as for the look and atmosphere they need to create. For example a reception desk in a lawyer’s office probably should look upscale while for a home based business it wouldn’t have to be as high end.

But of course it is always up to the business owner or company and what atmosphere or look they want to ultimately portray. Just like each business requires a different type of atmosphere and look they also each will be using the reception desk in a different way. So it is very important to know exactly what functions the desk will need to perform so that it can do so properly.

This will make things easy for customers and employees alike and save many future headaches. Will it be a place to keep many files, exchange money, have clients sign documents, or simply somewhere for a receptionist to sit and answer the phone? Knowing what it will be used for will help you to quickly decide what features your desk will need.

Reception Desk

What Is The Size Of The Space It Will Be Used In?

As with any type of office or home furniture, the size of the space it will be used in will also be a factor. If you have a tiny office a really large reception desk probably won’t work so well as it will overpower the space. Just like a small reception desk in a very large room might not be very visually appealing either.   The best choice is always to create a balanced look. So make sure you measure your space and purchase accordingly.

What Will Be Its Primary Functions?

Just like each business requires a different type of atmosphere and look they also each will be using the reception desk in a different way. So it is very important to know exactly what functions the desk will need to perform so that it can do so properly. This will make things easy for customers and employees alike and save many future headaches.

Will it be a place to keep many files, exchange money, have clients sign documents, or simply somewhere for a receptionist to sit and answer the phone? Knowing what it will be used for will help you to quickly decide what features your desk will need.

Reception Desk

What Is The Style And Décor Of That Space?

You always want your reception desk to match your décor and the style of your space. If you are planning an office, what will that style be? Will it be modern, classic, or something else?  This will also influence the material and style of desk you choose. If you are adding a desk to a room that has décor already, make sure the desk matches it and the existing style of the room.

A reception desk that works with your room and décor will make both the room as a whole look fantastic and really allow your desk to standout at the same time.

Where To Purchase

When it comes to actually buying a reception desk you have a few options. Because they can often be a major purchase, you are of course best off always looking for a good deal. Looking in the newspaper you can sometimes find an ad for a “Reception Desk for Sale”Sometimes this can mean quite a lot of savings if it is from someone who has gone out of business, especially if they have not had the desk for very long.

These are definitely worth checking out but often can be hard to find. Also you should be wary of buying a used reception desk in an attempt to save money if it doesn’t completely match you décor as you don’t want it to take away from the look of your business.

Reception DeskThere are sometimes deals to be had at furniture stores if the desk is on sale. However the best place to find and purchase a reception desk is without a doubt online. You can literally save thousands of dollars.  Another smart idea is to find the model you like online, then find a local furniture store that has it or one very similar and check it out in person. And if you like it, then buy online.

For very large desks, desks that are of unusual shapes or dimensions, and for desks which require special materials, you probably will have to get one custom made. By searching online you can easily find both local companies and ones nationwide that specialize in custom made reception desks.

Typical Reception Desk Materials


Reception desks with a laminate covering are the most inexpensive choice as laminate is not real wood. It is actually a thin layer normally made of plastic which is glued on to the fiber board beneath. However, it can be made to mimic the look of real wood and even stone.  It is also seen in solid colors too.

Most black reception desks along with white ones are using a plastic laminate covering. There are hundreds of different laminates on the market if not more. Laminate is also very durable, scratch and stain-resistant, and easy to clean.

Reception Desk

Wood Veneer

Similar to plastic laminate, a veneer is a thin layer used to cover what is usually fiberboard; however it is made from real wood. Many people prefer a veneer simply because of this fact. And because it is real wood you get the look, feel, and charm of that wood. The best part is other people won’t know it’s not solid wood so you get the look without the price tag.

It is available in many different types of wood from the standards like oak and cherry to the more exotic. Veneers can have a clear finish if you like the natural color of the wood or can also be stained to almost any color.

Solid Wood

A more luxurious option is solid wood.  This is usually a combination of both solid wood and veneers. These are much heavier than ones made with a fiberboard base and much more expensive too. However as with all things in life you do get what you pay for and a solid wood reception desk will make any office look extremely upscale.

Other materials

Many reception desks also use other materials in combination with the more common ones above. Stone, metal, glass, leather, and even cement can all be a very attractive addition to a reception desk. These can be used on the face, sides, or counter.

Reception Desk

Typical Uses

An Office Reception Desk

There is a huge array of office reception desks. They can be literally any size, shape, and dimensions, especially if they are custom made, and from any material. However, the typical office reception desk is made for a small or medium sized office and is around 71”-73” wide. Most are made from fiber board and covered with either laminate or veneer.

These desks normally have a large workspace because of the many daily activities that a receptionist working in an office has, and to accommodate the accessories they must use. A typical reception desk has ample space for a computer, keyboard, phone, and should also have a grommet hole to neatly contain wires and cables. There is also usually enough room for desk accessories like organizers and of course files and papers that are in use too.

Reception Desk

Most office reception desks will also have a counter for transactions. This will allow clients and to fill out paperwork, hand in forms, and complete other tasks easily and close enough to the receptionist that they can ask questions or get feedback while doing so. The front panel which is supporting the counter serves as a privacy screen for the receptionist so that they can keep focused on the task at hand without clients in the reception or waiting area watching them.

Some manufacturers sell these as accessories which can be very useful for adding on to an existing desk and transforming it into a reception desk, however they are usually made for specific models that are made by the same manufacturer. While most people assume that this type of desk comes with storage the typical office reception may come with a set of drawers underneath but most don’t.

This lack of storage under the desk gives the receptionist a lot of leg room which is often actually necessary as they have to swivel and move the position of their chair while answering phones, reaching for files, and dealing with clients.

And of course you can always buy file cabinets and other storage options separately which can fit under, behind, or on the side of the desk if you need to. You can often buy from the same manufacturer as your desk to ensure they will match.

Reception Desk


A Salon Reception Desk

A beauty salon reception desk is a little different than one made for an office. First of all, salons are not nearly as conservative as corporations and private companies in their décor and therefore you’ll often see a really wide choice of desk materials and shapes as their owners are usually not afraid to be stylish and bold. Modern reception desks along with materials like metal, glass, and leather are all very common.

And while there are many circular and even typical office type reception desks used. you’ll also see ones with wavy lines instead of sharp straight edges and a whole array unusual shapes that push style to its limits. While they can really vary in design and material the typical salon reception desk however, does need a few key features.

In a salon, customers will be dealing with the receptionist or stylist who is working at the desk, and that means you will need counter space. The counter doesn’t have to be huge but should provide enough of an area for clients to rest their purse or belongings on while paying cash, writing out a check, or making a new appointment.

Reception Desk

A beauty salon reception desk will also need to have enough room for the employee to sit and schedule new appointments in an appointment book and or a computer. A keyboard tray is also something to look for as it can really free up a decent amount of desk space for you. Space for a phone and a grommet hole for electrical cords is also a must. Room for typical desk accessories and organizers is needed too.

Because customers are making transactions don’t forget a lockable drawer to keep all money, checks, etc. Many salon owners will also insert a till (some of which that also lock) like the one below into the drawer as well to their keep money organized and so that they can make change for their clients quickly and easily. A small lockable storage box might also be a good idea.Reception DeskSome salons also sell hair and beauty products. If that is the case you might want to look for one with a front panel made for product display. A cabinet with shelving inside, or at least a few shelves would also be a great feature to have in order to keep extra products on hand. You might also want to consider a matching wall shelf to display even more products or as a place to do so if your desk does not have the space.

Unlike other types of desks, beauty salon reception desks usually aren’t very big. And that’s because they normally don’t need to be.  Most are very compact, and made for one employee to sit. But there are larger ones available too. As a result of being made specifically for salons the majority will include most of the convenient features above and sometimes even more.

Some salon owners also opt for a reception desk with wheels so that that it is easy to move it and clean underneath. It’s up to you and your specific needs and preferences.

A Spa Reception Desk

Spa reception desks are actually very similar to salon reception desks. That is because a receptionist at a spa normally isn’t doing tons of filing or dealing with the same responsibilities as they would in another business.Reception DeskUsually a spa receptionist is answering the telephone, greeting clients and new customers, scheduling appointments, giving tours, and taking payments. This means that a spa reception desk doesn’t have to be too big at all. And they usually aren’t unless they need to accommodate more than one or two employees. Most easily have the desk space for all of these activities plus a counter for transactions, brochures, and for customers to lean on while filling out forms.

Just like with the ones used in salons they will need a lockable drawer for money but also for items that members or clients forget at the spa. Many spas also sell supplements and other products so a product display panel on the front of the desk might be a feature to look for if this is the case. And of course shelving or a cabinet behind the desk to keep extra inventory would be a plus too.

In fact the because they are so similar in what they are used for, spa reception desks are many times marketed as a “Beauty Salon/Spa Reception Desk,”. Desks used in spas are also usually very stylish and modern. They many times use materials like glass and metal in their designs and on the counter.

Reception Desk

Other Reception Desk Ideas

An L Shaped Reception Desk

Another option and one that offers more space is an l shaped reception desk. These are shaped like a capital letter “L” with two work spaces as opposed to only one, which are set perpendicular to each other. While some have two desk tops that are equal in length, others are made up a longer desk and a shorter desk.

The majority of desks are somewhere between 60″-72″ long however they can often run up to a length of around 92″, it really depends on the model. You can often times convert a standard type office reception desk into one of these by separately purchasing what’s called a, “reception return”. A return is the smaller side of an l shaped desk.

This could be a fantastic choice if you already have purchased a desk and realized you need more space. However, returns are specifically made by manufacturers as accessories for certain model desks so that they accurately match and fit, so it would be smart to buy from the same company that made your desk. Some returns will also include a file cabinet or drawers.

Reception Desk

Most l shaped reception desks come as a set so you don’t have to buy any other pieces. There will be a counter that runs from one end of the”L” to the other for any transactions that need to take place. They also will usually come with at least one set and possibly two sets of drawers for easy storage of files. Just like with other l shaped desks, a common setup is to have the computer and its accessories on one desk area and use the other for a work and writing space.

A Curved Reception Desk/ Round Reception Desk

If you are looking for something a little different a curved reception desk might just be the answer. Also sometimes called a round reception desk, they can really make a fantastic first impression. These desks are curved outwards and can look incredibly modern. They are very popular in salons, spas, offices, lobbies, and really anywhere that a reception desk could be used.

Unfortunately, many people tend to overlook these thinking that they will be too expensive because of their curved features. Luckily despite how costly some may look, many can be quite reasonable in price and even cheaper than standard type office reception desks, depending on the material and size.

Reception Desk

Curved desks usually come in a few different sizes. A single unit is made for one receptionist and makes for a small reception desk that is anywhere from 43”- 65” wide. A double unit is larger and normally somewhere around 120”- 135” wide depending on the model and can accommodate two receptionists. Three are even five unit desks which are really large and almost complete a full circle.

All  desks regardless of size will have a curved transaction counter that runs along the top of the desk. Because they can be so attractive, a curved or round reception desk is often the top choice of many businesses and offices as it really makes them look like they are very design and trend conscious. They can also add to a more laid back atmosphere and feel as opposed to a more traditional one which is something that you may be going for.

Yet another extra benefit is that they work tremendously well in corner spaces and can transform a boring square space into the focal point of the room. Many employees actually prefer to work at a curved desk because they find them much easier and more comfortable to maneuver around at as opposed to desks that are l or u shaped. A popular idea is to choose a curved desk with a wood veneer as it provides a modern design yet the classic feel of wood.

 Reception Desk

A U Shaped Reception Desk

A u shaped reception desk gets its name because it is in the shape of the letter “U”. Why is the “U” shape a good idea? Because, unlike most desks which provide one work space, or even maybe two, a u shaped reception desk provides three. This means lots of room. Most desks are anywhere from 88”- 128” wide depending on the brand.

But of course custom made ones can be even wider. This makes them ideal for a business with a large waiting room or reception area. However because they are physically larger than other types they are also generally more expensive. But like all reception desks the price will largely depend on the materials used. And they are available in all types of materials.

Most often a u shaped reception desk is set up so the base or bottom of the “U” is facing out towards the center of the room.  This looks very professional and allows the receptionist for maximum privacy. However some u shaped reception desks are designed or set up so that one side of the “U” is facing towards the center of the room and the other is behind the receptionist.Reception DeskMany times people will arrange their desks so that each of the three work areas has its own function. Usually this means one is for the computer and its accessories, another for a general workspace, answering the telephone and helping clients or customers, and the last one for files, and folders. But of course it is up to the individual needs and functions of the business.

The amount of storage can really depend on the specific model you choose. Many u shaped reception desks don’t offer any storage at all; this means you must purchase it separately. Others may include one or two sets of drawers, some shelves, and even a hutch. It depends.

All u shaped reception desks will have at least one counter. Most will have a counter that runs the entire length of the desk on all sides of the “U” shape. Some will have two counters while a few will have three individual ones. Like other reception desks the extension or panels on the front of the desk helps to give the receptionist privacy but with these they do so on three sides.

Reception Desk


A Modern Reception Desk

Modern reception desks are often the choice of salons, spas, and business that want to portray a stylish look. Known for sleek lines and simple function a modern desk can make a big first impression and really influence the style of the room along with its feel.

While many modern reception desks are curved they can also be l shaped, u shaped, or shaped just like typical office desk but with a more modern take. High gloss finishes are very common as is the use of glass panels and counters of all colors along with the use of many other materials like metal and sometimes wood.  Some desks even have glass have panels that are lit from the inside.

There are many companies which actually only focus on manufacturing modern contemporary reception desks. And while there is a ton of variety most often you will see desks of this style in white or black color, and sometimes both.

Reception Desk


A White Reception Desk

Luckily for anyone who likes the look of a white desk, reception desks have a lot to choose from. This is because of the fact that most other desks (office desks not reception desks) are really limited to only a few materials. But with these desks you have many more white options. The most common use a white laminate or a wood veneer that has been painted white.

Painted solid wood is another choice too. A high gloss white finish on any of these can look super modern. There are even desks made with white leather and even tufted white leather. Frosted glass happens to pair perfectly with a white reception desk whether used as a decorative panel, on displaying shelving, or as a counter top. Normal transparent glass looks great too and metal can also really complement a white desk.Reception Desk

A secret many interior designers use to really make a white reception desk stand out and a focal point which the eye is immediately drawn to, is to simply to use it with its contrasting color: black. When used with contrasting black floor tiles, black flooring, black walls, or office furniture a white desk will always be the center of attention.

And of course white goes with all white office décor too. It’s a neutral color which means it really looks great with just about any color and this makes a white reception desk an easy choice.

A Black Reception Desk

Just like with white, a black reception desk offers many stylish opportunities and in all shapes and sizes.  Black laminate is an easy to clean and inexpensive option. A wood veneer or solid wood with a black finish like espresso can be really handsome as it allows you to have a black desk but you can also see the grain of the wood too.

Reception Desk

Leather is also choice and some very high end desks will even use stone like granite or marble which are extremely luxurious. A black reception desk often can be used to its full potential by contrasting it with white. White tiles whether on the floor or wall, along with white décor will make a black desk really attract attention.

You can also use the effect of the contrast of black and white to highlight your company logo by placing it in white writing or on a white panel using the black reception desk as a background. Many desks will also incorporate white in their design as well. Black desks can look phenomenal when combined with metal accents, natural looking wood, and glass.

The proper reception desk for your space and needs will make a lasting impression that will have customers and clients feeling like they are in the right place. So be sure to keep in mind the “questions to consider,” above and choose accordingly. With such an abundance of enticing shapes, sizes, materials, and styles you’ll be sure to enjoy the process.

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