Designing a Custom Reception Desk

Published on: Author: Anne Langton

Do you hear the word “custom” and automatically assume it will break the bank?  Sure many times “custom designed” can be synonymous with high end products but sometimes a custom designed piece of furniture costs less than its manufactured assembly line counterpart!  If a furniture solution has size limitations or unique requirements…custom designed could be the answer.  For example, I recently completed an office renovation project at Barrows Insurance Agency in Mansfield MA where designing a custom reception desk was included within the project scope.  The reception desk could be the most important piece of furniture in any office space.  It usually is the first and biggest impression making design element .


Most manufactured reception desks are based on right angles.  This did not suit the floor plan in this office space.  Keep in mind a reception desk not only greets customers but it controls the traffic pattern as well.  Custom allowed us to use some unique angles which fit the space and controlled the natural flow of customers. Additionally we were able to design the center portion of the desk to conceal the ugly side of necessary computer monitors.  Also simple features like built in paper trays keep an area organized and presentable.  Another obvious advantage of a custom unit is the ability to coordinate other finishes in the space.










  • Use only woods that are readily available.  This may change so ask your woodworker for advice
  • For a simple design, ask a kitchen cabinet manufacturer for pricing. (I have to give a shout out to Creative Cabinet in Walpole.  They were great to work with)
  • Drawers mechanisms cost money, consider using a metal file for needed storage and size the desk appropriately around the files.
  • Be mindful of finishes.  There is a suitable place for stone and a suitable place for plastic laminate
  • Use inexpensive techniques to improve design interest.  For example at Barrows Insurance Agency we simply changed direction of the wood grain to emphasize the change in color stain and surface planes. 
  • Limit decorative detail
  • Plan ahead how the desk will get power to it.  This can be costly after the fact.


Langton Designs creates offices that work well and feel right