I haven’t referenced a classic movie in such a long time, but today’s topic made me think of one of my absolute favorites: Desk Set.
Katherine Hepburn’s character has an encyclopedic memory & is in charge of the reference library for a big broadcasting company in Manhattan. The network is negotiating a merger with another company, but is keeping it secret. To help the employees cope with the extra work that will result, the network head has ordered 2 computers, or “electronic brains.” Spenser Tracy (Hepburn’s real life partner) is an “efficiency expert” & the inventor of this particular computer system is brought in to “ease” the transition. The sparks fly.
I have a lot of sarcastic quotation marks in that paragraph!
I started thinking about “Desk Set” a lot while my kids were back home again for 2 weeks of distance learning (let’s see how many times that happens this year!), and I moved back in from my office to work in the kitchen. That’s because I was working at my own desk set.
Secretary desks are wonderful for little mini office stations. They can hold shelves full of books, drawers for paper or wrapping paper, cabinets for printers and extra linens! Because of this versatility, they are wonderful in multi-purpose rooms. I think they also really work well in smaller kids’ rooms, where you may need multi-tasking furniture.
As we don’t have an office in the house, our secretary serves as our spot to pay the bills, store the printer, and for the kids to use the computer under supervision. Thing 2 did most of his Zoom classes from here while I worked at the kitchen table.
A little more inspiration for you!
The problem with secretaries that no one seems to talk about is…
HOW TO LIGHT THEM WELL.
I mean, when you sit down at a desk, you usually need some direct light to read & write by, am I right? You can put a regular desk or table lamp on them, and it looks lovely, but then you just have to resign yourself to always keeping it open.
And sometimes it’s nice to hide the mess!
I find that a floor task lamp just does the trick. It directs the light exactly where you need it, and gets out of the way when you don’t.
The floor lamp needs to be the right height — around 54″-60″. Something adjustable is ideal.
I’ve assembled 21 secretary & floor task lamp combinations that make perfect pairs! Some vintage finds in the bunch, too!
1 Comes in 4 colors. / 2 / 3 Someone MUST snatch up this benchmade tiger maple one!
4 / 5 This is a sweet little spot! / 6
7 / 8 On clearance. Also comes in gray./ 9 Great shelves, and just the perfect fold-out desk.
10 / 11 Walnut interior. / 12 Nice rope detail!
13 On clearance! / 14 / 15 This sleek stunner is due to be back in stock really soon.
16 Just your perfect basic articulating floor lamp. / 17 / 18
19 4 different wood finishes. / 20 / 21 So lady chic!
The tiger maple one is a find, believe me, now that both D.R. Dimes and Eldred Wheeler no longer make them. And of course there are many vintage options that are prime candidates for a beautiful paint job — especially with a contrasting interior!
Are you all still working from home, or are you back in-person? How is hybrid or distance learning going?
See you next Saturday!
10 thoughts on “The Perfect Desk Set: 21 Floor Lamps & Secretary Desks”
Hi Amy–great post! I have a 1930s-era secretary in my living room, which is also my office. The problem with using a secretary is that they are so small–the work area is not really practical for housing a computer and papers (which I have scattered all over my desk when I’m working!) So I have a separate writing desk, and use the secretary to hold extra paper, office supplies, photos, some books, and a collection of blue-and-white chinoiserie.
I’m so saddened that both DR Dimes and Eldred Wheeler have gone out of business. Their workmanship was impeccable and the styles and wood they offered were right up my traditional 18th-century alley.
As for working at home, I’m teaching college remotely right now via Zoom classes and it’s working better than I expected. Then again my college has a great tech support department and our Learning Management System is super helpful for both instructors and students alike.
I look forward to all your blog posts-they are a highlight of Saturday mornings!
Thank you, Diana! Doug Dimes is actually back, just on his own, making his beautiful Windsor chairs. But not these stunners. A secretary like this would have gone for $12k, no joke. I saw one before he shut his operation down.
I’m glad to hear your working from home has been pretty seamless! So many parents are struggling right now. The stress of having to wear too many hats for too long is real.
Dear Amy, amazing post, so informative!!! I have completely non related question and would be greatful if you can give me some advice. Do you find yourself in a situation when you have no idea what crown molding, trim etc exists and where to read about them. For example, I have no moldings in my house and I think it will benefits from them, something beautiful needed. And then …I freeze. Would you go to an architect if you were in my situation? Would you google all Pinterest? Would you freeze after thinking of trim lol?
Hmmm – these are so lovely – got me rethinking my big cupboard with the printer the living room. It was originally built as a computer cabinet back when I had a full pc with cpu tower, etc. Maybe it would be happier somewhere else…and maybe a secretary would work in the living room….time to get going on my floor plan.
Glad to provide some inspiration!
Glad you liked the post, Margot!! Re: your trim Q, you have to first determine your architectural style and go from there. There are lots of millwork companies & catalogs, and a tradesman usually has his go-tos, but if you’re just looking for inspiration, you can check out a company like Metrie to start. After you nail down your home’s architecture, that is 😉 we discuss architecture (even new and builders-grade) in my course, The Home Glow Method. Hope that helps!
Hey Margot, a little late with a comment replay but… my brother, who does traditonal finish carpentry work likes to refer to this book by Ben Pentreath.
There is a chapter on interior trim that is a wonderful guideline that talks about definitions and proportions complete with pictures. It might give you a place to start at least. ^_^ Some architects are trained in the classical tradition, like Gil Shafer (Great Books!), but you would probably need to ask them specifically about it because it is not a given, or so my brother informs me. Hope this is of some use to you.
Hi Mary! What a great resource, and from SUCH a great designer. I’ll definitely have to add it to my library. Hope it helps you too, Margot!
I think the floor lamp solution is the best. I have an 1800’s pine secretary desk I bought in Provincetown years ago.
To close it, I have to remove the desk lamp and put it where? Usually on the floor, so that’s annoying.
Ha! Well, I hope you found some inspiration today. Thanks for commenting and glad to provide a solution!
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