What Is A Roll Top Desk And Why Should Your Office Have One?

What Is A Roll Top Desk And Why Should Your Office Have One?

When it comes time to set up a working space in your home, then you need a desk for your home office. Whether it gets used for homework or by a work-at-home professional, the choice of furniture you make is something you have to live with for a long while. So, it's important to choose something not just functional, but also pleasant to be productive around. Roll top desks are an older form of desk that are finding new life as more people switch from desktop computers to laptops.


What Exactly Is A Roll Top Desk? 

Roll top desks are nineteenth-century reworkings of the previous pedestal desk. Roll top desks add to the earlier design by incorporating a number of shelves, nooks, drawers, and stacked compartments. The influences on this style come from Carlton House desks and the bureau a gradin.

The roll top desk gets its name because the desktop surface and the nooks and compartments can be covered thanks to a tambour that rolls in and out of a storage slot. The tambour is a series of wooden slats linked together, an element partially inspired by the cylinder desks of the eighteenth century.


What Were The Production Benefits? 

Roll top desks had several production benefits over cylinder desk predecessors. Cylinder desks could not be produced en masse, but roll tops could. This was largely thanks to the fact that the wooden slats were simple enough to produce in large yet uniform quantities. On the other hand, wooden sections of cylinder desks were treated laboriously in order to keep a perfect shape through time, since any warping or bending would mean retraction or extension would then become impossible. Also, a roll top's tambour wooden slats typically got linked to one another by using a leather or cloth medium, both of which didn't suffer the same issues that cylinder desks became notorious for.


What Was The Historical Use Of Roll Top Desks?

Roll top desks were trademark pieces of furniture in offices after the Civil War and saw use until the Depression and World War II. It started falling out of popular use with the advent of steel desks. The increase in mailed correspondence and the preponderance of other documents made the smaller shelves, nooks, and stacked drawers obsolete. Private citizens and professionals simply had too much paperwork to bother folding it up enough to put them in these tiny storage spaces.


Are Roll Top Desks Still Around?

A vibrant trade of roll top desks exists in the corner of the economy that deals in antique furniture. Since it was mass produced and used wildly, with a range of quality levels, there are a great number of makes and models still sitting in buildings and homes. Some of them can be rather pricey, depending on how expensive the wood used is. Set decorators who like to create a period office feel often use these desks.


How Much Do Roll Top Desks Cost Nowadays?

Prices on antique and collectible desks from the original period in which they were popular vary wildly depending on the specific piece, the auction or sale format it is available in, and the condition of it. Some need restoration, but others have had quite a bit of restoration done.

If you are not looking for an original, there are furniture makers that continue to manufacture roll top desks even today. Depending on the size and substance of it, a new roll top desk can run anywhere from two hundred dollars to over two thousand. Of course that is not counting shipping, handling, and assembly costs.


Why Would I Want A Roll Top Desk In My Home?

If you work from home, a roll top desk can prove a very traditional and almost down-to-earth counterpoint to today's flashing and bright technology. Natural wood feel and color tone is a great grounding vibration that offsets yet also melds well with the sleek black and chrome of so many electronics.

The ability to draw down the cover is a great way to declare that your work day is over. Anything you have pending on the desk is visually covered up and it doesn't call out to you subconsciously as you move around your home the rest of the evening or on your day off.

If the desk has a locking mechanism for the slats, then you also get a layer of privacy and security. Anyone in your home that does not have business going through your work items, be it children or a guest, will not have access. There's also often enough room for a laptop within the space, so burglars might not think there's anything important enough in there to break it open.


Where Would I Look For Roll Top Desks? 

Your two primary choices in shopping for roll top desks are either online or locally. Check with the primary furniture stores in your community, as well as local craftsmen. Online, a number of sites have listings for roll top desks, including privately owned store chains or small businesses and individuals selling through auction or general e-commerce sites.

There are pros and cons to both ways of shopping for a roll top desk. Looking locally does give you the chance to actually see and feel physical models in a show room. You also get the possibility of same- or next-day delivery and assembly, so if it's your task for a weekend, you can get it done right way. On the other hand, local brick and mortar stores are also going to typically have the highest prices compared to the Internet, though not always.

Going online offers you better prices in most cases, and you have access to a global variety and selection of makes and models. On the other hand, shipping can take time and potentially suffer damage. Shipping and handling costs also can add up fast for big or heavy furniture, offsetting general Internet savings. You'll also be primarily responsible for unpacking and assembling the furniture yourself.