9 Jul
2012
Posted in: Household
By    2 Comments

The Parsons Desk

Back in the 1930s, a challenge was issued to students at the Parsons School of Art & Design. The designer “challenged students to design a table so basic that it would retain its integrity whether sheathed in gold leaf, mica, parchment, split straw or painted burlap, or even left robustly unvarnished.” (NYTimes) The resulting table was named the Parsons Table.

The Parsons table was surprisingly modern for the era and has lasted the test of time. The school’s design skills have also been applied to other furniture pieces like chairs, end tables, and desks. How can you tell if you’re looking at a Parsons desk? Just check the thickness of the legs- they should be the same thickness as the top of the desk. (Learn more building instructions by checking out Ana White’s Parsons Desk plans)

West Elm Parsons Desk

The favorite Parsons desk of most folks these days is produced by West Elm. It costs $349, has two drawers, and is 48″ x 24″ x 30″. You can buy it in black or white. Don’t think Parsons desks have to be boring. Remember the goal of making a desk that looks good in every material? There are so many options below with different looks. All those designs also mean different price points so you should be able to afford a Parsons desk no matter your price point.

West Elm Parsons

These are 4 additional West Elm options. 1-Parsons Mirror Desk ($599), 2-Parsons Natural Grass Cloth Desk ($499), 3-Parsons Diamond Grass Cloth Desk ($499), and 4-Parsons Metal Desk ($499) made of wood with hand-wrapped rich antiqued metal cladding. Each is the same size as the original and has two drawers.

Room and Board Parsons

Another option is through Room & Board. They have a customizable Parsons desk with 10 different table sizes and 24 different tabletop surfaces. To get the closest size to the Parsons, choose the 48″ x 24″ x 29″ console table/desk. You can choose glass, MDF, butcher block, solid wood, quartz, granite, or even marble. My favorites are with the white glass (#5- $619) and with the Solid maple with shell stain (#6- $699).

cheap parsons desks

Parsons desks can be found at lower costs too with just a few changes. The 7-Overstock Student Desk ($144.99) is the closest match with almost identical dimensions and 2 drawers. 8-Home Decorator’s Parsons Desk ($106.24-$129) comes in 6 different colors though it only has 1 drawer. The 9-Container Store’s Parsons desk is a mixture of steel and melamine without any drawers and can be found in stores for $129. Though a little narrower and with only 1 drawer, you can get a Parsons desk from Walmart (#10) for $59. The cheapest of all is smaller, drawerless, and has different legs but Target’s Parsons desk (#11) is only $39.99.

I’ve shared my love of Parsons desks but I’m curious if any of you have any Parsons pieces. I just bought my first piece after my last sales post. Here’s a glimpse of it.

orange parsons

Have I gone completely crazy?

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  • Patti Wunder Williams

    Help ….I recently purchased the West Elm Parson’s Console Table(33″h) in white Lacquer for behind our sofa.. We love it but the height is too high for our sofa. We need the height of the Parson’s Desk (30″h), however, the width of the Parson’s Desk was too wide for behind the sofa so I went with theParson’s Console table. I need to cut 3 inches off the legs. Has anyone done this? I checked with West Elm to see if I could purchase just the legs of the Parson’s Desk but they don’t offer any parts for their furniture for sale. Any suggestions? Thanks….

  • disqus_PVE928OfEo

    Hi – I just found this post after searching online for a Parson’s desk with steel legs. I’ve had the Parson’s bed from Room and Board for years and LOVE it. Is it the same Parson’s as this?