You may have never looked at home office furniture specifically in terms of levels of quality before, but it is a useful exercise to engage in when trying to determine what sort of furniture you want for your home office. Let's walk through three levels of furniture, with a focus on case furniture. Obviously, a similar discussion could be applied to things like couches, chairs, or mirrors that are common in any office, but I've decided to stick to the hard case furniture for now.
One of the things many people struggle with is to transition from the old thriftier type home office furniture they got accustom to using during college or early married life. In those years money is super tight and you do what you have to do. This is level one. Furniture is functional. It isn't really fancy or beautiful. It gets the job done. Cinder blocks and pine boards made a nice bookshelf for me for years. A card table served as my desk. Once I recognized that it was okay for me to upgrade it felt good. I suspect that many people can relate to this. If you are still using your old stuff maybe it's time to take a look at what you are using, whether you can afford an upgrade, and then take the leap to level two.
The second level of home office furniture is nicer than slap-together pieces, but still sort of stuck in functional world. Particle board seems to typify this level. It's nothing really special or nice, but not awful. Manufacturers have actually done a great job making these pieces look nice. Many imitate wood grains, are adjustable and look fine. Pieces that are made from real wood are stronger and usually come with more options and accessories, but melamine or particle board can be constructed to last for years and years.
One thing to note about level two home office furniture is that particle board is very heavy and isn't as durable as real wood, or metal. If it is dinged, or gets damaged, it is almost impossible to repair. If it gets soaked it turns to mush. Some people even refer to this construction material as "oatmeal board". Some traditional wood working joints can still be used like dovetail and rabbit joints. These offer added strength, but, if subjected to any severe impact it will rip out and be almost impossible to fix.
Wooden credenzas, desks, printer stands, hutches, bookshelves and tables all make up the majority of the home office furniture most of us are familiar with. When you go from level one to level two you make a serious improvement to the things you use. It is easy to stay in this level for a long time, maybe forever. Many people content themselves with that and that's fine. However, if you of a mind to, level three opens up a whole new vista.
Level three home office furniture uses materials like studded leather and fine woods. A mahogany desk or a cherry bookshelf beats the pants off card tables and pine on cinder blocks. Lockable drawers, pullout writing surfaces, hidden compartments, adjustable shelves, and nearly indestructible construction techniques set this level far and above the rest. It is worth giving up your old stuff. Be bold!
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