Evaluating the High Cost of Custom Modern Reception Desks vs. Low-Cost/Ready-made

Evaluating the High Cost of Custom Modern Reception Desks vs. Low-Cost/Ready-made

Alice, an associate at a medical spa company in Northern California, was assigned the task of upgrading the image of her company’s reception area. One of the main things on their list of upgrades was a modern-style reception desk to add a bit of sparkle to the lobby. To Alice, at least at first, this was a simple task. All she had to do was search the internet for “modern reception desk,” find the style, color, and level of affordable pizzazz, and she was done.

"I need more than pizzazz".

As Alice started her search, she realized she had a laundry list of requirements for this modern reception desk that she hadn’t considered beforehand. She needed a bit more than pizzazz. The reception desk had to add sparkle to the lobby. Still, it also needed to add a level of functionality she hadn’t previously thought about.

The first thing that came up for her was desk size. Alice needed to get every square inch of desk possible into the most feasible, useable space without exceeding that amount of usage. She required 67 inches of the reception desk to fill out the area. The current desk was smaller and had a printer and a scanner sitting atop the desk together with a computer monitor. The problem was that the reception area was crowded and left no space to work. There was a finite amount of space.

If that wasn’t enough of a challenge, the desk needed to have a return to close off the walkway into the workspace. A standard-sized return, at 24 inches deep, left little knee space for the receptionist. Oh, and let’s not forget that Alice’s company’s current color scheme was black and gold. In her search for a modern reception desk style, adding functionality, a great user experience, a sense of organization, a clean workspace, and an engaging color scheme was important. And let’s not forget the drawer storage/file space. Who would have thunk it?

Searching for excellence

In her search for the modern reception desk, Alice discovered that standard, ready-made desks typically come in sizes 48 inches, 72 inches, or 96 inches. Like Goldilocks found, some were too small (as in a hostess stand, for example); others were too big. If that wasn’t enough of a problem, only a few had returns. And the ones that did failed to match the color scheme, style, storage capacity in the right size, or solution to stop the desk surface from being overcrowded. What started as a simple find turned out to be a confusing, frustrating dilemma.

The saga continues…

Alice was now faced with choices. What to sacrifice? She could choose between not getting the right size, style, color scheme, function requirements, configuration…or some combination of the above.

Then Alice came up with the bright idea of having something custom-made. The new problem was that Alice was not a furniture designer, and she had no idea how to go about accomplishing solutions for all the issues she had encountered. She then searched the internet for a “custom modern reception desk.”

Alice found companies out of the country: China and other places that offered reception desk furniture. The problem with that was waiting months and the risk of shipping damage.

Finding local builders presented a litany of questions, such as finding a company that understood the problems indigenous to her circumstances while being able to offer solutions. Alice found several companies that made low-cost, low style, particle-board furniture for cheap money. At the opposite extreme, she found companies that made elaborate furniture at prices far exceeding what her company had to spend.

Finding practical solutions

Finally, Alice found 90 Degree Office Concepts in her modern reception desk search. They offered a simply styled desk that was 69 inches wide with a custom-size return to conserve knee space for the user. With that narrower return depth, they could adjust the drawer/file storage depth to match the return depth. Putting the printer and scanner on pull-out sliding drawers under the desk allowed Alice to clear the clutter from the desktop, leaving more usable space. By choosing a simplified style, Alice could get a desk within her company’s budget range. By working with materials like solid core and gold metal, 90 DOC helped Alice match the color scheme of black and gold while accomplishing a great look with the pizzazz she was shooting for.


Ready-made modern reception desks can only solve some problems for some companies. The challenge is, when it comes to reception area design, few companies have simple needs. Like Alice, once companies think about all phases of their business, they will discover more and more requirements, user experience/customer experience needs, municipal regulations, and image presentation issues.

In short, modern reception area furniture does a lot more for businesses than initially meets the proverbial eye. After the point of evaluation, the question is, are we willing to show up, at first glance, as a company that settles? Or do we want to project quality?