8 best kids’ desk and chair sets: Help make learning fun

·11-min read
Our two-year-old, five-year-old and eight-year-old testers used the desks for two-weeks (iStock/The Independent )
Our two-year-old, five-year-old and eight-year-old testers used the desks for two-weeks (iStock/The Independent )

School may be out for summer, but it’ll be September before we know it. So, if you’re keen to create a welcoming and comfortable place to encourage your child’s learning at home, a quality desk is the best place to start.

Do you want a relaxing – and distraction-free – space for older kids to do their homework? Or simply a place for your pre-schooler to scribble, freeing up your kitchen table? Well, the basics of shopping around for a suitable desk are the same no matter your criteria. And we’ve got something here that should suit every need.

When buying a desk the first consideration is how much space you have at home. Make sure you pick something that will fit neatly into the space available, without taking over the room. Nearly all of the desks we reviewed required some level of assembly – some of which were a test for even our avid DIY-er. But, if flatpack furniture instructions bring you out in a cold sweat it’s worth taking the level of effort/skill needed to put a desk together into consideration.

A decent desk also be suitable for your child’s age and needs. Pick an appropriate size so they can use it independently, at a height that encourages a healthy posture when seated – don’t be tempted to try and “size up”, with the aim of your child growing into it.

Storage is another factor to consider. Pre-schoolers just need somewhere to stash their crayons and colouring books, while older children need enough space for a laptop or computer, as well as the usual stationery essentials.

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When compiling this list we were looking for sturdy designs made from tough materials that can handle a few knocks here and there and the everyday wear and tear caused by kids. Bonus points were given to those that were easy to wipe clean, too.

We also asked our two, five and eight-year-old tester’s to use the desks for work and play, for two-weeks, and to give us their honest opinion on each. Here’s what we all thought.

The best children’s desks for 2021 are:

Melissa & Doug lift-top desk and chair

Best: Overall

Rating: 10/10

This traditional desk and chair set really ticked the nostalgia box for us, and looked just like the kind of school desk we used when we were kids. Available in a range of shades, this wooden set was incredibly straightforward to put together using a Phillips head screwdriver, with every component clearly labelled and packaged up to help you get started.

Once assembled, we found this set to be excellent quality and reassuringly sturdy – it’s the kind of desk that’s made to withstand years of use, so a great option if you plan on passing it down through the family. The lid has a safety hinge, so you don’t need to worry about trapped fingers, which was appreciated as our five-year-old tester loved filling the desk up with their pencils (and other important items like toy cars and slippers).

Designed for children aged three to eight, it was a perfect fit for our five-year-old, who comfortably sat practising their handwriting and drawing pictures at the desk for longer than they ever usually would at the kitchen table. A brilliant investment for when your child first starts school.

Buy now £99.99, Smythstoys.com

E2 Kids’ single pedestal three-drawer desk

Best: For quality

Rating: 9/10

Hand-crafted to order in the UK, this beautiful desk is delivered fully assembled and built to last. The quality and finishing here is really outstanding and we love the numerous, stylish colour options you can choose from to make sure this piece of investment furniture matches your home décor. It’s a great size for older children – we’d say from around age eight to younger teens – with plenty of desktop space for books, a lamp and a computer. But, if you do need some adjustments, when it comes to sizing there is always the option of requesting bespoke measurements.

The drawers are deep and spacious, so if you prefer to keep all of the typical homework clutter out of sight, this desk is an excellent choice. All this storage means it can double-up as a dressing table in your child’s bedroom, if you’re looking for a multi-use product. It may be the most expensive desk in our round-up, but the quality really speaks for itself here. Handmade, rather than flatpack, it’s a beautiful desk that can be used for generations, making it the definition of “buy well, buy once.”

Buy now £495.00, Paintedfurnitureco.co.uk

Dunelm kids’ white desk and stool

Best: Budget buy

Rating: 7/10

Coming in at just £45 for a desk and stool, we think this set is fantastic value for money. The pared-back, minimalist style really appealed, and assembly was a breeze – the legs on the table and stool simply screw into place in seconds. Although we had initial concerns about the stool, the wide angled legs meant even our overly-enthusiastic tester wasn’t going to topple over on this.

If you’re looking for storage, this probably isn’t the desk for you, but we found the extra ridge on the desk-top handy for keeping books and notebooks in one place. The workspace is a decent size and our five-year-old happily spread out all of their homework comfortably.

It’s designed for children aged three to six, but with a weight limit of up to 30kg and quite high stool legs, we can’t see why this wouldn’t work for up to eight-year-olds. Although this isn’t the most robust desk in our round-up, it comes with a one-year guarantee and is a solid choice if you’re on a budget.

Buy now £45.00, Dunelm.com

Little Folks Furniture the edit desk

Best: Looking desk

Rating: 8/10

The cool Scandinavian style of this desk was a big hit with us, as well as our older tester. It’s got all of the fashionable touches you’d expect from an adult desk, shrunk down to a kid-friendly size. Compact enough to fit in a child’s bedroom, it’s a desk they’d be proud to show off to their school friends.

Assembly was quick and easy – it’s pretty much a case of screwing the legs to the desktop – but gave us the opportunity to really look at the quality of the materials, as we did, and we were really impressed. The solid beech legs look and feel as though they can take on whatever your child throws at them (figuratively and literally).

The easy-access shelf below the worktop is big enough to tuck away laptops and notebooks, which our eight-year-old particularly liked as they were able to hide things away from annoying little brothers and sisters. While the desktop itself has space to fit a lamp, laptop and notebook easily. We love it and would quite fancy it in an adult size too.

Buy now £199.00, Littlefolksfurniture.co.uk

Buton vintage wood and metal school desk and chair

Best: For vintage style

Rating: 8/10

La Redoute know how to give flatpack furniture a chic, French makeover, and this cute desk and chair set is no exception. Made from metal and wood, it has a charming retro feel that appealed to us as much as our testers.

Assembly was an easy, one-person job, using the Allen key provided, and the finished set was the perfect height for our five-year-old – although our youngest tester was also very keen to use this desk and managed to climb up onto the chair on quite a few occasions, so we’re glad it’s a sturdy build, despite being quite light-weight.

Best suited for kids aged between three and seven, it’s a sweet, compact desk which offers everything they need. The hidden shelf under the desk is ideal for storing away notebooks and colouring books, and we think it makes a fashionable addition to any child’s bedroom or playroom.

Buy now £190.00, Laredoute.co.uk

Room to Grow Manhattan desk

Best: For storage

Rating: 8/10

Not one to be hidden away, this desk is a beautiful piece of furniture that will help you create an inviting and inspiring space for learning. Our eight-year-old tester couldn’t wait to get this set up in their room and get to work filling all the drawers, niches and shelves with their things.

We’ll be honest with you – the assembly took a while, so don’t attempt this if you’re in a rush or have kids charging about demanding to know when it will be ready. It’s time consuming and a bit fiddly, but the end result is more than worth it.

Made from responsibly-sourced FSC pine wood mix, and with a two-year guarantee, the end result is a great looking, well-made desk that makes a real impact. The storage options here are very welcome – with two large drawers to fill with a laptop, stationery and school work, plus two niches and a top shelf for a pencil case, clock, lamp and trinkets. It feels like a “grown-up” desk, which certainly appealed to our eight-year-old, and it’s a design that won’t date or start to feel babyish as your child gets older.

Buy now £287.00, Roomtogrow.co.uk

Premier Housewares pink children’s desk and stool

Best: For a pop of colour

Rating: 7/10

If plain white or natural wooden desks aren’t your thing, this bright pink design is perfect for adding a splash of colour. Assembly was a bit of a mission (there are a lot of screws), but the two-tone desk and stool looked great when set up. Although the materials aren’t the most robust, the desk and stool feel sturdy – and they are both fully wipe clean, which is always a bonus.

The set – recommended for ages three to eight – is pretty lightweight and our five-year-old had no problem moving the stool around himself. The worktop is slightly slanted, which our five-year-old found really comfortable to lean on when writing and drawing – they just need to remember to put their pencils on the flat section at the far back of the desk to stop them from rolling off all the time. Underneath the hinged lid there’s a large storage compartment which your child can fill with all the essentials. It’s a good all-in-one buy for younger kids – especially those who are fans of pink.

Buy now £62.99, Onbuy.com

Character Online Peppa Pig’s wooden play desk

Best: For pre-schoolers

Rating: 7/10

This brand new launch from “Peppa’s World of Wood”, arriving mid-August to Argos, Very and Amazon, is a compact play desk perfect for little Peppa Pig fans. Suitable for ages two and up, it’s made from environmentally responsible FSC certified wood and went down a storm with our youngest (Peppa-mad) tester.

There is some assembly required, and while it does take some time it’s certainly not too complicated. Decorated with a colourful painted design featuring lots of characters from the hit TV show, this desk is like catnip to toddlers and pre-schoolers. We liked how low and secure the built-in bench was, so our little tester could easily get on and off independently.

Younger kids will love lots of little touches that are included as standard here. There’s a chalkboard on the reverse of the hinged lid, hidden storage areas and a space for a cup holder to keep pens in. We also like how this is made from sustainably sourced wood, rather than plastic, as is often the case with toys and play furniture aimed at this age group.

Buy now £39.99, Character-online.com

The verdict: Kids' desks

The Melissa & Doug lift-top desk and chair offers everything we could ask for in a school-starter’s first desk. It’s sturdy, well-built, comfy to work on, it has a nice, classic design and – most importantly of all – got the thumbs up from all of our little testers.

A special mention must go to The Painted Furniture company’s E2 desk, which wowed us with the craftsmanship and quality.

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