How to Create the Perfect Writing Desk


I woke up the other morning in a panic. I realized that I had forgotten to send a thank-you note for the gorgeous dinner party I’d been to a couple of weeks ago. I couldn’t believe how rude I’d been.

I had certainly thanked the host on my way out the door, and I know I sent her a text the next morning as my head was pounding from the champagne. But seriously, that’s just not good enough. A beautiful thank-you note needed to be written, addressed, stamped, and put in the mail to her. My mother would faint if she knew I’d forgotten.

I know a lot of people forget this little nicety, and some have decided that it’s not necessary, but I’ll probably write a thank-you to the funeral director of my memorial service to be mailed after my death. It’s just something I believe in.

Because letter writing in general isn’t a big part of our lives anymore, writing a thank-you note is a bit of a chore. I’ve got to find the paper and envelopes, track down a pen that writes smoothly, and remember where I left the stamps. It got me thinking about how I could make letter writing a bigger part of my life — how I could design a beautiful space that would make me want to sit down and write letters. In my mind, I became one of those gracious ladies in old pictures, in a beautiful dress with hair perfectly coiffed and a quill paused in the corner of a lipsticked mouth — not, you know, someone on the sofa in yoga pants and a loose bun sitting cross-legged under a laptop.


Here’s my dream set-up.

  1. I’d start with a sunny spot by a window — upstairs, away from the hustle and bustle — and I’d set up a beautiful desk, like the kind my grandmother had.


  1. I’d put a beautiful frame there, and in it a picture of my dogs, to make me smile. Or of my mother, to remind me to be extra gracious in my thank-you notes.
  1. I’d add a pair of lamps so I’d have plenty of light shining directly on the paper. They’d also come in handy if had insomnia and wanted to take up writing sonnets in the wee hours.


  1. I’d stock the drawers with beautiful stationery, in an embossed linen bond. I’d have both letter paper and cards — with matching envelopes, of course.


  1. I’d keep my wonderfully flowy pens in an antique Chinese Export mandarin mug.


  1. I’d have a very sturdy and comfortable chair, but not one so comfortable that I could lean back in it. A serious chair, that would keep me focused on my work.


With a set-up like that, I’d become a woman of letters, writing friends all over the world, not just squeezing in thank-you notes between paying bills and checking RSVP boxes at the corner of my kitchen table. Which is where I am now.

Now where did I put those stamps?

What’s your dream set up for writing? For reading? For paying bills? Tell me about it in comments.

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