Bamboo Desks, what is all the fuss about?
Bamboo has a number of innovative uses in the home and is becoming a real favourite material amongst interior designers and householders.
Most people think of bamboo being used for wood flooring or furniture but it can also be used to produce bed linen and sheets. Bamboo material has a texture similar to silk and also features natural moisture-wicking properties making it ideal for clothing and linen – it also dries faster than cotton. But one of the most popular uses for bamboo is furniture. Bamboo desks are part of the bamboo furniture revolution in the home and one of the main reasons why bamboo desks are so popular is because they are eco-friendly.
Bamboo’s environmental credentials
Bamboo is a very adaptable plant and can be grown in varying climates and soil types and can cope with changes in temperature meaning that it can grow almost anywhere in the world. Bamboo is also very hardy and resistant to pests, bacteria and fungus that can attack other types of wood. This matters as it means almost no pesticides are required to protect the crop so consumers can choose an ethically produced and sustainable material for their home desk.
If green credentials are very important to you then you will need to dig deep into the origins of your proposed bamboo desk and how it has been produced. A lot of bamboo comes from third world countries so use an ethical retailer who can trace back the entire journey of the desk and satisfy you about the manufacturing processes.
Choosing a bamboo desk
Because bamboo has become very popular as an ethical material, there is plenty of choice available. Whether you are after a slick bamboo desk for a contemporary home office or want something more traditionally styled for a period home, there will be a bamboo desk to suit your interior.
Top tips to consider before you buy your bamboo desk
Bamboo is available in a range of styles and finishes but as with any desk, you need to consider carefully where it will sit in the home and who will be working at it.
Some people favour a desk which looks less like it has come from an office and more like an occasional table; this is ideal for small houses or flats where there is no room for a separate home office. This style of bamboo desk can be used for a number of purposes and styled as a simple table when not in use.
Think about your cabling requirements for laptop work, phones and also desk lighting. Some bamboo desks are styled specifically for homeworkers and modern technology.
You may want storage options with your bamboo desk so you can clear away equipment at the end of the day. Storage can be integrated into the desk or added separately. There are plenty of desktop bamboo products and accessories plus larger storage items which can sit next to or even underneath a large bamboo desk.
Styling a bamboo desk
Here are some styling suggestions for your home interior.
- For a retro colonial look, choose a chunky bamboo desk with large sturdy legs and a warm honey tone. A glass top can convert this desk instantly into a stylish piece of occasional furniture
- Choose a simple metal frame with a streamlined polished bamboo top, a style that complements numerous interiors but particularly lends itself to a modernist setting with warm earthy tones and a slightly industrial vibe
- Opt for a 1960s elegant A-frame desk in light bamboo with three simple drawers to remove clutter and which can quickly convert into an elegant occasional table, small and stylish and perfect for compact homes. Match with an open bamboo shelving unit for a real retro look
- For a desk you can move around – remember bamboo is lightweight and easily portable – choose a school desk style auxiliary bamboo desk which you can pair up with a soft chair or sofa or even the side of the bed, for homeworking all around the house
- Choose a simple A-frame desk in light bamboo tones with an oversized white desk top to offer maximum space and stability for the largest work area. This clever design has angled legs to offer support with two large integrated drawers for storage and the white and honey tones mix well with all types of interior styling
- For serious homeworkers, choose a multi-function bamboo desk which offers a range of height settings so you can alternate between sitting and standing, this is also a great design for multiple users in the home or office who can adjust the desk to suit their own seating preferences
Antique bamboo desks
Believe it or not, bamboo has long been a popular material for furniture construction so if you are looking for a stylish period piece, then there is plenty of choice available from vintage retailers and antique dealers.
As an international material, there are many varied styles originating from different countries in Europe and beyond and dating from the 18th and 19th centuries.
Antique bamboo desks tend to be smaller than their modern counterparts and often styled as school desks with a lift up top or as elegant letter writing desks for a lady. They make pretty occasional tables with useful storage but are not designed for modern computer equipment and cables. English styles are often combined with a leather writing top and some feature glass or chinoiserie with Chinese motifs.
Cleaning a bamboo desk
Unlike other woods, bamboo can be cleaned with a damp cloth and a little soap. Bamboo is a material which can be used for both indoor and outdoor furniture but real bamboo does need some care and maintenance. Here are some tips to keep your bamboo desk looking pristine whether it is varnished or unvarnished.
- Dust, brush or vacuum away accumulated dirt and debris before you clean with soap and water
- Use organic soap to clean your bamboo desk with a soft cloth or sponge, dilute the soap in water so the solution is mild and not concentrated. The sponge or cloth should be damp not wet and smooth not abrasive – never scrub the bamboo. Harsh detergents will also damage the bamboo and discolour the desk
- Bamboo can be prone to drying out indoors with double glazed sealed houses and central heating. Use linseed oil which is specifically intended for bamboo to renew and nourish the wood every month or second month, this maintains the lustre of the bamboo. If you live in a humid environment, then this can cause the bamboo to crack so apply linseed oil more frequently
- Clean stains from drinks immediately otherwise the stain can become permanent
- Wet cleaning softens the bamboo temporarily so avoid using the desk until it is completely dry
- Older bamboo desks can crack due to age or exposure to weather, perhaps your desk sits in a sunny location. Cracks can be managed by very gently sanding the area with a very fine grit sandpaper followed by smoothing paste wax over the crack to recondition the wood and renew the colour and tone
- If your bamboo desk has leather or glass inserts, then these need to be cleaned with products and equipment specifically suited to the material
- Bamboo can be produced in darker shades not just the traditional honey colour, this can work well with very light, bright interiors which are very contemporary
- Choose a bespoke office bamboo desk which is made of your favourite material but specifically designed to manage the modern tech demands of laptops, printers and phones and lots of cables. Just make sure the desk is strong enough to bear all the weight
- Many bamboo desks do not have solid backs so can be placed in the middle of a room rather than against the wall. If your work involves integrating other furniture and equipment or lots of getting up and moving around then this style should perfectly suit your needs
- Choose a super slick bamboo finish for your desk – bamboo doesn’t have to look like bamboo. The pale tones imitate oak or beech wood and so a bamboo desk can just simply integrate with other lighter woods in the room
What about faux bamboo?
As with any popular product like rattan, it is possible to buy bamboo look desks, this can avoid the problems of real bamboo which generally is cracking but faux bamboo may not be produced in an ethical way.
Reinventing the wheel
Bamboo has exploded onto the furniture scene but like many supposedly ‘new’ materials or designs, bamboo has long been used for furniture all over the world. The difference is now that the focus is on sustainability for home furnishings, bamboo products and desks in particular have become hugely popular as homeowners search for items which are sustainable and ethical.
A bamboo desk will be a stylish and useful addition to your home. Most bamboo desks are simple, light-framed pieces and so will only complement your interior never dominate.