What is an Escritoire?

An escritoire is a writing desk, typically featuring a hinged writing surface.


An escritoire, often evoking images of quaint, historical writing spaces, is a type of writing desk that is distinguished by its characteristics and functionality. Beyond simply being a desk, it commonly includes a hinged writing surface that can be lifted to access a storage area beneath. This feature not only makes it a versatile piece of furniture but also offers a secretive or private compartment for documents, writing tools, and other small items.

Historically, escritoires were essential in homes before the digital age for correspondence, writing, and maintaining household accounts. Today, while we might rely more on digital devices for these tasks, the escritoire remains a cherished piece for its aesthetic appeal and nostalgic value. Its design can range from simple and functional to elaborate, featuring ornate woodwork, inlays, and even secret compartments, making it a fascinating subject for antique collectors and interior design enthusiasts alike.

The modern interpretations of escritoires often blend traditional design elements with contemporary needs, incorporating features like hidden power outlets and ergonomic designs for laptop use. This has allowed the escritoire to transition smoothly into the modern home office while retaining its classic charm.


Escritores are most commonly found in home offices, studies, or quiet corners of a living room, serving as personal writing spaces. Antique escritoires, with their intricate designs, are coveted items in vintage and antique furniture collections. In contemporary settings, escritoires are appreciated for their blend of traditional style and modern functionality, providing a dedicated space for writing in a design-forward way.


  • Can an escritoire be used as a regular desk?

    Yes, an escritoire can serve as a regular desk. Its design usually allows for comfortable writing or working with a laptop, especially in modern versions that incorporate ergonomic features.

  • What makes an escritoire different from a typical writing desk?

    The defining feature of an escritoire is its hinged writing surface that opens to reveal storage space. This design sets it apart from typical writing desks that may not offer this secretive compartment.

  • Are modern escritoires designed differently from historical ones?

    Yes, modern escritoires often incorporate contemporary features, like hidden power outlets and ergonomic designs for electronics, while still retaining traditional aesthetic elements.

  • Is it difficult to find genuine antique escritoires?

    Finding genuine antique escritoires can be challenging, as it requires knowledge about their historical design and craftsmanship. Antique dealers and auctions are the best sources for authentic pieces.

  • How do I care for an antique escritoire?

    Caring for an antique escritoire involves regular dusting, avoiding direct sunlight and extreme temperatures, and using appropriate wood cleaners and polishes to maintain its finish.

Practical Application

When incorporating an escritoire into modern interior design, consider its placement to ensure it serves its intended function effectively while enhancing the room's aesthetic. For antique escritoires, balancing their historical charm with contemporary necessities, like access to power for digital devices, can create a functional workspace that brings history into the modern day. For those with a contemporary escritoire, pairing it with a comfortable yet stylish chair and adequate lighting can turn it into a productive and visually appealing workspace.