What is a Fall Front?

A fall front is a hinge-mounted panel typically found on desks or secretaire that folds down to provide a writing surface.


A fall front, also known as a drop front, is a design element found on certain types of furniture, particularly desks or secretaire. This feature comprises a hinged panel that, when in a closed position, conceals interior compartments or drawers. By folding it down, the panel transforms into a functional surface, often used for writing or placing objects. This ingenious design enables the piece of furniture to maintain a compact and neat appearance while not in use, but readily offers a practical work surface when required.

The fall front mechanism is a traditional solution to space-saving and functional furniture design, tracing its origins back to the 17th century and experiencing peak popularity during the 18th and 19th centuries. Characteristic of furniture from periods such as the Georgian and Victorian eras, fall front desks are appreciated not only for their practicality but also for their classic aesthetic appeal.

The interior behind the fall front often includes small drawers, pigeonholes, or compartments, making it an ideal storage solution for stationery and other office supplies. Some more elaborate designs might also feature secret compartments, adding an element of intrigue and added functionality.


In modern and traditional interior spaces, fall front furniture pieces, such as desks and secretaires, offer a blend of aesthetics, history, and functionality. They are particularly suited for spaces where conserving floor area is essential or when a clutter-free appearance is desired. In addition to their practical uses in home offices or study areas, fall front desks can also serve as statement pieces that add character and charm to a room.


  • How do I care for a fall front desk?

    To care for a fall front desk, regularly dust it with a soft, dry cloth and avoid using harsh chemicals. Be gentle when opening and closing the fall front to prevent strain on the hinges. For antique pieces, consider consulting a professional for specific care instructions.

  • Can I install a fall front on an existing piece of furniture?

    Yes, it's possible to retrofit an existing piece of furniture with a fall front mechanism. However, this requires precise carpentry skills to ensure the fall front fits properly and functions smoothly. Consulting with a skilled carpenter or furniture restorer is advisable.

  • Are fall front desks suitable for all design styles?

    Fall front desks are versatile and can complement various design styles. While they inherently carry a classical or antique charm, they can also blend well with modern, minimalist, or eclectic decor, depending on the desk's design and finish.

Practical Application

For those looking to incorporate a fall front desk or secretaire into their interior space, consider the room's existing decor and how the piece can enhance the overall design. Select a fall front that complements the style and color scheme of the room. Additionally, ensure that the desk is placed in a location where its functionality can be maximized—near a natural light source and away from high-traffic paths.