Difference Between a Credenza and a Desk
By Kristi Waterworth
, last updated March 13, 2012
Furniture such as desks and credenzas are designed for storage and display. At one time, a credenza was strictly a piece of dining-room furniture. As time went by and offices came into the American home, credenzas crept into the office and entertainment areas. Today, credenzas often resemble desks, making distinguishing the two furniture items tricky.
A desk is reasonably easy to identify. An office desk has drawers on either side of an opening where the worker sits. Often, there's a central drawer. Desks measure 30 to 36 inches deep and 5 to 6 feet wide, as a rule. When a desk is a component of a desk system, the desk portion is opposite the credenza. In these kinds of systems, the credenza is sometimes topped with a hutch to maximize storage.
At their basic, a credenza is a low-storage cabinet made of wood. Many are designed for the dining room, but they're also implemented under televisions and in offices. A basic credenza measures 20 to 24 inches deep, but many are double this length. Known, too, as a sideboard, credenzas have been common furniture items throughout American history.
The office credenza or knee-space credenza is another piece entirely. While this item is narrow like a credenza, it has a central opening like a desk. This central opening is often smaller, since the credenza's primary function is storage. It's often accompanied by a hutch, acting as a storage area for a variety of office needs. Because office credenzas are narrow, they're normally reserved for small computers and other devices.
Credenzas have long ago moved out of the dining room and now serve a wide range of functions. Vanities include a variety of knee-hole credenzas that provide excellent makeup-storage areas, along with a place to apply the cosmetics. Because of their smaller size, they can easily tuck in the corner of a bedroom or bathroom. Modern, low-profile entertainment centers are credenzas with glass doors. Clearly, today's furniture is no longer locked into rigid roles. Even the humble desk is found built into kitchen spaces to help the busy cook organize recipes and household bills. In these areas, though, storage isn't as vital as a large, open workspace.