Where does the COMPUTER go?

flgargoyleSeptember 6, 2007

I'm designing our future dream home, which has to be small and efficient for a retired couple. I've been thinking about the amount of time spent on various activities, and am having a hard time squeezing in the computer. We're going to use a 2nd bedroom as a den, where the TV will be. It can't be in there. It also can't be in the master bedroom, since we often sleep at different hours. And I really don't want it in any 'public' areas of the house (living room, dining room, kitchen) because it is unsightly when entertaining. I'm thinking a small, closeable nook...somewhere. I'd be curious to know what kind of ideas you all have had for your computer.

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For a small home, I would definitely recommend a laptop. You can work at the kitchen table, dining room table, or sitting on the couch with a pillow in your lap.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2007 at 4:37PM
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We have a laptop, too. We have a built in desk in the back hallway and the computer is generally on it. We built this area as part of a kitchen remodel so adapted it to have most of the wires/cords hidden or built into the wall.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2007 at 8:36PM
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I really don't care for a laptop since I like a bigger screen, and I use a 'natural' split keyboard. I also use a printer a lot. By the time you get all the add-ons, it isn't a laptop anymore. I'm trying to create a little nook- just big enough for a small desk and chair- that's out of everybody's way.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2007 at 4:16PM
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Are you positive you can't squeeze it into your 2nd bedroom ? That's where mine is. I also have a full size futon , a keyboard on a stand, a desk for the computer, an end table, and a small bookcase. And my ironing board is usually set up there. All of this lives in a room that is aprox. 9 1/2 by 11. I've actually considered making my next computer a laptop for space reasons, but you have a point about needing space for the peripherals.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2007 at 9:40PM
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The computer will easily fit into the 2nd BR, but that is the 'TV room', which I would find a distraction (I like to write plays, books, etc.) For instance, right now my wife is watching the news, and I'm- well you know where I am- on the computer. In our current house, it's in an area originally designated as a dining room, but we don't use it as such. Our next house will be about 25% smaller, but I hope much more efficient. That's why I'm trying to find a convenient niche. I may go 2 stories, mostly because I prefer the look, and then I could put the computer in the bonus space upstairs. At least that way, I'd get a little exercise before slouching in front of the computer for a couple hours! We'll also have a basement- it could go down there, I guess. My hope was to have all our needs met on one floor, in case one of us is incapacitated, but then I guess it could be moved to the main floor if and when that day arrives.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2007 at 12:48PM
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Are you willing to consider an elegant computer armoire that coordinates with your other furniture? That way all the equipment would be completely shut away when you're not using it, and it could go in the LR or DR without being so "unsightly". I have seen some really beautiful ones. If you need a super-techy chair that might be difficult but attractive desk chairs are available. For example, Pottery Barn has a couple of great-looking officey chairs - the Swivel Desk Chair and the Library Swivel Chair. (Antique versions are often available but they are rarely height-adjustable.) When not in use they could be slipped over to a corner of the room as additional seating.

I admit I do adore my laptop with wireless connection. In the new house we're going to set up the wireless so I can print without having to hook the laptop up to the printer. The printer-copier can fit in a small cabinet or on the lower shelf of an end table along with the cable modem and wireless hub, nicely out of the way. Although it doesn't address the keyboard issue the new laptops coming out have some pretty honkin' big screens, 20" plus! Wow!

    Bookmark   September 8, 2007 at 2:24PM
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That's a good idea, johnmari. That would probably work pretty well. BTW, I'd hate to know what a laptop with a 20" screen costs.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2007 at 9:44PM
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If the computer desk will fit into the den, you could do what we did. We bought a set of TV Ears. It's like a headset that fits from your ears downwards, if that makes any sense. It has a volume control on it. There's a little button that you velcro on one side of the TV speakers and plug it in. Has a cradle that sits on top of the TV. Easy! That way DH can watch all the TV he wants and I don't hear a thing. We found ours in a catalog, but if you Google it, I bet you'd find them. They really work. (And I don't work, sell or have any affiliation with them.)

    Bookmark   September 8, 2007 at 11:05PM
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Or I could put headphones on and listen to some classical music while at the computer...

    Bookmark   September 9, 2007 at 8:31AM
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Mine is in the closet. I took out the usual closet poles/shelves, etc. Installed a counter, etc. I just push the chair in, and shut the door.....

    Bookmark   October 9, 2007 at 10:20AM
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I saw a closet turned into a computer room on HGTV once and by doing that, it could be put ANYWHERE you have a closet available.

I have an office upstairs where there is a computer/fax-copier etc. but when we remodeled our kitchen last winter, I took what was once a bank of cabinets with a counter between them and made an office in my kitchen as well. It is a Godsend for everyday activities like looking up cooking directions, using online banking, checking information when you are downstairs and somebody calls when you are busy doing home chores. I have a business and multitask and can't be in my office ALL THE TIME. Kitchen offices used to be pretty common things in older houses (sixties age), for bill paying, etc.

Not having it on cheap tables helps. My office is built in and looks presentable enough even in my 200 year old home, it doesn't embarrass me for people to see it as long as the clutter is off the counter part of it. If I wanted to, I could put the CPu and printer under the counter in the lower cabinet areas and only leave an attractive flat screen and keyboard visible. No worse than a little television.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2007 at 7:27PM
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You said you didn't want it in the 'common' rooms because of how it looks, but there are a 1,000 beautiful small box type cabinets, or just plain (antique?) boxes out there, maybe something similar to kitchen counter 'garages', etc. and at worst it could be a conversation piece, at best a good hiding place.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2007 at 6:12PM
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Well, if I didn't have room, I'd set up a closet. More horizontal space (OK, I have big closets) than an armoire. I tend to spread out a lot on my workspace!

You think you have a problem finding space for one computer - our house has three people and 5 computers (2 laptops)! Mine's the server so it's right out there in the LR with my pro office setup. Guests? - who's got room for guests, LOL?!?

    Bookmark   October 12, 2007 at 2:18PM
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Where does the computer go? Wow..would I love that problem...I have a computer in each bedroom(3) plus mine is in the dining room..and another one in the basement..

    Bookmark   October 13, 2007 at 11:29PM
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ok I have to post this. Two years ago, I realized I had 3 closets in my den. The house is only 2,000 sq ft. Why would I need 3 closets in one room??

I turned two closets into a laundry room and sewing room (used a stackable washer/dryer). I turned the other closet into an office and wound up featured on the cristopher lowell site.

the office....

    Bookmark   October 14, 2007 at 1:30AM
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Why are you and your wife squeezed into the second bedroom?

I'm sorry but I think its dumb to "save" the living room for entertainment only.
If you don't want the tv to be unsightly in the living room when other people are over (I don't think they'd be shocked by the sight of a tv) put it in a built in (you are still in the designing phase) or buy a TV cabinet you can close the doors and hide it in. Are you of the generation that puts plastic on your good furniture too?

    Bookmark   October 15, 2007 at 12:38PM
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Actually, I've (somewhat) changed my mind about the TV, after I saw a thread about TV's over the fireplace. One poster had beautiful cabinetry all around the fireplace, and doors above the fireplace hiding the TV. No, we don't keep the furniture covered in plastic- LOL! Our LR is all antiques, and the new one will feature a fireplace, which will get used quite a bit. My preference is to sit by the fire with nice classical music playing, and a glass of wine. The TV just doesn't fit that setting. It's so easy to turn on the idiot box and spoil the ambiance. But the TV may go in the LR, and the computer may go in the second BR after all. One advantage to having the TV in the smallest room of the house, though- you can buy a smaller TV!

Interesting side note about lap-top computers- my son's just blew a video card. Being a lap-top, you have to go to the manufacturer to get a replacement one. $380! Ouch!

    Bookmark   October 15, 2007 at 3:56PM
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We built a floor to ceiling "cabinet" for the computer in the LR. It looks like what people call an entertainment center and looks great with the ash wood. Today we'll go and see it completed for the first time. I know that middle section's cabinet doors open out and then slide into the cabinet and there is a pull out keyboard shelf. One section has "pigeon holes" for organizing bills and there's plenty of desk space to do the bill paying and such. Since we use the computer to watch DVD's the LR seemed the best location. So I hope it looks as good as I imagine it can. Tom

    Bookmark   October 26, 2007 at 9:05AM
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We look forward to seeing the pictures, Tom!

    Bookmark   October 26, 2007 at 4:37PM
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I don't know about anyone else, but I could not stand being in a closet or other closed area that is SMALL. The best set up I ever had was in a previous living arrangement of a very small cottage. I had the computer set up in the front corner of the large room. There were windows left and right of the monitor and I could see out onto my porch and the front yard. I loved it. The computer is great, but being able to see out is better.

1eyedJack and the Dawg

    Bookmark   November 2, 2007 at 3:41PM
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I use a printer cart as a computer desk. It has casters and can therefore be wheeled from one room to another. Right now I am using a laptop, but this compact cart will accomodate a CPU on the bottom shelf and a printer on the middle shelf, leaving the top for the monitor and keyboard. Using a wireless home network, I can go online or print from anywhere in the house. When not in use, this litle cart can be stored in any room or will fit in a small closet.

Even desktop computers are getting smaller, even as monitors get bigger. Some of the latest model computers keep the "works" behind the monitor (all-in-one models) and don't require much deskspace.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2007 at 11:45AM
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Well, after I posted the above follow-up message i tried to find a picture online of the type of printer/computer cart that I am using. I didn't find anything like that specific item, but I did notice that Staples is seling a "Deskside Mini Mobile Workstation" that serves the same purpose and is designed for a desktop computer. It's very compact and includes a pullout keyboard drawer. Amazon carries it also. (I "Googled" it and got plenty of hits.)

    Bookmark   November 26, 2007 at 12:38PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

I can see that you already have lots of input but I might as well add our experiences. I had two desktops before I switched to a laptop. I would never go back again. It is great to be able to use it where ever you are. We have our house set up to be wireless. So my daughter and I can both use our laptops. The printer and router are set up in one of the bedrooms, which I rarely see. We could make the printer wireless if we wanted to but we don't use it often enough for it to be an inconvenience to just go to the printer with the laptop and dock it for long enough to print what we need.

As for the keyboard, I think they have as you mentioned some extensions that you can add, but you are right, to keep it portable, you have to keep those to a minimum. I don't know if any companies make the natural keyboard.

I did want to mention that we bought the extended warranty with our last laptop and then extended it another year to the maximum allowed which expired in March. So we are almost to 5 years on this one laptop. In that time, our warranty has covered everything but a replacement cord or battery. We had the whole motherboard replaced at one time and a new screen in year four. No additional cost beyond what we were paying for the warranty.

If you still want a desktop station, you might consider wireless and that would allow you to use a rolling cart and not have all the wires to deal with.


    Bookmark   November 28, 2007 at 8:39AM
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My son (who's laptop we just fixed) is planning to go to a desk top soon. He's frustrated that he can't upgrade his laptop. I'm not really interested in a portable solution, since for me, a computer is somewhat of a work station that needs to be up and ready when I need it. I think its either going to go in the second bedroom (if the TV is in the living room) or in a finished space in the basement. Once I'm too old to use the stairs, I'll either be A) Too old to use the computer, or B) Too old to care what anybody thinks of it's appearance!

    Bookmark   November 28, 2007 at 4:08PM
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My wife bought a BIG notebook/laptop, and she rigged it wireless to the router that's at the computer desk in her small quilting room. Right now, she has her new toy set up at the secretary which you can see in the distant left in this photo. We have no other rooms, except for the master bedroom suite, and second bath. My computer is in the motorhome, parked in our backyard (with full hookups). But, I'm using the one in the quilting room (don't like being by myself).

    Bookmark   December 9, 2007 at 1:09PM
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