Help! I need alternative office furniture for my home office

February 25 2015 | offbeatbride
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working at home office furniture

I need some advice on my home office. This is my first time working primarily from home and I am loving the flexibility. I'm passionate about what I do so I'm super-fun-times-happy to be doing it… BUT!

I HATE working at a desk! In my mind there is nothing more evil than a desk chair, and a desk is never big enough for me.

I have resorted to working on the bed, which isn't really good for obvious reasons. I love working on couches, but I can't leave my stuff all over the living room all the time.

Do you have any advice for alternative office furniture that will allow me to spread both my work and myself out without killing my productivity or sleep? -Alisa B

I, too, hate working at a desk. Over the six years I've been working at home, I've refused to use my desk! Instead, I work on my living room couch — I'm far more effective working that way. (My poor posture can attest to that.) Which is why I've been thinking about switching out my coffee table for one of these babies…

Lift-Top Coffee Table
Lift-Top Coffee Table

A lift-top coffee table — All the comforts of my living room, with the posture-saving bonus of a desk! Then when you're done with work, you could shove all your work stuffs under the hood (so-to-speak) and, boom, your living room is work-free!

 Jellyfish Bouncy Chair

Jellyfish Bouncy Chair

I also kind of want to combine with
Think Geek's Jellyfish Bouncy Chair
. It's better than the whole "sitting on a bouncy ball" thing, because this one won't roll away. Apparently it also "feels like sitting on an upside down butt."

Homies, what are your favorite alternative home office furniture pieces?

  1. I have a bureau which I find cocoons me away from distractions, but also have a small laptop table from IKEA and often take my Skype calls sat on the sofa.

    I have in the past done away with a desk and just used a large kitchen table. I like to spread out so appreciate the depth!

    1 agrees
  2. I have a card table I use and love. Somehow that doesn't feel like a desk to me? I think it reminds me of the large tables in the library.

    2 agree
    • I use a card table too! Although "use" is kind-of a relative term (right now it's unusably covered with junk). But anyway – card tables all the way!

      2 agree
  3. I had a lift-top coffee table in my Residence Hall Director apartment in college. It was SO totally awesome. Storage inside (for paperwork, remote, pens, random office cord-age, etc. My apartment had an attached office, but I used my living room and the amazing lift-top coffee table. Zomygosh.

    1 agrees
    • We have a lift top coffee table and I love it! I don't work from home, but that baby gets used when I sew, when we do puzzles, when we have dinner in front of the TV, etc. I love it! I especially love when I want to have 2 screens I can get couch-comfy, turn on the TV, and have my computer in front of me on the lift-top!

      2 agree
  4. I saw tons of lift-top coffee tables when I was furniture shopping and it never occurred to me they would be a great desk alternative! Hmmmm…maybe I need to go back and have another look.

    1 agrees
  5. I love this question because I hate working at a desk too. I work on my bed sometimes (I used to do it a lot more, but these days I get too uncomfortable quickly), but usually I am in a moderately comfy chair.

    My workspace consists of a card table littered with papers (oops), a foot rest ("storage ottoman"), and a padded chair that is sort-of a cross between a butterfly chair and a papasan (like this, but mine is pink http://bit.ly/1LD7huB). I usually end up with my computer in my lap in the chair. Sometimes I put my computer on the foot rest and lean over to use it (that's probably bad I guess?). The foot rest is also a container so if I need to hide my papers and junk, I can stick things in there.

    1 agrees
  6. I hate sitting all the time and like to stand when I'm at my computer at home. It means I can move around and do stretches, keeping me better on task and less "creaky boned" when I'm done. There are standing desk option out there but all seem to be expensive. There are also DIY plans online, and I kind of went this route with what I have on hand. At my kitchen/living room bar I set my laptop on top of a two-drawer wooden desk shelf from Ikea. I just got a foam half-dome to do calf stretches, have a pull-up bar near by to hang from when I need a stretch (no way I can do a pull-up yet), and want to make a cobblestone mat like this one in this post: http://alignmentmonkey.nurturance.net/2011/dont-take-a-seat
    Also Katy Bowman has some ideas in her tour of her house: http://www.katysays.com/furniture-free-ahs13/

    5 agree
  7. I have a traditional office "room," but instead of a desk I have a giant comfy chair, with a bookshelf next to it, where I keep my work stuff. This is great because the top shelf is wide enough for the stuff I need now, while the other shelves are good for the stuff I may need, or need later. This also mean the stuff has a convenient and logical home that isn't "everywhere." Because my chair is giant, really, between a loveseat and a chair in size, I have lots of room next to me too. I have also been known to put a dining room chair next to it, when my stuff takes over. Good luck!

    1 agrees
  8. I like working at my desk since it helps me focus, but after 5 or 6:pm my body says enough of this stupid Ikea desk chair, and that's when I go work in the living room.

    In our former flat I would work on a soft, comfy rug, with plenty of space for my legs. I would use a breakfast-tray-table (not sure about the real word) for my laptop. If you enjoy sitting on the floor, you could investigate Japanese furniture, since they have rad floor-level furniture (chairs, comfy mats, tables…).

    In our current flat, we don't have enough space so I work on the couch. I keep my stuff and papers on the desk, and simply use my laptop. Depending on what you do, this could be an easy compromise.

    3 agree
  9. For me, the ergonomics of a desk are just totally necessary; otherwise, I get this awful pinchy tension in my upper back that ruins my day. Any at-home setup I create basically just mimics a desk without being a desk. Right now, my home workstation is an heirloom buffet with a step stool (like this one!) That chair has been a game changer. It gives my feet somewhere to go and puts me at juuuust the right height.

    3 agree
    • you just dusted off some cobwebs in my brain because I totally forgot how much I loved our stool like that. I keep a box under my desk to rest my feet on, since I find it really difficult to get a comfortable chair, desk, and monitor height combination. But now I want one of these!

      1 agrees
  10. Ugh. As probably the only Homie over 40, I have to put in a word for ergonomics. I've had REALLY BAD repetitive stress injuries over the years from sitting at bad desks & from using crappy keyboards (ESPECIALLY laptops; jayzuz, whoever invented those things needs to be strung up by the wrists & shot, that keyboard is like an RSI factory). This is not to say you should be at a traditional desk & chair, but using a computer in bed or on a couch could be just as bad to set you up for RSI.

    What you want is a setup that keeps your body in neutral, stress-free positions, esp. for your wrists, shoulders, & neck. This means your keyboard should be a little low, almost in your lap, & your computer screen should be straight ahead in front of your eyes (so you're not looking down & straining your neck or hunching over). I wrote a big ol' post about blogging & sewing ergonomically here, & I used some OSHA diagrams that illustrate this: http://www.trystancraft.com/costume/2014/06/28/10-tips-for-sewing-and-blogging-with-injuries-and-how-to-avoid-injuries-in-the-first-place/

    To figure this out at home, there's a lot of options — hang a monitor on a wall or put one in a bookshelf, put a wireless keyboard on a pillow in your lap, sit on any chair that makes you comfortable or stand (standing is supposed to be healthier than sitting anyway) & put the keyboard on an adjustable shelf. The setup can be very low-profile & inexpensive, but also very ergonomic & save you from future injuries.

    6 agree
  11. I can vouch for the lift-top coffee table–we've got one and it's great for my laptop. I also have a more traditional desk that I use occasionally, BUT I sit on a yoga ball instead of a chair, which is much more comfortable. I got one from Target that has a weight inside so that it won't roll away when you get up.

    2 agree
  12. I need that lift-top coffee table in my life! I'm a writer, and comfort is SO important to me when I'm in the midst of it! I need to be able to stay in the world of whatever I'm writing, and dicomfort just throws you straight out.

    1 agrees
  13. I love my desk, BUT when I get a little stir-crazy I really like to use an HDMI cord to hook my computer up to my television screen: I have a wireless keyboard and a wireless mouse, so I can sprawl on the floor or sit on the sofa or even move over to the dining room table and spread out my stuff and use my computer without being tethered to it. It's nice to have some options.

    3 agree
  14. My Standing desk has changed my life! I LOVE it and feel so much better at the end of the day! http://www.varidesk.com/

    I also have 4×10 piece of galvanized sheet metal hanging on my wall that I use as a dry-erase board….which surprisingly makes my small office feel bigger, and less "officy"

    1 agrees
  15. For a while, when I was working with events (concerts, conferences, theatrical shows, etc.), I was in charge of setting up Box Office equipment on the road. I started using bed boosters / bed risers to bring regular ol' tables up to counter-top height. (Like these quilters use to improvise cutting tables: http://www.quiltingboard.com/pictures-f5/my-cutting-table-bed-risers-t161044.html ) Bed boosters come in packs of 4 somewhere between 4 – 8 inches. I probably have 3 or 4 sets around my house, and none are currently being used for beds. They come in handy during tax season when I need to drag out one or two folding tables for sorting.

  16. YAY! My question got posted!!! So many awesome replies and ideas to try!!!!! I'm loving the lift-top coffee table idea, I'd seen them before and never understood them… now I'm totally in! Thanks Offbeat and homies!

  17. Hmm,lots of great ideas! My partner and I both work from home quite a bit – we have a spare room with 2 desks (we quite like desks) but we also have a sofa bed in the same room, which I like for relaxed working. We also have a lap-tray which is designed for holding a laptop while sitting on the sofa – I love it, it's much more comfortable than resting the laptop actually on your legs. But I wonder if perhaps any position, if you are stationary for long periods of time, is potentially damaging? And perhaps moving about more and using different styles of working is actually the best option?

    2 agree

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