Designing home office with plenty of space... suggestions please

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Hi folks,
This might be kinda off topic, but I'm designing a computer desk or room layout for my home office... and I'd like suggestions of others who have tackled this.
I do web programming, so I have 3 computers with 4 monitors plus a laptop. The room is 16 feet by 16 feet, and I have two closets. Idealy the desk will take-up almost two full walls (including corner) with desk space plus shelves. I also want to pull-up the carpet and put-in a wooden floor so my chair will roll easier.
Can someone suggest a book or website that covers such projects? Or if someone has done something similar, can you send suggestions or photos?
I can do the wood work myself, but the planning is what I'm having trouble with. Thanks in advance, and take care,
Alex.
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Sheeze! You should really get a KVM switch or something. Would save you a *ton* of space.
Grey
--
The technical axiom that nothing is impossible sinisterly implies the
pitfall corollory that nothing is ridiculous.
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GreyWyvern wrote:

You should sell your table saw, lathe and drill press and get a ShopSmiith. Would save you a *ton* of space.
Exactly the same thing. Bitdorking & wooddorking. Setup & switching is the timewaster.
-- Mark
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For example I test web pages in several browsers: IE5, IE6, Opera & Netscape. It's critical to be able to *see* them all at the same time to observe the differences in browser rendering. A KVM is useless for this. They have to be "user sized," side-by-side.
For me the most monitor intense activity is the user documentation phase of a Windows application. I'm using all these applications *at the same time*: - Programming environment - Help file writer - Source code version control - Screen capture - Image editor - Image catalog - Text file of help link topics and numbers - www.dictionary.com My help file writer's spell check is weak - Testing the program to make sure the help links are correct The last time I did this I had a 4-monitor desktop. I wasted a lot of time because it wasn't a 6-monitor desktop.
-- Mark
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On Sat, 21 Feb 2004 15:52:32 GMT, "Mark Jerde"

Large monitor and remote desktops... :)
Jeff
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wrote:

Hi... KVM boxes won't work for me. I do web design, and I like to see my code, browser preview, and database layout all on seperate monitors. On the DB Layout screen I also have Photoshop and other tools available. It works great, but my current layout stinks.
THanks for the comments,
Alex.
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FWIW Tom Plamann knows the value of having the right tools for the job. <bg>
http://plamann.com/sys-tmpl/pictures/view.nhtml?profile=pictures&UID 047 http://plamann.com/sys-tmpl/scrapbook/view.nhtml?profile=scrapbook&UID 002
-- Mark
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Way down deep in the middle of the congo, Alex and a hippo took an apricot a guava and a mango. Stuck it with the others and he danced a dainty tango...

*grumble*
--
Dale,
www.oxygenkiosk.net
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Having a number of computers an monitors hooked up in my home office, I went with two 8' long fold-up type tables in an L shape against two walls. Now I can roll my chair along the length of the two tables since underneath is all open space. I have 3 full size tower systems (server, workstation, test bed) and I positioned them at the ends and one where the tables form the L (in the corner). Lots of workspace (which is always full of something) and lots of room on top for 19" monitors and keyboards. I also have a KVM switch and it's laying over in the corner someplace since it tended to create more problems than it solved.
You can get these tables (brown colored tops) at Office Supply stores (or variants of them) at other places for around $50. Now make yourself a real desk and plop it in the middle of the room for your "thinking spot". Get WiFi for the network and your laptop and you're in tall grass!
Bob S.

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Bob S. wrote:

That kinda reminds me of my old setup: Pre-formed laminated countertops supported by file cabinets (standard and/or wide), with a rolling oak desk chair to move from one station to another. I used cinder patio blocks and 12" wide shelving to house my books and software and had TONs of storage space. If you go to a RE store, you can pick up the counters cheap ... but you didn't say if you wanted cheap or flush so YYMV.
Judy
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On 20 Feb 2004 08:01:35 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@totallynerd.com (Alex) scribbled:

I just moved my home office into a bedroom of what used to be a basement apartment. I don't have as many computers as you do, and the room is about 10X10'. L-shaped desk surfaces. The first is 42X18" and holds the printers and has shelves underneath for paper. The second is a corner unit, cut out of a 42X42" panel, with a 45-degree cut, leaving about 35" in the front for the keyboard and monitor. The third is a bigger worktable 32X72". Here is an ASCII plan. Note that the angles are at 45-degrees rather than whatever the slashes are. _________________________________________________________________ | 42" | ~72" | | | | | | | | | | | | |3 | | |2 | | |" | /\ | |4 / \ | |2 / \~17" | |" 36" / \ | | / \______________________________________| | / | / |____________/ | 18" | | | | | | | | |4 | |2 | |" | | | | | | |____________|
The surfaces are 3/4 melamine covered particle board edged with purpleheart. The edging was relieved with a 1/8" roundover router bit.
I hate working with that shit, both melamine and purpleheart. Melamine is heavy, sags a lot and chips easily when cutting, but it's easy to clean and doesn't need finishing. I really wanted to use hardwood ply, but the finishing process would have taken too long. Purpleheart has all the worst characteristics - it splinters worse than doug fir, the splinters hurt more than red cedar, it's harder than oak and maple, and dulls your tools as fast as teak. But the colour is purty and I had a bunch of narrow stuff left over from another project.
To hold up the tops at the back, I used 1X3 cleats screwed into the wall. The melamine is screwed into the cleats. The printer cabinet and the corner unit are held up by 18X28 melamine panels, edged with purpleheart. As the floor is not level, I put in 2 t-nuts and a carriage bolt on the bottom edge of the panels to level them. The joinery between the side panels and the tops is small iron angles screwed into the melamine.
The big table is held up at the front with two purpleheart tapered legs. The legs are made of 3 pieces of 3/4" purpleheart laminated and then tapered on the table saw, scraped and the corners rounded off. I biscuited a 5x5" piece of purpleheart the top of the legs, and that is screwed to the melamine top.
Not elegant furniture, by far, but it was quick (the main requirement), rigid and looks pretty good. I did not use any finish on the purpleheart (again, time)
Luigi Replace "nonet" with "yukonomics" for real email address
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You might want to check out the "cheap jewel case" section of your local software store (or big electronics store if they have one) and look for some of the cheap CAD programs out there (usually run you less than $15)
You can then pretty much enter the dimensions of your room, closets, where windows and sockets are placed, etc... and then work on a layout using different sizes/shapes of desks, filing cabinets, etc
Without knowing exactly what you do, its hard to suggest too much...
You can save alot of space by getting a switch for your monitors... if you do most of your work on the laptop and use the PCs for hosting and running applications then you probably just need 1 monitor and a switch that will let you view all 4 screens at once (the 3 PCs and the 1 laptop) and then if you need to, you can switch to a specific monitor if that computer needs your attention. If you do most of your work on a PC, use the laptop for presentations and the other 2 PCs are used as servers, then you probably just need to set up the server PCs on a switch so you can monitor them, keep the laptop aside on a shelf for when you need it and then another monitor for your actual work.
By using either 1 monitor and the laptop, or 2 monitors and putting the laptop aside, you can save alot of desk space and so you would only need a desk that is 6' wide at the most (maybe more if you have a bunch of desktop folder items, lamp, etc) and then everything else you can pretty much put on shelving in the corners or closet.
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snipped-for-privacy@totallynerd.com (Alex) wrote in message

Alex,
Take your digital camera to Staples or Officemax and snap away. Tell them you wanted to take some pictures so your wife can give her opinion before you buy. They won't hassle you at all.
I didn't do this when I BOUGHT my office desk and I've regretted it every since. SWMBO thought I had too many projects going and pushed me to buy instead of making it myself. I bought an O'Sullivan and it is total crap, but I did realize when it eventually breaks or cracks or whatever, I will have an excellent template for the new one.
Chuck
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Alex wrote:

Dump any servers, routers, switches into the garage or under the stairs. You don't need to sit by them and you can remote if necessary.
Run 3-compartment plastic trunking along the walls - either over or under your desk - into this run a clean power supply and your network cables. Install about 3 times as many power sockets as you think you will need and at least twice as many network sockets.
You will need holes in the desk for cables - best size in the uk is 63.5mm - at roughly 1m intervals.
The only tricky bit is connecting your office area to the server area, but it sounds like you have practical skills.
Office chairs will wreck a wooden floor in no time - use a stronger covering if you want to keep it nice.
--
William Tasso



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I live and breathe with computers as tools for my work, but I do not program. We've been living with furniture called "computer desks" from the mid-80's when a PC was a major expense, monitors were big, and the CPU box was big. Therefore, everything was built around it. I find that I no longer want my computer to be the center of my desk. I want some broad and wide horizontal space (sounds like a workbench, eh?). I sold my mega-sized corner computer desk and replaced it with a large executive desk. Next up is replacing the 19" monitor with an appropriate LCD panel.
Lastly, something I did a few years ago was get rid the contraption called a keyboard drawer. They are ergonometrically unsound and inconvenient. I discovered an articulating keyboard tray that tilts and adjusts height without any knobs to tighten or loosen. You just grab the front edge of the tray, tilt back slightly and you can raise or lower it, slide it in or out, or even fold it up under the desk. It will bolt to the underside of any desk or table and it leaves the desk top complete free and clear for paper work. I'm 5'11". I adjust it for me. My wife is 5" 1". She can sit down and quickly move the tray to her height in 3 seconds.
Using LCD panels and the keyboard tray I mentioned, you don't need to design a computer specific desk or work area. Just bolt the tray on and sit the LCD panel in front.
Here is a link to the tray I mention. http://tinyurl.com/2gxax
The actual mechanism is available from Rockler at http://tinyurl.com/2kzos .
Bob

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On 20 Feb 2004 08:01:35 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@totallynerd.com (Alex) wrote:

Depth, 32 inches, 36 inches if 19" or larger monitors. Desk top 29.5 inches off floor. Cabinets with doors (30" kitchen cabinets are fine) 26 inches above desk. Rolling file cabinets. Underdesk computer mounts (cyberguys.com, about $30). Articulated keyboard support. Undercabinet halogen or rope lights, indirect ceiling lighting. Rubber wheels on that chair.
Better is switch to rack mount CPU units, a KVM switch and 21" LCD display. Wireless keyboard/mouse/speakers and wireless network.
Jeff
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Alex:
I work from home and have 3 laptops and 3 Desktops in a small office. When I first moved into my office I used the Home Cheapo countertop propped up on a couple of cheapo cabinets. It looked ugly and really stunk. Here is what I did.
My office is a small room that is off our MBR. It is the area that would normally be an open Foyer. We decided against an open Foyer when we built our house. It is about 60" wide and 13 feet long and opens up a bit by the door. I have a big arched window facing north which lets in the light but not the glare.
Because I could not find a desk that fit for this space and was constrained I designed my own. I designed a L shaped desk and took the measurements to a local countertop shop. I picked out a Dark Wood Cherry laminate. It is durable and pretty good looking. I chose this over wood because of all my equipment and it was cheaper. For the support I had them make side panels 1 1/2" thick laminated. I can then rest the top on the two sides secured by "L" brackets underneath. Along the wall in the back I used these Heavy duty metal brackets for additional support. This desk is strong !!! I also cut out a couple of holes and put cable grommets.
For storage I went out to staples.com and purchase 3 - 3 drawer HON mobile file cabinets. I chose to make the height of my desk 4" higher than the cabinets because I have my gigswitch and Netdisks stashed on top of them still accessible. Because they are Mobile and on wheels I can pull them out and clean every couple of months. Dust accumolates back there!!. It also gives me flexability in re-arranging my space.
The other thing I did was a built a Ton of shelves and secured them with adjustable brackets. I have so many manuals and books for my job I have to keep them some where and their always within reach. To reduce clutter for all of the software and cables, and computer sh%# I use gallon size ziploc plastic bags and caztegorize the and store them in White FileFolder storage bocs that I bought at Staples. It help reduce the clutter sooooo much. I have started using this technique in my shop with manuals and such. It helps keep out the dust and I know where to find stuff when I need it.
If I had to do anything different I would have made a U shaped desk/cockpit and would suggest you entertain that idea because of the amount of computer equipment. It always gets in the way. I always find I do not have a good area to spread out papers and such because of the computers. I have been looking at moving my office to a finished room in the basement because of more room and also it would allow me to make a server room under the stairs. My office has carpeting and I use those plastic mats to roll around on. I recently bought some laminated flooring and secured it to a 1/4" piece of Luan and edged it. It is more durable looks good with the cherry. I got the idea from the skymall catalog. They wanted 350 bucks I built it for about 60.
Good Luck
Rich

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Alex wrote:

Me too. Except I have one more computer within arm's reach. <g> Aren't multi monitors great? Look through this gallery for photos of how others have done it. One of my all-time favorites: http://www.realtimesoft.com/multimon/gallery_browse.asp?ID 5

I have a U-shaped $100 computer table that has the laptop, 3 monitor desktop, and the server. It has a birch plywood top with a 2x4 pocket screwed along the bottom -- the weight of the monitors caused the pressboard original top to eventually fail.
The key thing is that it is *away* from the wall about 1.5 feet. This lets me get behind it for cabling etc. Last night I made many trips to the back of the desktop: trying a fairly new USB hub on 3 ports (1.1 & 2.0) to confirm it is indeed dead, and getting my MS mouse to work left-handed and my Logitech trackball and Wacom PenPartner to work right handed.
I wish it were 2' from the wall. 1.5' is a little too close now that all the cables have snarled back there.

I laid down three sheets of 4x8' pressboard over the top of the carpet. A joint is unfortunately right under my chair, and I got tired of the bump going across it. Drywall screws took care of that. <g> Doing it again I'd lay down two layers, opposite directions, and I don't think there would be problems. If there were, I could just screw the pressboard layers to each other and not have to screw into the floor.

I'm borrowing a camera from a friend next week and should have some shots for you by Friday. Ok?
I'll put a shot on abpw of my office when it was in another, smaller room of the house. It shows the old top, just before it started crumbling from the weight.

A good setup helps productivity. ;-) Just like in the shop.
-- Mark
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Hi Mark - and everyone else,
The link to Realtimesoft is GREAT! I got some excellent ideas from there. I'll be planning my office over the next month or two, and early this summer I'll start construction.
Take care,
Alex.
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Another alternative you might consider is getting a large polycarbonate chair mat. It is ridgid so chairs roll as easily as a hard surface, and it will not crack, chip or break. Its expensive, but it will last a lifetime and be the last chairmat you ever have to buy. My wife is a professional artist. I had a custom 8' x 6' mat made for her. She stands on it to paint, along with her easel and supply cabinet. You won't find polycarbonate stocked anywhere. You have to have the matts custom made.
Bob

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