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by Gill Boyd and Nick Streater
The Opulence of Heirloom Quality Fine Computer Furniture
In our quest for the ultimate PC we often overlook the most important piece of the puzzle, the place where our dreams take shape. We spend countless hours configuring our equipment for peak efficiency only to neglect the one item that brings it all together…the furniture in which it is housed.
This holiday season we have allowed ourselves the luxury of that age-old dream, what if. What if money were no object and we could make our little corner of the universe, comfortable, eye pleasing and ergonomically satisfying. Our journey begins in that little corner of the room where our décor meets our digital world, the home office.
In making the rounds of furniture stores we quickly learned the one great truth about the SOHO market, everyone these days makes Small Office / Home Office (SOHO) Furniture and Entertainment Centers. Not everyone makes Heirloom Quality Fine Furniture. That’s our focus!
In these days of downsizing and contract work, and people are moving from the cube corrals of mega-corp to their living rooms the need to shake off the putty gray of the corporate world and wrap ourselves in something more in keeping with our personal taste.. Since PC’s are now free we can afford to make them fit-in more with our surroundings. Can you imagine 50-year Heirloom furniture for a 2-year utility PC, seems odd.
Design Choices and Considerations: Let Common Sense Prevail! Consider the size of your area and whether the location lends itself to a wall, corner or entire room.
Inventory your PC gear: be sure to factor in ergonomics (the study of the human body at work). Will it fit YOU comfortably? Will this new furniture fit your work ethic or will you have to fit the furniture? Do you have plenty of storage, now and for growth? Think about your existing work triangle. Can you see yourself working in this new environment for extended periods of time like you do now? Does the furniture have a logical and practical layout? We need more than a pretty face!
Maximize the efficiency of available space: Allow 3 ½ to 4 feet behind your desk and 3 ½ to 4 feet between a desk and credenza. Behind that, 3 feet in front of desk if allocating space for guest seating. Allow 3 feet or more on one side of the desk for desk accessibility.
Design, Function And Form: Quality Heirloom Furniture construction starts inside from the combination of solid woods, Veneers, joinery (Dovetail joints on drawers) and use of hardware to the finishes used. Everything done right will last a lifetime. You’ll notice the looks, design layout, the finishes and hardware used. Notice how well everything not only fits but also how well it works for you. If a drawer is wobbly now, think what will happen 2-3 years from now day in and day out. Heirloom Furniture can use tried and true Old World craftsmanship construction techniques and still incorporate the latest technologies such as Accuride roller bearing full extension drawer slides where applicable. Furniture joints always testify to quality Furniture construction. Plywood and particleboard are acceptable when used properly in large panels for strength and rigidity.
During our research we’ve come across many interesting choices from Louis Shanks Furniture (previously Sunny Land Furniture - Fondren), Star Furniture, Bassett Furniture Direct (Katy Frwy); Finger Furniture (Gulf Frwy-Commercial); Gallery Furniture & Oak Crafters. For Heirloom quality without going through a Decorator to such places as Design Center of Houston, Louis Shanks Furniture was top-o-line in quality and service. Prices range from $1,500.00 to $15,000.00. Most Heirloom Quality Furniture we found was in the $3,500 to $8,500 range.
We have 3 layouts from which to choose: Armoire’s (Which are hot in Home Office Furniture!), Desk & Credenza/Hutch combo’s or Corner Units, which is a combination of the previous. If space allows, the corner unit best utilizes space. Louis Shanks Furniture feature Hekman, Drexel Heritage, Hooker and Sligh (Homeworks Unlimited II collection), Henredon, Century and Bernhart brands among others. A (6) piece corner unit of exceptional function and form from Hekman containing all the accoutrements measured 7 feet long corner to corner priced @ $8400.00 List. Visualize room for Dual 21 inch monitors, full size flatbed SCSI scanner on left with later file storage below and open bookshelf hutch above. The far right side home for a Network Laser printer. Behind inset-paneled doors housing concealed paper stocks below and above in the hutch, more storage spaces behind similar doors.
When we first conceptualized this article and began sharing research ideas, one of our colleagues of “How To Build Or Buy A PC” Special Interest Group mentioned they too had already encountered this situation. After a brief interview we were able to ascertain specific needs targeted. The following is their shared experiences from February 1996.
“In keeping with specific room décor furnishings we had to decide on furniture which best accommodate a PC given our requirements and limitations.” They only had so much wall space in a specific room. “The unit must hold everything! Few manufacturers of heirloom quality fine furniture were in the business of making computer furniture @ that time.”
“We needed to be able to close it up. Everything had to be in one place. Our goal was an office environment without looking like an office. Our desire was to be able to have work in progress yet capable of closing the unit for the utmost discretion. The room is multifunctional as a library, study, piano, needle point and now computer area.” [Obviously this was her room he was using too!] “Space is a premium. A desk was out of the question since floor space was shared equally among all activities.” A desk is always a desk. Clutter would reign.
After spending 6-8 moths off and on searching, his wife settled on a 2 piece, 4-door Heckman brand Traditional Armoire (measuring 46 inches wide x 79 inches tall). Armoire features include traditional rich burl wood veneers and solid wood moldings outside with contemporary Accuride brand full extension drawer slides and dovetail file drawer joints and full extension slide out keyboard shelf inside. Hinged doors swing out of the way lying flat against the cabinet revealing the work area. The Armoire houses an ATX Mid-Tower case; 17-inch monitor; HP inkjet printer; Visioneer Strobe parallel port scanner, manuals/software; Exponent brand CD/Floppy storage; speakers and other accessories! “We dust clean with an occasional lemon oil polish. No special care required. The room is available to be used in other manners..”
Main requirements were in the following order: Furniture looks first! (Wife made final decision) A Gracious and gentile look of style. Functional – We wanted the room environment commensurate with other house furnishings. And to disappear from sight of function for which it was intended. Ergonomics were not an issue. In this case, they worked with their Decorator/Design Consultant for choice considerations.
Net Etiquette Furniture...
Computer Furniture Direct, Jacksonville, FL 1-800-555-6126
Offering Collections in Traditional, Contemporary, Shaker, Mission and Classic Maple. Quality Construction on Enthusiast Series... Featuring Accuride brand Ball Bearing Full Extension slides - The Best! Dovetail drawers. Finishes include Medium Oak, Oak, Walnut, Cherry and for Maple - Cherry and Black. Complete units from $1500.00 to $3600.00 + additions. All styles similarly moderately priced. Includes Free Shipping. This is quality, not quite Heirloom quality.
*****(5) Stars out of 7! The OFFICE – Electro-entopic Satellite OffiCenter Wired Computer Armoires by Summerland. Site includes shopping tips and info such as doing your homework before you Work from Home and what to watch out for and how to know what you’re buying. Quoted, “Home-office furniture typically falls into two categories...1.) Traditional desk/credenza configurations designed for dedicated rooms. 2.) Specially designed, all-in-one pieces are designed pretty much to go anywhere in the house…”
Not our typical computer armoire! Furniture look outside, all business inside! Features: Everything! APC UPS, Power Management, fully wired. Even equipped with a concealed, built-in Lift and Roll™ mechanism for mobility. Just plug and play, err I mean work! CEO model, 72” wide, available in Whitewashed Oak or Traditional Mahogany. Designed to accept up to 19” monitors. Monitor rests on MIGA/BIB mount. (Acronym: Make It Go Away/Bring It Back.) Possible to accommodate 21” monitors. Ask for requirements. Ergonomic Chair included.
Billed as the definitive Home Office of innovative design. Quoted, “The OFFICE™ sets the standard for logic, practical innovation, and Electro-entopic Ergonomics. The precisely engineered interior is fine-tuned to the most demanding user’s needs. Fully wired, fully mobile, even the chair closes up inside.” A fully engineered form with function. Wow! How about our HAL-PC Special Price? Dream on…
Priced F.O.B. Factory (Ships from Texas!). Delivered by Electronics/Museum Quality Moving Divisions of Bekins or similar shippers. Professionally installed using local installers @ typical cost of $150. Domestic shipping cost via Bekins for 72” wide CEO model throughout most of U.S. averages $500. Cost: If you have to ask, you can’t afford it!) $7800.00 - $9800.00? Your decorator may be able to get a better deal for you. Ask!
Cons: The OFFICE™ Does not include but will require keyboard, mouse, monitor and printer extension cables, since you’ll need those at time of installation. Where’s the gold monkey? I knew there was catch!
Can-Am CD Storage Cabinets – Modular media cabinets for infinite capacity. Nothing else like it!
Research on How To Plan & Choose Furniture Layout
Home Furnishing Netquarters – Extensive, helpful and informative info website. Features: Feng Shui (pronounced fung sway) – The Ancient Oriental Approach to Interior Design. (From Chi of Chinese origin.) “Home Design Can Determine Your Personal Success” by E.M. “Penny” Crabtree. “Premise of Feng Shui – To create the most harmonious and auspicious place to live and work.” Further quoted, “According to Feng Shui, the furniture that you spend the most time in, must be the ultimate of comfort.”
“The goal in Feng Shui is to have all five elements present in the rooms where we live, work and play. The concept of creating a perfectly balanced haven grew to include items we have inside our homes.” Interesting concept. How much time do you spend in front of your PC? Of further interest: Computer Workcenters, so-so. No heirlooms here. www.homefurnish.com
Commercial Furniture (1-877-Get Desk) Desks and Credenzas; Features: How To Choose The Right Chair, Desk or File Cabinet. Good info on How To Choose. The look: The Presidential Collection & Legacy Series. Claims Commercial quality. Sounds plastic to me, no Heirloom. www.furniturewholesalers.com
Free Space Furniture Planning Guide, Wood Furniture Buying Guide. www.furnitureonline.com
Take a survey on furniture likes/dislikes. Features: Space Planning Information; no Heirloom. www.workspaces.com
Ergonomics, An Intelligent Investment Improving Productivity
One thing calls for something else! After your heirloom quality furniture purchase let’s get started on that ergonomic chair! www.teos-inc.com & www.simplyergonomics.com Ergonomics Issues – Informative research. They claim if it hurts, stop it! www.workspace-resources.com /ergonomics
Ergonomics Central To Furniture Design www.officeworld.com/news /092197a.shtml
Gill Boyd & Nick Streater - From “BuildOrBuy” Special Interest Group. They can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com
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Web Development, Gill Boyd & Team - Published & Posted For June 1998; Revised on BuildOrBuy News Archive 02/01/2003