Furniture for home computers

As more and more people begin to set up what Alvin Toffler calls ''the electronic cottage,'' there will be an increasing demand for furniture to accommodate home-computer systems.

''The revolution is certainly here,'' says Arnold Wolf, president of Tiffany Stand and Furniture Company. But whereas many office-furniture manufacturers, including Tiffany, have diversified into what the industry terms ''computer support furniture,'' traditional home furniture companies still have not jumped into the market.

As a result, ''computer furniture still looks like computer furniture,'' says Mr. Wolf.

According to Martin Elinoff, president of the American Society of Interior Designers, home furniture companies have not yet ventured into computer furniture, because there hasn't been enough consumer demand.

''But there will be, there's no doubt about it,'' he says.

As demand increases, Mr. Elinoff predicts that furniture companies will manufacture a variety of cabinets, credenzas, breakfronts, and armoires to accommodate home systems. So far, most personal computers have ended up on dining-room and game tables.

Interior designers have also improvised computer work areas for clients with home systems. Within the last year, for example, Martin Elinoff Associates in Boston has housed computer systems in the walls and niches of dens and bedrooms. One particularly successful solution, Mr. Elinoff says, was to adapt a closet to accommodate a computer system. This was accomplished by designing a work area in the closet space, then replacing the sliding doors with double-fold doors that open up to allow access to the total area.

Fred and Nancy Harwood of Wellesley Hills, Mass., have converted their family room into a computer room used by the entire family for business and recreation. Because of their extensive system, the Harwoods have purchased computer-support furniture to accommodate their equipment.

Mrs. Harwood runs an editing and writing service for business executives from the home. Her work area includes a word processor and printer in a corner arrangement that, she says, makes it easy to move from the keyboard to the printer. Mr. Harwood, who is in the computer business, has his own system on an extended table that accommodates a visual display terminal (VDT) and three different kinds of printers.

The Harwoods' three children - Deric, 12; Tennyson, 10; and Peter, 8 - who are avid computer enthusiasts, play games and write programs on their own computer in another room downstairs, or they use their father's terminal when he isn't working at home.

Kathy and Russ Kramer, also of Wellesley, have a personal computer at one end of a basement family room. The Kramers and their two children use the computer for business, recreation, and home applications. The Kramers purchased a table designed for computers that has an extra shelf underneath for storage.

Both the Harwoods and Kramers use recessed ceiling lights for even, non-glare illumination. Mrs. Kramer says dimmers on the lights have come in handy. Her son prefers the room to be darker when he plays computer games, because it emphasizes the color graphics. Mrs. Kramer wants the brighter when she works on a black-and-white monitor. Setting up a computer work area

According to computer furniture designer Wayne Gurin, the goal in setting up a work area is to create a ''user-friendly environment.'' Here are some factors to consider when organizing a computer work space:

* Keep in mind who will be using the computer when deciding where to put it. If many family members are going to use the system, a family room or game room is a possible choice. If only one or two people need access to the computer, a small den, private office, or bedroom may be a good choice.

* The computer keyboard should be at the same height as a typewriter - about 26 inches off the ground. Most dining-room tables are too high for maximum comfort and efficiency.

* A computer should not be subjected to extreme changes in temperature, and should not be placed in direct sunlight.

* Try to plug the system into an electrical circuit that does not feed a refrigerator or other major electricity user.

* A combination of natural sunlight and artificial lighting helps eliminate glare on the video screen. Recessed ceiling lighting produces an even room illumination, and dimmers are a convenient option to adjust the brightness for different user preferences.

* Additional shelving above or underneath the computer table for reference books and program documentation helps keep the keyboard area clear. Slide-out work surfaces and corner ell extenders are also help expand the work area.

Currently, computer furniture is available primarily through independent dealers and computer centers.

The products range from inexpensive flakeboard components to virtually indestructible furniture units made from plastic laminate and steel. With storage modules to house electronic units and various other accessories, it is possible to put together what one salesman terms ''a roll-top desk of the future.''

One New England computer furniture manufacturer, Data Recording Services, recently devised a roll-top system that can be locked.

of stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Unlimited digital access $11/month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.