Keeping a computer in the living room can make a house feel a lot more like an office than a home, but there are ways to incorporate a computer into a living room without it feeling so intrusive.
The recent Covid epidemic made many people accept some unusual living situations. Between extra roommates or family members and people of all ages using their home as an office, gym, and school, a lot of families chose to rearrange their houses in some unusual ways.
When home offices had to be created overnight, many people decided to utilize the only space they had; the living room. At first, many people had no other choice than to throw their computer down on whatever surface was available (usually a card table).
This gave many living rooms the feeling of being less of a family gathering area and more of a hodgepodge of office equipment and furniture. If you want your living room to go back to looking like a home, there’s just no way to do it with a desktop computer set up in the middle of the room.
If you can move your computer to any other location, do it. Consider setting up a home office area in a bedroom, dining room, or kitchen.
Some people are able to convert large closets into home office centers that can be closed up when the workday is done. You may also want to consider setting up the office area in a sunroom or well-covered back porch or patio.
Making the Desktop Work in the Room
If you just don’t have the space for a desktop set-up to go anywhere else, however, you’ll want to do some things to make the area look like a planned part of the room rather than an afterthought. Consider these suggestions when you think about how to arrange your living room.
Partition Off an Area
If you absolutely have to keep the desktop computer or even an entire office setup in the living room, start by exploring ways to partition the room.
The easiest way to do this is to buy a privacy screen. These decorative screens can be set up in hundreds of different ways, and used to partition off a corner or section of the room.
Once they’re set up, the space that has been created can be configured in just about any way you want. Some people set up the area to resemble a cubicle like what they used to have at work, while others prefer a more relaxed look, making the area look like a casual office.
If you have the space, you may even want to consider setting up an area that resembles a separate seating area.
Create a Separate Space
In fact, you don’t need to have a screen in order to create a separate space if you can get creative enough with furniture placement. Consider moving a small couch to block off a portion of the room, making space with a low table or desk tucked into a corner.
The key to making this work in a room is to select pieces of furniture that are not too big. All too often people make the mistake of purchasing a desk with a tall hutch, then arranging the desk so that the backside of the desk faces out towards the room.
While the intent is usually to create privacy for the person using the desk, the effect is actually that anyone entering the room is confronted by a massive semi-wall of particle board. Large desks such as these tend to take up too much of the room, making the room feel much smaller.
Furthermore, most desks with hutches are built to be placed with the back against a wall; the material making this part of the furniture is usually cardboard and particle board.
Instead, place the desk so that the front faces the front of the room. Use a small couch to cover the front of the desk if you want. Walking around the couch and desk will make the area feel separate from the rest of the room for the computer user, but the overall room will look much larger.
Buy Matching Furniture
If you can afford it, invest in matching furniture. If you have modern furniture and accessories in the family room, a mid-century roll-top desk will look grossly out of place. Have all of the furnishings in the room match each other in color and style.
Invest in Good Equipment
Finally, work towards spending the money to have good equipment in the living room, especially if other family members will be using the computer. Start by investing in a high-quality flat screen monitor.
If you’re using the computer for work several hours a day, or if you’re using the computer to play games, a high-quality monitor will not only look good, it will also help to prevent eye strain.
If possible, mount the monitor on the wall and hide the cords. This will make it look more like a built-in picture or TV screen.
Keep desk accessories to a minimum, and if possible tuck them into a drawer when the area is not in use. Also work on ways to hide a computer tower; cabinets are a great choice.