Need a smallish office chair solution for limited space
July 7, 2012 5:38 AM   Subscribe

I'd like ideas or recommendations for an office chair that doesn't hurt, with special decorating/space/shopping concerns. Complication: in Greece. After five+ years of computing from my kitchen table while sitting in a regular straight-backed wooden kitchen chair, I find the urgent need to move my workspace ... and get a chair that doesn't assault my back and legs. But it's tricky, because space is limited and many of the usual chair recommendations may not be available. Too many pix and way too much info inside.

Now that my online time has vastly increased, kitchen table computing just isn't cutting it, mostly because it's beginning to hurt! I do have a perfectly good room that I could turn into a roomy office, but the only view is of the neighbors' houses, the street outside, and the parked cars, and I just can't deal with that... so aside from the kitchen, the only other place with a nook where I can set up shop and still have a view that will keep me sane is in the not terribly spacious bedroom... and the ratty old broke-down office chair we have on hand is a) fugly, and b) too big and awkward for the space it has to occupy there.

Here are very many phone-camera photos of the actual space... that I haven't bothered to adjust or correct. The bed cannot be moved to another position because of closets on the opposite wall.

The specific problem is that the path through the bedroom that leads to our small back terrace (that then leads down to our courtyard) is used all the time. My husband's workroom is just out those doors and to the left (out of view), so this is a really well-travelled space, and bulky chair is bulky, in the way, and ugly.

Ideally, I'd love a chair with a much smaller footprint, that isn't a hulking dark thing, that also doesn't kill my back. We have an Ikea here, though all items may not be available. I've tried to research Athens places for higher end Aeron/Steelcase options that are usually recommended (almost certainly out of my range, but still), but so far have only found the typical If-you-have-to-ask-how-much-it-costs-you-can't-afford-it sort of crappy Flash no-information sites, which make me mad, and are nowhere near me anyway. I definitely do not have a lot of shopping time (or skills, or a car). If I already know that a shop has X item for X price, I can go, try, and maybe buy... but I can't really "window shop."

Craigslist is very limited here, but I can get things from the UK and Europe from eBay, if they will ship to Greece, but haven't found a used high-end chair that's affordable with shipping that way yet (looking mostly at Aeron and Steelcase).

I'm sort of leaning toward just trying this eBay chair that won't wreak havoc on my bank account (and has a ridiculously reasonable shipping rate), and even if it doesn't work out, will not be horribly ugly for some other space in the house. [alt image in case of deep-link fail]

But I'm wondering about other possibilities, maybe not an "office chair" per se? And pretty much any DIY fusion solution is on the table (have you ever "created" your own office chair, Frankenstein-style, from something else? Or what have you tried and liked for a smaller space?).
posted by taz to Shopping (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The U.S. went through a fad in the 90s where we had some weird ergonomic chairs. I actually liked them, and the upside was that they were often quite compact.

This is the weirdness I'm talking about:

Also helped with certain types of muscular fitness.
posted by krisak at 5:49 AM on July 7, 2012

Another option is a ball. One of those doofy fitness balls. I've used one of those in the past - once your core muscles get used to it it can be surprisingly nice.
posted by krisak at 5:59 AM on July 7, 2012

It seems the existing desk prevents you from storing the chair beneath the desk when not in use. This is often not possible with chair that have arms; however, if you were to get a chair without arms, you could slide it right out of the way.

I really like the this chair from IKEA (also available in blue), but it is perhaps too tall for your needs.
posted by jamincan at 6:02 AM on July 7, 2012

Found this supplier who ships to Greece for £55. Large selection of ergonomic chairs on the site, I think the Okamura Luce is beautiful and it is available in a variety of colors. But it is an "active" design which might not suit you, and compared to Ikea options, pricey.
posted by likeso at 6:23 AM on July 7, 2012

Thinking laterally do have another room....could you perhaps use art, houseplants, etc. to make a more pleasant workspace? I get needing a view (my new kitchen opens up on a screened patio) but the right sort of stuff on the walls might help.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 6:32 AM on July 7, 2012

(And taz, I know you just want chair recs, but you really need to consider the height and depth of your desk as well as getting a separate keyboard and really raising the monitor. Worst episode of rsi in my life was when I had to work for extended periods on a laptop. This might be helpful in getting an idea of proportions.)
posted by likeso at 6:32 AM on July 7, 2012 [2 favorites]

What likeso is saying... check the ergonimics - your height, the seat, the table, the elbow and arm rests and the monitor, all together first. There might be things that can be done without a "new chair" etc

I found cushions on my preferred wooden chair seem to work fine as I discovered that office chair with wheels couldn't deal with my shifting positions as I typed on the computer. I also sit 'indian style' on the chair seat to alternate the legs hanging down situation. It keeps the back straighter.
posted by infini at 6:52 AM on July 7, 2012

It may be less about the chair than how you are sitting. The ball idea seems like a good one. I prefer a simple stool. It may be worthwhile to see an Alexander technique practitioner to help you figure out how to sit without pain, and then work with him or her to select a suitable chair.
posted by snaparapans at 7:46 AM on July 7, 2012

Agreed that you should consider the desk too. We are big fans of Ikea Dave laptop tables in this house; my husband has his monitor and laptop on a wall-mounted shelf and uses a Dave for his keyboard and mouse, which has drastically reduced his mouse-related shoulder pain. I tend to work at the dining room table too, but in my office I have a Dave for my mouse.

My other tip is to get an armless office chair; they tend to have a much smaller footprint to start with, and without arms you can't lean on your elbows and forearms and crush your nerves. Ikea has a bunch that are armless or arm-optional, but you do need to sit on some until you find a seat you like (and even then, you may end up needing to put a cushion on it, as padding is not Ikea's strong suit).
posted by Lyn Never at 8:16 AM on July 7, 2012

You know about this, right?
posted by Dr Dracator at 8:29 AM on July 7, 2012

Response by poster: No. No, I did not. Prices and everything, wowzer! Thank you, my friend. :)

Alia, it does seem crazy to reject the available room ... but it's also the one darkish room in the house, and won't support the larger Ficus trees, for example, that we have elsewhere (there's a nice one in the bedroom, actually, that doesn't show up in the shots), but there are other problems as well... It's a sort of double-parlor situation and would pretty much have to be cooled/heated in sync with the living room... but I like things cooler in the summer than my husband, and he likes things hotter in the winter, so we compromise with a warmer living room (and, necessarily, adjoining available room), and I keep the kitchen and bedroom temps pretty much suited for myself.

Also there would be a problem with distracting TV sound from the living room... plus I just get really, really depressed if I can't see the sky. (And from the bedroom, I can also see the birds and cats who like to hang out in the courtyard area... so, Wildlife!)
posted by taz at 8:36 AM on July 7, 2012

I like sitting on the floor - I'd put down a shag pile rug, place the mattress. Vertically against the wall & use the room whatever way seems comfortable
posted by Packed Lunch at 9:47 AM on July 7, 2012

I'd have to lean against the through-way as an office. It would drive me crazy to always be in the way, and the chair needs to be substantial to really be comfortable for long periods. Even that Eames chair, despite its lower profile, would take up roughly the same space.

The only way it might be workable is by putting the DIY elbow grease into a foldaway desk or some other solution that gives you a walkway AND a workspace. But there's not much room.

Crazy out-of-the-box ideas might include a suspended bed that you can pulley up to the ceiling when not in use, or just a loft if you want something substantial and can hack the headroom.

I wouldn't worry as much as you seem to about the view in that other room (although noise and cooling are issues, too, perhaps you can solve that by a bulkhead or whatnot between it and the living room). When working things like that can distract you, and you can put up other pleasant things to look at. You can make it look bigger with a mirror if need be; maybe the mirror can point you to a distant view you like. Just ideas. Maybe if you need space or a view you'll be able to get it with longish breaks out on the patio that won't be as stressful as sitting at the kitchen table all day.
posted by dhartung at 2:11 PM on July 7, 2012

Response by poster: We ended up getting a big ol' chair (this Ikea model), and my husband shaved some inches off the back of the desk and saved some space that way. It's larger than my aesthetic sense would have preferred, but pretty comfortable, and doesn't assault my eyes in the setting. It's really hard to get a (mostly) white chair that isn't exactly this design or extremely similar, and my husband convinced me that sitting on that all day would be ungood. I believe he's right.

I might seek out an actual ergonomically spiffy one when I have time, but that probably requires serious shopping, which is not my super power.
posted by taz at 11:50 AM on January 12, 2013

« Older learning more about home construction and...   |   Why does my battery like come on intermittently? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.