What furniture is good for storing laptops?
August 18, 2014 6:41 PM   Subscribe

What's a not-hideous way to store three or four laptops in a dining room? Plus the occasional iPad, headphones, etc. Has anyone found a decent piece of furniture for laptop storage?

We use our laptops while sitting at the dining room table, and put them away at meals. Right now we have an old magazine rack in the corner with a pile of two laptops (soon to be joined by one more), two big pairs of headphones, and all their cables and cords. It's hideous. What could I do?

The laptops get used for several hours at a stretch, so they need to be able to be plugged in while at the table.

The kids are slackers (I am perfect) and aren't going to do anything complicated. The best I can hope for is that they'll carry their laptops to the piece of furniture. Anything involving unplugging, replugging, etc is unlikely to happen.

Ideally the piece of furniture would go in a corner.

Any suggestions for furniture that will help with the clutter?
posted by The corpse in the library to Home & Garden (19 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
What's your decor like? You could get a small secretary desk, for example (or, if you're into antiques, even an old Larkin desk--these are everywhere, and not necessarily all that expensive, depending on where you are in the USA).
posted by thomas j wise at 6:49 PM on August 18, 2014

Some kind of drawer thing, each kid gets a drawer?

Oh, and apparently there's such a thing as a tech tub. If you are handy, you could probably improvise something more attractive.
posted by the_blizz at 7:00 PM on August 18, 2014

Response by poster: My decor is unremarkable. Here's the dining room in question (hideous pile of computers not shown, and there are plants outside now). Here's the corner where I'd like something to go.
posted by The corpse in the library at 7:02 PM on August 18, 2014

What about something like this? They also sell door inserts for the cubes, if you really want to hide the ugly.
posted by MadamM at 7:07 PM on August 18, 2014

Oh! Here is a corner thing.

And here are some tech caddies.

Or, it could be fun to repurpose a shoe storage unit.
posted by the_blizz at 7:10 PM on August 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

My first thought was some sort of lingerie chest. There are all sorts of price points for this kind of thing, but I like the style because each drawer has a purpose.
posted by mochapickle at 7:28 PM on August 18, 2014

Pie rack! Perfect for a kitchen in which you might some day have pie.
posted by jessamyn at 7:30 PM on August 18, 2014 [5 favorites]

How about this corner cabinet from Ikea?
posted by kbar1 at 8:34 PM on August 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

An old-style gossip bench (which used to hold an old-timey telephone and your butt while you gossiped on it) is just perfect for charging laptops and keeping them out of view. (I, however, prefer to buy extra chargers for my work space and storage space so I can move between them without messing around with cords.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:44 PM on August 18, 2014

Scrapbookers have storage units for paper that might work. Or you could put something in a filing cabinet drawer to hold the laptops vertically. Fabric slings or magazine holders.
posted by kjs4 at 11:49 PM on August 18, 2014

Look up buffet furniture.
posted by WeekendJen at 6:40 AM on August 19, 2014

So, do the laptops have to stay plugged in while they're stored? It's just hard to store laptops tidily without unplugging them.

In addition to Eyebrows' idea about using extra chargers, would it be possible for the laptops to share one or two adapters rather than having all four on the table? This obviously depends on whether they take the same kind of adapter and how long their battery life is.

Regardless, I think you should just put the adapters in a basket or something, they're going to be hideous regardless. Remember that even if the kids won't put away the adapters, they'll still be able to find them and use them when the batteries run out, so if you just have an easy place to put them you can tidy them up yourself without to much agita.

For the laptops themselves I suggest a handsome stackable letter tray, or a secretary desk with pigeonhole slots, or a cabinet with a baking tray rack inside.
posted by mskyle at 7:12 AM on August 19, 2014

Response by poster: > even if the kids won't put away the adapters, they'll still be able to find them and use them when the batteries run out,

That's a good point. They don't care how things look, but they'll be motivated to find the right cable when necessary. Right now we have four laptops with three kinds of chargers.
posted by The corpse in the library at 7:32 AM on August 19, 2014

What's your budget?

Whenever this kind of thing comes up, I always suggest tracking down a local furniture or cabinet maker. For a few hundred bucks you can get a custom thing designed around your needs and space and habits, and you'll be keeping a local artist in work.

A small corner table, with a drawer to store cables, maybe a built in power strip for charging, some sort of rack or divider system integrated into the top for storing, charging, such as one a local furniture maker and I made several years ago.
posted by notyou at 8:44 AM on August 19, 2014 [4 favorites]

There is a neat "Office Table by Day"/"Dining Table by Night" featured at Apartment Therapy.com.
posted by apennington at 1:53 PM on August 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I like that idea, notyou. No firm budget yet; I'm still seeing what's out there and getting ideas about what I want.
posted by The corpse in the library at 2:35 PM on August 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

It seems like you'd want something with open sides so the laptops can stay plugged in. What about a shelf like this?
posted by be11e at 7:10 AM on August 20, 2014

What I would do (and I'm not saying that like it's necessarily a good thing) is create N independent spaces, where N = number of laptops + iPads. Because that seems the simplest way to minimize tangles.

You could buy N of those little floating shelves or nooks (like an ultra-deep picture frame with curved corners), or better yet, N floating cubbies perfectly proportioned & crafted by your local cabinet maker. This gives each laptop its own little place to be stowed.

The headphones can share a dedicated headset rest shelf. (Ceramic phrenology heads seem plentiful these days.)

The multi-nook strategy may entail buying more power cords, if needed, and/or running extension cords along the walls to the various techno-cubbies, depending on your socket situation. If cords are visually undesirable, the cabinet maker could build little hatches, like a Habitrail.

At that point I'd probably throw in a couple carpeted floating cubbies for the cats.

You'll need either (a) enough slack cord for each laptop to stretch to the table, or (b) to turn the table itself into a charging device. Presumably the Apartment Therapy table provides this feature (unless that lamp is on a cord that everyone trips over).

Perhaps a local carpenter could take up a couple floorboards, run a Power Squid or something under them, and then craft a space in which you can arrange a bouquet of power adapters coming through the center of the table (ask the cabinet maker to design a hatch that can be lowered & shut at mealtimes).

A less remodeling-intensive electrical access solution might be devised involving your chandelier.
posted by feral_goldfish at 2:59 PM on August 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

Deploy color coordination to avoid a game of Musical Laptops, where the biggest laptop ends up homeless. Soon your children will be insisting NO THE BLUE LAPTOP MUST GO ON THE BLUE LAPTOP SHELF.
posted by feral_goldfish at 3:07 PM on August 24, 2014 [2 favorites]

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