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Kids Computer Area Make Over On The Cheap

We are a NO SCREENS IN THE BEDROOMS family. This includes no TV in the master bedroom, all but the occasional kindle in bed while I’ve been bed-resting… no screens but the hubs and I’s cell phones at night. Not only is having tv’s, computers, and other electronics in each room an unnecessary expense, we believe that the kids need to be monitored a bit more closely because there is just too much junk out there to let them make their own judgment on what media they are consuming at this age. Yes, even though we have all girls we still need to be vigilant and try our hardest to minimize the risk of things like exposure to pornography…in addition to other dangers like online predators. Monitoring everyone’s screen use is already becoming a chore since I’m not a “sit on my butt all day doing nothing” type of person. So, we had to come up with a solution to ease the pressure that the media monitoring is going to make for me (the parent at home all day). Who better to monitor them than the whole family/eachother? This is why we have the tv, family gaming systems, and the computers in the same room, the family room, so that anyone and everyone can see what is going on while the screens are on. The only problem this has created so far is that our family room is a bit on the tiny side so we needed to maximize space as much as possible. That need, along with my desire for the computer area to look a lot better, was what inspired this post.  
I really wanted to have one long desk top that was floating on some really beautifully crafted corbels/brackets, such as these (the best bang for your buck beautiful corbels I could find btw). However, after I priced everything out to do it exactly the way I wanted it, we’d be looking at $250 + and I just can’t justify spending that kind of money on something that the kids are most likely going to be beating up anyway.  As luck would have it, I stumbled upon a post that another blogger did where she chopped a kitchen table in half to make a long folding table in her laundry room…boy am I jealous that her laundry room is big enough for any type of folding table…anyway, her post is found here and you really should check it out because she did an awesome job! Her table got me thinking if this would work for our computer area and after discussing it with my husband a few times we decided that it would meet the criteria of looking better, maximizing space, and being budget-friendly…especially since we remembered that we still had a certain table we found next to a dumpster a few years ago that would work. Score!
Anyway, on to the fun part of the post. Where you get to see what all we did. As always I give as much insight as I can think of on how to simplify the project and how we saved money on it, so make sure to read it all. 

The hodge podge of stuff computer area… it did not look good, but we did what we could at the time. These little chairs didn’t actually ever work for this area, the girls were usually dragging down some of the kitchen chairs so that they could reach. Which meant we’d always end up with a jungle of chairs in the family room. The rocking chairs are now in the play room.
I wanted to show you how bad the cords and such looked under the desk…plus, the youngest child likes to pull on them and mess with everything so we definitely needed a better solution.
Here is the “by the dumpster” table…in my beyond messy office closet. That room is kind of a catch-all for everything that I need to get done and I need to get a lot of stuff done!
These chairs I found at a thrift shop for $10 each and then just painted them to match the color scheme we were going with. I made sure to not buy the first set of chairs that would work…these suckers are super-sturdy and need to last for years.
Before we cut our table in half willy-nilly, we decided that by taking the table top off first, we could slide the legs and frame over to the wall and mark where we would need the supports to sit. I really think that this saved us a ton of time and head-ache. Thankfully, this table top was only held on by about 8 screws which were easily removed.
Here are the legs and the frame and my husband marking the height on the wall.
It took him quite a while of meticulous measuring and drawing a straight line in order for it to be just right, which paid off because the line that he cut was so straight and even that I didn’t need to sand it… I was pretty amazed! This was accomplished by using a circular saw that was adjusted to cut deep enough to go through the entire table top.
We knew that we were going to need a place in the back of each table for the cords to be fed through, so the solution was to drill out partial holes that would be large enough. This was done using a 1.5″ hole saw drill bit, found here. Be super careful during this part too, it’s not just during the sawing that you have to worry. the drill caught and the battery pack flipped around and gave my husband a nasty black eye. Poor guy!
I used my Dremel Micro to lightly sand around the holes that were drilled. Other than that though and this table was in good shape. I washed, let  dry, then painted the table tops and chair seats with some paint that I had left-over from my last project which was my cheap picture frame make over and one year old wall. Two coats were followed by a thick coat of protective wax and left to cure for several days.
Under normal circumstances I try not to cut corners on projects, but since I could only work on this for mere minutes at a time, I did skip painting the bottom of the table top and just got a few fresh coats of white paint on all the parts of the table that were going to be visible.
Each table top required two separate supports  because of the hole drilled in for the cords. We went with 2X2’s which were drilled into the wall with wood screws. As luck would have it, there was a stud that ran across the whole length of the wall at that height, so we saved even more money not having to buy any drywall anchors.
Here are all 4 supports just waiting for the table tops.
The table tops were placed and then secured on by drilling a screw from the bottom of the 2×2’s up into the table top (making sure not to use screws so long that they would go through the table top). It’s so secure that my husband sat on it with no problem. We know that eventually one of our kids will attempt climbing on it, so we made sure that it can support the weight in addition to its normal load.
We fed all the cords through the table and now that the computer tower needed to be on the floor, there were even more cords than with the old desk. I nearly had a heart-attack looking at it. A little faith in my husband was all that I needed at this point. He took the next fifteen or so minutes and got them cleaned up nicely.
He wrapped the cords together using Clear Spiral Wrap which is found here.


Mounted the wireless bridge and power strip to the under side of table top using some short wood screws.
Secured the bunch of wrapped cables to the 2×2’s with some 1″ clamps, found here.
Talk about a night and day difference! Didn’t he do such an awesome job?
There you have it! They are done…for now. Until we can budget in the next couple of things.
Future improvements will be streamlining it even further by getting rid of the speakers, #1 in the above picture and replacing them with some kids volume limiting head phones such as these. #2 will be to remove the computer towers altogether and get some of those tiny little computers that mount to the back of the monitors such as these, they are a bit on the pricey side though so it’ll be a bit before we do that.  Did I mention that we got the matching monitors for $5 each when my husbands work was upgrading theirs? Also, the keyboards and mouses were purchased at the DI for a few bucks each. We made sure to get the wired kind because otherwise they would walk off, get broken, or be used as a weapon by one of the kids. The speakers and towers were on hand already…the hubs is in IT so he’s had project computers for years.
I thought you might like looking at the before and afters side by side again. It takes up so much less space that I am pretty happy with how it turned out. It’s also nice that now that the girls have dedicated chairs for their area, my kitchen chairs will stay where they go!!!!
I hope that you all like how it turned out! If you want to do something like this it is fairly easy and you can often find a table that would work at a thrift store. I love that this table has rounded edges so it’s much more kid friendly than how I had originally wanted it to look. That’s all for today folks!