“But Summer vacation just started!” you say. Pish posh! Not for me! Mine’s done. I had a total of 4 glorious days this month without my kids around (with copious amounts of thanks to my parents for taking them) and that was my summer vacation because now they are home. Did I go somewhere fun? Did I lay around sleeping and reading and watching tv while eating bon-bons? Nope. I did enjoy the quiet (that I promptly filled with my music and singing), though.
What I did was tackle my home office project (among some other smaller projects). I converted the under-the-stairs closet into my own little cubby of vocational joy. I patched, painted, built, drilled, hung, and decorated until I made a space that Harry Potter would be happy to live in (if, in fact, he could fit under my workspace)! Come Fall, both kids will be at school full time and it’s time for me to get back to work. Or to work, I guess, since I haven’t been able to accomplish too much business of late with K gone. But I’m ready now, and by the time he gets home for good, I’m hoping to be well-acquainted with my office and what I can do in it.
If you’d like to see the progress of the job, you can see it all here start to finish (with more detailed description), but here’s the finished product:
When the last picture was hung and everything was in its place and I could sit down in a space that was all mine, I felt like a new person with a purpose and direction and less like a gypsy roaming around the house looking for the perfect place to work for the day. Working in the kitchen made me hungry, my bedroom made me sleepy, and in the living room, I could go either way…or both. But here in the closet, I can concentrate. Even with the door open and the view of my lovely back yard plainly in view, I can focus and not want to eat or sleep. It’s refreshing, and if I had known that going into the closet and staying there were the answer, I would have done it from the get-go. I am fortunate that I don’t really have a problem with small spaces, because even though I did my best to minimize the square footage I used for work top area, it’s still on the tight side. But like I said, it’s not a problem for me…or the dogs:
The kids, of course, find my tiny office fascinating (much in the same way they find their little food-shaped Japanese erasers fascinating), but I’m pretty adamant about not all of us fitting, so their trips in for visits are very short-lived. I put the heavy wooden coat hanger rod back up and added a sheer curtain that divides the closet in half should I need a second line of defense. R likes to call the space on the doorway side of the curtain my “waiting area.” I have a hanging magazine rack in that part along with some artwork hanging on the wall, so it is a bit waiting room-esque. The dogs pay no attention to the curtain divider and manage to sometimes lay down in the slim space behind my chair and the wall, or one of them spills out of the doorway a little into the dining room. It is a testament to their unswerving loyalty that they would hang with me in this space when they have the whole rest of the house to lounge about in. I like my dogs…now if only they would fix the rug they bunched up on the way out…
When I was thinking about the decor for my office, it was a no-brainer that the walls and whatever other color I used would have to be light, so I went with two colors I will no doubt cringe over when I think of their names come Winter: “snowbound” and “Icelandic blue.” I’ve been snowbound a time or two and I can’t say it was pleasant after the first 24 hours. As for Iceland, I don’t remember seeing a blue this light or pretty while sitting in Keflavik Airport when I was there eons ago. It looked more like the surface of the moon with a slight coating of dead grass. Not a color I’d want on my walls, that’s for sure. Anyway, the closet is as bright as I could make it within the context of my own taste limits. I added Christmas lights around the office at mid-wall for some light. The usual fluorescent light is actually too bright for me (I have always preferred low-light to work in), so I took it out and just use the natural light from the large glass doors at the back of the house along with the twinkly little Christmas lights and that’s fine for day-to-day stuff. I have a clip-on reading light that I use when doing art projects that require more attention to detail. I kept all the fixtures (rugs, shelves, bulletin board, magazine rack, baskets) on the cream-colored side just to maintain that open feeling. I think it works. I don’t feel like it’s too close in here. One of the unexpected upsides of the shape and size of this office is that the room makes a great speaker. When I play music on my laptop, I can actually hear it clearly and the volume amplifies so nicely. Normally, the rooms in our house are too big for my little crappy laptop speakers, so even at full volume, it just seems to fade away. But playing at full volume from my office allows me to hear it perfectly in the kitchen and living room. Take that Bose!
I wanted to put some inspirational pieces of art on my walls, and I have a rather informal guideline I use in my house regarding what gets shown off on the walls. I try to only put up pieces of art done by people I know. I am fortunate enough to have many talented artists on both sides of my family as well as K’s, so it’s not as hard a guideline to stick to as you might imagine. I decided to dedicate my office to my Aunt Mary who was quite an accomplished artist and one of the more jovial people I’ve ever known. She loved to give big hugs and had a generous laugh and I do miss her. When I was a little girl, she would babysit me sometimes and I have very fond memories of playing in her attic as well as loving the fact that I knew the people in her paintings. I even made the cut into one of them and I have it hanging on the door into my new office. A couple of years ago, Mary’s daughter—my cousin, C—let us all come over and pick out some of her pieces of art. Talk about feeling like a kid in a candy store! I already have some of her still life paintings on various walls around the house, but for my office I picked and framed some of the unfinished sketches to remind myself that practice is key to anything. I’ve got four figure studies, a matador done in pencil and ink, and the sketch for an icon of St. George killing the dragon. Having all those drawings in here gives a bit more meaning to my own efforts and makes it feel like home. Even if it is a closet.
So now I have my own office and it’s time to put it to good use. In fact, I just did. I could get used to this closet dwelling.