This is the year that I must finish my book — and this is the room where it will happen.
I moved into my place almost exactly a year ago – and it has taken all 12 of these months to figure out what to do with this space. It has built-in book shelves and a lovely window – so I always knew I wanted it to be my office, but I could never pull it together. The room was difficult to decode because of its unwieldy dimensions: one side of the ceiling is slanted at a steeper angle than the other. For a long time – indeed, right until a few weeks ago – I despaired that I would never be able to make this room work, much less work in it. When I first moved in, I tried having the desk in front of the window. But I would bump my head on the ceiling if I moved too much to the left or the right, and that’s just . . . awkward.
Arranging my home office — and finding a resting place for my desk — had been the bane of my existence in this otherwise lovely home. I must have moved my ergonomic-height-adjustable desk up and down the stairs 3-4 times. A strong, muscular friend initially put it in my upstairs room when I first moved in. Then I got frustrated with the room and moved it down the stairs — myself — to the room that’s now my bedroom. But having an office in that room didn’t feel right. So — in an exercise of terrible judgment — I decided to try and move the desk back upstairs on my own. Somehow I was able to do it, but ended up with a crick in my neck and terrible back pain for about 2 weeks. Do you know what it’s like to have a crick in your neck for 2 weeks? I couldn’t move my head to the left or the right without searing pain. On the upside, I learned an important life lesson: Never do stupid shit like that again.
So, I had two different friends help me at various points in the year move the desk up and down the stairs as I tried to figure out where to set up an office. For most of the year, I ended up using my living room as an office — books and files piled up everywhere. I felt like a bootleg professor, working on the couch with papers scattered on my coffee table. Over time, the upstairs room devolved into a hot mess.
You cannot imagine the unspeakably terrible dungeon this room was before the revamping took place. It was full of boxes, piles of paper, all manner of random junk and crap scattered across the floor. Zora’s litter box was perched sadly in a forlorn corner. There was another curtain hanging up, but it was tattered from the cat’s frenzied clawing and the curtain rod was broken. It was a shameful. A travesty.
Finally, the Spirit of Getting-Shit-Together swept over me right around the holidays and I resolved to go up to the room and simply ask myself: “What can I do with this space?” I took a few minutes, did some conscious breathing and just “listened” to my intuition as I looked around. Suddenly a bunch of ideas started flowing. I began to get energized about organizing the boxes and storing them in the attic. I vacuumed furiously, cleaned the carpet. I already had my desk and an office chair, but I realized that I needed a long table to lay out my papers and files, as well as a few other items to make the room functional. I went to some second-hand furniture stores and thrift shops. I found a used printer/computer stand for 8 bucks that matched my desk and bargained with the manager at one store to sell me a simple folding table for $12. The table was ugly, however, so I knew I’d have to cover it. So off I went to K-Mart for a few decorative items: a beige, natural fabric curtain that I cut and used to cover the table, a little library lamp, a small picture for the wall, a curtain rod and a red floral panel that would match some of the red accents. I had a bunch of things already at home that I had previously purchased for the office but never had been able to put to use given the defunct status of the room. I realized that it was best to keep the desk on the side of the room with the higher slope. Now bumping my head on the most important side of the room isn’t an issue and having the desk where it is now is perfect because I can just swivel around in my chair and I’m facing the bookshelf without having to bend over or hit my head on the slanted ceiling. It took me about 2 days, but I finally got everything cleaned up, organized right before New Years.
It’s a simple office – nothing fancy. But it’s mine. And pretty. And functional. I absolutely love having a cozy, beautiful, dedicated space to get my work done at home. Finally! At long last! I now feel a bit more like a “real” professor.
Zora’s definitely a fan, though she doesn’t seem to understand that the ottoman is for me to kick up my feet while I’m sipping tea and reading — not a velvety throne for her royal highness.
An unexpected surprise the next morning was finding the room aglow with beautiful red light, sun rays streaming through the curtain.