We’ve been in this house for 8 1/2 years, and at this point it looks like we’re going to shoot for 40. It’s not that we never think about leaving, though. Every three or four months one of us will bring up the possibility of selling and buying something so brand-spankin-new that it squeaks, but then two things always happen: 1) we can’t imagine loving a location more than we love this one and 2) I walk in the door, look out the windows, and say, “OH MY WORD I LOVE THESE TREES SO MUCH I’M NEVER LEAVING.”
So the moral of the story is that we’re staying right here. But after 8 1/2 years, we’re still trying to figure out how to make these rooms work best for our little family.
For the longest time I didn’t really think I needed an office. I set up my blogging headquarters at the bar in our living room, and it was a pretty handy way to do things when Alex was little and I needed to be in the same room that he was. I liked having my computer in the center part of the house, and there were lots of nights when I’d sit at the bar and type a blog post while David watched TV on the couch.
But then my laptop died and an old desktop computer became my bloggy HQ. So we cleaned out the playroom, moved a few things around, and made me a little office in the room right off of our kitchen. Apparently that room was the “mom den” when the house was built – a place for her to sit and relax at the far end of the house – and it’s always been one of my favorite rooms in the house.
That little office served me pretty well. Eventually we painted the desk and rearranged some things. And then I bought a gold couch at an estate sale and turned the room into sort of a hang-out space / office / den.
But here’s what happens when you put a couch in a room: people start sitting in there. And it’s great because we use that gold sofa and that little off-the-kitchen room more than any other space in our house, I bet. It’s just that a high-traffic area isn’t necessarily conducive to writing, and after I started working my first book about four years ago, I realized that I seemed to require a whole lot more quiet than I did with blogging. And that is tricky when you have been writing in a room that has a gold sofa where everybody likes to hang out.
So that is when we entered my writing-at-Starbucks-and-Panera phase.
I still wrote at home a lot, but I was forever distracted (write a few sentences, put on a load of laundry, finish a paragraph, unload the dishwasher, etc.). Sometimes I’d take the laptop in the guest room and try to write in there (that’s actually what I did a lot with the first book), and that is probably when I developed my deep and abiding affection for the bed in there. That bed and I are best buddies; it has become my favorite place in the world to watch TV, and really, I don’t know why I’m surprised since it is also my favorite place in the world to pile up clean laundry. That bed is good people.
The second book is what really proved to me that SOME QUIET SPACE, IT WOULD BE SO HELPFUL. I had a harder time focusing at Panera and Starbucks, maybe because I always seemed to run into former students and would wind up talking to people way more than I should have. There were times when I wanted to email my editor and say, “Well, I don’t have any chapters to send you, but I can definitely write up a very detailed update on how Cameron, Madison, and Caroline are doing at college,” only I didn’t really think she’d appreciate that in light of my BIG LOOMING DEADLINE.
Long story endless: when I finally finished edits on the second book, I asked David how he’d feel about us turning our 4th bedroom into an office. He was totally on board, probably because he’d watched me move my laptop from the kitchen table to the dining room table to the guest room when I was trying to finish edits on book #2. So after he agreed, it was really just a matter of finding a time to drive over to Atlanta and go to IKEA. Granted, it was nice to have that 2nd guest room when we had a bunch of company, but we’d recently let a friend who was moving borrow most of that furniture, and it seemed like a good opportunity for a re-do.
And listen. It was as low-key a makeover as you can imagine. We didn’t paint, we didn’t add any custom features, and we didn’t buy expensive furniture. We did, however, measure the walls and the floor space, and I’m so glad we did or we would’ve been in a pickle once we got to Atlanta.
We put the room together right after Christmas, but I didn’t really “move in” until the beginning of April. I’m still not anywhere near finished with it; I want to hang some window treatments and make a gallery wall above the awesome small sectional we found at IKEA (it actually has a trundle that turns it into a full bed, so we still have extra room for company if we need it). But this – THIS – has become my happiest little place in the whole wide world.
Please take note of the fancy stand for my fan (it’s an iPhone box), and I don’t even have the prints framed (you rock, gold washi tape). But I found the framed print at Home Goods (it says “Do All Things With Love” if you can’t tell in the picture), and I have what will hopefully be the intro for book #3 on the poster board above the desk, and then there’s Mentholatum and headphones, two things I never, ever want to be without when I’m trying to get some writing done.
And y’all. It’s so quiet. And THE ROOM HAS A DOOR. And I can sit right here in my very own house and be productive.
I’m not kidding. It has been such a gift. And it has been so nice to actually USE a room that we rarely even walked into before.
Here’s my next favorite thing.
Its a terrible picture. But I finally have a place for my nerdy podcast microphone and all the notebooks and papers that I like to keep nearby but tucked away.
Here’s a picture I posted about a month ago; it gives a little bit better idea of how the furniture ties together.
Eventually I’m going to make everything look all neat and PURTY and I’ll open the blinds and turn on the lights and take lots of pictures. But in the meantime just know that if you’ve been wondering if it makes a difference to have a place in your house where you can really settle in and write / paint / draw / sing / hum / cry / pray / read / plan in the semi-quiet, I would just like to say that YES. YES, IT DOES.
It took me 8 1/2 years to figure it out. And it’s not even a little bit fancy.
But it’s functional, and it’s cheerful, and it’s worth every bit of the wait.
Hallelujah and amen.