A Room Of One’s Own

When we moved into this house, I was excited to have a room of my own, a place for books, and a writing desk. When we lived in North Carolina, I had an office at work but did my serious writing at home, in the mornings, and often at the kitchen table because we lived in a tiny house but not a Tiny House (TM), and there was no room for me to have a separate office. I would drink coffee and work on my laptop in the quiet house in those still hours when no one was stirring.

But here! Here I would take over what was designed to be the formal living room, fill it with books and a desk, and make it a study of sorts – a place I could be out of the way and write when other people who live with me want to watch TV or cook something or have the audacity to actually live in the house they, you know, live in.

Because I had always had an office elsewhere, my “work from home” space didn’t need to be complicated – it just needed to be out of the traffic pattern. It did not matter that it was by the front door, didn’t have closing doors, and was visible to everyone that visited.

But then COVID happened, and I wasn’t just working from home occasionally, and I wasn’t just writing – now I was doing everything at home – from video production to writing to zoom calls – so many zoom calls! I got a larger monitor, additional hard drives, a docking station, and… I took over my study, and it became an office. But nobody was visiting, so while it was a bother, it wasn’t critical.

This is all just temporary, we told ourselves.

But now, people ARE visiting, and I am now permanently and completely working from home. Our eclectic study at the front of the house has become the office of a caffeine-riddled ADHD-diagnosed madman with object impermanence, who needs everything to be in front of him, or else it does not exist.

Our living room/study is filled with evidence of my creative process. It’s a damn mess, is what it is. I need an office. A room of my own, with doors and walls, lots of electrical outlets, shelves and corkboards. Then I can have the mess I need to be creative, and we can have the eclectic book-lined study at the front of the house back, and harmony (and hopefully productivity) will reign in our house once again.

After an audit of the available spaces in our house, I concluded I would have to build an outbuilding in the backyard for my small office. I don’t need much space – 8×8 would serve fine – but the combination of the time it would take and the cost has had me in a holding pattern for several months.

But the other day, I went to the store room in the back of our carport to get something and realized it was actually larger than the 8×8 shed I had planned to build. And it had a concrete slab foundation, stud-framed walls, and a functional roof over it, so it was as if someone had handed me an 85-square-foot shed on a concrete slab that just needed to be finished inside.

Even better, it has six feet of windows which face east, so there is lots of natural light. The door to it is through our carport, so on rainy days, I won’t have to walk in the weather.

It presents some problems – one of which is where to store the things currently inside of it. But we were already planning on enclosing the carport, and much of it is junk that needs tossing anyway, so that problem would solve itself. Our HVAC unit is slightly oversized, so it can easily handle having an additional 100sf added to it. The room would need more outlets, but it already has power, so adding more outlets is just time and (not much) money. And, of course, it will need insulation and sheetrock, but so would any shed I build in the yard.

In short, what would have been a $5,000 project has now become something like a $1000 project. And instead of a few weeks of work spread out over winter, now it’s only a couple of weekends.

It’s more square footage than an 8×8 shed would be, but not much. The room is about five and a half feet wide and 17 feet long, making it roughly double the size of your average hall bathroom here in the US. I envision half of the space being a built-in desk and shelves, and the other half being storage.

I ordered the materials Sunday – they arrived this morning. As I was placing the order, it occurred to me that it would be fun to document this process here. So, stay tuned. I’ll keep you posted.

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