Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Room for Writing

One of my writing issues has had to do with having a place to write. Since we moved into this house we have been sharing a room that serves as an office. We is my husband and me. He teaches junior college math and does not have a campus office. I have my writing stuff. In addition there are the household files. You get the picture.

You really don't want to know how small this room is. Originally, in the 50s when it was built, this was half of the dining room. It has a full brick wall on one end with an arched fireplace. The other three walls are paneled; well, two have the original wide plank and bead paneling but the third wall is just studs covered with this hideous cheap paneling about 2 shades darker that has about a hundred holes in it of all sizes. In that third wall is the tiniest pocket door imaginable shoved to the far end of the room. So with only one window, dark walls and a tiny door the room feels like it is imploding.

The cramped space is only part of the issue. I am a quiet spaces kind of person, especially when I am writing. My husband is quiet-challenged; he has trouble dealing with quiet. So he tends to fill the void with noise of some kind. For example, it is common for him to have a CD or streaming radio running when he's on the computer whereas I rarely do that. Don't get me wrong; I love my husband but we do our work differently.

I once saw a TV segment on Walter Gropius' 1938 home (Bauhaus movement) in which he and his wife designed a joint studio where they worked side-by-side. A photo of their studio is archived at Historic New England Visual Tour of Gropius House. I started thinking again that we could do it too. But it isn't any good. We are not the Gropiuses, and sharing this small space requires a lot of effort and accommodation on each of our parts that would be better invested in our work; especially since we now have extra rooms to spread out.

So we have been working on converting the spare bedroom into my office/studio space. It is a corner room facing north and west; so it is light and when the windows are open it gets a nice breeze. To the west is it lightly shaded by a young Maple tree which serves as home to several nests of Robins each summer. In addition it is the room farthest from the public areas of the house, so traffic and media noise is pushed to the background.

First, the room had to be rewired for ground. Pulling wires through walls that are more than 50 years old over a brick-on-masonry shell is a real challenge, but it is finally done. Now every outlet in the room is grounded and half have had their switch-modes disconnected - it would not do to accidentally switch the power off in the middle of some unsaved project.

This leaves just a bit of wall patching and then painting the whole room before I move in. But there is the tiniest issue about choosing a paint color. The sellers painted everything white--really white--before they put the house on the market. But what color do I want to live with, and work in for some years to come. Once the furniture is in changing the color is not an option.

My office furniture is a light but warm Maple. I want something creamy and warm, but not too yellow. I don't want something that will make the furniture look dark by contrast and cut up the space visually. So I succeeded in narrowing the possibilities to 10 or 12 shades. You see the problem; fear of picking the wrong color. But I need to move on, select a color and get ready to paint. Providing winter is really over and windows can be opened for ventilation. Wish me luck.


sylvia c. said...

Choosing a paint color can be intimidating, but I am sure you will choose the one you REally love!

Strangely, I can work fine sharing an office with my hubby. I suppose our working styles are pretty similar.

(but it's not all bliss in this household! ;)


Sylvia C.

G's Cottage said...

I brought home several chip strips this morning and taped them to a wall in the room. While I work on the patch I will have the opportunity to see the chips in various intensities of light throughout the day.


At A Hen's Pace said...

It's really worth the money to buy the little can of paint and do a square yard or more--it can look different than it does on the teeny chip.

So glad you're getting your own office! That's something I really want in our next house.


G's Cottage said...

I have never done that before; but then every other house I have painted had to be pale neutral shades because it was going to be sold sooner or later. This is different. I can have exactly what I want, if I just knew what that would be.

But I have started thinking that a try out may be the only way to know for sure. And this room is going to get a lot of use so I want to feel happy about being there.

Thanks for your support; and I wish you a room of your own very soon.