Virginia Woolf famously said, “A woman must have … a room of her own if she is to write fiction.” While I don’t write fiction, I do write. Sadly, however, I don’t have a room of my own. I live in a split-level three bedroom house, which is roomier than some of my friends’ homes, but does not afford me a room for writing. When I was pregnant with my son Jacob my husband and I lost our office to the cause of our kids each having their own room. The computer moved downstairs to a corner of the family room, which is otherwise filled mostly with toys.
It was a full year or more after the computer moved that I got the call that I had been laid off from my job. I didn’t realize it yet at the time, but that day marked my transition from part-time work outside the home mom to full-time work at home mom. I soon discovered that trying to be productive from the corner of my family room was much more challenging than trying to be productive from my cubicle in an office. Any sort of separation between family and career was erased. I’m not complaining – there are many upsides to this. I have much more flexibility when it comes to being with my kids, for instance, which is a big plus for me. I’m glad I made the switch.
At the same time, I often long for a room of my own. A room that I can close the door on when the work day is done. A room I can retreat to when the noise in the rest of the house is too much. A space that isn’t filled with toys and discarded apple cores and so on. My husband and I frequently talk about this conundrum, of lacking any type of home office. We haven’t found any great solutions. However, recently it occurred to me that I could at least make a few changes to my workspace, to make it a little more functional.
For the past couple of months I’ve been on a quest. The first step was moving the printer off of my desk. We accomplished that in October, when we got a working wifi printer, which now lives on the top shelf of a closet. That cleared off my desk. Step two was getting rid of my clunky old desktop computer, and moving on to my laptop. (You’ll be glad to know I kept disco mouse, though.) We did that in November, which cleared more space in my desk area. Step three was clearing out my old bookshelf, which hasn’t actually contained books for ages, and making space for my sewing supplies and sewing machine. We did that in December.
The job was finished this weekend. We made the pilgrimage to IKEA for a new floor mat, chair and doors for my bookcase. The result is a corner of a room that is totally mine, filled with my work and crafting supplies. My sewing machine is no longer hidden in a cupboard when it’s not in use, and sharing space on my dining room table when it is. My fabric is no longer stuffed into an overflowing shelf in my buffet. My desk is no longer covered with things I don’t need, want or use. And I finally have a chair I actually like, rather than one that my husband bought himself 15 years ago for his bachelor apartment.
My completed space
I’m hoping that Virginia Woolf was only half-right, and that a space of my own will suffice. For now, I have to say, I’m very happy with it. It may not be perfect, but it’s mine. My own little corner of the world. It is sweet, indeed.