Some musings on space:
For months I have looked longingly at magazine photos of women's home offices in Better Homes and Gardens, the magazine my grandmother subscribed me to after I got married. I love it--it gives great decorating ideas and (no surprise here) gardening ideas, but it did also make me crave my own space. The women profiled in the magazine, photographed in front of their uber-organized and personality-laden desks, looked so together, so happy. Don't get me wrong, I'm incredibly happy, but I did often feel backed into a corner when it came to work--and not even my corner! My husband had his home office. I could certainly use it of course, but it just seemed so mannish with its dark paint and mahogany bookshelves, his desk usually well-organized and surrounded with books for his dissertation--it just didn't feel like my space, you know? And it is located in the back of the house, the perfect man-cave, so far from the action. My house is an open floor plan, and I love that (sorry, Betty Friedan) but it does make it hard to carve out a work space for myself. I ended up working on the couch (TV temptation), at the dining table or at the counter, but my stuff was always in the way, making me feel like I was in the way. I couldn't leave my work out or I'd risk getting dinner on it, and it just generally made the house look cluttered, something neither of us liked. I just felt like my work and I were always in transition, always in the wrong space.
Until now. Dan got the itch to build something--always a good thing--and planned on building a bookshelf for my cookbook collection, which had begun spilling onto the kitchen floor. I mentioned how much I wanted a desk between the living room and the kitchen, where the bookshelf was to go, and the next thing I knew, he'd drawn up plans and we were at Home Depot shopping for wood and paint. After a busy weekend and some sore muscles and sunburns, I had my desk. We moved it inside tonight, put the books on the shelves, and I am in heaven. Isn't it amazing that a shelf, a tall white shelf, makes me feel so much more professional, like my work really has a purpose? Maybe Betty Friedan was right, in a way--an open floor plan makes women feel that they have no space of their own, as the whole house is their "job" and they have no privacy. Well, my space is still in the middle of that, but I've always dreamed of a desk just off the kitchen, so I can sit down to work for 30 minutes while something's in the oven or a sauce simmers, but am still within earshot of the timer, and can still smell the wonderful smells coming from dinner or freshly baked bread. I'm where I want to be, yet I have a delineated area to call my own--not the table, the counter, or the couch, but my beautiful desk. And to make it even better, now I look up from my computer and there are the colorful spines of my favorite cookbooks--Nigella, Jamie, Rose, Edna, Giada--they're all there, getting me through my work. Now I really feel like someone who does food studies. I mean, I'm ready to edit a new food and literature journal! I have space! All mine!
Dan, wow. You're really amazing.