Six. Labor Day Laboring

Last week, Erin wrote about having a work space of one’s own, and it made me chuckle, because Chris and I have been having that same conversation lately.

We live in a ranch-style house, and the room that you enter into from the garage is, we think, supposed to be a dining room, as it connects to both the kitchen and the living room.  This is the room that we have been using as an office ever since we moved in, but it has never really worked very well as an office, especially since we now have (very mobile, very loud) kids.  If we are on the phone, Jacob and Libby can often be heard on the other end, even when they are in the living room or the kitchen.  The door to the backyard is also in our office, so any time they go outside, they come through the office.  Add to that a dog that barks at every plastic bag and phantom menace, and it’s easy to see how it’s not always the calmest, quietest work environment.

Then, there is the issue of layout.  It needs to serve as both a entryway/mudroom and an office.  The room has seen approximately 9625801 different desk/bookshelf/cabinet/wall hook combinations.  Its current iteration includes a 12-foot conference table that is pushed against one wall (so we effectively lose half of its surface space), and Chris and I sit side by side at it.  This means that my side is directly next to the entrance from the garage, which also means that my desk becomes a repository for junk mail, old newspapers, the dog leash, and toys brought out for walks.  Add to this the fact that neither Chris nor I keeps the neatest, most organized desk (apparently we’re creative!), and it’s easy to see how this space isn’t just noisy, but it’s also often a mess.  Frankly, we’re starting to feel like it sets the tone for the rest of the house.  If the first room we walk into is a mess, why not let the rest of the house be messy, too?

Our house has a large, unfinished basement that has been a repository for, well, Old Stuff We Might Use One Day.  We have been talking about making a playroom down there, but then, we thought, what if we moved the office, instead?  We move ourselves downstairs, giving us more room and more quiet, and opening up the upstairs for a more functional entryway layout plus an upstairs playroom.  YES, please!

The first task, of course, is organizing and clearing out the Old Stuff We Might Use One Day as well as painting the basement.  I’m not sure when it was last painted, but I’d guess something like 40 years ago.  And while I like green, I could not not NOT look at these walls all day, every day for years while I work.

And so, that is the long story of how we spent three days over Labor Day weekend laboring away, painting half of our basement white.  We still have a ways to go (new lighting is needed, as well as more organizing) before we can officially move the office downstairs.  But the change is immediate and impressive!



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