The environment I’m in influences the quality of my work, or at the very least how I feel about the work. For example, I can’t write in bed. I can’t sit with a laptop in bed and expect to create great things. I’d rather just sleep so long as I’m there.
I need a real office space where I feel empowered and professional in order to run my business effectively. For years I’ve struggled to find the place in my home where was going to create this perfect office set-up.
Freelancing with Family
Over the years I’ve tried any number of set-ups to make this writing career work with my growing family. I started in a shared office with my husband. When my first son was born we moved the two computers into another bedroom. Then my second son was born and we got kicked out of that room, too. We then had two home businesses running out of our bedroom. Naturally we were on different schedules and his music drove me absolutely nuts when I did pretend to sleep with two toddlers in the house.
When we moved, we swore up and down that we would need two distinct working spaces along with the three bedrooms. Naturally, when we arrived in the new house there was a master bedroom, a bedroom for each boy and a small office for my husband who was, at the time, working exclusively at home. Mom, ever the flexible one, got to set up a folding table in the bedroom and pretend it was an office – again.
I’ve now been in my house for three years and I’ve had offices in four spots. I worked next to the bed in the master bedroom. I worked in the corner of the master bedroom when we bought new furniture. I worked in the corner of the dining room for a time and briefly, as I was laying hardwood in this room, I worked in the middle of the foyer. But now, the end is very close indeed. I’m going to have the perfect office just as soon as I finish building it.
After staring at a dining room that went almost completely unused, I sold the nicest piece of furniture in my house and cleared out the forsaken dining space. I moved my folding table in and called it my library.
I’m now in the perfect mom spot. I’m literally in the center of the house – I can hear my kids playing above me. I can keep an ear on anything in the oven, and I can stop by and check in on my computer any time I walk through the room.
Making the Perfect Freelancing Office
At this point, it’s just a matter of creating the perfect library setting in my 144 square feet of dining room space. I started with the wood flooring. For about a year I had an old folding table on a new hardwood floor.
Then I moved in an antique secretary I grabbed on Craigslist to dress up the corner. I added some valences to the tall windows along the wall and picked up an excellent chair from Pier One for Christmas thanks to my husband.
My grandmother’s antique marble coffee table makes an excellent end table and the round pedestal table and antique chairs I scored off Craigslist have been refinished and are a great spot for the boys to work on book reports and color (or play Legos) while Mom does a bit of work. In a pinch they can also be used for family meals.
After two years of planning and adding bits and pieces to the dream office, I’m finally on the last big project. I’m creating a wall of built-ins including my desk. The bookshelves have been in place since December. They span a twelve foot wall with space at one end to give headroom over the desk, or rather where the desk will go. My tired, old folding table is sitting there now, holding the spot where I’ll be installing the base cabinets and then the countertop that will serve as the top of the desk.
I am, as I write this, admiring the perfect set-up that is almost complete. I have about three hundred books at my finger tips. I have soft throw pillows and blankets waiting on my chair behind me for the chances I’ll have to read one of those books. My walls are a rich merlot and my floor is oak.
It might have taken me six years, but the home library set-up I’ve dreamed of is finally within reach. It’s a heady experience. The toughest part will probably be letting go of this old table – we’ve been through a lot together after all, and these are our final months together.
It will be a bittersweet moment when the project is complete.
Are you in your ideal working environment?