Wednesday, January 21, 2015

A Place for Me

by Janis Patterson
I call it my office, though that is a grandiose term for a small desk on the short wall of the guest room. Still, it’s mine, and I can go in there, close off the outside world and work. At least, that’s the way it was supposed to be. After some much-needed (and unfortunately ongoing) remodeling on the house and the decision to get rid of our storage units, which necessitated the sorting and going through of all kinds of family stuff, my office without warning morphed into an overcrowded lumber room. It seemed that everything that we wanted to keep but didn’t have an immediate place or which had to be looked through in order to determine final distribution got dumped in there. Now I have a high tolerance for clutter, but all of a sudden it went over the top when I couldn’t turn my desk chair around.

As a consequence I have been opening boxes and sorting and getting rid of stuff! That which we definitely want to keep but have no immediate place for (such as my great-great-grandmother’s sugar bowl, creamer and spoons dish) is carefully packed into uniform new boxes and stored in the garage, which has been remodeled just for such a purpose. Our favorite charity, an orphanage for abused and abandoned animals, has received several pick-up loads of still-good castoffs for resale in their charity shop.

And still the stuff is there! I have decided that one of the secret truths of the universe is that both boxes and books breed. And generally faster than we can sort them. We have been on this decluttering, downsizing ideology since our marriage (when we combined the stuff from four separate households – long story) and it seems that we have more stuff now than when we started. I tell you, it breeds!

One of the major decisions is to make the room more officelike. We have a suite of antique furniture in there – double bed, dresser, chest and nightstand – that had belonged to my father’s mother and is over 100 years old. It’s beautiful and I love it, and not just because it came to me when I was about ten to become my girlhood furniture. It’s just that the stuff is massive and the guest room is a very small room. So – we have decided to continue using the chest and dresser, but get rid of the mattress and springs and knock the bed down. It will be stored with other ancestral pieces in the garage. We’re going to replace it with a single (antique, of course) bed that belonged to The Husband’s family. That will still allow us to shelter a guest, and give me the convenience of a daybed/couch in my office, but free up so much room.

Another thing I have decided to do is hang pictures. The room had two or three in it from the beginning, conventionally hung one to a wall. A sad fact is that our house has a very open floor plan, which means there is very little wallspace for hanging things. As we were going through things I found so many paintings and things that I love, so I decided to hang them. All of them. The result is solid blocks of paintings on every wall and I love it, though the visual cacophony is something of a sensory overload. Neither are the styles congruent. There are huge paintings from J.K. Durbin and Brad Jernigan and 3 or 4 from my mother’s mother, the smallest of this lot being roughly 2x3feet. There are smaller ones by James Rather and Bud Biggs and my parents and an aunt. There are an antique floral chromolithograph and a 17th century copper repousse Madonna and Child. There are some 1,000 year old scraps of incredibly detailed Wari weavings and a rattle and a blowpipe (complete with carefully sheathed darts) from the Peruvian jungles. Are the darts poison-tipped? I don’t know and I’m being very careful not to find out! I have some of the original artwork from Danny and the Dustbunnies, my only (so far) children’s book. There are two original D. R. Rago archaeological illustrations of an ancient skull. Also, there’s an ornate brass oil lamp from an 18th century Middle Eastern monastery library and a small collection of reverse-paintings on glass.

Yes, I have very diverse tastes.

The Husband wonders if all this color and crowding might not be distracting from my work. I don’t think so. I am surrounded by things I love, things that each have their own special, personal history for me, things from all kinds of places and times. To me that’s inspiring, not distracting. It makes a somewhat generic guest room into my nest.


Now if I can just get ahead of the brown paper boxes….

17 comments:

Luanna Stewart said...

Oh my, breeding boxes, I know them well. Moving them around doesn't help, I've tried it, hehe.

I love your idea of crowding the walls with artwork and other things. Who says there has to be a theme? I've got a few pictures that i've not hung because I don't think they "fit". I'm going to rethink that.

Cheers!

Lynn Cahoon said...

I finally got my office set up this last few months. Now I even have a place to read, instead of boxes and construction materials. Good luck with yours. :)

Jacqueline Seewald said...

One of the things I've done is hang my own framed paintings, the ones I really like, around the house. Near my office space I've hung posters of the cover art of my favorite published novels. Very cheerful!

Elizabeth Delisi said...

Oh my, sounds like us and the little house we ended up in, when having to buy during the housing bubble. Boxes in all the closets...pictures stored as there's no wall space to display them. But I like your idea of hanging them all! Hmm.

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

Your office sounds wonderful!

Rose Anderson said...

Sounds like a creative place to be. Best luck.

Sandy Cody said...

Would love to see your picture wall; it sounds inspiring. I can just see an amateur sleuth who thinks outside the box finding the solution to a crime hidden among the pictures. Understand and totally agree with your breeding box theory.

E. Ayers said...

Never put two boxes in a closet together! They do breed. Boxes breed and dust bunnies breed. Ever move a door that you rarely use? You never find one dust bunny - you find six. And they will scatter the moment you move that door. Without fail, two will escape your cleaning and set up a new home under a piece of furniture.

I love picture walls filled with all sorts of things. You'll find yourself buying little things to fit between the bigger things. Maybe picture walls breed, too?

Fran McNabb said...

I totally get the breeding boxes and clutter. I put my office cleaning off for years. We changed the carpet last week and I HAD to take everything out and reorganize. Ugh. Too much work, but now my office is so nice. I love going it.

Carole Price said...

You sound so much like us, the antique bed and chests in our guest room, art work we've collected over the years. My office has a sofa, my stained glass projects, and tons of books. I love it. Shilo (my dog) loves it. So why haven't I produced more books? Maybe I'm too comfortable.

Jana Richards said...

I'm trying to get my office space organized. But so far, I haven't made a lot of headway. Good on you for getting yours in shape!

Kathye Quick said...

Sounds fabulous. But warning, boxes breed like rabbits. I think they visit in the night.

Would love to see a picture of the finished room.

Sydell Voeller said...

I agree about the breeding boxes! I live in a small house with limited storage, so I can identify. Good luck with the new office--it sounds as if you're good to go now. (Mine is half guest room too. I have a twin bed on the opposite side from my desk where one of my grandchildren sleeps whenever he/she comes to visit.)

Morgan Mandel said...

My office is in the dining room. We only use the table there for breakfast and lunch, and rarely entertain. I love my desk, but wish I'd bought the credenza that matched it at the time, because now it's not available. I'm still using a rummage sale reject for the credenza until I can find one I really like. At one time I was considering using one of the spare rooms, but now I'm glad I didn't because we turned it into a bedroom on the first floor, instead of going upstairs to sleep.

Amy Cattapan said...

I definitely believe that books breed! I'm getting ready for a party at my place tonight, and I'm realizing how many books I have crammed into every nook and cranny of my home!

Victoria M. Johnson said...

Hi Janis--
Your office sounds fabulous. Everytime I get close to getting a handle on my boxes, more seem to appear. I don't know how they reproduce... but they do :-)
Victoria--

Hope Underwood said...

Most people would want that plain and neat workplace, just because it’s what keeps them free from distractions. But personally, I couldn’t agree more with what you have done with your work area. Accessorizing your workplace with things you like could actually motivate you to work harder. Thanks for sharing this with us, Morgan. Good day!

Hope Underwood @ Level and Square Construction