It’s official: I’ve moved into the new office space.
Just to review, we spent this summer retrofitting our 1930s-era farmhouse for a geothermal air conditioning and heating system, a labor-intensive activity that required us to move nearly everything out of our basement and attic storage spaces. In the process of sorting through the mess, we decided to change the function of several rooms in the house; namely, my upstairs office, just off the master bedroom, would become a large walk-in closet, and we would move me into the front room of the basement, previously the most cavernous, oppressive, and generally yucky space in the house.
We spent the last few weeks steam cleaning and waxing the tile floor, priming and painting the walls, hammering down baseboards, sewing curtains, hanging drape rods, skooching around furniture, unloading book boxes, and rewiring electric and phone lines. There was a brief setback — as I noted earlier — when we discovered some leaky spots in the fireplace that had suddenly decided to go nuclear, but with a bit of KwikPlug, we’re bone dry again.
As a reminder, then, here’s what the area looked like before the conversion, albeit with a cleaned and waxed floor and the beginning of a coat of primer on the wall:
It’s funny the things you surround yourself with. The stuffed bear you see on the mantel behind the desk was a gift my daughter Madi gave me about seven years ago, when I had just started to work on Washington Irving and became sick from a scorpion sting. She named the bear Washington, and he’s one of my Very Favorite Things — so there’s something reassuring about having him there looking over my shoulder as I work.
To the right of him, you’ll see two gifts from my wife, the first a short box where I keep a row of fountain pens, and then a stamp collector’s box where I hold all my assorted stuff, like pens, ink, stamps, wax seals, and stationery. Centered above the mantelpiece is a framed watercolor of Sunnyside, given to me by my mother and stepfather to celebrate the weekend I spoke there. Sitting on the desk, just out of sight on the left side of the picture, is a Snoopy telephone I’ve had since 1983, and in storage since about 1996. It was nice to break him out again.
The desk I’m using here is just an old farm table that once served as a dining table in my first apartment. It’s a lot smaller than the desk I was using in the old office, but that’s because given the space in the basement, I could essentially split my work area into two stations. If you sit at the desk, then, and look to your left, here’s the secondary work area — right next to the cabinet with the TV and DVD player I use solely for research purposes, I assure you:
The table is already cluttered by my writing desk, where I’ve tossed the journals and binder with my preliminary notes on my potential work in progress. You can also see the . . . er, adult beverages on the TV cabinet, and, on the shelf to the right,the ceramic Milk Bone jar our dog Abbey already strolls down the stairs to stare at, hoping to psychically force me into opening it and feeding her. It usually works.
Mounted to the ceiling is the ductwork for the new heating/cooling system. I decided to leave it exposed, rather than having it boxed in. I’m still trying to decide how well I like it.
Finally, looking to the right of the table and down the long wall, is the main reason I’m so thrilled to be moving to the basement: there’s finally enough room to put up my bookshelves and unload most of my books. The shelves are strictly IKEA, but the ability to quickly move shelves up or down is what makes it such an ideal system:
And now it’s back to work — once I shoo everyone out of here, that is. It’s already become one of the most popular rooms in the house. Not that I mind.