We have a very small house. It’s an antique half-cape that’s 300 years old. There’s not a lot of room. Essentially there’s one big living space downstairs with a chunk taken out for the central chimney, and a kitchen off the back that was added sometime in the 1800s. Upstairs are only two rooms, and you have to walk through one to get to the other—so, if we want to sell it, we can only count it as a one bedroom. There are no dormers, so the second floor could feel a bit like an attic, tight and cramped.
Still, thanks to The Wife’s brilliant design sense, I get to enjoy a spacious second floor office with two desks! Not to mention a giant comfy sofa.
Here’s what you see coming up the stairs. A bit cramped and inauspicious. That big white pillar is the chimney again, taking up space. Not much room behind it for anything but storage. Might as well fill it with typewriters…
Come around the corner, though, and you reach my analog workspace. Lots of room on that big old desk for pipes, typewriters, notebooks, etc. And a previous owner did a nice job installing custom storage along the eaves. (No easy task in a house where absolutely nothing is square, let me tell you.)
Turn to the left and you can see the lounging corner. It’s a simple and masculine hangout spot. I still can hardly believe we got that oversized IKEA sofa to fit up here, but it settles in like it was custom made. It makes a great spot for midday naps, and it’s a comfortable place for guests to sleep.
The IBM Selectric is just the right height for typing comfortably at a coffee table.
Finally, the view from the couch. The electronics get nestled on another desk around the back of that chimney.
That desk was another purchase The Wife made, for my Christmas present back in 1998. It belonged to her boss’ late grandfather, and it was covered in layers of paint. She had it stripped and sanded by Christmas morning, and then we applied stain and a dozen coats of polyurethane. We’ve moved it seven times since then, and it’s the one piece of furniture I’ll insist we take with us if we move again in the future.
The dual monitor setup feels like a strange indulgence. I started with a $130 computer bought from a dump-salvager, and added a budget $40 graphics card. Surprisingly it had a dual head cable, so when a spare second-hand monitor came my way, I couldn’t turn it down. It’s funny how quickly I got used to having the extra screen and how much I miss it when it’s not there. Using a remote-control app on my android handheld to drive my media software, I can watch movies or control my music from the sofa. I may be a cynical luddite but I am becoming a fan of this era’s dirt-cheap electronics.
There’s just 200 square feet in this room, and the way the roof slants in you can’t stand up in about a third of it. But still there’s so much to do up there that I never want to leave.
How come I get all this lovely space, you ask? Why doesn’t The Wife have some room of her own?
Don’t worry about her. She built an addition off the back of the house, next to the kitchen--almost entirely by herself. And then she built a barn in the backyard.