March 24, 2015 by Jean
During the years when I was a hard-working college professor, teaching three different courses in a semester and often working 70-80 hours in a week, I used to joke that I was an intellectual with no time to think. One of the joys of retirement has been having time to think. But I also wanted a place to think.
For twenty-five years, when this house was my part-time home, I used the small room at the back of the house as my study. It was cramped, with barely enough room for my desk and three small bookcases. When I was in Maine for the summer, I never had enough room to put away the files and books that I had brought with me from Gettysburg; and the resulting piles on the desk and floor made it seem even more cramped. The room, with only two narrow casement windows at the north-facing corner, also tended to be dark.
Building an addition on my house provided an opportunity to convert my old bedroom into a new study. I have been working on this since I moved into the new addition in January (see Two Steps Forward, One Step Back and Study Progress). Last week, I finally finished the last of the painting in this room and finished moving furniture and office supplies into place. The result is a wonderful place to work and think.
Moving my study to a room that is 50% larger has allowed for a space that is better organized, lighter, and more pleasant. There is room for an L-shaped desk arrangement, with each side more than 5’ long. There is room for a whole wall of bookshelves, with all my books organized and accessible, and even some space to add new ones. One of the two 4’closets that take up one wall of this room has been converted into an alcove to store correspondence, financial records, and office supplies; the wooden cabinet that served as a TV stand in the living room for twenty-five years has been moved into this alcove and repurposed for office storage.
My new study doesn’t just provide space for thinking; it also provides the right ambience for thinking. Sometimes I think best by writing, either at the computer or in longhand. Sometimes I need to stare off into space while I think, and I want to have something pleasant to stare at. I have two options here: I can look out the window at the woods beyond or at the artwork hung on the walls. Sometimes I want to sit in a comfortable chair while I think, and this large study has allowed me to move the chair and ottoman that sat in my living room for many years and served as my prime spot for reading and grading into the study as a place to read and think.
I still have a few finishing touches to put on this space. I need, for example, to buy a new two-drawer file cabinet, which will allow me to finish unpacking and organizing the rest of my professional and personal files. But with this room substantially complete, I am ready to move on to my last indoor house project – converting my former study into a guest room and sewing room.