A Place to Think


March 24, 2015 by Jean

place to thinkDuring 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.

study storage alcoveMoving 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.

desk views study comfortable chair

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.

14 thoughts on “A Place to Think

  1. Jean, it does feel wonderful to be able to move in to our spaces and feel so comfortable and at home….Love that you have this space now….I finally have my work space in the basement for my indoor gardening and oh I love it….so much easier to work and I am more productive.

    • Jean says:

      Donna, Although it has been a long process, I’m very much enjoying getting settled into my remade house — and trying to get as much of it as possible done before the gardening season begins (which I think will be late this year, given the amount of snow on the ground and the continuing below-normal temperatures).

  2. Progress, you are certainly making progress and feeling good about it. The new room looks wonderful. 🙂

  3. Diana Studer says:

    We are still at the grit underfoot and a powdery film on everything we touch. Kitchen gutted and all the rooms packed into two bedrooms. But I sit on ‘your chair’ with my laptop and cat. Another 2 weeks of chaos, and then we can begin the happy bit of settling in.

    • Jean says:

      Diana, I’m very happy to be done with that gritty/chaotic stage of remodeling. While it seemed to go on forever at the time, I find that it has quickly receded in memory as I enjoy my remodeled house.
      I remember that you also have one of these Ikea chairs; I think it’s the most comfortable reading chair I’ve ever owned.

  4. Jean R. says:

    What a wonderful space. I love the color of the walls and L shaped desk and, well, everything else. Can’t wait to see what you do with the guess bedroom now.

    • Jean says:

      Jean, Right now the guest room is crammed full of all the stuff that got removed from other rooms. Before I can get started in there, I’m going to have to muck it out!

  5. Nync says:

    Beautiful! I love the way you come up with a vision & then make it happen. Even if it takes a while.

    • Jean says:

      Nync, LOL, I think “Even if it takes a while” is the key phrase in describing my work style. When I was a sophomore in high school, they gave us a battery of standardized tests, including one called “speed and accuracy.” While I was usually a very good test-taker who scored high, my score on this one was in the bottom 10%, because it turned out that I was “very accurate” but also extremely slow. I haven’t gotten much better over the years at tasks that require speed. But if a job can be done well by doing it slowly and carefully, I’m your person!

  6. K. Adonna says:

    What a fabulous thinking and writing room you’ve created! Beautiful. ❤

  7. Carole says:

    What a lovely space! I especially love your chair and ottoman. The lines of the chair are beautiful, and it looks very comfortable. I noticed your lap top on your desk. I ended up buying a stand for my laptop on my desk. It brought the screen up to eye level, which eliminated the strain I was feeling on my neck. I’ve been happy with it; it is minimalistic with clean lines, and my mac book looks like it belongs there.

    You’ve done an amazing job of organizing your spaces into areas that are functional and aesthetically pleasing.

    • Jean says:

      Carole, I am very much enjoying this work space. As the season advances, I’ll be able to see part of my garden out the window and open the window to get the summer breezes and hear the birds sing.
      The chair and ottoman are from Ikea’s ‘Poang’ series, probably one of their best-selling items — inexpensive, but durable and very, very comfortable. The bent wood has just enough give to provide some of the benefits of a rocking chair without actually being one. I have been using this chair daily for more than 25 years, and it has really stood up well. Even the chair and ottoman covers, which can be taken off and washed, have lasted all these years.
      I have always had the opposite problem with my computer and my neck; desktop monitors and laptops on stands are too high for me and force me to crane my head up to see the screen. When I was working, I always had trouble convincing the IT people that I didn’t want a docking station to raise my laptop off the desk. I angle the screen so that I can look slightly down at it through my bifocals, and it’s perfect.

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I am Jean Potuchek, a professional sociologist who has just stepped into the next phase of my life, retirement, after more than thirty years of college teaching. This blog is about my experience of that new phase of life.

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