After my oldest son’s sophomore year in college, I stole his bedroom.

I asked him first, but it was more of a “I want to make your bedroom into my study. Is that okay?” kind of question. He didn’t care. He was having so much fun at college, we literally had to make him come home to visit. And then he worked at a camp all summer after his sophomore year. And he would be spending second semester during his junior year in London. I knew he wouldn’t miss it.

So yeah. I didn’t feel bad about it. I work from home, and I needed more space. I was teaching and writing from the kitchen table, and my stuff was everywhere. And I have trouble focusing when the house isn’t in order, which is frequently the case in the kitchen/living area. In the kitchen, food is also too available, the T.V. is tempting, and I’m usually doing laundry there (yep, no laundry room, so it’s also the laundry area).

I decided I needed a room with less distractions.  I was writing a few manuscripts and had no quiet space to do it (and working in my bedroom makes me sleepy!). Having my own study was the natural and logical solution to all of these pressing issues. Technically, my son’s room wasn’t even his real room because he grew up in a different room. (I made him switch rooms with his little brother when he left for college. But that’s another story.)

I live in a house of men, so for years I have tempered my girly-decorating juices to match my environment. Apparently, decorating desires die hard, because I still long to make that girly room. Just one. Please.

So I did it, albeit not too girly. I narrowed my criterion down for a good workspace and solved my decorating issues at the same time. On the cheap, which is how I roll. Here are 7 tips for making a good workspace, even if you don’t like to decorate:

  • desk or writing surface
  • comfortable reading chair, with ottoman because my feet must be elevated
  • good light–I like lamps and windows
  • soothing color (mine’s called “Tranquility” by Valspar)
  • storage (I’m storing books, files, binders, printer and office supplies, photos; I bought cheap shelving at Lowes and hung it myself; still need to cut down some boards, though)
  • memorabilia (if you’re that kind of person; pictures and momentos make me happy, so I like them displayed; note:  too much clutter can be distracting)
  • clock, calendar, bulletin board/places to store “to do” files and lists
  • a closet, if possible; mine is loaded

But it’s serene enough to even lure the men of my house. My husband sneaks in here to talk on the phone or read a book. My sons do homework here and Skype their friends.

I write and edit here. I read and stack my books-to-read in neat baskets that I forget to look through. I sort pictures and do ironing and make to-do lists. My study is becoming our second kitchen, minus the available food and drink. Which is actually its only inconvenience.

I just saw a blog post for making a “writing shed” on Pinterest. People are transforming their sheds into beautiful workspaces. Hmmm. What a great idea! I’d be away from my ironing and my paper-sorting. Away from my over-crowded shelves. I’d get so much done! Only I’d have to bring in a chair and ottoman, a mini fridge, art, books, storage . . .

Perhaps it would end up being an outside kitchen where I write? Kind of like the 2 rooms I have already.




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