A Room of My Own

Cat sitting between computer monitors on desk

Lately I decided I must have a functional, uncluttered space to work from home. This would mean reorganizing my personal “stuff” and paring it back to create a more serene work area. I decided to combine some home-related goals:

  • Create a distinct work-from-home space
  • Maintain a separate personal work space (for blogging, journaling, photos, art, etc.)
  • Carve out a nook for a quiet reading area where I can get away from the rest of the family (!)
  • Limit my personal belongings (other than clothes, jewellery and toiletries) to one room

For this, I have a room of my own, 11 by 11 feet (11 m²) plus a 5.5 by 2 foot closet (1 m² footprint). Rom and I each have a home office/hobby room crammed with all our personal stuff. I had overflow in the “rec room” which is primary used for exercise (elliptical machine and fitness DVDs). But a lot of stored items belonged to our adult child Link who left them when they first moved out. Link moved back home during the pandemic and this was a great impetus for doing a complete declutter.

First I removed all my personal items from the rec room and brought them to my home office. The result was a pile-up so bad, I had to carefully mask the mess from my Zoom meetings! Meanwhile, the movers arrived with Link’s belongings. Since Link is an artist, crafter and cosplayer, an immense amount of stuff arrived! We agreed Link would have the rec room for storage and a studio. So now each of us has their own activity room as well as a sleeping space! (Our house is quite small but has a lot of rooms).

With some considerable prodding, Link has started going through the boxes of stuff they left here the first time around. I am very happy it’s no longer my responsibility. I realize it’s my house and I could have thrown it all out, but we had plenty of space and it wasn’t an issue.

From January through March, I examined and made decisions about all my personal possessions (see also this post and this post.)

Since I’ve been working primarily from home since March 2020, one of my goals was to have a serene home office. Visual clutter impedes my ability to work. I was using a 30” x 60” work top, but I was storing a huge L-shaped desk from IKEA. I reassembled it and created separate desktop areas for home and work. I like it when I finish work and close my laptop and wheel my chair around to the home section! 😊 The home side has my PC and speakers, journaling supplies, projects, receipts and notes. I recently covered an old bulletin board with fabric and put it back into action.

There were 4 full bookcases in my office – 2 for me and 2 for Rom (overflow from his office!) A few months ago, I made Rom remove one of the bookcases to give me more room. Then, the other one collapsed under the weight of his old textbooks! I swear I didn’t orchestrate it, but now I have enough room for a wish-list space. Since Link moved back, I am never alone – Rom and Link are home 24/7 – so I decided I needed a reading nook in the office with a comfy chair. I will be able to close the door and read without listening to anyone else’s YouTube videos or music!

Rom’s book fallout was urgent, so I dealt with my books at the same time. I was about 50% more ruthless than the last clear-out.  As a result, I was able to fit all my “day books” (combined work/personal journals for the past 30 years) AND my entire collection of 500+ music CDs on the bookshelves. We are Spotify subscribers but I can’t bear to trash my CDs yet. Strictly sentimental. The resale value is negligible.

Next I did the fun stuff: stationery, gift wrap, mailing supplies and craft supplies. I don’t sew or knit, so this wasn’t as taxing for me as it is for others! Collectibles were harder as I went through my children’s-book-related toys, old-time wooden toys, games and remaining building toys (after the big LEGO clear-out a few years ago).

It took me several weekends to go through electronics, checking old hard drives and flash drives. I even borrowed a floppy disk reader to see what was on the pile of old floppies in a desk drawer! (I saved a few old letters to my PC).

After all that was dealt with, I jokingly created a little “museum of vintage technology” at my office at the library (where I work when I’m not working from home) – I have since added a NES game to the collection!

Interior window decorated with old media

I decided to throw away all my photo negatives. I have photo albums up to 2003 and digital photos thereafter. Someday I might scan the printed photos. If I scanned the negatives, I would have to weed out all the missed shots. I also got rid of 90% of my photo frames. The number of framed photos I have in the house now is just about right, so I know I won’t use more. Then, I reviewed my framed artwork and only kept a few pictures with personal meaning. Even those had been stored away for years, which is sad.

One of the bigger categories for decluttering was work files I had kept from past jobs. Recent jobs have been unlike the previous ones, so there’s not much material I can reuse. I kept an overview of my career. It made me think about what work-related items I might want to keep when I eventually retire. I know some retirees define themselves by their life’s work while others completely leave it behind. I expect I will be more in the former group since I like my work.

I had kept our family’s kitchen wall calendars for many years which showed our daily activities. After cross-checking a few weeks against my day books, I didn’t need both. I came up with a system for storing my mementos (from concerts, plays, travel, etc.) which I’ll describe in another post.

I went through the contents of my bedroom closet, night stand, and the dreaded Closet under the Stairs (a clean and dry but dark and dismal space). I was embarrassed by the number of boxes I kept from new products just because they were a Good Box. I also had three times as many canning jars as we need. No jam is planned!

While I could get rid of the existing furniture and replace it according to my whim, that is not going to happen. I kept the L-shaped desk, task chair, craft drawers, filing cabinets and 2 bookshelves. The only items I really need are a new task chair (the current one hasn’t been great for working long hours) and a new reading chair! It’s unlikely the closet will ever be used for clothes again, so I may install a racking system for all the stored boxes.

I estimate it will be 15 years before we downsize; in the meanwhile, I am happy to reuse what we have.

So now I have a functional room of my own. That should increase my productivity by 100%, I’m sure 😊

Do you have your own space at home? Do you like to retreat from the people you live with, or is it just me? (I like them, honest!)

PS – To anyone who follows the blog on Bloglovin, it appears that only every second post I write shows up there! This is not fixable on WordPress. Sorry!

30 comments

  1. It all looks great – so well thought out and organized!

    Our son has 5000+ CDs (he collects) and keeps them in special notebooks that have pages with pockets that hold 4 or 6 of the CDs with their liner notes. He keeps all the binders on a set of shelves, but all the music is downloaded and he listens to it all in alphabetical order – it now takes well over a year to go through all of it. Anyway, he found the notebooks to be more space efficient that keeping all the jewel cases.

    Before we moved to Hawaii our older daughter scanned all the photos in albums for us and they’re now stored in a cloud. We shredded and threw away tons of mementos, calendars, etc. before we moved – it was a very difficult and emotional thing to do, but it turns out we haven’t missed them at all! We had a great time going through everything before it got tossed though. I think though that I am just not a keeper of things.

    • Rom has done that with his CDs! Mine are all ripped to the PC too. I have listened to my whole collection twice, in order. I expect I’ll give up most of my “paper” mementos eventually, maybe at the time of a move. I like going through them occasionally…

      • Our son adds to his collection every year, and still maintains it all in alphabetical order. The notebooks make it easier, but it still has to be a massive chore when he has to add things.

        We were ready to get rid of paper moments when we came over to Hawaii. Brett still has a huge box filled with family history, etc. but plans on sending that off to someone else this time (his sister sent it all to him initially, without checking whether he wanted it or not – grrrr).

  2. I was going to say I think you should shout yourself a new chair, that one looks a bit flimsy for the purpose. 😉

    It feels good to let things go.

  3. Why do we keep those old work files? I did (and do) the same thing. Your new area looks crisp.

  4. We have to share my work room right now and as much as I love my family I also do not like to share my private space. I need space! 🙂

    I absolutely love your revamp, it looks so bright and shiny and relaxing.

    I’m hoping to get the motivation and a bit of time to do another pass at my accumulated boxes situation in the office in the next few months. Cross your fingers?

  5. I live in a relatively small house (although, I suspect it was big for its time?) It’s a sixty something year old three bedroom brick veneer, with a dining room, lounge room and a definitely was there when we moved in “back room” (aka the Boy Cave). the dining room is my work space as well, so I am always packing up Friday night and starting again Monday morning. I envy your room of your own! The lads have the Boy Cave, Himself has the shed(s) and I share the rest of the house with the entire family. We do have a lot of Stuff though. A lot. I went through my book case over easter and culled a few more boxes. Each time, 4-5 fruit boxes of books move along. This time, they were gone by the following weekend, rather than hanging about while I thought on it for a month.

  6. Freckles

    I had hundreds of CDs and during a bout of unemployment I uploaded them all onto my desktop then sold 80% of them for $1.00 each. I regret it all the time. Computer died a long time ago and I can no longer access the music. Some of the ‘albums’ are on YouTube, some aren’t … what burns my butt are the CDs that are no longer in production and are selling for 100x on Amazon what I ended up selling them for. No wonder the fella who bought them from me had a glint in his eye when he saw some of the stuff I was selling.

    • I feel your pain! I subscribe to Spotify, so for as long as subscription services exist and have good content, I’ll be fine. But there are artists and albums not available there too, especially local stuff or music that wasn’t wildly successful when it came out. As a music fan, I want to hear the exact same version of the song or album that I know, not a remix or a live version. I think you have helped me justify keeping them 😁

  7. Mary

    Certainly like how clean and neat your space is now. I’ve my own home office which I currently share (weekdays) with my 6 yr old GS during virtual school hours. Have done so since August. Had to rearrange quite a bit to bring in a desk for him (my vintage one from UK that I used when I was a girl–it was old way back then), chair and side table with a set of vertical files to store his school books and papers. That leaves his desktop clear for his laptop, a wide enough writing surface and several mason jars filled with pencils, colouring pencils/crayons and assorted items like scissors, erasers, dry erase markers and a small lamp. A larger standing lamp is on the other side of the desk. Walls surrounding his desk are filled with school related prints and his artwork. My sewing machine cabinet and a closet are also along that same wall. All of this takes about half of the room. My fairly large desk is on the opposite side (we sit back to back), along with two low file cabinets and on the opposite walls are bookcases (all books-double filed). Still have plenty of room in the middle which helps when GS has virtual PE class–sock soccer, balloon juggling, bat/tennis swing practice, jogging in place are among the activities that have taken place (some wall items may have been dislodged during these events. 🙂 ). School ends in mid-June and my hope is that the schools will be in-house FT next fall. Fingers crossed. Otherwise I might have two grandchildren here–a Kindergartner and and a Second Grader. Hopefully…not. Once school is over, I will decide on rearrangement of the space and a huge clearing up (and out).

    • You are busy – and well-organized! I hope for everyone’s sake that school is back in session in person in the Fall. If not, your kids and grandkids are lucky to have you!

  8. Fiona

    Hi Dar! Hope all is well there. I’m inspired by the fact that you were able to throw out all the old negatives!! That’s one of those “impossible” decluttering tasks here. It is too daunting a job to try to “weed” all the unprinted negatives and somehow find the “good” ones to scan. I’d never considered just throwing out the lot. Daunting! Something maybe I should consider.

    The work files issue is another one in my “impossible” pile. I had a hard drive crash recently and it contained work files from over 20 years, in 2 different careers. To my shock, when it was recovered by a tech company, it had 80,000 files on the drive!!! It also had all of our past photographs and music. Definitely worth recovering for that but I’m quite definitely wondering now if I should just hit “delete” on the work files. Much of it is outdating itself as time goes on. I might keep some highlight points, which would be one afternoon’s work.

    The photographs of your house look lovely!

  9. Fiona

    Ah! Just saw Dar that you followed a blog I started last year (a teaching blog.) You might want to unfollow the teaching one! 🙂 Your follow made me realise I’d posted the personal blog post to the teaching blog! Thanks 🙂

  10. Jo

    Wow, what a big job that was. I had a sliver of the back verandah enclosed to be my study, but i still work from the kitchen table and my ‘study’ is now the collective junk room:(

  11. Pingback: Good Things Friday (115) and Link Love « A Gai Shan Life

  12. Jo

    I also want to compliment you on persuading your cat to be desk decor:) A very elegant addition..

  13. I have just found you from the comment you left at Viv’s (Where the journey takes me).
    Acckkk 😱😜 – apart from Link you could be my twin . . .

    I threw out all the negatives AND the prints once they had been scanned (and duplicated, and backed up, and then backed up somewhere else just in case 😀)

    I am in a relatively open plan house which affords much less solitude than I desire and totally understand the need to sort your room. Look forward to reading back through your previous posts. xx

  14. You know I’m a sucker for some decent decluttering!!! Well done. It looks such a neat and useable space. We use Spotify but Mr S won’t let go of our CDs (we still have albums rotting somewhere under the house.) I’d like to thin our DVD collection – I know we soon won’t have a DVD player. Can’t give DVDs away – well I did manage to “gift” a few but some are just landfill.

    Photos are my next thing!

    • Yeah, we used to worry about DVDs being stolen from the library but now they’re worthless! So, photos – do you mean print or digital or both?

      • I am going to cull print AND digital photos. I’ve made books from some of our travels and deleted a lot. This holidays I’m going to sort and toss more print photos.

  15. Wow what a mammoth task – deciding what to keep and what to let go is always the hardest I think. Enjoy your new look office!

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