Nearly twenty years ago we added a second floor to our two-bedroom ranch house. We also extended the living room forward and added additional basement space and a front porch. If that sounds like a giant undertaking, I promise you it was, but I’m fortunate to be married to a talented, hardworking guy with lots of talented, hardworking guys in his family (and friends who are like family). So, one day, we ripped the roof off and the front of the house off and basically built a new house.
We had no real plan for the space on the second floor beyond knowing we needed bedrooms and a bathroom. I wanted a small office because, at the time, I was working at the newspaper and was working from home twice a week.
After they put the walls up and roof on, Dan and I climbed up the ladder and walked through the space and laid out the floor plan with a can of spray paint and some two-by-fours. (I have trouble visualizing stuff before it’s in front of me…so I needed to be IN the space to lay it out).
Kelly was just six months old at the time, but we knew we wanted at least one more child, maybe two (?) so we laid out two bedrooms, a bathroom and then took the remaining space to make a third room that would be a playroom, but could easily be made into a bedroom, if needed. There was a small office right next to it.
We left a door-sized opening between the office and the playroom so that the kids could play while I worked right next to them and so that, should we (or future owners) need it to be a bedroom, we could just throw up a door and voila — a third bedroom.
Until a month ago, that room was still filled with toys and stuffed animals and American Girl doll stuff. I kept meaning to deal with it, but just couldn’t find the time or motivation, so it sat…like an old relic. My little nieces and nephews loved it, of course, but my own kids had long outgrown it.
I found the motivation to do something about it when Lauren’s school announced the high school would be completely remote to start the 2020 year. With no room in Lauren’s bedroom for a desk and knowing she’d need a space to work/learn, I started eyeing up the playroom.
The initial plan was to buy a desk and shove it in there. Then, I started thinking about building a desk out of IKEA drawers and making it look like a built-in. Then, like any home improvement project, it escalated from there.
Soon, we were selling off the toys, organizing what was left and putting it into the closet, ripping out the carpet and putting down new flooring, traveling 2 hours south to IKEA, and sewing curtains.
The result is an adorable class/craftroom space in gray/white/Bombay pink color tones. We still have work to do — the actual desk is not built as it requires Dan and he’s busy building his Taj Mah Garage right now — but we found a small table and the workspace was functional by the time Lauren started school on Tuesday.
I’ve been working at home since March and it feels life has come full circle now as my baby girl and I spend our days together again. She sits less than six feet from me. We’re separated by a curtain hung over that open doorway.
Instead of playing with the Fisher Price Castle and Play-Doh, she’s tapping away on a laptop, learning about marketing and entrepreneurship and environmental science.
While it’s not what I wanted, hoped or imagined for her senior year, I don’t hate having her so close and savoring these last years before she leaves the nest.
And, this time, I don’t even have to worry about her crawling out of the room and tumbling down the stairs when I run to the bathroom. I hope, anyway.
About Just Write: Just Write is my adaptation of free writing, a technique in which a person writes continuously and quickly without little regard for spelling, grammar, or topic. It helps writers overcome blocks of apathy and explore everything from meaningful topics to mundane observations with the same effort and without the pressure of crafting perfect prose. I just start writing.
“What ends up revealing itself when free writing is that everything has meaning. That is a magnificent gift of writing. If we write from a free heart-gut place, our souls start speaking.”