Your desk may be a beautifully handmade or antique timeworn piece that floats center stage in a room lined with bookshelves and windows. Or, it may be a modest affair in your master bedroom, tucked quietly between two wardrobes, a midcentury thrifted score (here, here). Maybe it’s something in between. Despite any pre-wired thinking that might bend us to believe that our best work can only be done if we find ourselves alone at that large desk in the bookshelf-lined room, the truth is, all we desk-types really need is storage to hold our necessities, a surface on which to work, and room to flow.
A liberating notion, indeed.
To take us off, here’s an alternative view of just what a room, a desk, and storage might be.
A surface on which to work may not actually be a desk. It may be the table in the little-used dining room, a secretary in the corner of the living room, or perhaps it’s a flat surface placed over wooden saw horses anywhere that it might fit. I once accomplished many hours of work atop a solid-wood former closet door that I’d placed across stacked cinder blocks. Anything that is smooth, flat, and large enough can become a surface on which to work.
But what is a desk without drawers, you say? Don’t worry, this is no prescription for going without the tools you need, and a way to have them right where you need them. Think modularly. Maybe a lidded basket with your files inside, kept within arm’s reach, would do. Or maybe drawers can be stolen from a nearby buffet or cabinet. Pens, pencils, ruler, tape, paper clips, stapler, and other necessities can be kept in a caddy, tray, or zippered pouch to be brought to your workspace when needed, then stored away when not.
And what if a room in which to work was understood as simply room in which to work. Room in the sense of a space of time. There may not be a physical room in your house dedicated solely to work, but is there a space of time in which there’s room? Early morning at the breakfast table, when everyone else is asleep? Mid-day at a coffee shop or library? Late evening in the corner of the living room when everyone else has gone to bed? Don earbuds or head phones in any environment and you’ve created invisible walls, a focused environment in which to accomplish the task at hand.
Do what you can with what you have.