Sadie Stein- writer
I like to work in the living room, which has good light. I do have a small desk in my bedroom, but usually set up shop at the dining room table, by the windows. I'm a great believer in those big, rectangular trays from West Elm: I keep my pens and pencils, laptop, whatever images or books are inspiring me, and other "office" supplies there, and then can whisk it away when it's time to use the table for something else.
The dining room table and chairs belonged to my husband's great-grandmother, initially, although we re-covered the chairs ourselves with a range of vintage upholstery fabrics I found. (Don't look too closely at the underside of the cushions!) It's a big, Deco set that can kind of bully things around it; I wanted to stay in keeping with its dignity while adding a little eclecticism. The little "telephone nook" behind my workspace has a twenties table my parents found, and an old dial phone a friend repaired for me. And the seat lifts up -- so that's where the "office" gets hidden away when people come over!
The little desk -- which I do use, sometimes, if I really want privacy -- was a flea market find. I like being surrounded by things that have personal history and meaning -- I find it comforting -- and everything on or around it does. Art by friends; a cup that was engraved as a wedding gift, things that belonged to my family. I guess that really defines my aesthetic; I start with things that have meaning, and then the visuals evolve around that. I do try to group things in a harmonious way, of course, but it's more organic than planned.
I'm not a tidy person, but I find it's important to have an uncluttered work-space -- even if it's just the space in your immediate vision. I also need to be able to close a door at the end of a work day, whether that's literal, or putting my "desk tray" away out of sight. And when I'm working, I like things to hand so I don't need to think about it: a carafe of water, a good supply of Pilot Varsity disposable fountain pens (blue.)
I also like to have a few really inspiring books nearby: essays or poetry or something else that's immediately inspiring. The selection changes, for me -- right now, it's MFK Fisher's The Gastronomical Me, Evan Connell's essays, and Vivian Gornick's new memoir -- and I find that in those moments when you're blocked or can't get your thoughts together, it's a useful tool. That's probably the most important thing for me. Well, that and good earplugs -- a New York City necessity. In fact, I just invested in a pair of those noise-canceling headphones drummers wear. You have to get them at the Guitar Center. It looks idiotic -- but then, that's one of the primary benefits of working from home.