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This weekend I embarked on a small but significant project: I carved out a little corner of my apartment and created an office space all my own. The desk, to be honest, was my first hurdle. It came Friday in an imposing box exactly 400 times the size of my 11-lb. dog, Austin, and once opened, contained about five bajillion tiny pieces to assemble. Nobody wants to hear how I googled “proper way to use an Allen wrench” (the video results were weird) or that I accidentally put the wheels of my chair on backward; you can simply look up to see the end result then find vicarious satisfaction in the truth that it all got done. Somehow, every screw and swizzle-wizz came together. The desk fit with one inch to spare before it would’ve been stonewalled into design oblivion by the frame of my front door. 
Next, on Saturday morning, I drove to Apple and bought the computer upon which I type these words. Its screen is big and glossy, perfect for typing and deleting half of what I just wrote. Even the sound of my fingers on the keyboard feels right.
After the nice guy with the large-hole earring in his left ear carried the computer out to my car, Austin and I journeyed southbound to the garden store. It was there a soft-spoken lady in a green apron explained the succulents that would work best in my space. She also kindly added them, one by one, onto a plastic rack.
“Be careful when you drive. The plants are delicate and some of them have water in the pots. Good luck!”
“Oh don’t worry, I’ve got this,” I told her, backing away as my car chirp-chirped in door-opening delight. “Thanks for your help, the plants will be fine!”
(Minutes later, I took a sharp turn off PCH and spilled the water in five of them.)
Anyway! The plants survived and now sit in cozy repose around me, four to my left, three to my right. (Again see photo for reference.)
It might seem strange I’m writing at such length about the set-up of my office space but really, it’s so important — maybe the most important thing — to creative vulnerability. You need to set the mood when you make anything — art, poetry, stories, love. Would you really want to kiss someone under the romantic glare of fluorescent lights, beneath a popcorn-tiled ceiling, while the hauntingly brash tones of Gregorian chant reverberate across gray-carpeted walls?
Well, in the corner of my living room I’ve created the antithesis of that. My space is both calming and stimulating, ever-swirling with succulent abandon in a quixotic dichotomy of heightened inspiration and the slowed-down serene.
Also of note: Not more than a few hours after my office was complete, I got that familiar itch in my fingertips, which caused me to sit down for the first time in months and write this post for you. More to come from my (now real) little word studio.
What does your creative workspace look like? Let’s talk about it in the comments below …


  • Interesting story, this is. My office in my house is a former nursery/bedroom of a now adult child in her own home, but within several months Hubby and I are moving into a retirement apartment. I’m hoping for at least a small 2nd bedroom to set up as my study, but I may have to adapt to a corner just as you’ve done. Since I have a desktop computer with printer, I’m going to have to design something that won’t look as though it’s been squeezed into a hankie-size corner. Yikes!

    • melissa kandel says:

      Thanks for sharing 🙂 A second bedroom would be perfect in your new home! I was going to use my spare bedroom but it doesn’t get as much natural light as this corner, and it’s so important to have sunlight, so c’est la vie. Don’t underestimate the corner; you can really do a lot as long as it’s completely clear! Perhaps a corner desk with shelves tall and wide enough to house your printer?

  • garrystafford says:

    Yay for itchy fingertips! So good to read your wonderful words. Regarding my space, it was my son’s room. More recently it became my art studio. Son has now moved back into, well, the Art Studio. At least now he has a lot of pictures on the wall. LOL.

    • melissa kandel says:

      Ah, Garry. I’ve missed your comments almost as much as I’ve missed posting on here. Your son now has one heck of an inspiring Art Studio!

  • Econogal says:

    I have a wonderful quilt room in the basement. But when I took up painting acrylics I needed natural light. So I carved out a small space between two windows in my living room. A designated space is so important! Your set-up looks wonderful and I am looking forward to your future posts.

    • melissa kandel says:

      A quilt room — that’s SO cool! Totally agree on the natural light; it’s why I picked this particular corner by a very sunny window. You’ll have to share some of your work with us. This little word studio community is filled with artists supporting others with a passion to create. Thanks for reading, stay tuned 🙂

  • Jamie Miller says:

    Loved this! informative article!

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