In this month's letter from the editor, Parents' Liz Vaccariello recounts how she came to find the perfect creative workspace in her home.
When my twins were babies, we lived in a two-bedroom house with no room for a home office. Sophia and Olivia were 6 months old when I landed my first national editor-in-chief job, and just 1 when I agreed to coauthor my first book. Years later, I told my boss that, unbeknownst to him, his new hire had been editing his flagship magazine—and writing her manuscript—at a beanbag lap desk on the slipcovered sofa she’d had since college. A man of impeccable style, he was nevertheless charmed by the idea. “Don’t you dare ever throw it out,” he said kindly. “It’s your secret weapon.”
I was reminded of my first “home office” when the book She Sheds: A Room of Your Own came to Parents. I can vouch for the idea taking flight in the suburbs. Much to the delight of the wine-drinking women on the block, my neighbor Kerry erected one a few summers ago (no rezoning required). We’ve passed many an evening sitting on its stone-paver porch, watching our kids play kickball in her backyard. Kerry’s boys have occasionally joined her inside for a game of Scrabble—and there’s been talk of a kid sleepover—but my friend’s one-room cottage is unequivocally hers.
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After we moved into our second home (the one from which I picture my daughters going to prom or perhaps descending the staircase on their wedding day), I painted the smallest bedroom my favorite shade of purple, ordered a white sleeper sofa, and put a black writing desk at the window. (“You’ve recreated the colors of your childhood bedroom,” my mother said the minute she saw it.) It’s the only room in the house that’s mine and mine alone.
Yet still, when my daughters fall asleep and my husband, Steve, starts in on his CSI: Miami reruns, I’ll wander into my purple room with a pile of work and arrange myself on the sofa. The desk feels too fussy; that’s where I pay the bills and write condolence letters. It doesn’t feel appropriate for creating and writing.
That’s when my old lap desk comes out: The fabric bottom is a patchwork of duct tape to keep the beans inside the bag. The rubber top to keep my laptop from slipping is covered in pen marks and one teensy “I Love Mommy” in block letters courtesy of my then-preschooler Olivia. Words that remind me of the work that really matters.