That Shabby Old Room In The Basement: My New Sanctuary

Welcome to my office.

It feels a bit funny to call this room my office, this large open space in my basement. After all, this is the same room in which I played dress up as a child, celebrated my dad’s 40th birthday with a Swinging Sixties party, and held sleepover gatherings up until I went to college. It is the same physical space now as it was then, but its personality has changed a great deal. The bar was ripped out, and along with it went the hideous hand-me-down seventies furniture and the 3-legged foosball table. Now, this room embodies an entirely different attitude. The walls are a sunny marigold yellow, the furniture a soft cornflower blue.

I did not have much time to appreciate the changes made to this space until I came home from school two months ago. At first when I came home, distressed by my medical situation, I spent 21 hours a day in my room. I turned my childhood bedroom into a cozy haven, complete with candles and Bible verses and pillows. Spending time here was quite enjoyable for a while until I realized that the coziness of the atmosphere made it difficult to focus.

Sure, taking medical leave from school means time to rest. But in my bedroom, I was having a little too much time to do so. I had so many things that I aspired to do (writing, painting, reading, teaching myself German) but I could not seem to take any of these tasks seriously while relaxing in my room.

So I turned my attention to the large room in my basement. My parents both had offices in the basement, but nobody really spent time in this one particular room. I realized that I could do myself a huge favor by transforming the room into my office. (And I think I did the room a favor too. She is less lonely now with my company, and this new look is much more flattering to her).

I moved the futons around. I dragged a water-stained table over to the right corner. Next to it I placed an old bookshelf. But what is a bookshelf without books? So I took the intellectual books that would most help me to act productively, and I lined the shelves with them. I grabbed the literary journal I made in high school along with some CDs. Oh, and I put up just a few decorations. First I put up an elegant framed image, a cork board, and a canvas. And then I adorned the table with a single turquoise mason jar filled with lavender.

It was all starting to feel like a homey yet focus-friendly personal sanctuary.

If I could not work at school with a private study carrel, if I could not find the energy to leave the house to get work done, if I could not stand spending so many hours lounging in my bedroom, here was my solution. A simple solution that took about 20 minutes to put together, but that provides hours upon hours of opportunity.

I realize that the transformation of a basement room into an office is a funny topic to write about. However, this post goes beyond simply discussing a tiny home renovation. What I really hope to focus on through this is how, when life gets tossed through the paper shredder and you don’t know how on earth you are going to write the rest of your story, it is often the simple things, the things you take for granted, that sparkle the most.

Sure, I would rather be at school finishing up my degree. But because that is not in the pages for me right at this moment, I can gratefully settle with my new personalized study space. Plus, let’s be real– who doesn’t want an office with a color scheme of marigold yellow and cornflower blue?

Beats me.



My challenge for you this week? To find the glorious little gifts hidden in the everyday things you take for granted. I think you will find this quite an enjoyable little exercise.




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