Welcome to the Sugar Shack!
So, I’ve been asked a lot about where and how I work so I thought I’d introduce you to my physical space and talk a little bit about how I organize my bigger projects. If you are interested in day to day organizing- from calendar to to do lists, you can check out this post for all those details.
For my first six years as a professional writer, I worked in the extra “bedroom” in the house (we call it a bedroom but the Real Estate folks wouldn’t because there’s not a closet).
But, as Happy got bigger, there REALLY was no place for him to play in our house (have I mentioned that the cottage is pretty wee? It is.) and so my office was becoming more and more the play room and, well, there were theoretical talks about a second baby and we were going to need to have a place for that theoretical baby so we started thinking outside the box and what we came up with was The Sugar Shack.
At first, BF was like, “Can we afford a Sugar Shack?” and my answer was “Of course, we can, because YOU can build it.” And so BF defied his own understanding of himself and built me the best little sugar shack ever. (A side note: I have NO idea where the name Sugar Shack came from… when I first told BF that I wanted him to build me an office, I said “a sugar shack” and it just stuck).
The Sugar Shack is about 9 feet by 9 feet on the inside, has a concrete floor painted a pale gray, a pitched roof that is about 14 feet tall at it’s highest point, and slat wooden walls. The back wall has two little transom windows, the side walls each have a big window, the front door is mostly glass and it has a little window above the door. BF hand-built the shutters and the paint scheme on the shack matches the cottage. So that’s the structure of the shack.
Now, a tour:
The shack, as you might imagine, is my place of perfect peace, but I don’t use it a whole lot right now. During the school year, I only work while Happy is at preschool (well, let me rephrase that, I am only able to officially work when Happy is at preschool, I squeeze in work at other times, too, at all sorts of random times, but that work is done inside the home in between playing frisbee or chopping vegetables). Two days a week, I teach during preschool hours so I have about 9 hours (3 other preschool mornings) for work and about 4 of those hours go to outside meetings, appointments, lunches. So, my shack time is about five hours a week. Because of that limited time, it took me until just a few weeks ago to finally get the shack fully organized– I just couldn’t spare the five hours I did have in the space a week to organize it; I needed to do work, darn it!
But a few weeks ago, BF and I spent an afternoon at Ikea and then in the shack getting everything built and organized. The end result was incredible– it was like realizing the shack’s full potential. I am not completely done, yet– for example, I want to find some fun fabric to cover my bulletin boards– but, already, with just some shelving and some storage boxes, I feel a whole new blast of inspiration in the space.
All those raspberry and periwinkle boxes came from Ikea and though they were tedious to put together, they each hold an element of office supplies (pens, stationary, tech items, journals, file folders, etc) and make everything so much more streamlined. Using boxes has always been my cornerstone organizing principle for preparing and executing a book project (you can see a couple acrylic boxes that I used to organize Beautiful You and another book that languishes in proposal stage on the white bookshelf- oh, that’s another to do item, I am either painting that bookshelf drizzle or whatever color we paint Happy’s room- ) but it was awesome to take EVERYTHING to box level as the space feels so much tidier without my stacks. Just the feeling of being streamlined makes me feel more efficient!
My desk looks out at a very wooded lot behind our house. I see rabbits, an orange cat, squirrels, cardinals, and other birds regularly out that window and just love the tranquil scene when I am staring off in the distance, trying to figure something out.
The black boards are my vision boards from the past two years. They typically rest above the transom windows on the back wall but with the air or ceiling fan running, they aren’t as stable and come flying down so I’ve put them on the windows for the summer. The book case above the door is one of my very favorite features as well as the funny Privy sign above the book case. I found the Privy sign years ago at a funky downtown shop that isn’t even open any more and bought it though it made zero sense to hand it in our house. Who knew I was just anticipating the shack?
Finally, that sweet piece of glass art is by the very talented Marisol Diaz who is just an amazing artist, writer, and person. I met her through Hijas Americanas and am honored to call her friend.
Curious about how I organize my day to dayness? Here’s a link to how I organize everything from to do lists to calendars.