On being ... the best office

On being … the best office

By Ingrid Sapona

A friend of mine moved recently and she offered me her computer cabinet (a re-purposed Ikea closet). For about 20 years I had a purpose-built computer armoire. I originally bought it when I lived in an apartment and my dining room was also my office. I loved it and it came with me when I moved into my condo years ago. Here in the condo I have a den that I use as my office.

I loved the armoire but about eight years ago I had to give it up when I bought a monitor that was too big for it. At that point, I had to re-configure my small-ish den. When my friend offered me her computer cabinet, I had to decide whether I once again was up for re-configuring the den. After measuring to make sure her cabinet would actually fit, I decided that yes, I did want it because I like the idea of hiding away the computer so that the den looks like a den.

To get the cabinet here, I needed to rent a cargo van, borrow a furniture dolly from a neighbor, and arrange for a friend to help me with the move. The night before the move I did my best to get the room ready. That meant emptying a filing cabinet that would need to be moved over and disassembling my desk. It wasn’t until I started to actually move the desk out that I realized I needed to move a bookshelf and couch out of the way too. Luckily the couch is relatively light and once I took off all the cushions, I could stand it on one end!

The next day we picked up the cargo van and headed to get the cabinet. I texted my friends when we got there and she asked me if I could send my friend up to help them move it. So, he went up and I waited on the street with the van. It seemed to take a long time – but I figured it just felt that way, as I was nervous because the parking enforcement guy seemed to be circling and I was in a no parking zone. Eventually my friend returned and said he’d stay with the van and that I had better go “look at it”. When I asked why, he said it broke when they tried to move it, but he thought it would be fixable with a bracket or… To be honest, I stopped hearing him after “it broke”.

When I got to their condo, my friend’s husband had already disassembled 2/3 of it. They explained what happen and how it could be fixed. I ended up not taking the cabinet. I know they felt awful about my having rented a cargo van, but I didn’t mind, as it was worth a try. The way I figured it, the reason I wanted the cabinet was to make the den feel less office-like. But so many screw holes were blown out, while I might have been able to fix it and make it usable, I doubted it would ever look decent – and the whole point was to make the office more den-like.

After returning the van my friend helped me move the filing cabinet and desk back to where they originally were. Then he left me to set up my computer and return the files to the cabinet. As I was doing this, I realized that my office set up is quite comfortable. The desk is spacious, the filing cabinet is handy, and the couch is a nice place to sit if I’ve got a lot of reading or thinking to do on a project. As well, I’ve managed to store my office supplies pretty neatly, and the lighting I installed when I first moved in is great.

And yet, for years I’ve been obsessing about how to make the den “better”. I can’t tell you how many hours I’ve spent looking at Murphy beds on-line, wondering how one might fit and whether I should get one so that it’s more like a den than an office when someone visits. And I’ve considered whether to put a door on it to make it more of a private room for when I have company.

Once my computer was up and running and I sat down to do some work, I realized why I’ve been ambivalent about the den all these years. It’s because I wanted the space to be something it’s not – and never will be. It won’t be a spacious, second bedroom or a roomy t.v. room. Though I’ve never had a problem accepting that my Toyota will never be a Tesla, or that my galley kitchen will never be a gourmet chef’s dream, I’ve accepted them for what they are and I’ve been fine with them. Why aren’t I able to accept the limitations of the den, I wondered? Once I saw it like that, I realized the route to greater contentment was acceptance.

So, though some might have chalked up the computer cabinet fiasco as a waste of time, it wasn’t. It helped me realize the problem with the den wasn’t the den – it was me. There’s nothing wrong with the den – it’s perfect as my office and that’s really all I need it to be.  

© 2020 Ingrid Sapona



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