Uptown Bourgeois is an arts, news, and culture blog created by New York-based freelance writer Jefferey Spivey. UB explores universal themes through a black, queer lens. 

Making Space

Making Space

Maybe it should be a mid-century chair, to match the office chair just across the room.  Or should it be a lounge chair with an ottoman?  Or an upholstered chaise lounge?

I’m creating a reading nook in my home office.  It’s the kind of thing you do when your “office” is no longer something that needs to be designated by quotations.  Formerly, my workspace consisted of an industrial desk and a broken office chair (with a seatback that dipped back almost to the floor).  It was squished between the refrigerator and a bookcase.  This placement may sound odd, or claustrophobic, but by New York apartment standards, it was perfectly normal. Eight hours a day, I worked in one half of a 700-square foot studio apartment.  My husband suggested that I hang some artwork above the desk to liven things up, and I failed to do so during the three years we lived in that space together. It wasn’t because I was lazy or because I didn’t take his requests seriously.  The space just wasn’t large enough or significant enough, in size, to be decorated.  Adding more things to it would’ve made it tighter, busier, more distracting.

Now, our home office is an entire room, one that’s equal to roughly a third of our entire New York apartment.  I have two industrial desks, the second was a discovery from my husband’s storage unit, and I’ve repurposed it as an audio production studio.  I bought a mid-century rolling office chair to add some flair.  I intended to use a small 2”x 3” bamboo area rug to roll across, but it’s far too small, and pretty, for that. So, I bought a standard plastic mat.  I converted an old trunk, which was a clunky nuisance before, into a filing cabinet.  At the moment, I’m awaiting three wooden storage crates, with chevron designs on the sides.  I plan to convert them into a DIY stackable bookcase.  And I moved a lamp into the corner; its curved pole hangs over that bamboo rug.  It just needs a chair of some sort, and some artwork on the walls, and this room will be complete.

In New York, I never felt inclined to decorate.  Even before I met my husband, my Harlem one bedroom had bare walls for the two years that I lived there.  And now that I think of it, I never hung artwork, or took any sort of pride in decorating my spaces.  Perhaps it’s because they weren’t mine, or I relied on the construction of the units for personality, or I was too busy leaving my home (i.e. work, bars, restaurants, etc.) to personalize it.  Why add a floating shelf or an accent color when I could be out living?

But suddenly, I’ve turned into the black, gay Martha Stewart, repurposing furniture, matching finishes, reading DIY blogs.  I’ve morphed from a once apathetic apartment dweller to an enthusiastic home decorator. A Pinterest board maker.  An obsessive, room-saving Wayfair shopper. A suburban husband who gets excited about spending Saturdays at Home Goods, Bed, Bath, and Beyond, and Dollar General.  

I guess it’s the space, the sheer size of it, that begs me to take action.  There’s more of it; it feels different.  I can take a deep breath and not worry about sniffing up a post-it.  There’s an abundance of natural light.  I can put things away without them falling over on top of me.  And I think it’d just be weird, a shame really, to have this space, this square footage, and do nothing with it.  There are bare walls to add paintings to, and floors to cover with rugs and chairs and bookcases, and desks to roll between.  A regular work day feels more inviting, more fun; my workspace feels like a place I’d want to hang out in, instead of one I want to run away from at the end of the day.  

This week, I tweeted about giving myself space to create.

I meant decluttering my mind, so I could channel all my energy into a single project and make it the best it could be.  But I think making a physical space to create is just as important.  My workspace is one that inspires me to get creative in its organization and to create art within it.  With a clear mind and a personalized office, I now have all the space I need to produce some great work.

I just need to make a decision about that chair.  

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