I'm of the mind that it takes six months to firmly settle into a new space. Maybe it's just me, but when I review the process of getting comfy in a new home, consistently around the six-month mark, the furniture gets rearranged a certain way, or the kitchen cupboards get permanently tamed...perhaps the pictures get lifted off the floor and hung, which frees up the spare bedroom to be organized. Something occurs around that time that makes things click and feel noticeably better. Also possible is that I have considered these dynamics far more than a normal person, after having set up seven different homes in the last seven years.
Additionally abnormal is that I find few things as soothing as cleaning out a closet or reorganizing a cupboard. When faced with the unknown, the unruly, the upsetting, or the inexplicable; taking control of an inefficient traffic zone or a dysfunctional office calms me. Along the way, I find an item or two that can be shared with others, or dropped at Goodwill. At the end of the day, I have the illusion of being in control of my life, with the added bonus that things run more smoothly in the house.
Piles are what signal that a zone is not functioning well. A pile of clothes in the bottom of the closet means that the way the clothes are arranged is not effective. A stack of items waiting to be put up in the cupboard means that we have the wrong things stored in the out of reach places. I imagine that these types of things don't happen when you move into bigger homes instead of smaller ones. We have only done that twice in the seven moves, and it is true that I did not have to play space jenga in those homes, although I did have to buy more furniture (which now means that we have too much furniture for our small house).
Our current home necessitates space jenga at a professional level, so I am grateful for the prior practice. I think I had a breakthrough last week. The second bedroom of our two-bedroom house is currently occupied by a guest bed and a desk area for my husband. Since we moved, my own desk area has been relocated several times, and most recently it also lived in that room. It was an improvement from having no desk area at all, but it still did not feel quite right. There were piles everywhere, the path to the second bathroom was clogged, and regardless of those circumstances, the room could not continue to be my office, my husband's office, the guest bedroom and the nursery simultaneously once the baby arrives in August. Something had to give, and finally last week, I may have cracked the code.
I was not sure if the solution would stick, but so far the functionality is high and it's working pretty well. The solution has the added bonus of making me feel like hip New Yorker, because only someone as tight on space as we are would even consider this option. My new office is located inside my closet.
Through a carefully negotiated marital compromise back in the fall, I won the larger closet in the master bedroom, an outcome about which I feel, by turns, grateful, guilty, or entitled. But regardless of how I feel, the most important thing is that everyone at home has what they need to do what they want and need to do.
So I measured my desk, and checked the area, and sure enough the numbers worked. After maximizing the height in the closet more effectively and shifting some other items around a bit, I ended up with a private little zone where papers can linger and mail can clutter, without bothering anyone. I worried that it might feel claustrophobic, as it probably would to a normal person, but to me, so far, it feels kind of cozy and appropriate. The dresses and coats hanging on one side of my computer screen remind me of my creative hopes and dreams, in addition to offering sound insulation from the outside world. The dead space on the shelf on the other side of the computer wasn't functional for hanging items anyway, so now it houses the files and bits that I need to organize our life. The cherry on top of it all is that I can shut myself all the way into it, or completely out of it.