Tucked away under a canopy of eucalyptus branches, down the hill from the lemon grove, sits a writing studio. Just a stone’s throw from our California ranch house, with window views of the rose garden, it’s a place for me to get away and work.
Back when my writing was more of a hobby than a job, I could fit the writing where it fit — during nap time. I’d leave projects half-finished and stories half-told when children crawled from their beds. A few years ago, however, after the release of Triggers and Life Creative, this writing-gig turned into a part-time job. Half a dozen books later, it leans more toward full-time work, complete with deadlines.
While I love to write, I have always struggled to do deeply creative work with other people near by. If my loved ones are grabbing a snack from the kitchen or answering the phone down the hall, I simply won’t be able to focus. Goodness, when they’re all just breathing and moving about the house I struggle to focus. I’ve tried, but I can’t. Back in college I learned that I studied best without a roommate, and the same is true in this season of my life. These dear roommates of mine rarely leave our home. Since we homeschool our three boys part-time, I don’t have many quiet hours in our house to do the deep work of writing.
While some of my friends can sneak away for 30 minutes here or there and get a tremendous amount of inspired work done… I can’t. And so, just a few months ago, my husband built me this darling little office space.
The popular term is she-shed, but my husband and our boys all love to sneak in and work here when I’m not typing away. Truth be told, it’s as much a he-shed as anything else. That’s why I’ve simply dubbed it my writing studio. Feminine, whimsical, and a perfect mixture of light and loveliness, peace and quiet.
Once the frame was up, Matt added two skylights, double glass doors, and two large side windows. Though the weather is often delightful here in Southern California, he installed an air-conditioner and a space heater too. Next, my handy-man covered the interior walls with siding then sheet-rocked the ceiling. Before he put the flooring in, our children wrote scriptures and blessings on the foundation. I took a sharpie to the ground myself and wrote: “Take off your sandals for the place you are standing is holy.” (Exodus 3:5, Acts 7:33, Joshua 5:15).
Once the floors were laid, Matt painted the light-bright studio a two-tone pallet of cream and antique green. While “antique green” is not the formal name of the paint color, that’s what I call it because it matches both of the antique pieces we used to decorate the space.
We found this little table above on a trip up the coast 15 years ago, when I was pregnant with our second child. It was the perfect dimensions for a changing pad and I thought it would be darling in his little cowboy themed nursery. Though it had been hand-crafted specifically for the purpose of a classy old lady’s wet bar, my baby had his diapers changed upon that table! (I think we paid $30 for it.)
This other piece had been in my neighbor’s house when Matt and I were newlyweds. Malisa had the most beautiful collection of antiques and sold me this kitchen cabinet for $100. But my ongoing passion for antique furniture and clothbound books she gifted me for free!
Most of the other pieces of furniture and fixtures in the room came from World Market — those billowy curtains and macrame light shade, the desk, chair, and rug. The bird chair, however, was a special gift from Matt, and was purchased from Anthropology 10 years ago.
But the real stars of my writing studio are the original pieces of art that reflect the garden beyond the windows. The orange canvas behind the desk was painted by the ridiculously talented Melissa Lyons; the little lemon slice is from the miniature collection by Sarah Szmiot; and the portrait of my little “she-shed” was recently painted by Brenda Calvert.
Looking to build your own She-Shed? Here’s a fun article for some DIY ideas!
While I don’t usually post this lifestyle type of blog post, my little writing studio has brought me so much joy I wanted to share it with you. Thank you for taking a moment to enjoy it with me.
As a practical aside for the easily distracted creative: While having a space to work has been tremendously helpful to me as a writer, learning to place parameters around my time on social media has been a game-changer! The constant online chatter makes work hard, and intimate family relationship difficult too. Ironically, the very first book I wrote in this lovely little she-space was The 40-Day Social Media Fast.