I do not have a typical home office. The space where my desk, computer, file cabinets and shelving are kept is an alcove partially under a stairway. This is in a space that was designed to house a wood stove, a pantry and hall space. It is at a corner where I can look into the master bedroom, out to the kitchen, and I have views of the back yard and drive way. I like having the ability to see all this stuff from my office chair, but it is by no means a conventional office ... it’s more of an afterthought. An efficient use of space, but space that was not exactly planned for any specific use.
The grand plan was to move this impromptu office up to the second floor once my fiancee’s son had grown up and left the nest. He’s been gone now for about six months, and now that we are convinced that he probably isn’t coming back except for the occasional visit, it was time to execute the original plan. The first order of business was to transport her son’s possessions to his barracks at Fort Drum, his permanent base for the next three years. While I stayed home and worked around the house, my fiancee, her daughter and grandson took a day to make the round trip with the Army son’s possessions in tow. At one point I went up to this empty room that was designed as an office and a temporary bedroom and sat there taking in the space of this now blank canvas. The cathedral ceiling and electrically controlled skylight with modern track lights gives it a Scandinavian vibe. The bamboo floors are blonde, and there are two fixed low-e glass windows on a four foot knee wall, and an alcove has a more conventional window that can be opened and has a screen. Currently it holds an air conditioner. There is a transom window above the solid wood door. The room is currently painted blood red. That’s what my step son wanted, and that’s what he got. My mind began to look at possibilities.
The center piece for my future office just had to be a glass desk -- clean, spare, modern. I might even go for an area rug that resembles an abstract painting. The walls will be a conservative color, probably a chocolate, or cafe au lait tone. Lighting will be stainless steel modern and high intensity. While all of these possibilities are fun to ponder, I’m still a little bummed out about being empty nesters. I’d rather have the son back for a couple more years, but that isn’t going to happen. When my fiancee returned from New York, talks began about the room. There was still a lot of stuff left behind, like a complete drum set, a futon, and some other furniture. Looked like I had some space juggling to do in our storage area before any progress could be made.
The Keene Air Show came up. Knowing that my dad, who was selected for pilot training near the end of the Korean Conflict, is into planes, I called him. The need for pilots ended with the war, and he never got the opportunity to fly, but his love for aircraft still burns brightly. I called him and invited him down for the weekend. While on the phone we talked about my new office space, and I told him about my desire for a glass desk. He got excited, said that there was a new Habitat For Humanity store opening in Burlington that same Saturday, and he was sure he could score me what I wanted there. Sure enough, on Saturday morning my dad called amid the hubub of the Grand Opening. He and his wife were the first ones in the door, and they made the first purchase, a glass topped metal desk with two glass and metal shelving towers. I was ecstatic.
Within an hour and a half we were unloading their van with the glass office furniture. I had spent the travel time moving things from room to attic, scrubbing the floor, boxing loose items, and making just enough space to get the desk in the door. Once set up, it was apparent that this desk was the perfect choice. (by the way, my father’s wife has an incredible eye for furniture) Later, as I sat in my office chair looking out the two fixed windows, I remembered that those had been grabbed in the nick of time from a window store in Burlington ... my dad just happened to be cruising their loading dock when he saw an employee putting seven brand new fixed glass windows into the dumpster! We were building our new addition at the time, and were lucky enough to incorporate them into the design. My home bears many strong influences from my father, like lever style door handles, and some of his art work. I’m very fortunate to have found my biological father and his delightful wife, and even more fortunate that we think alike and collaborate on projects very well, and I’ve only known them for seven years. I guess timing is everything!
Arlo Mudgett’s Morning Almanac has been heard over multiple radio stations in Vermont for 20 years, and can be tuned in at 92.7 WKVT FM every weekday morning at 8 a.m.