August 22nd, 2010
Beyond the jungle of damp, suspended laundry lies one of the great hidden treasures of this house. We call it the studio because it is destined to be a workshop for the ceramicist in the family. But for much of the time it serves as a storage room, filled with boxes, unused furniture, art that is not allowed to adorn the walls of the rest of the house, and piles of wood waiting to be chopped into kindling. The room has a fairly normal size and shape, but what makes it truly spectacular is its untapped potential to become a self-sufficient mini-apartment – complete with all of the privacy, ingresses and egresses such a space promises.
First of all, it has its own door to the outside – a potential private entry! – if it wasn’t covered over and otherwise blocked by furniture and boxes. This door leads out onto the back porch, which has a personality all of its own. More spacious than the side porch, more private than the front porch, the back porch starts at the end of the driveway, runs past the back door, and then continues along the side of the house, ending at the private door into the studio. The porch houses a giant grey wood box, and an old hand pump that we use sometimes to draw water up from a well. But, like the studio itself, it has so much potential. I imagine a flower garden growing up around the edges, and concrete that is smooth and swept clean. A little chair and table, a little book, and a little cup of tea…
Then, there’s the secret small chamber connected to the studio. It has a mysterious provenance – all empty walls and strange plumbing apertures – and is used first as a kiln room, and later, as a satellite kitchen fitted out with a small electric range and oven (which I believe we must keep far away from the wood burning stove so that the latter will not feel betrayed by the modernity of the former). Nevertheless, and in spite of these alternate uses, the chamber is just the right size for a private en suite bathroom.
Finally, the room itself is bursting with character. There’s a small rectangular box set into one wall that would make a perfect secret reading nook and we like to hide here when we are brave enough to sneak into the studio. There are a couple of lovely windows that let in southern and western light, a wide view of the back yard, a hand-crafted desk that’s built in against one wall, and plenty of room for a bed and a dresser. The one disadvantage is that the studio has no insulation whatsoever, and is far removed from the heat of the two wood burning stoves. When it’s cold outside, we can see our breath inside and – like the sun porch – when winter comes the studio should only be entered by people who are properly suited up in coats, gloves, and scarves. Nevertheless, I think it is one of the best rooms in the house and the one I wish most was mine.
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