Last year, a few months after I finished college, my mother and I moved from the house we’d been living in for roughly twenty years to a condo a few towns over.
Honestly speaking, it was a major adjustment for me. That was the home we shared with my late father and grandmother. My cat Maude passed on the week before moving day, aged sixteen years; she’d been in my life since I was ten years old.
I could not remember a time where I did not live in that house. It was bittersweet, but it was also time to start the next chapter of life.
One of the things taken under consideration as we were choosing our new residence was making sure I would be able to have a space to use for something of a home office, a separate room designated for writing.
That ended up being the laundry/utility room off the garage.
Between the fuse box, the boiler, and a lot of chrome, was a fairly dismal sight upon first glance.
But that did not mean it was without potential.
The first thing on my agenda was making this space mine. I already had my desk and was eager to move it in, though at the time it was at my aunt and uncle’s house awaiting minor repairs.
I decided I wanted to envoke the feeling of writing in something of an old English cottage with a woodland aesthetic.
With that in mind, I was off and running—or, sprinting, I should say.
The first thing I tackled was the blank wall which I wanted to turn into a functional accent wall. Once I settled on a shade of green I liked (which took a long time), I managed to get it painted in an afternoon.
I had heard about blackboard paint, which allows you to literally write on the wall with chalk. I figured this would be a great way to keep track of the hundreds of ideas I have whirling around my head at any given moment, and certainly better than the scraps of paper that I have scattered all over the place.
But we found something even better: whiteboard paint.
And on top of that (or, rather, under that), a magnetic primer that creates a magnetic surface. It seemed like a perfect combination.
It is, but it wasn’t easy.
The magnetic primer itself took a lot of elbow grease to get working, as it needed to be stirred before application. At the bottom of the can was this sort of sludge that seemed too gloppy to be successfully mixed with the super-thin lacquer above it. Additionally, it took three coats to assure the pull of the magnets would be strong enough beneath the whiteboard paint.
The whiteboard paint was another headache—in part because of the fumes.
This paint came in two cans, which required being combined to create the chemical reaction that allows the board to be written on. This allowed only a thirty-minute window to apply once it was mixed.
The result was a lot thicker than I had anticipated, and despite what I interpreted from the box, I barely managed to get the entire 3’X6′ space covered.
Queue the emergency run to the store to get another box of the stuff.
It was stressful to say the least!
After allowing it to sit and cure for a week, we were back in business.
In finishing up the “Plotting Wall,” we put a frame around the board, which included a tray to hold my dry-erase markers.
As an additional accent, I came across these cornices at a local craft store. That gave me the idea to add a strip of crown molding across the top.
I had something simple in mind, but one of many expeditions to the hardware store with a friend gave me another idea when he found the strip below.
Needless to say, it was perfect.
But, as with many things about The Hollow, it did not come without difficulty.
There was an unavoidable gap between the cornices and the molding, but a recent revamp of an idea helped fix that.
At the aforementioned craft store, I had purchased some garlands of fabric ivy. I initially planned for them to be wrapped around the frame of the whiteboard, but I changed my mind after seeing the frame itself.
So, the ivy was used as an accent along the molding (and more importantly filled in the gap between the molding and the cornices).
With that, the Plotting Wall was good to go and it was back to figuring out how to do away with the fuse box and the boiler.
Obviously, they cannot be done away with entirely. But they can be concealed
That’s where curtains came into play.
With the curtains up anda shelf built by moi soon after, there was only one thing left to bring into The Hollow.
The idea started as something of a joke at first, but once the idea was in my head that was it.
So, for roughly $14 including shipping, I had a print made of the portrait of Mr. Darcy as seen at Pemberley in Episode Four of the BBC’s 1995 adaption of Pride and Prejudice.
Because, why not?
Despite the hassles, I am very pleased with the way The Hollow turned out. It may not be the perfect writing space, but I also know it will not be the last writing space I will ever call mine.
As with any space, it’s not so much about the space itself but what comes out of it—and that is what I am most excited for.
A special thank you to Mom for letting me have the room and to “Sir” Jesse for not only putting up with my spouting off ideas during every trip to the hardware stores but steering them towards a more feasible execution. The Hollow would not have been possible without your help.