The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

Working at the kitchen table

View from the back door of the cottage

View from the back door of the cottage

Loads of home workers actually operate from the kitchen table. I have, for the past two years or so. I’m positioned so that I can see the bird feeders and the front drive of the cottage. Sometimes in the summertime I open the back door and sit at the other side of the table. I look over the long deep herbaceous border, I can see the pond through the gothic arch in the yew hedge.

This sounds idyllic and in many ways it is. But if the Tidy Fairy boycotted your christening, working at the kitchen table can cause enormous strife. Gradually I moved from having a laptop and a pile of reference books to a working silk painting studio and sewing room. Even if I cleared up each evening there were boxes everywhere. Sometimes I didn’t bother to clear up as I was too busy trying to get orders finished.

And not just those boxes. There are suitcases and huge boxes of the ingredients for my scented bags and pot pourris that live in the sitting room. Alongside these are crates of stock.

I didn’t tell Danny but when the man came to change the meter, his chirpy remark was.
“So you’ve just moved in then?”

A cardboard box storage system isn’t very practical. Especially if things are just tossed in at the end of the day. So quite a lot of time is spent searching for that box of thread or piece of silk. This combined with being in a hurry means that there are little avalanches beside the boxes. Beginning to get the picture?

Of course if the Tidy Fairy stayed home and made a cake instead of attending your christening, you are blessed with the ability to see beyond the mess. The Good Excuses fairy did turn up at mine.
“OK everything is a bit messy but I’m having fun, making money and contributing to the household income. Surely that’s more important than wafting around in a pinny and waving a duster?”

Now, let’s get things straight here. Danny is a messy Virgo too. His bedroom and Rat Room have been worse than the kitchen for months. He does not sit buffing up his elegant, manicured fingernails between conference calls. But when he comes downstairs to relax in the evening, he likes order and a tidy space. And I would like that too, rather than feeling embarrassed when someone drops by.

Now. I had no idea that this mattered to him so much until a couple of weeks ago.

We had an enormous row. I was all for selling up, dumping everything except the Min Pins and going to live on my own in a small box anywhere that was a long, long way away.

It was Danny who came up with the perfect solution. He used to run a small business from home and needed the Rat Room for storage. He’d given up trading in the summer.
“How about I trade the Rat Room and the Best Bedroom for a tidy downstairs?”

I looked up from my laptop and the property lists on the Shetland Islands.
“It’s a deal.”

Now we are busy sorting out our old rooms for the swap. Danny’s realm will be the guest room and I’m excited to be moving into the suite that I put together as a working sleeping space before D arrived at the cottage. It has loads of storage space and the view from the Rat Room window is just the tops of trees and sky.

I might even invite the Tidy Fairy to tea.



  Leave a reply


  1. Chris Grogan

    It’s not the working at the kitchen table that causes the problems in our house, it’s what to do with the results of our labours. Writing takes up the space of a couple of computers – the resulting books need a mini-warehouse. To date there are boxes in the loft, under the beds,in the pantry, the spare room and the garage. One more title and we’ll be in a tent at the bottom of the garden!

  2. Written with your customary wry humour, it made me laugh out loud – and isn’t this how the best relationships thrive, working through problems and coming up with creative solutions before needing to move to the Shetland isles? I do not often have time to comment but I follow your fortunes regularly and wish you all a great 2012!!

  3. Tanya @ Lovely Greens

    I work from the kitchen as well…my husband calls it ‘the laboratory’ 🙂 Envious of your special crafting room though!

  4. I’m sorry… I just refuse to believe that you and D ever fall out! But it seems like you reached a good compromise.

  5. Jean | Delightful Repast

    Fiona, working at home has its challenges. But isn’t it wonderful! Now that my husband does as well, it could get tricky. But we seem to have easily carved out our spaces in our compact home. Sounds like you’ve worked out a lovely solution. You must sometimes feel like Tom and Barbara Good!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

HTML tags are not allowed.

2,237,272 Spambots Blocked by Simple Comments

Copyright © 2006-2012 Cottage Smallholder      Our Privacy Policy      Advertise on Cottage Smallholder