an under-the-stairs office nook

Four years after he started it, my husband’s office nook is finally finished.

It used to be a toy closet — remember that? And then, one day I had the brilliant idea of turning it into a little desk nook for my husband. Within hours of my suggestion, my husband had torn out the wall and built a desk. For the next four years, that’s how it stayed, unfinished but useable.

Then we finished the kitchen and, wowed by his own powers of self-improvement, my husband got all glowy. “Finishing something feels so good!” he raved. “It wasn’t even that hard. Why didn’t I do this sooner?”

Briefly I considered hurling my shoes at him, but instead I just smiled sweetly. “I know, right? It makes such a difference. It’s so nice! Now, how about the upstairs bathroom? Or you could build that closet for our bedroom. The clubhouse needs painted. What about the trim for the windows. I’d like some shelves in the living room, you know. And your office space—”

“Okay, okay! Enough!” my husband said. “You made your point!”

His under-the-stairs unfinished desk bothered me most. I was sick of the gaping hole under the very bottom part — it was stashed full of all sorts of office-y junk — the unpainted walls, the half-assedness of the whole arrangement. And it had such potential to be lovely, too. Seemed to me, of all the projects that needed doing, this one would yield the biggest bang for his buck.

So I started harping. Every few days, I’d remind him. “Your desk,” I’d say. “It could be so much nicer, you know. You’d have more space. It wouldn’t be hard…” Mostly, I fixated on that gaping hole. “Just install a drawer. Please? It’d make such a difference.”

And then, quite suddenly, he kicked into gear.

In the hole under the stairs, he built a long, deep drawer for office supplies. He installed a shelf above his desk. He secured the filing cabinet into place and painted it. He built a pull-out drawer for the printer, and then another drawer above it — an idea that had never even occurred to me — because there was extra space. He put a piece of trim along the front of the desktop and painted the walls.

And just like that, his little Under-the-Stairs Harry Potter Office Nook was complete.

“It’s so lovely,” I gush. “And it hardly took any time at all! Now, about that closet for our bedroom…”

This same time, years previous: PUERTO RICO, the quotidian (5.1.17), carrot cake with cream cheese frosting, depression chocolate mayonnaise cake, baked-in-a-pot artisan bread, take two, green smoothies.


  • Margo

    What an excellent spot! But ugh, the partner who is not a finisher – ugh ugh ugh. I'm married to one of those and I'm a GET-IT-DONE (and check it off the list, ha) person. So frustrating to live with and I enjoyed SO MUCH reading about how this plays out in someone else's marriage 🙂

  • Michelle Showalter

    Yes!!Thanks so much! I was not remembering this as a soup. I’m making this for supper tonight using lambs quarter from our garden 🙂

  • Michelle Showalter

    Lovely nook! I am looking for a recipe for curried lentils over rice with sautéed spinach on top. It was published in the newspaper years ago and we really liked it. I have looked in your recipe index but none of them seem to be quite the same. Any ideas?

    • Jennifer Jo

      Hi Michelle!

      Is this the recipe you're talking about?

      (My apologies for my terrible search engine. I'm horrible at computer stuff. Maybe someday when I'm rich and famous I'll hire someone to smoothify my blog….)

  • Eldon

    I literally laughed out loud when I read the line about you considering throwing your shoes. Your husband sounds a lot like my father… and Im afraid I may have a bit of that trait myself. Hopefully my wife doesn't want to throw her shoes at me too often.

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