A Visit to The Belle Writer’s Studio

Outside of The Belle Writer's Studio

I had a request from someone new to Living Large to write more about the Belle Writer’s Studio, my 320 square foot-studio office that is about 10 yards away from Our Little House.

It’s named for my mother, Betty Belle, whom I credit for the creative side of my brain.

When we built Our Little House, we planned on building another larger house, about 1,000 square foot to be our primary residence, and Our Little House was going to be my writer’s studio.

Best laid plans.

Inside of Belle Writer's Studio Photo courtesy of Mother Earth News by Kevin Pieper

You can read the full story that was featured in Mother Earth News, but we ended up building a separate office for my work.

It is truly my little piece of heaven. It’s not only where I work, but also where I can escape from the television in Our Little House to just have some peace and quiet while reading or doing research.

The Belle Writer’s Studio has a full bath, or what my husband calls my “executive lavoratory.”

We learned a lot from building Our Little House.

Things I felt we did right when building the Belle Writer’s Studio:

  • Put in a reinforced storm shelter, which also serves as storage for archived business papers.
  • Designed a cathedral ceiling, giving the illusion of more space.
  • Installed a wall mounted heat/air unit (although as you’ve likely read in prior posts, it would have been a Mitsubishi instead of Fujitsu).
  • Love my covered front porch
  • Put in large windows giving lots of light

If I could change just one thing, I would have managed to attach it to the house somehow. I’ve written in the past about the difficulties obtaining a home mortgage on a small house and banks will not consider a detached building, finished or not, as part of the residence.

I love my Belle Writer’s Studio and it took me awhile to settle on wall décor, but I ended up carrying the bear theme (although more touristy) to the studio on the “reading” side of the room and in the bathroom.

On the office side, I’ve included photos from favorite travels (still need a framed print of the Country Club Plaza in Kansas City!) and my framed copy of my first published essay for which I was paid and a copy of the check (cashed it, of course!)

If you live in a small space or are considering downsizing, how will you handle “office space” (even if it is just for your personal computer to pay bills, etc?) Or, if you have an office space, is it a designated former bedroom, on a separate floor or in a separate building?

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32 Responses

  1. amy says:

    I would love a retreat like this of my own. I am not a writer but rather a watercolorist and fiber artist (spinning/dyeing/weaving/knitting).

    I am thankful though for my ‘studio’, the smallest bed room in the house. But to be able to LEAVE the house very appealing! Heck, throw a futon in there and I might be tempted to run away from home time to time if I had similar 😉

    Love your blog and wee house, you’ve got me thinking we should do similar upon retirement.

    • Kerri says:

      Thank you, Amy. I indeed do feel blessed. Start planning and even draw your little house and studio out, you can make it a reality! 😉 P.S. I sometimes do run away to my futon with a good book!

  2. What a nice space! I have a home office, separated from the main house by two doors, which are often knocked on by small children. I’d love to have a space like yours!

  3. sarah henry says:

    Ah, a room all your own, awesome.

  4. It’s a beauty. Love those pix. My office is quite pretty too, but the idea of a completely separate space is compelling.

  5. I love it too. I used to have my own little office but now the dining room table has become my place. Ah one day I’ll have my own again, until then I’ll just look at yours:)

  6. My office is just a corner of a spare room, shared with my kids and their computer. This post makes me covet a nice space, for sure!

    • Kerri says:

      Oh, my, I had no idea how many people have to share space with cat litter and kids. Makes me prize mine even more! 😉

  7. Sheryl says:

    What a beautiful studio. It looks as if it is the perfect place to foster creativity.

  8. Kerry says:

    ‘keep dreaming…’ I like your advice to Steph Auteri, Kerri.
    my office ia a corner of the living room, with CDs (as I write a lot about music) stacked up everywhere. I am photographer, too, though, so I also look up and see several of my favorite shots — view out my window when I’m in Ireland, friends playing music, a snowy path, and the like — which is quite nice.

    • Kerri says:

      It did take me a long time to get here, Kerry. There was a day I thought I would be staring at gray cube walls until I either died of boredom or retired. Yours sounds quite nice. Anyplace with music is a good place to be.

  9. Alisa Bowman says:

    I have writer’s studio envy. That is all.

  10. Jane Boursaw says:

    What a dreamy studio! Thanks so much for the pictures, because I’ve been wanting to check out the inside after reading about it on your blog. It’s just gorgeous.

    My office is in a corner of our first floor, but since it’s an open-plan design, there are no walls, so I’m basically in the middle of everything. In some ways that’s good. In some ways, I always feel pushed and pulled by whatever’s going on in the house. Maybe that’s why I get a lot of my focused work done at night after everyone else has gone to bed.

    • Kerri says:

      Thanks, Jane. I got a lot of stuff done at night in my office in the city. The house just seemed quieter then. I do prefer early mornings here in the studio.

  11. Steph Auteri says:

    So, so jealous right now.

    I live in a one-bedroom apartment with my husband and three cats. We’ve made what should have been the dining room into our office.

    So basically, we have our two desks (mine is a pretty antique that used to live in my grandparents’ house), two filing cabinets, and two litter boxes (ick). I’ve tried to add some personality by hanging a small collection of colorful prints on one wall. I sort of love that wall.

    Our “office” also flows directly into the living room / TV room, which can obviously cause issues. We’re trying to sell the condo so we can upgrade to a house, and I dream of one day having my own office. With a door I can close.

    Some bookshelves and a reading nook would be nice, too. 😉

    • Kerri says:

      Yes, Steph, it beats the gray flannel corporate cubes I’ve sat in and even my office in the city, which was in the smallest bedroom. One wall still had little girl pink pinstripe wallpaper, because I could never decide what to do with it! 🙂 Keep dreaming. You’ll make your move and have a whole new office. With a door!

  12. I’m so jealous of your writing retreat! My office is just an extra bedroom (not even a bedroom, really – just a long, skinny room) that I get to share with bookshelves and the cat litter box. Usually (like now) I’m just writing at the dining room table.

    • Kerri says:

      Oh, sharing with the cat litter box? not good. 🙂 I had a spare bedroom, the smallest one at our house in the city, Casey. This is my dream. It took us years to get here. Just keep dreaming. 🙂

  13. I just did some rearranging in my own office. I had about 5 file cabinet drawers filled with files containing clips, contracts, notes, etc. I purged it all and ended up with one plastic storage box of hard copy clips (which I really should scan in but really who cares what I wrote 10 years ago?). We were able to move a big 4 drawer file cabinet out of here (it will be used in the basement for storage) and in its place I brought up a glider rocker we had stored in the basement. Now I have a place I can sit other than my office chair, which I like to do when I am reading something not on a computer screen!

    • Kerri says:

      I love sitting in my office to read as well. I’ve been on the hubby to move a chair down from the storage building for a while now. I do have the couch to sit on though.

  14. When I decided to pursue writing as a full time career, I knew I needed a better office than the makeshift one I had set up in my daughter’s (who had left home by that time) old bedroom. We owned land in the country and our goal was always to build a house there, and of course I always imagined I’d have my writing studio when we built the house. But, as so often happens, things didn’t work out exactly that way. The cost of building on our land turned out to be astronomical, mainly because power lines and water lines would have to have been installed, and the land is very rocky and rough. We were told that there would have to be blasting done and special equipment required just to get utilities- that’s before even breaking ground on a house. $$$$

    I decided to convert the former bedroom of our other daughter (also grown and gone by that time) into my own private writing haven, and since I couldn’t be out in the wilderness of our land, I decided to bring the wilderness into my office. I found a beautiful wall mural of a forest (looked very much like the timber area of our land)and papered two walls of the room with it. It literally looked like you could walk right through the wall of my office and into a forest! My husband helped me pick out furniture, including the roll top desk of my dreams, matching file cabinets and a small armoire for TV, stereo. I loved my cozy writing studio that made me feel as though I was writing from within a beautiful forest.

    Eventually, we bought a house and land that sit right across the road from our property, and I had to say goodbye to my little studio when we moved. Even worse, the realtor told us that my office had “way too much personality” and needed to be stripped and painted beige. It broke my heart to see the beautiful wall mural torn away and turned into a blank, beige wall.

    Of course, we love our new home in the country and I have an office space that looks right out on timber, very much like my wall mural at home (except it’s real!) But, I will never forget how wonderful it was to design and furnish the writing space of my dreams- possibly the best part was the way my husband believed in me and threw himself into the project too.

  15. Olivia says:

    My office space is currently a spare bedroom that, unfortunately, is also a catch-all while we continue renovations.It’s a bit of a shambles so I tend to do most of my computer work at the dining room table in our main room. Once we finish renovations, I hope to set up a more functional office/bedroom space. Our youngest son is presently using the larger spare room as his bedroom but once he moves out, we will actually have a spare room so hopefully the “catch-all” will function primarly as office/sewing space.

    But – I love your separate office. Lucky you!

  16. Love your studio!