Periodical 17 — Optimization

Optimizing a home is a years-long process.

Hello from the corner of our home. The sun is setting on what has been a rainy but lovely day. We had a brief visit from some friends; my daughter spent a couple of hours learning pottery from our neighbor, who is a master potter; my son romped in puddles and came home a soggy raisin. We are about to enjoy a glass of wine with dinner.

We’ve lived in this house for 11 years now. Each year, we find ways to better inhabit it.

Optimizing a home is a years-long process. You must closely watch for patterns in how you move about it; how you use things within it; how surfaces wear and age; how light and dark, heat and cold come and go; how things sound.

The pandemic, of course, set in motion a lot of optimization. We had never spent so much time in the house, and we had never been as many as we were by 2021, when our second child was born. Our 1,900 square foot house offers us enough space, but with four humans and a dog, space is at a premium. So I have been optimizing. We have an only-somewhat-said-in-jest motto here — spoken in the rhythm of Glengarry Glen Ross — always be optimizing.

Recently, I did more optimizing.

First, I finished framing and mounting acoustic panels to the ceiling of our office. The entire project is still not entirely finished — I need to re-paint the ceiling — but I’m very happy with the results so far. It sounds great in here. When you walk in, you can hear it — feel it — right away. It’s like being in an isolation tank; it offers a warm silence.

Next, I created a tool panel for the back of the office closet door.

I’m frequently reaching for tools as there’s always something to repair, update, or make in this old house. It’s surprising how much of a difference it makes to simply reach for it rather than squat down and rummage through a bin or drawer.

On the outside of the door, I used a bit of extra wood and bolts to make a simple — but snazzy — coat rack.

Who says a bolt can’t be beautiful?

Finally, after I made this lamp for the desk, my old cylinder lamp needed a new home.

I decided to notch out some space for it on the main bookshelf in here. My son and I took down the books on the third shelf, carried the board outside, measured, trimmed, and sanded it, and then brought it back in — about 10 minutes of effort to make a perfect space for some golden light.

As I age, I realize more and more how important craft is to me. And I do take pride in improving our surroundings. But the thing I’m most proud of here is that each one of these projects was something I could include my children in.

On the short list of things I hope I can teach them is the confidence to shape their surroundings for the better.

Written by Christopher Butler on March 9, 2024,   In Log

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