Monday, April 4, 2016

"A Room of One's Own": The Power of Place

by Sofie Couch

I’m in deep.
You see, I keep creating these spaces, a la Virginia Woolf’s “A Room of One’s Own”. It began in a little cottage out back. Actually, it was a cinder block hovel, which I had renovated, I decorated, made beautiful, (too beautiful for me), and in the end, I decided, it was too nice to keep to myself, so I started renting it out through Airbnb.

So then I began work on my She-She-Shed, which is meant to be a writing retreat. It sits away from our house, convenient as I presently work in my office, a.k.a., former dining room. Work continues on the She-She-Shed... slowly.

Because, you see, it got really complicated. It involves a business my Mom and Dad started 22 years ago – an antique mini-mall – the loss of one parent, the needs of the other, and more than 40 antique dealers who depend on that business for supplemental income.

So now, I’m in the process of purchasing the family business, updating the accounting system, learning about payroll and quarterly taxes and employees’ needs and renters’ expectations, grown-up things like 1099s and sanitation laws…  I was feeling a teensy bit overwhelmed last week, when the fates jumped up in my face to help me sort out my priorities. (You can read a bit about the fates and a rubber chicken here: ).

And then I realized, I’m still on this one year mission to create “A Room of One’s Own”, only now, I’m doing it for hundreds of people. At the antique mini-mall, we had our spring Open House this past weekend, and in the middle of one of the craziest, most successful days we have ever had – ever – I realized I am still on this same mission! 

I saw people come up to the counter with vignettes that spoke volumes about their favorite color, their aesthetic, their bliss. And they helped me to find mine too. The chaotic, hot, beautiful mess that wraps itself around owning your own business only makes me appreciate the quiet of home that much more.

I’m writing from the library table. (It’s the new dining room). My husband sits across from me. My teenager is in the man cave just a few steps away, my twenty-year-old is watching a calculus video lecture. There are sights and sounds and dogs and chickens and crunching and munching, and interruptions… and it is bliss. It makes my little she-she-shed seem very solitary. (But don’t you know, I’ll be out there later today, on my day “off”, fixing it up “for my own particular use”, as Charlotte Collins said in Pride and Prejudice.

If you find yourself in Keswick, Virginia, you’ll have to swing by the shop, A&W Collectables, for the accoutrements of styling your “Room of (Your) Own”.


  1. Sofie, I suspect you'll miss the crunching and munching and interruptions of your present blissful writing spot if your she-she shed ever gets finished. If I'm ever in Keswick, VA, I'll definitely stop by. Your mini-mall sounds delightful.

  2. I would love a visit from one (or twenty) of my writing buddies! Wouldn't that be a hoot? Bring books. We'll do a book signing!

  3. Hi Sofie--
    Wow! Your little cottage is fabulous. I'm sad you didn't keep it for your writing, but it is indeed the perfect little writer's retreat. It's great that you continue on making your she-she shed just as wonderful. Good luck with your antique business, too. You amaze me with all you do.