Welcome to A Nook of One's Own, our ode to small and cozy spaces. Join us as we curate and celebrate all the comfy, familiar corners that bring us joy every day. This week, we step inside legendary baker and cookbook author Dorie Greenspan's office nook.
My nook in my New York City apartment might be considered a nook within a nook, since it’s the corner of my office and the entire room is just 6 feet wide and 10 feet long.
In real estate terms, the apartment, on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, is a “Classic Six”: two bedrooms, living room, dining room, kitchen, and what was always called a “maid’s room” (and never used by a maid in any Classic Six I’ve ever seen). That small room is right behind the kitchen and, over the years, neighbors in our building have broken down a couple of the walls to add its precious space to their kitchens. My husband and I have resisted the temptation because, as much as I’d love a larger kitchen, I love having a room to myself.
For the first many years that we lived in the apartment, the room was not mine, but my husband’s. It started out as his woodworking hobby shop—it was where Michael built, among many other things, the butcher-block countertops and mirror-fronted cabinets that are still in our kitchen. Then, when Michael developed an interest in cloisonné enameling, out went the big electric machines and in came the tiny tools of a jeweler.
But when the rolling mill and kiln started to accumulate the dust of disuse, I claimed the room and it became my office.
Michael built a bookshelf along one wall and a desk for me toward the far end, where the room’s south-facing window looks out over rooftops and a church steeple. He’d had a pushpin wall and I left that, discarding his drawings of Byzantine bracelets and replacing them with what has become a multi-layered trove of mementos.
Just last year, our son, Josh, an interior designer, rethought the entire apartment and gave my little office a much needed spiffing up. And, with it, he made the space where my desk is even cozier, even nookier. I now work closer to the window, more tucked into the corner and more happily.
Nothing beats a small space that has light, books, and music (and plenty of plugs). I have two other workspaces (one in Connecticut and the other in Paris), but none is as comfortable as this little one. I recently told my husband that I think I do my best work in that space. I know for sure that I do it most contentedly in my nook.
I start the day at my desk with my first cup of coffee and there are many days when I’m still there past sunset. As small as the room is, and as tiny as the area I work in is, I never feel cramped. Instead, I feel like it helps me concentrate. The small, familiar space is like the “focus view” on my computer—it helps direct my vision and my thoughts.
If my nook could speak, it would ask, “If you love me so much, why do you leave me so often?” It’s a good question. If I could recreate the space, I would, but the combination of history, memories, light that’s beautiful in every season, and the comfort that comes with a very long-term relationship are singular.