I’m officially moved in. My new room. Everything I own in London, contained in a mere 66 square feet.
You might think I’m crazy to attempt to work and sleep in such a tiny space, but there’s a logic to my madness.
Top of the list is sheer frugality. Having a big beautiful space in Toronto was definitely an advantage, but in the early stages it was often a liability too. This time, since I don’t have that much stuff anyway, I was looking for something as cheap as possible. But also, since I’m here to experience the best of London, I wanted it to be central and in a lively, interesting neighbourhood – in this case, Bethnal Green, just steps away from Brick Lane. Add those two factors together and you get: small.
I’m also fussy about a couple of other things. Good heat, for one (this room has a very enthusiastic little radiator), real wooden floors (carpets, linoleum and laminate gross me out) and a nice view, the last is critical to keeping this kind of space from feeling cell-like.
My east facing window looks out over Weaver’s Fields, a small park full of ball players, dog walkers, and kids, with the overground rail running along the right. I can literally see the address that the infamous Kray twins grew up in from here, it doesn’t get much more East London than that. You can’t see it today because of the fog, but in the distance you can see a cluster of cranes where they’re building the Olympic site.
My modest working space is still a work in progress, however I now have everything I need here to draw and am already taking on freelance deadlines. The little pressboard desk came with the room – I added a solid metal school desk to give me some solid elbow room. I bought it from a man under the Bethnal Green rail station and literally skated it on edge across snow-covered Weaver’s Fields to save cab fare. I made up for that by splurging on the work lamp clamped on the left – its the nicest task light I’ve ever owned.
I’m just steps away from a huge art supply store, an iconic 24 hour beigel joint, tons of vintage clothing shops, live music venues, the United Nations of takeout, and so much more. Of course if I start making money like gangbusters, I’ll take a step up, but for a first step, found under a tight deadline, and under a tight budget, I’m relieved and satisfied.