• Mike Erkkinen

The Home Office

The Home/Office

I believe that as we start to come out of this quarantine, many folks will continue to work and study from home for the foreseeable future. There are just too many reasons to stay home for anyone who can do so - custom schedule, safety, convenience, no commuting, childcare.... This will have the effect of folks investing to make their homes more comfortable, more efficient, more multi-purposed, and more economical. This will also lead to depopulation of cities and burbs. Except for the most ardent extroverts, cities are just so 19th and 20th century: crowded, expensive, dirty, and so isolating for so many. I see at least the U.S. moving en mass to rural communities, with nature, intimacy with neighbors and local friends, fresh air, space to move around, ability to raise food and be self-sufficient, and a healthy place to parent.

I personally started this formal "work from home" process in about 2000 - designing a place for myself and my family to live and work in and from - in rural western MA. For me, as an architectural designer and woodworker at the time, the centerpiece of the property was a compact barn. It needed to serve as an office, woodworking shop, and guest quarters. It needed to be beautiful in order to inspire my creative juices, and be extremely healthy in terms of fresh air, light, no mold or dust, and just feel good to be in. I settled on a pretty traditional design, timber framed, extremely well insulated, heated with pellets (post consumer waste), with an air handling system that completely flushed out all of the air 11 times an hour with less than 5% heat loss. It was about 200 feet from the main house, just far enough to feel like I was "at work" and just close enough to feel efficient and intimate.

This is my former home and office/studio/shop in western MA.

The barn ended up being a delightful space to work in - as a matter of fact I believe that the amount of time I spent in there directly contributed to my divorce (story for another time that had a very happy ending). In a similar way to how I went about designing and building my perfect place to live and work, I imagine much of the world undertaking a similar process. Folks could ask themselves: "what's the most beautiful, economical, efficient, and life friendly place to work and live that I can conceive of?" I believe that we should be absolutely in love with our home, with our work, with our workplace, with our partners, and with our community - and believe we shouldn't stop changing and adjusting until we're there!

The main component missing from my Berkshires home was the sea. The salt in my blood eventually overpowered my other needs, and I had an absolute "jones" to live and work on the coast. I had been sailing the coast of Maine for many years and absolutely loved the rugged character and the practical generosity of its inhabitants.

Also, as the owner/captain of a traditional fishing schooner, there was just no way to stay in southern New England, and certainly not inland. I'm very libertarian in nature, so being in a state whose politicians and their enforcers led with a very gentle hand was extremely important to me. Folks in my community look out for one another and seldom feel the need for "authorities." As the world remakes itself in the coming months and years, I encourage you to feel deeply into where and how your soul wants to express itself. Don't waste this opportunity of having various degrees of blank canvas! We have one precious life, make absolute sure you are living it how and where you can be at your absolute best! In other parts of the website that blog is connected to, you'll see many pictures of our beautifully rugged Maine abode.

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