Easy and Elegant Life

The Search for Everyday Elegance and the Art of Living Well.

So Let It Be Written


I just couldn’t stop thinking about this post on Style Court.

Letter writing, popularly thought to be a dying art, is due for a comeback thanks in no small part to the electronic age. We are all more literate, if only because the whole world wants to monkey about with social media: txt msgs, tweets, blogs, sites and whatever the new medium will cook up for us next. I find that encouraging.

My father-in-law writes a beautiful letter. No doubt thanks to his years at boarding schools here and abroad and a life spent traveling the world in the service of his country. I imagine that he composes these missives (at home anyway) seated at the extra long library table that is fashioned from a single piece of lumber taken, I believe, from a ship.

I remember a comment by a reader who exclaimed over my very neat desk here at Easy and Elegant Life World HQ. That was then, this is now.


Somehow, over the course of the last two years, my desk has become more of a pile rather than an elegantly appointed work surface. The desk itself is an art deco game table that unfolds to reveal a green baize covered top.

I am in awe of those I know whose desktops are marvels of sleek minimalism. Not so much as a wire or disorderly array of pens or post-it notes stuck to the side of the wireless laptop. (Hello Mr. Punch Art Director. How do you do that?) How much easier it must be to think. How much more elegantly one might approach one’s day.

To my mind, there is no greater luxury than a dedicated space for writing. And by writing, I mean longhand, preferably with a fountain pen and a piece of beautiful, thick, creamy card stock or stationery. You need space to write. There must be a place to put pad, paper and pen at the minimum. But I’d settle for an orderly desktop like that minimalist art director’s described above. White Mac, little white, globular speakers, one clean pad of paper waiting to be inscribed with brilliant thoughts, one Mont Blanc roller ball with which to commit thought to paper. Maybe even a glass desk top.

I feel the urge to scratch out some thoughts, or at least a thank you note or two. But it’ll have to be at the dining room table. How do you get rid of the wires? And the paper? (I must have spring cleaning on the brain.)

(A Mr. Hammel of NuNomad.com via BusinessWeek)

(From House to Home)


(From Apartment Therapy)

How does one achieve even something as maximalist yet as orderly as this?

Ralph Lauren's Office
Ralph Lauren's Highbridge Desk

I’m tempted to treat the desk as I do my wardrobe and simply throw out anything that I haven’t accessed in a year or more.

What about you? How do you go paper-magazine-tear-sheet-scrap-wire-less? Or do you?

12 thoughts on “So Let It Be Written

  1. I love the way your desk looks – it looks busy, productive, and says that a happily married, thoughtful, thinking man sits there! The pictures you’ve displayed are fantasy desks, owned by the idle rich who don’t have to deal with the flotsam jetsam that the postman insists on stuffing into our mail box each day. Elegance is also grace under pressure, is it not? And isn’t having a sense of humor about your desktop rather nonchalantly elegant?

  2. While your list of minimal items is excellent, you missed one very, very important point………..a coaster. Lord knows, I cannot write a letter without a proper cocktail and without a coaster whatever paper I am using ALWAYS finds it’s way into the puddle left by the glass. Irritating it is.

    Damn, I do like that Ralph Lauren desk, though. I could procrastinate actually doing anything for hours with a desk like that.

  3. Belle, my friend The Architect told me that I should do the same.. I have plans… but not sure when I’ll take sander to the filing cabinet.

    DD, elegance is grace under pressure and that is something that I work on constantly. With my Mediterranean and Latin blood…

    Turling, I just laughed aloud. Thanks! (There’s a croc print coaster under the orange agenda on my desk…) And yes, I could dream away hours in that office, too.

  4. My desk looks similar to yours. I find the jumble accumulates during the inspiration. When the words are not coming I go through the process of cleaning the space – eliminating the visual clutter, I think, will eliminate the mental clutter as well. I’m not sure that it does, but the fresh start sometimes feels better. The only thing you are missing as far as I can tell is a live in stylist.

  5. My desk looks like a bomb crater as does its immediate surroundings. It’s not pretty to say the least but I like it. What I don’t get about the sleek minimalism is where you’re meant to keep all your STUFF.

    At any given time I need reference books, notes, batteries I’m about to insert into something, sundry office machinery, letters unopened, letters opened, letters and parcels to be sent, papers that I’m not neccessarily working on this second but which I will be needing shortly and thus don’t want to file away.

    And then there’s the stuff that I ought to file away but haven’t gotten round to but that’s just the way of things.

  6. DD makes a great point regarding nonchalant elegance. I would rather work in your study, than any of those you’ve pictured… even the posh RL study. Your study reflects individualism, personality and perpetual creativity. My desk surrounds me with inspirational items. To keep it under control, I keep my desk lamp, framed photos and other favorite things on stacked books close to the back. Anything not deserving of a book stack is removed from the desk top at the end of the day. It is a silly trick, but it works for me. Occasionally I’ll edit for functionality. I recently purchased a wireless printer and love it, but only because I can put even more favorite STUFF on my desk and not fuss with cables. When the weather is nice the wireless printer allows me work outdoors too. Plastic zip ties are an inexpensive solution for the cable/cord mess. Like duct tape, they come in handy for many different applications.

  7. None of the offices pictured are as interesting a space as your own! Mixy-matchy offices don’t cut it. Offices without clutter are revealing–does anything really happen there? Your office has a warmth and authenticity that the others lack. Like all really wonderful rooms, it appears to have evolved. The other offices appear to have been put together and “completed” in a day. Re letter writing, using fine writing paper (and a quality pen) is a joy and also a lovely gift to the recipient. I think people should select their stationary as carefully as they select their china, silver, etc., for a beautiful table setting. A wonderful recent find: three boxes of sheets and envelopes, both in a beautiful shade of cream (Bianco) with a knock-out shade of apple green (Amalfi) hand border on both. They are Italian, and made by the same firm, est. 1774, that provides stationary to the Vatican! Another gorgeous shade of paper of theirs is what I call “light brown paper sack” (Camel) with white hand borders.

  8. My dream desk, would be made from those giant slabs that cover a multitude of potholes in Manhattan, top it over sawhorse legs and voila! I need a desk where I can stand up and think. So – when my studio addition comes to fruition – the counter height is crucial. Piles, now do not even get me started. I am not afraid to admit that I work best with piles and you can ask me where anything is, I have a system for my pile-idis. Found or given objects artfully composed also remind me of those I love. Books, letters, snippets, photos, bins of art pens, water, paints, all at the ready.

  9. I tend to let me desk pile up in the creative process.However my daughter in law has come over to help me get organized and rehang art, as I have a curater visiting today. It is a good feeling to really purge those stacks that no longer need be kept!

  10. I tend to let me desk pile up in the creative process.However my daughter in law has come over to help me get organized and rehang art, as I have a curater visiting today. It is a good feeling to really purge those stacks that no longer need be kept!
    PS: Forgot to mention good post!

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