Sunday, September 30, 2007

Day 3.7: Boom Da Da Boom

My boy. Washing The Walls 101.

The best thing I accomplished this week was dinner tonight in the kitchen. For about two weeks now--yes, ever since The Cure officially started--we'd all take our dinner to separate rooms: me to the computer, the kids and the husband sometimes to my son's room to listen to the radio, more often to the living room to watch T.V.

But the chairs are painted (even if there is still tape on one and I haven't razor bladed off the excess here and there), the table is scrubbed and I threw on a cloth. We had Roast Chicken, again. The seven year old helped me set the table: plates, cutlery (knives on the right, forks on the left--is that right?) matching glasses (above the knives), napkins (folded under the forks), salt, pepper, and a vase of two Spider Mums left from last week's arrangement. It was over too soon, though. As soon as we finished eating the main course, they bolted to the living room to finish watching a video. Oh well, we'll be back in the habit again soon.

After dessert of pie, whipped cream and coffee, I buckled down to the dishes, the boy dried them and, hey, all in all, we had a nice Sunday evening at home.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Day 3.6: Weekend Plans

It was so helpful to write down my plans last weekend and come back and change the colour of what got done, that I'm going to do the same this weekend. Again, an ambitious list. But I like writing it all down, even if I don't get it all done. In honour of our fall weather (9C/48F today and 14C/57F tomorrow), I'll use cool colours.
Green: done on Saturday
Blue: done on Sunday
Teal: both days

Today, I paint.

Errands: Swimming Lessons, Groceries, Pet Store, Big Box Store, Library, Needlepoint to framing shop.

Check painting supplies.
Wash and sand green bookcasePaint first coat.

Sand little round table
Apply first coat stain.

Strain semi-gloss paint through panty hose.
Wash trim
paint trim.

Take ratty pine unit out to curb.
Iron needlepoint
put away clean bedding
Change E's bedding to "winter."
Fold stuff piled up on table. Put away
Do two new loads, all the way to put away.

Clear off Kitchen table
Bleach countertop
Wash Kitchen floor.
Figure out where in basement to put two remaining pine units. (Hopefully, the start of some kind of sewing centre).

Prime dresser in basement
Purchase new 6' 6" pine board (may not be feasible today. If not, I may have to wait until Tuesday). Added Sunday: This is going to be more difficult than I'd expected. The only one I've managed to find is 8' (won't fit in the car) and $20.00 which sort of calls the whole "inexpensive shelving" concept into question.

Prime pine shelving. Maybe. I am very reluctant to do this. I don't know why.

Clean furnace filter.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Day 3.5(b) Progress!

This was yesterday. (Yep, that's the seven year old trying to get into the picture).
Today, that bookcase is completely empty. Except for a few decorative plates, the China cabinet is empty. The three 100 year old IKEA pine units on the East wall are not only empty but GONE from the room. (One is going straight to the garbage. The other two, I want to find a home for in the basement). The shelves beside the old units are empty. The shelves above the desk are almost empty.
What isn't and needs to be is (1) the dining room table, (2) the kitchen table and (3) the computer desk, where my typing on the keys makes quite a clack...and echo in my now spacious, empty red womb of a room.

Why do I need to empty the kitchen table? Well, it's the smallest and lightest of the three pieces, so I want to move it to the basement so I can set up the computer on it. Then, I have to move the dining room table into the kitchen so (1) we have a table to eat on, but more importantly, (2) I have space in the middle of the dining room to put the remaining furniture: the china cabinet, the computer desk (and drawers) and the fugly green bookcase (which will be white in about 48 hours from now--hooray!).

But all this moving depends on the hubby and the poor man is working both of his days off this week. (Usually he works only one.) So, though I'm feeling great with having emptied out the room, the actual painting may have to wait a few more days. I don't care.

I have a table to sand and stain and varnish (yep, the "little round table" project continues, you can see a corner of it in the lower left of the picture above), a bookshelf and the drawer supports and even a few shelving boards to paint while I wait. If I get really ambitious, I can do the trim.
Oh and the kitchen chairs are DONE! They look pretty spiffy too. I'll post a pic as soon as I have one.
 (It may take a while.)

Thanks everyone for helping me through my funk yesterday. I can't tell you how much it meant to me. As I was hunting down my chocolate last night, I realised how different writing the blog is from just straight journal writing. With the journal, I write things out and they tend to go away enough so I can carry on. But with the blog, the issues aren't "gone" until someone comments. Although that sort of leaves me "hanging" out there a bit, it's not a bad thing. It's how one builds relationships, right?

Anyway, enough sap.
On With The Cure!

Day 3.5 Ruminations on the Expedit.

I stole this image from Dean, doing the cure in Chicago.

Nobody said I had to paint the wall behind the Expedit blue.
(Just a thought.)
Thanks Mella and Wende for your encouragement.
It means a lot.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Day 3.4: Nuts!*

I am a squirrel (though not nearly as cute as the little guy above). There's no getting around it. In fact, there's almost no getting around this room as the shelves empty and boxes slowly pile in the only spot without furniture. Yes. The doorway.

This room has too many activities crammed into it. We know that. But one of the most important, to me, is my scrapbooking. I am reluctant to even discuss such a middle-class, suburban housewife past-time in such erudite company, but other than painting furniture and decorating, (which, honestly, happens hardly at all) it is my creative outlet.

And, to be frank, it hardly happens, either. I am way too compulsive in my habits. Scrapping is just like The Cure. I get busy and the family goes hungry, children are left ignorant and ignored. So, I haven't done it in a while. A long while. It's beside the point, really, except to say I've been longing to get back at it for a couple of months now. The only way I can do it is to have everything handy, here in the dining room. If it were down in the basement, I'm afraid I'd forget what my children looked like. And so, everything waits for me to establish the habit of moderation, here in the dining room. But scrapping not only eats time, it eats space. It is not a hobby for those with space issues. The amount of stuff you need to "keep handy" is unbelievable.

My husband and I bought the Expedit to house it all. It was the subject of at least two arguments. We even took it back (I thought to leave it there) when I had doubts about having purchased the dark one and wanted to exchange it for the light one. (We wound up getting the white one.) I don't dare NOT put it up in the dining room. But it will overwhelm the space. It will. And I'm second guessing my decision to paint the wall behind it blue. It will, as Wende says, STAND OUT.

All this and bristol board squirreled away behind the shelving units. (Will I be able to stash it back there when the unit goes up? It doesn't have a back. Probably not.) What about my collection of long rulers? Where does one put those? I have a really tall book, a legal sized clipboard, and two 24" cutting mats now homeless too. There are two little drawers in my storage units--scissors and sewing stuff cozy up in one, math manipulatives bed down in the other. They, too, will be homeless. (Have you seen what the drawer inserts for the Expedit cost? You need at least two for balance. They're on my Christmas list.) Yet, what little matters in the scheme of the whole wide world.

But in my little world right now, we can't have dinner at the kitchen table because I'm still painting two chairs. The Expedit, still in its three boxes, lies in our narrow entryway. I finally removed the two little "drop leafs" of the little round table on the dining room table to the basement, while at the end of it, two chairs prop up the disaster that is the centre. I'm sanding off the work of the last week because the brush screwed up the final coat of varnish. (There's a whole story behind this little table, but telling it to you will make you wonder about the stability of my marriage (or why I keep risking it for furniture) and this post is depressing enough.) I now have packing tape, scissors, newspapers and one lone box left for packing up the China cabinet and the walls of books and the scrapbook stuff.

I find myself fearful, packing up. We moved a lot as a kid. Lots of things were always given away when we moved, sometimes accidentally (like the time we moved from Ottawa, Ontario to Yellowknife, NWT and found ourselves with a bag of garbage but without all our skiing stuff) and sometimes on purpose, but always without my consent. I'm afraid I'll never be able to find this stuff I'm packing. Again.

I feel like I'm moving backwards. A lot of this stuff, like my china and wine glasses used to be kept in boxes. I'd schlep it up from the basement and unpack it when we needed it. It'll all be packed away for Thanksgiving this year. And I won't be doing any schlepping.

I'm worried the colours won't work together. I'm worried my design for the shelving will look dorky. I'm worried about how we're going to function while the nerve centre of our home is dismantled and in disarray.
But there's nothing for it but to keep on. I'm going to "officially" cancel school for the next two weeks. We haven't been doing it anyway and I already miss the Spring days we will have to work through to make up for it. It would be ironic if we finished painting on Thanksgiving Monday. (Oct 8). But that's all right. I like irony.

*It's what General McAuliffe of the 101st Airborne said to Germany's invitation to surrender after they had the Americans surrounded and cut off at Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge, December 1944. The Germans and their translators were a wee bit baffled.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Day 3.3 Boom Dada Boom

(Banana chocolate chip muffins. Yum. Fresh from the clean oven)

Well, it's encouraging to crow about what I've done, so here goes.

Since the last bdb post:
1. Finished painting (and varnishing) two kitchen chairs. One red, one blue.
2. Washed kitchen ceiling.
3. Washed shelving over stove and cleaned up the jars and tins and stuff that sit on the shelves.
4. Cleared off one full 6'6" shelf of books and totchkes.
5. Went through the backlog of mail.
6. Filed and tossed unnecessary papers from financial files.

Have you had lunch yet?
I'm going to out-dork the dorks and post, no, not my fridge, but the oven. Ready?

Here it is, three days, one batch of cookies, one dozen muffins and a roast chicken later:

Boom dada boom.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Day 3.2(b) What Are We Supposed To Do, Again?

(I forget where I got this. PotteryBarn?)

I was going to ignore this week.
I was going to paint the dining room.
However, I've hit a huge logistical snag--I don't know where to put everything and a project which has been tying up the dining room and which I had thought was done is now, once again, to be re-done.
I feel like crying.
I feel like stamping my feet.
I feel like sleeping the rest of the week.
None of these would be terribly productive, so I may as well focus on what Maxwell says I should be doing.

Bones.Vaccuum, dust and mop, the floors. You know, they do actually need it again. Poot.
Clean your entrance and any related closets.The front entryway is fine. The back entryway is an entirely different story. And what do you do when the closet is mostly full of stuff that belongs to someone else? How many coats does a man need anyway? (Apparently, seven. Plus two fleece pullovers for work. 09/27)Arrange to have all repairs taken care of in the next three weeks.
Yeah, right.

Declutter your entrance
Well, the front is mostly fine. The back could use some putting away of the summer stuff. Again, though, I need to ask: how many shoes does a man need?
Move all old mail, catalogs and magazines to the outbox. OK. I had planned to do this.
Look into what you would need to create a landing strip.
Cancel any unused subscriptions.
Only one subscription. Keeping it.

Heart:Identify cool rooms and warm rooms.Done.
Apply the 80/20 rule.
I may take a stab at this. Just to see.

Head:Cook two meals at home this week.Of course
Design an invitation for your housewarming.No comment.

One Room Remedy:All done. I'm actually on week six of this project (and will be for several more!)

Day 3.2 Colour Planning, or Second Guessing Myself.

Maxwell suggests that we establish the flow between rooms using the metaphor of breathing: warm colours for expansion, cool for contraction. Keeping 80% of the room neutral or quiet, use the other 20% for your colours--and most radical of Maxwell, he suggests keeping all of these colours to one side of the colour wheel, either cool or warm.

It's a great place to start. But how does one create flow and keep the home unified? An dark orange living room with yellow accents next to a light blue office with white accents divided by a pale green hallway with dark purple accents may follow Maxwell's recommendations to the letter: but it may also look like a wild overgrown English garden, or, at worse, a hodgepodge.

To take this concept of flow a bit further, I turn to Lynette Jennings (whatever happened to her?).

She suggests you start with a colour chart. Along the top, put the things which take up the most visual space in descending order: So, A: Walls, B: Floor, C: Largest piece of furniture, D: Accent 1, E: Accent 2. (Try and make a few copies of this chart)

Down the side put each room in your home. Like this:
Then, take some inspiration: a piece of fabric, a rug, a pillow, something you love and start picking out your main colours. She suggests about four. Then, go and get some graduated paint strips which show you those colours in a range from light to dark. Now, you have 16 colours to play with. Fill in the chart.
As you can see, mine's only partially filled in. I was trying to figure out what to paint my living room and dining room this summer so I filled in what I knew would not change. I decided I love the colour scheme of my kitchen. Yellow-orange walls, bright yellow cabinetry and blue and green accents. Taking that as my "inspiration" I can do the whole house. It does "contradict" Maxwell's advice to keep everything either on the warm or cool side of the colour wheel, but I can live with that. How do I create the flow?

Living Room:
A: Walls: brown (dark dark orange). B: Floor, orangy-yellow. C: Sofa: Green. D: Accents, in either orange or yellow. E: accents in blue.

Dining Room/Office:
A: Walls: pale yellow (almond). B: Floor, orangy-yellow. C: Shelving: white. D: Accents: blue wall. E: green boxes.

And the Hallway?
A: walls: intense yellow-green. B: floor: orangy-yellow. C: table, yellow. D: Accent 1: white. E: Accent 2: green.
And so on.
Let's apply my colour scheme of yellow, blue and green (with touches of orange) to Maxwell's way, but keeping the colours strictly warm or cool in each room.
Living Room: Warm.
A: Walls, soft yellow. B: Floor, orangy-yellow, covered up with a pale yellow rug. C: sofa, warm white or beige. D: Accent 1: bright yellow. E: Accent 2: soft orange.

Dining Room: Warm or chief function, Office: Cool:
A: Walls: Cool white. B: Floor, orangy-yellow but covered up with a blue or green rug. C: shelving, white. D: Accent 1: Soft blue wall. E: Green boxes.

Hallway: Cool.
A: Walls: Pale green or blue. B: Floor: orangy-yellow covered up with a rug (I have black indoor/outdoor carpeting, so let's go with that). C: furniture: white. D: accents, grey.
To me, it doesn't have as much flow, though it certainly seems a little less chaotic that the Lynette Jennings' way. Still, it's a matter of personal taste. I'm a warm person. I like a fair amount of visual stimulation.
Considering whether things should be light or dark versions of a given colour, remember that pale and cool colours recede: that is, they don't take up as much visual space. Things in warm colours, bright colours and dark colours take up a lot of visual space. These are your punctuation marks: a bright blue chair will take up more "room" than one in pale blue, for example, but a bright red chair will take up even more visual space than the one in bright blue.
Maxwell would probably suggest only a few items per room from the warm, bright, dark category.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Day 3.1 80/20: A Matter of Proportion

Don't be confused. Maxwell's 80/20 rule is not about colour. Colour does not exist. Colour is all about perception. And so is Maxwell's rule.

Consider this photograph, by Dana Gallagher, from Real Simple: The Organized Home.
It is, fittingly, a simple example. For a room to be broken down into 80/20 you have to consider what takes up the most visual space.

What do we have?

The largest bit(s): the envelopeWalls: browny gold. A warm neutral
Floor: Golden oak: A warm neutral
Ceiling: not visible. Probably a pale neutral.
These three things make up the "shell" or the envelope of your room. Keep these neutral and you're well on your way to 80%.

The next largest bit(s): the furnitureThe sofa: white or cream. White would make it cool; cream, warm. In any case, it too is a neutral.
The rug: dark brown. Is this a neutral? This is one of those odd cases where it depends upon the context. I think that here, in this room, it is. In an all white room, however, it would be so different it would "count" as a colour. Here, it acts as a neutral.
Chairs: Here, it's a ghost chair. A non-entity. A similar chair in dark wood would retain the 80/20 ratio just as well. (But not in a light wood. See below).
Tables: again, neutral.

**a note about curtains. Depending upon the size of your windows, these could either be neutral or a dsah of colour. A look I love is to use a neutral and then band one edge of each panel (or the area from the sill to the floor) in a colourful fabric. How decorative your curtains "should" be all depends upon the size of the room, the walls and floor. It's a question of how much compared to everything else.

The least largest bits: the accessories
lamps: neutral
Ottomans, blanket and pillows, art: and here we have the colour. All warm. All fall within the acceptable 20%. Of course, this is a photograph. The ottomans loom rather larger here than they would in the context of the entire room in order for the photograph to look good.
Now, look again at this photograph in black and white. How does the 80/20 rule apply here?

The first thing to notice is that this is not a successful black and white photograph. Why? Because, simply, there's too much sofa. In the contrast sweepstakes, the white sofa wins--it takes up about half the visual field. But again, imagine this as part of an entire room. In terms of contrast between light and dark, the sofa and the lamp and the art would likely take up the full 20% of the room, but no more. That is, of course, if it is well designed.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Day 2.7 A Stream of Cleaning Consiousness

some of you may recognise this picture from last year. I didn't take one this year--it would just look the same, except the shelves weren't quite so bad.
When housecleaning mindfully, you tend to notice things you usually leave out of consideration. This is a record of what I noticed today.

Swiffering the bedroom floor: oh, there's that bag full of pictures that came off the wall two years ago. Waiting. Those curtains --still need to be hemmed? This duvet cover. It's just not working at all.

Switching out the clothes mindfully netted three sweaters and a t-shirt for goodwill. Not because I need the space, but because I realised I'd worn the T-shirt only once this summer, and the sweaters, last winter, not at all.

This does happen when it isn't "the Cure" but it tends to depress me when it does. This time, I know we'll be doing "Bedroom week" soon, and it'll all get dealt with then. It occurs to me that those with houses could conceivably do the eight week cure all year. Just keep rotating through the weeks and in no time there wouldn't be a whole lot left to do and the place would be wonderful. But it's a bad idea. The Cure would lose it's magic and just become part of the hum-drum everyday if I tried to do that.

The ceiling sure is filthy. There's one corner that I've never been able to reach: and so hasn't been washed in probably twelve years. (The husband bought the house and moved in two years before we met). I move the table, I move the chairs. I take a few things off the walls in case of drips. No drips to really speak of, but Oh My Goodness. The walls. The walls are worse, if that's possible. I'll get the girl to scrub them tomorrow. Seven year olds still like to do that.

I decide to divide the kitchen ceiling into six equal segments about 3x3 feet each. I take my cloth on a pole and put it up on the ceiling, hyper extend my neck backwards and march back and forth as best I can. I'm being very careful to stay straight. Parallel to the west window to wash, perpendicular to rinse. I do half the ceiling and take a long break. When the husband gets home, I say:
"Look up."
"We've got quite the crack on the ceiling," he says.
"Yes, I noticed that too."

I'm not going to get these shelves as pristine as the day I varnished them. There are streaks almost dyed into the pine. The narrow bands of pure yellow where the shelf rests on its supports mock me. "Look what we were. Look what we could be," they whisper. No, let's get the grimy grease off of you, shall we? Squirt some soap. Wipe with a hot damp cloth. That'll do, Babe. That'll do.

But I got out the toothbrush for the jars.
I really must give up perfectionism.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Day 2.6: Update

I lasted as long as I could. I did get another hour of sleep after getting up, and I kept telling myself to "slow down" as I raced against the timer. Usually the adrenaline is good for me. Today it burned me out. Still, I did make some headway and things are much more manageable. As soon as my dear son gets his bionicles off the bed, I'll be able to make it and tick that off the list.

I hope to get a good night sleep and go back at it in the same fashion tomorrow. The kitchen takes priority.

PS: Roast chicken makes a great meal on a day like this.

A 15 Minute Day

CQ in D.C. is having a tough time. It's just come to her attention that she needs to switch from the one room cure to the whole house remedy. I proposed she do a "15 minute day" and as I was typing, I realised I need to do one myself.

Here's how it goes:
Set the timer--start one task When the timer goes off, start the next thing. When that 15 minutes is over, start a third. When that's over--and this is very important: sit down and drink something. Surf the 'net. Take a break. 15 minutes. Sometimes I'll go over my list and prioritize the next three tasks, or whether I'll take 15 minutes to finish up two of the first three, whatever.

It sounds scattered--but it's designed that way on purpose. I tend to BE scattered, so focusing intensely on one task for 15 minutes and then shifting focus again works WITH the fact that I "can't" clean the whole kitchen, say, until it's done. But during a 15 minute "day" I can get the laundry done, the house picked up and the kitchen cleaned, the beds changed and made, etc, etc,etc.

My list for the weekend:

(I don't expect to get it ALL done)
but what was done on Saturday is in orange,
what was done on Sunday in green. Both days, red.

Errands: swim lessons, pick up paint, groceries, library, bookstore, pet store.

paint chairs, (3/4) varnish chair (2/4).
wash ceiling
wash dishes
wash shelving and jars over stove
bleach countertop
wash floor

Dining Room:
Clean up desk
put things away!

Living Room:
clear off floors
get out curtain rings that need to be stained. Stain them.
Another coat of stain for the little round table.
Clear off surfaces (Have daughter take every single toy to her room).
Vacuum stairwell and hallway.

swish and swipe
wash towels, bathmat
Have daughter scrub tub.

Goal: three loads folded and put away, in addition to bedding and bathroom laundry. Two loads done, not including bedding and bathroom.

Change all the bedding to Winter:
son's bed, daughter's bed, our bed.
Wash bedding: B's blanket, B's comforter, E's bedspread, Our blanket, Our bedspread
Unpack the winter clothes boxes:
B's, E's, Mine
Pack the summer stuff into them. Put in basement to catch the summer stuff coming out of the wash.
Have son rake leaves.

Have son pick up everything off of his floor. Vacuum and sweep.
Have daughter
--pick up everything off of her floor
--wash and put away the dishes she used today for supper (with a friend in her room).

My room:
Pick up clothes.

Take out garbage.
Wash needlepoint.

I think that's about it. I'll prioritize tomorrow and spend some of my 15 minute breaks reporting in, here. My cold is coming back, and I'll be dead tired (I have to be up again in about 4.5 hours) but I'll do this.

Friday, September 21, 2007


Look at what I did with "Arrange-a-Room" from BHG! You can set the dimensions of everything, the room, the doors, windows, and yes, even the furniture. This is the one for you Beth. I take back everything I said about on-line floor plan generators below. Apparently, you can even save your floor plan and come back and play with it later. If the room is "L" shaped, I'd just treat them as separate rooms--or put "fake" windows or a bookcase or something along the "walls" of a big square to section it off. I don't know, but I bet you could think of something!

Making a Floor Plan 101

(image from Elise and Bryan's Prewar Family Nest, Small Cool 2007, entry#3)

I love floor plans. I've been drawing them since I was 14 years old when my greatest indulgence was buying one of those magazine books chock full of them. It was like playing with a flat dollhouse. I would walk through them and imagine living my life between those line drawn walls.

I haven't seen too many this cure, even though we're supposed to draw one. So, I figured I'd gather the class together and tell you how to do it.

--pencil (I prefer HB. 2H is too light)
--a good eraser (a white one)
--a rular (broken down into 1/16ths). I don't know what the metric equivalent would be. There are those three sided architectural rulars available with all sorts of scales pre-drawn but I never got the hang of it.
--scaled graph paper. (My favourite is broken off into squares of 1/4")
--scrap paper
--heavy weight paper or very light cardboard. An index card will do.
--scrap paper
1. Draw a rough outline of your room on the scrap paper. Include doorways and windows. Then, take your tape measure and fill in the distance between the lines. Like this:

(I had to measure around furniture. 1/2" here or there isn't going to matter.)
2. Decide your scale. The standard is 1/4" to 1 foot. But, if you have the room on your paper, you can make it larger, say, 1/4" to 6 inches.
The measurements break down like this at 1/4" (scale) to 1' (real life).
1"= 4 feet
1/2"= 2 feet
1/4" = 1 foot (or 4/16" = 12")
1/8" = 6" (or 2/16" = 6")
1/16" = 3"
For anything less than 3" mentally divide 1/16ths into thirds and then take a stab with your pencil.

3. Transfer your rough plan to your graph paper. You can make your walls "thick" (usually 4" or 6") and I highly recommend it if you are drawing a floor plan with more than one room. You should have something like this:

(sorry about the plate stain. Ideally you would put your drawing away before plunking lunch down on top of it)
4. Measure your furniture. Measure its length and depth. Write it down.
5. Draw the furniture to the same scale as your floorplan on your heavy weight paper or light cardboard. (I use whtever is on hand. Last time it was an index card).
For example, the IKEA Expedit is 6"2" long and 15" deep. Ignore the 2". That's the thickness of your pencil line at this scale.
That's (four feet plus two feet) x (12 inches + 3 inches) so, you would draw a rectangle 1 1/2" long x 5/16ths wide. Don't forget to label your bits. Cut them out.

6. Now for the fun part. Start moving your bits of furniture around on your paper. You'll be able to see what won't work, even if you think you can't see "what it would really look like." Imagine walking around the furniture with it this way. Imagine having a drink, or watching the TV or all the steps involved in paying a bill. Whatever you do, can you do it well?

The husband and I thought of switching the dining room and living room. By trying different arrangements out on paper, we realised it wouldn't work.

Already I can see that putting the sofa up against the window leaves the other walls fairly useless. So, I won't try that again.
That leaves just the window corners for the TV.

I like it. But, oh wait, there are four of us. As I learned at "decorating school" a three seater sofa only ever seats two. I can see that there's no way to get a rocking chair in here if I keep the TV in that corner, so let's move it to the other one and try to add the rocking chair, shall we?

Let's try and move the sofa down that wall:

Oh dear, can you say squished?

A note about on-line floor plan tools.
They're great. You have to do step one above in order to draw your outline, but other than that it's easy. The scale is pre-determined, the furniture is standardized, pre-measured and "cut out" already. No math. But I don't like them. As with most things, their convenience to use undermines their usefulness. If your furniture is not standard, then how will the drawing you create on-line tell you how your furniture will fit in your room? They're good as a "rough draft" and they're great for sharing on-line as a starting point for generating ideas. You can capture them with a screen shot. Instructions on how to do that, courtesy of Dr.Wende, in the sidebar at right.
So, let's see yours, OK?
(And if you have any links to on-line floor plans, please leave them in the comments and I'll bring them to the front. My folder, where I thought I'd stored three or four, appears to be empty).
Here's one we used rather a lot in the Fall Cure 2006.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Day 2.4 (b) Update on Chairs and Paint.

I got my pictures developed today so I can show you where things stand:

I have decided to go with orange, blue, green and red. If I don't like it, then I can always change it back to white. Given how much abuse they get around here, it's guaranteed they will need painting again.
Thanks for all your suggestions.

Day 2.4 Meditation of Chairs and Paint.

This is ridiculous.

Mint green, teal, light blue, another light blue, pastel purple, pink, red--and yes, another red, almost identical, and a whole quart of yellow (the wrong yellow, of course). (I'm not even going to mention the testers--can you say "off white" fifteen times? There. Now I've told you.)

These are just the tins of paint I've brought upstairs for consideration. There's a whole bunch still down there not even in contention.

The outer "ring" (I don't know what you call it) of my Windsor chairs have become quite dinged up. I love the look of chairs painted different colours: but doing the whole chair would be too much in my tiny kitchen. So, I figured painting the outer rims in different colours, since they need painting anyway, should satisfy my craving for variety--and it would be cheap, using what we had on hand. But we do not have the "right" colours on hand.

Look at this:
This is the style of chair I cannot find for less than $75.00--and these are the colours I am in love with. Orange. Green. Blue. Yellow. Do I have these? No.

One possible combination: light blue, pastel purple, pink, light yellow. But that's a kid's room, not a kitchen.

Another which only involves buying two colours: orange, red, medium blue/teal, green.

or, another (two): mustard yellow, red, light blue, green.

What do you think I should do?
added note: I tried mixing a few to get the colours I want, but the pigments are too weird. They don't work like craft paint. Hey--maybe that's an idea?

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Day 2.3 Boom Dada Boom

1. Cleaned the Oven.
I never imagined it would take three days. I laid newspapers, wrapped all the elements in Saran wrap and sprayed the oven and racks on Monday night before bed.

On Tuesday, I washed it out--and then applied the foul, evil oven cleaner again. I did manage to clean out the oven on Tuesday but the racks defeated me. (Wait until I get the "before" pictures developed--you'll never want to use an oven again!)

Today, Wednesday, I finally asked for help. "Use a brillo pad." said the LadyJ. "What's a brillo pad?" I asked. "A steel wool thingy." she replied, and inspiration struck. I have three boxes of steel wool in the basement, one in each fine, medium, and coarse. (Don't ask, it has to do with camping in bear country with a rusty truck and a mouse problem.) Finally, finally, after much soaking and scouring (and a half a box of baking soda) those racks almost twinkle. My hands are a shriveled up, cut up mess, but who cares? Dinner tasted divine and the muffins I baked tonight puffed up just like they should and were browned, crispy and moist. Never again will I let the oven go that long. (It had been on last fall's to do list and never got to.)

2. Once I had the racks off the drainboard, I took some of that baking soda and a toothbrush and gave it a scrub.

3. Washed yesterday's backlog of dishes and those from dinner tonight!

4. Cleaned the trash can (above). I'll spare you the details.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Day 2.2 Climbing the walls.

This is pretty much the way it looks now.

The plans are to paint this wall an almond colour (BM French Vanilla CC 248) and paint the pine shelving white. See those green boxes over there? That's where the new expedit is going, right in front of the wall to be painted blue. (BM West Coast CC 750).

The question is this: should I keep the brackets their current almond colour or--use white ones? This is no small question. Though I'm pretty sure I can scrounge most of what I need from my Mom if I go white, I will probably have to lay out a bit of cash.

I've drawn an elevation of this wall:

Here, I tried to line up the width of the bottom units with the brackets up top.
Here's a close up of the shelving:

(no, it's not your imagination, there are differences)

PLUS to Almond:
1. the brackets (not all that attractive) will blend into the walls. The shelves will appear to be attempting to "float." (They really need to be thicker to successfully pull off that look--and I just don't physically have the space for doing that.)
2. I have purchased all six supports and all 22 brackets.

PLUS to White:
1. It will make the shelves and the supports all one unit. The attempt at a "grid" will be more noticeable.
2. It will make this unit congruent with the 6'x6' Expedit going up on the adjacent wall. Greater unity means greater calm, I think, in this case.


Monday, September 17, 2007

Day 2.2: One Room Remedy

(This is a screen shot--(thanks Wende!)--of a room from The Personal Colour Viewer at Benjamin Moore. The back wall shows the current colour of my living room walls.)

The Dining room colours have been chosen! That means I can move ahead on all that needs to be done in here.


--Take out everything except the computer table and computer. Get a large drop cloth for it. Get drop cloths for the floors.
--take out all wall mounted shelving. Spackle and sand.
--Prime walls
--decide new trim colour.
--paint trim

--Sand and paint old Ikea bookcase white. Use the cloud white we have on hand. (Strain through hose first).

--Sand the four new chairs.
--Paint them yellow.
--Pick a yellow for the chairs.

Dining table
--Look for a round one or:
--Sand pine dining table.
--Paint dining table? or stain it dark?

West wall:
--Take down the shelving and shelving units. Paint or varnish or "adorn" wooden magazine holders.
--Assemble Expedit after painting.
--Put stuff back on shelves.

South wall:
--Paint shelving white? (Supports are almond) or leave natural or switch out all the supports?

Computer desk:
--Paint side units white or brown to blend in with computer desk?
--Sand and stain/paint tops to blend with computer desk.
--Re-cover drawers.

Shelving above desk:

--Make decisions:
1. The supports are almond. Should I switch them out for white? Almond will blend in with the wall--is that what I want?
2. Do I want to keep the pine: or go white? White will be cleaner, fresher. The pine plus dark stained wood of the desk on this wall is choppy. But the white with almond supports and brackets concerns me.
3. Can I hang actual cabinets on the wall and thus create a cleaner line? How much would that cost?

Buy new curtains. (Yay!)

Yeegads, the amount of stuff in here that has to be taken out and stored somehow while we paint is mind-boggling.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Boom Dada Boom

1. The refrigerator is clean. Top to bottom. Inside and out.

The oldest thing I threw out: two bottles of BBQ sauce dated Feb. 04.

The most heartbreaking thing: Three large bowls of raspberries picked just before the freezer died. (This was in early August.) I had been going to make freezer jam: and I couldn't give up the idea even when we knew we wouldn't get the new one for two and a half weeks.

PS: It really is best to work from top to bottom.

Day 2.1 Kitchen Week

To Do This Week:

Deep Treatment

1. Fix one thing in your apartment yourself.
--I think, if I can swing it, we will install a new faucet set for the kitchen sink. Don't know what's involved, really, and the frugal husband is reluctant to spend the money, but it sure would be nice (see above).

2. Clean your kitchen from top to bottom and throw away old food.
--This will occupy most of my time this week.

I got a jump-start on it before the cure and washed out my two lower cabinets and rearranged two shelves in the upper cabinets. While doing that, I got rid of a bunch of mis-matched plates we use for toast--not because they were mismatched per se--but because being mis-matched they had to be stacked in a precise and orderly way to fit in their designated spot in the cupboard. Much too fussy. So, they're gone and eight "new" matching toast sized plates reside in their place.

Sunday--fridge, declutter cart beside the stove, wash it down. Whoo hoo, done.
Monday--clean out oven
Tuesday--wash shelves above stove, touch-up painting on chairs?
Wednesday--clean trash can and ouside of cabinets
Thursday--wash ceiling
Friday--bleach countertop and wash floor
Saturday--day off/catch-up day
Sunday--put up new shelving beside sink? Install new faucet?

3. Buy a water filter and use it.
--did that years ago.

4. Run hands over every room in the apartment.
--no. Too many rooms. Too many walls.

5. Clear your space for an Outbox.
--This is interesting. I have a space underneath my folding table in the basement where I put things to go "out." It definitely needs to be cleared out.

6. Clear one surface and use the Outbox.
--This will be a challenge.

7. Buy fresh flowers.

8. Determine your style.
--good grief, not this again.

9. Find a new recipe and cook one meal at home.
--I'll probably cook at least five meals at home, as usual. Perhaps I'll try a "new" recipe.

10. Choose the date for your housewarming.
--In spite of having attended the same Church for three years, in spite of socializing sporadically with other homeschoolers for two, I don't know one person, sorry, one family, we could invite over. I love to entertain. This makes me sad.

One Room Remedy.

I must pick out and finalize the colour(s) for the dining room/home office/school room/craft room/sewing room this week.


1. Keep plugging away at the little round table, staining and varnishing. (Or waxing. I think I may like the look of a well-waxed table instead of one all shiny and plastic looking).

2. Hem living room drapes.

3. Switch over summer and winter clothing and bedding.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Day 1.5: In Which I Fail to Sit.

I decided to sit in the basement, now that the behemoth freezer is gone. I took a timer with me. The first minute was spent bringing over a chair. I sat down for precisely three minutes. I thought about the fact there's little light and fewer outlets. I saw the sun, streaming down the stairs from the back door. I thought about how that door will have to close and stay closed for about 7 months in a few weeks. And then I saw there were Boxes to Flatten, Things To Put Away, Things to Throw Out, Clothes to take to Consignment, a Six Foot Stack of Artwork to Sort, A Small to Fridge to....what? Throw out? Keep? So, I started flattening boxes and throwing things out.

What does Maxwell say? Clutter is just an unmade decision. Too many decisions to be made down there before I can get a handle on things.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Procrastination: A Light Bulb Moment

I don't know if you've been watching my side bar with the "To Do" list. I update it every evening--and for the last few days one item has been edited, but not completed, every night. I am, of course, referring to the light bulb.

The fixture takes three. So, having one out does not exactly leave us in darkness. But it also means that I change the stupid bulbs fairly often. And each time I do, (and of course it's rare that more than one goes at one time) I have to haul out the small ladder, unscrew the nipple, inspect it for dead things, wash it if necessary, change the bulb (assuming we have some on hand) and then put the whole thing back up.

Just normal life.

So why procrastinate?

Well, I quess it's because when I've put it off for five days, when I've reminded myself that something needs to be done for five days, when the nagging voice in my head finally stops after five days, I feel like I've actually accomplished something!

Boom tada boom.

If I just looked after it when I saw it needed to be done, well then, well, then I'd just be changing the light bulb.

And where's the drama in that?

Day 1.5 Boom Dada Boom

image from

1. Four Dirty Buckets.

a) Washed Dining Room floor. Didn't move any of the furniture hugging the walls, but there was enough to clean!

b) Washed the upstairs bathroom floor (It's a tiny space with just room for a pedestal sink and toilet), and the walls, the baseboards and the outside of the toilet. (yuck). The floor here too needs replacing.

c) The Living room floor is swept and washed. This took two buckets. Some of you will remember I applied a light coat of varnish to the entire floor last Fall cure. I needn't have bothered. The worn spots are worn again--in fact they look worse than ever. Disheartening. But from standing height--the floor looks fantastic. That's something.

Day 1.4 Boom Dada Boom

(This photo was taken earlier in the summer after a particularily hot day. Yes, I'm dweeb enough to take pictures of my dishes!)

1. The dishes

I have now done ALL the dishes two nights running. That may not seem like a "cure" thing...but when I did the quiz, (below) I realised that I can "fix" a lot of what ails this place with regular housekeeping routines. This is the first one I've decided to tackle and so far, so good. I put them away in the morning while the coffee drips through.

2. A functional laundry room.

I finished varnishing the shelf and (new) table top in the laundry room today and set the laundry room back up. Then, I did three, four, five loads of laundry all the way from washing, to drying, to (gasp) folding them and putting them away! Yay, clean socks and underwear again!

This was actually a project the husband started when we got our new upright freezer. He took down the rope that served as my drying line (the clothes hung right down in the path to the freezer) and we re-strung it. Well, now the clothes on it hung down right over my sorting bins. We figured out that with a little carpentry we could slide those bins under the table beside the washing machine.....(and now, with the books out of boxes and on the newly built shelves on the stairway landing, I had room to remove all the bedding underneath that table) and so the laundry room got a quick overhaul in about a week.

What's wonderful about it, really, is that I'm able to use a screw on, swing arm lamp (usually used for desks) to give me some much needed lighting. I might be able to save some clothes from being permanently stained now. And, I have a home for my huge sweater drying rack. (When in use, it perched on top of the chest freezer.)

3. The old freezer has been hauled away (and the back door re-installed).

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Day 1.3(b) In Which I Think More About the Dining Room

Let's take this wall by wall, shall we?

This is the wall on which I have my computer. Unfortunately, the photo is the "before" from last year's cure. But it is the best I have to show you what it looks like full on.

I'd like it to look more like this:

Isn't that purty? With its combination of open and closed storage, strong horizontal lines but with the vertical lines between the bottom and the top all lined up. The lighting. The curves of the Ant chairs breaking up the boxiness of the unit.

I like this too--in particular the dark top and the light sides. I love the symmetry. In an effort to try and recreate this, I stained my computer table.

The "old" colour is on the pull out shelf, the "new" one on top. Not to worry, they match!

Moving clockwise (The West Wall):

This wall has grown. And grown! Someday I'd like to do a photoessay of how it grew. But not today. We have purchased a white Expedit for all this schtuff. I'm hoping it will look less cluttered and more unified. Something like this:

(image from O At Home, September '07)

or this:
(Be still my beating heart.)
Moving on: the Window Wall. It faces North. There's never, ever any direct light. What indirect light I do have is filtered by the shaggy evergreen tree outside. It does keep the room warm, though.

This is, again, an old photo. The red curtains are gone. The shelving is as above.

Aaah. The East wall, with the China cabinet, the dratted pine door and the old painted IKEA bookcase.

Do you think my China Cabinet and table could look like this? (image from MSL Sept. '07)
Of course, I don't get nearly the light this room does. Nor is my china cabinet so tall and stately. And there's no room for the Windsor chairs, nor the urn-on-a-pedestal thingy. But I like the yellow and green combo. Actually, THIS is the colour scheme I want for this room. I cried when I found this on the Tricia Guild Web-site.
And so, where are we? Back at the kitchen door, with the shelving on the wall.
I love this image from AT:SF--and I'm thinking I could do a blue accent wall just like this with the shelves--but, in that long horizontal configuration above. We'll see. And you will too. Because I will paint this room. I have too, in order to get the Expedit up.

Here are my thoughts:

Paint the book case and chairs yellow. Put up yellow curtains. Paint out the red with a neutral: but put either blue or green on the wall with the computer. Paint the pine shelves white.

Other essential info:
The room is 11 feet long, 10 feet wide.
The window is not centered.
The floors are golden oak.
You will be able to see the west wall with the Expedit in the living room mirror over the mantle.
Painting the pine door is Not Allowed.

What do you think I should do?

Stain the pine dining table dark or paint it white?
Paint/Stain the dining chairs to match or contrast?
Should I have blue, green and shots of yellow or just two of the three (which two?).
The drawer units beside the computer desk...what to do with those? Keep them white (and re-cover the box-drawers with white paper)or paint them dark to match the computer desk?

Day 1.3 Room Function Analysis.

Being clear and honest with yourself about how you use your home will result in it having a strong sense of focus and purpose. (p.36)

I came across an old binder last night labelled "Room Function Analysis." I gathered from the comments I'd made, that I'd created it about five years ago. It was tabbed, the labels listing off each room in the house. It was interesting to note that most of the things I felt I needed I have managed to implement, like the bookcases on either side of the faux living room fireplace (purchased to fit exactly and look like built-ins), the china cabinet in the dining room (my china and schtuff used to be in boxes in the basement). It seems that thinking things through and making a plan works, even when you put it on a shelf and forget about it.

It all came from Julie Morgenstern's book: Organizing From The Inside Out. It's a marvelous book. Not only is it a terrific resource for organizing your home, but for de-cluttering as well. As Maxwell notes,
Not being clear about the purpose for each area of your home will result in clutter and disappointment. (p. 36)
Of course, activities and needs change. And too many activities can be crammed into one room. That's what has happened to my dining room.
It's the home office with the computer, filing cabinet, pens, paper, stamps, chequebook, etc....It's my scrap room, with paper, scraps, embellishments, albums, scrapping tools, and everything else I think I need. It's my sewing room, with scissors, thread, bobbins, everything except the fabric. It's my workspace, too, so there's reference books and homeschooling planners and books. And, if that's not enough, it's also the place where we store our curriculuum. I do projects here. As I type, there's a dissassembled drop-leaf table being sanded and stained on the table right behind me. To top it off, my husband and I also use the room to watch DVD's. Essentially? This room is where I live.

It's so crowded, we don't have those special meals in the dining room anymore. I schlep the fancy tableware from the dining room to the kitchen at Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter. For the last few years, I haven't even bothered.

Part of the problem, is, of course, the unfinished, ill-lit basement. I don't mind the unfinished part. It's the fact that there's no light. And, as the whole house is on--are you ready for it?--four breakers--we need to re-wire the house.

On a more positive note: the freezer leaves tonight. Once that's gone, I can take a stab at organizing and setting up a little sewing area down there. I'll figure something out for the light. I just hope I haven't decluttered all the power bars.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Day 1.2 In Which Little is Done

I detest the kitchen floor. I hate the kitchen floor. I don't want to wash it. I want to rip it up with my bare hands and a crow bar, which if I knew what to do, I would do. But we have to move the stove. To where? The Fridge. Good grief, where? And the tables and chairs. And the....yada, yada, yada. I wish we could afford to have a professional do it. Especially to get the molding back onto the baseboards. Lots of stupid short bits. Especially as there is at least two layers of floor. We can barely afford the floor tiles.

Needless to say, I didn't wash the floor today.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Day 1.1 The Only Time I Think 1200 sq feet Is A LOT of Feet....

(image from

is when I have to wash the floors.....

In the Deep Treatment this week:

1) Note repairs (and solutions).
2) Vacuum and mop floors.
3) Remove one item.
4) Buy fresh flowers.
5) Sit for 10 minutes in a spot you never do.
6) Look into Earth friendly cleaning products.

My plan:

1) Prioritize repairs.
2) Floors, as follows:
  • Mon--Stairwell. (Well, we know what that's led to!)
  • Tues--Kitchen
  • Wed--Living Room
  • Thurs--Dining Room
  • Fri--Bathrooms
  • Sat--Bedrooms.
3) The defunct freezer is leaving Wednesday! The handy husband has chopped up a box-spring that's been sitting outside for about two years and will slowly feed it to a neighbourhood dumpster.
4) Fresh flowers--on grocery day (Sat).
5) Sit 10 minutes
6) I'm OK with what I have and use.
This may be a bit of a challenge as I have got a nasty cold.

Day 1.1--Blast and Varnish

This is my stairwell. As you can see there's no lovely baluster and railing combo. Just a nasty railing atteched to the wall. Around the corner at the top is the landing. It looks like this:

(This is not really the photo I wanted to show you, but of course I can't find it.)

Why am I showing you this? Well, today, I decided to wash the floor after this painting job. Armed with a hot bucket of water and TSP, rubber gloves, a cloth and a scraper, I tackled it with lots of elbow grease. Too much elbow grease, as it happens. I managed to scrape up about 1/4 of the varnish on the landing.

The problem is this: the landing (which you can't see) now needs to be sanded and re-varnished. The question is: should we stain this awful old orangey-red wood a different colour? Or--just go over whatever it turns out to be after we sand it? As you can see from the photos, the stair treads, the window trim, and balusters are all the same nasty stuff. We will not tackle all of those--just the treads and the landing. The floor at the bottom of the stairs is "golden oak." Above stairs--I have no idea. I think it was oiled once upon a time.
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