Thursday, June 27, 2013

Another Way

I had not moved my couch in fifteen years.

It sat along this wall, in roughly this spot since we plunked it here when we rescued it. (I can't even remember where it was when we found it. It had originally belonged to the mother of my mother's third ex-husband. I love the couch, not its history.) I will not block my window.

I have always wanted to float the couch, but I know there's not enough room: that back wall is only fourteen feet.  Still, with the furniture mostly cleared out so my daughter and her friends could have a sleep over on blow-up mattresses, I decided to try putting the couch another way.

I tucked the chairs into this corner.

Obviously, the "gallery wall" is in the wrong place and there's far too much matchy matchy wood, but I like the idea.

I moved the poang chair to the dining room and I love it there. My husband and kids are actually coming into the dining room and plunking themselves down to visit. (A mixed blessing, sometimes)though I've enjoyed it a couple of times as a place to read while someone is busy watching TV in the living room.

The TV is the elephant in the room. I would love to locate it elsewhere in the house--but there is no other place.

This arrangement is perfect for watching TV.

This was taken from behind the couch. The "fireplace" is behind me, the window is to the right)

I love sitting by the window. I used to sit in the chair that was there. That is my spot--but now I can have someone sit beside me. Last night it was my daughter for a while, then my husband and I sat and read with the dog between us. I realised then that we rarely sit in this room at the same time unless we're watching a movie--and then we sit on different pieces of furniture.

I am not sure I will keep things this way. It looks weird to me--like everything is off kilter. Ignoring the fireplace, even though it's totally faux and isn't all that attractive anyway feels like turning my back on all things good and righteous.

I'm not at all sure what to do.

Linking to Pancakes and French Fries so all can have a say.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Grace Note: Celebrating Pattern

Grace notes

remind us that it is often the little things, the small revelations, that make a great deal of difference in handling disappointment, frustration and loss. They help us celebrate moments of joy by enabling us to unearth the underlying goodness of things.

Alexandra Stoddard.

Friday, June 21, 2013


Our homes affect our lives profoundly.

It can be hard to grasp. I came across a Canadian show last night, called Consumed, which illustrates this dramatically. It's much better than Hoarders. Watching Hoarders, I often felt uncomfortable: I did not like being a part of exploiting someone's mental illness for entertainment. It has also been proven that their approach was too abrupt, too jarring --individuals with hoarding problems are never, ever "cured" with this kind of clean out.

In this show, though things are removed from the home, it is stored. The family doesn't actually go through their stuff until they have lived with next to nothing for 29 days. It makes my participation in the Nester's 30-day accessory-free challenge look like nursery school.

More emphasis is placed on helping the family work through the dynamics and the dysfunctions that have evolved as the clutter has taken over their lives. I find that part of it fascinating. Our relationship to our stuff affects our relationships with the people in our lives. It is a sobering thought.

The show also deals with the physical space and employs a carpenter/cabinet maker to make the house more functional. They also decorate and style the home with some of the stuff the family has decided to keep. Though there seems to be an awful lot of red, it's awesome.

Season 1 has been posted to You Tube.

PS. I kind of want everyone to do this. Get rid of everything. Live with nothing for a while. Bring back only what's meaningful, useful and beautiful. Wouldn't that be wonderful?

Thursday, June 20, 2013

June Challenge: Update

I'm not sure whether this small project should be considered an organizing project or a decorating project. Sometimes, the two confuse me--and that's a good thing, really!

Back in May when I painted the board with hooks in my back entry way, I also took a small board outside and painted it. I intended to put hooks on it and hang it, too.

Because I couldn't mount the board horizontally, I had to figure out how to put the hooks on. Finally, I set my brain to the task. It wasn't difficult.

I used whatever hooks we had on hand. I am thinking I should paint a stripe between the two boards to connect them visually. I love that colour-- it's too bad it comes from a can of spray paint!

My husband insists on taking his lunch in an old plastic Safeway bag.
I am not getting as much done this month as I had thought I would. I thought I would continue to do something everyday even though I wouldn't post every day but it hasn't worked out like that. Doing a post is still driving the activity, though. Yesterday, I figured I'd better do something to have a post for today, so I picked this project, hoping it'd be quick and easy. It was.  
I have been in a bit of a funk, too. The sun is visiting only intermittently, usually just popping her head in at sunset to say goodnight.
So, I'm not sure which is contributing more to my lethargy: taking the pressure off of posting or the lack of sun but this month has not been the beehive of activity I had hoped it would be. 
Linking to Jules at Pancakes and French Fries, grateful to have the push to do something!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Accessory-less: 5 Things I've Noticed.

Wow. Is it the middle of June, already? I had a great time getting ready for the Home Tour. Pictures are a funny thing. I can learn more from the picture, sometimes, than I can from standing in front of the actual room!

Seeing all my pictures like that gave me a fresh perspective on my taste, my likes and dislikes.

1)  I had not realised how colourful my home really is. Without the tchotchkes to distract me, to catch my eye, I could settle on looking at what's actually, really, solidly there.

2) I have not been deliberate about pattern. It is true, there is a dirth of decent, affordable fabric stores around here, but I wonder--have I simply used that as an excuse for too long? Am I afraid I will tire of my choice long before I can afford to replace it? May be. But there are ways to work with that.

I like this combination of vintage bedding--an old flannel sheet with an old cotton pillowcase. Thing is, I really have to hunt for these sorts of things and I just don't like shopping that much. (Is that whiny? Sorry.)

I'm on the look out for other ways to use pattern and combine them when I can.

3) I bought a plant for the hallway shelf. I couldn't stand to see it bare! I've been meaning to get a plant for a while, too, so I'm happy.

More plants, instead of things, may be in my future.

4) It is astonishing how much the state of my house affects my mood. It is not just that a clean and clutter free house makes me happy, but that my house, when it's littered with the detritus of the everyday depresses me. It all just overwhelms me and things go from mildly messy to ghastly quite quickly.

When discussing how she plans a colour palette, Emily Henderson mentioned that her life is at times so chaotic that she cannot live with as much colour as she would like. In her own words:

I am a messy person that has WAY too many things coming constantly in and out of the house and I have a lot of mental and physical chaos in my life, so while I am an extremely high energy person, I’ve realized (it was a hard lesson) that I need my color palette to be limited because I’m not clean or organized enough to handle the amount of color that I actually want to bring into my house. 
For shoots, when things are all clean, organized, and put away, I bring out the hot pink/red. 
But in reality, for everyday I need it to feel less chaotic, and a quick way to do that is to remove the color that feels the most distracting. source

Light bulb moment.

On the one hand, I love colour and I want to introduce more pattern into my life. On the other, it may be easier and less overwhelming to me if I go in the opposite direction and pare back on everything: colour, pattern and the totchkes.

5) This gallery wall has to go.

It is too dinky, too cluttery and doesn't really have any meaning for us.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

June Challenge: Cleaning Week 2

Organizing my nightstand a few days ago was just part of my effort to Spring Clean the bedroom. We have original wood floors up here--and no budget for a carpet. So, twice a year, I like to remove everything from under the bed, move the furniture around and give the floor a good vacuum.

It feels fabulous to do that!

I also cleaned the shelves above my desk. This is a task I should do every year just because they do get so dusty, but I often don't. This year, I was motivated by two things.

1) The Ikea lights above the desk stopped working properly ages ago. I have been meaning to figure out what's wrong with them for ages. I purchased a new NON light a few months ago in order to test things. After a lot of light bulb changing and plugging and unplugging, I discovered that the portion of the cord which holds the switch in both lamps is defective. The lights themselves are fine. I am hoping IKEA will be able to replace just the switch cords for me.

The light on the right worked--but only intermittently. It would blink on and off while I was working and it was quite annoying.
I took the switch cord from the new NON light and used it for one of the lamps.
2) Nester's accessory-free challenge. Without the usual tchotchkes it was easier--and more necessary than ever to wipe the shelves down.

I also found myself doing some unexpected de-cluttering. On the radio, I heard about someone trying to establish a library for the people who live on a First Nations Reserve south of our city. It is a particularly violent place with its youngsters involved in gangs. So, I found myself putting aside a few books for that.

I find it somewhat amazing that I can comb the shelves and find things I know we can do without--especially after donating hundreds of books earlier this Spring. Still, it was quite gratifying.

I've also spent the last three or four days cleaning and tidying the house to make it presentable for a home tour. That was fun!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Summer Home Tour: Accessory Free!

Brace yourselves. This home tour is going to be a little different.

I accepted The Nester's challenge to go accessory free for 30 days. I thought I might put a few tchotchkes back for this home tour, but when it came time to do that, I was paralysed. Which ones should I pick? Where should I put them? If I put something here and not there, will it look weird? I was driving myself crazy. I'm just not ready to put anything back.

I am joining the house tour anyway, for a very personal reason.

I'm probably going to over-explain, so feel free to jump down to the pictures. But, please know this. Getting ready for this Home Tour was a fantastic challenge for me--and the reason I did it. This post--and joinng Gina's wonderful tour is my "reward."

When I first found out about Gina's Summer Tour of Homes, I was so excited! I flirted with the idea of getting all my rooms spiffed up and ready for a photo. I was thrilled to think I could join the party on Friday and show off my home.

Then, I got a head cold.

I began thinking that my rooms were too unfinished. I have a million plans for my living room: it will be completely transformed (I hope) by the end of August. My bedroom still has paint splotches waiting for me to figure out what colour I want. (You'll see.) And, sadly, I thought, my home probably wouldn't be "good enough" anyway.

I started looking at the beautiful homes Gina lined up for us Monday through Thursday and instead of feeling envious and defeated--which I had fully expected to feel as I have felt that in the past--I started to "get" the commitment and passion and the love of home expressed by the women behind the cameras. It was wonderful. It was liberating. It was inspiring.

I have the same passion, the same love for my home. I struggle with the consistency which cleaning demands, though. Fortunately, my kids aren't littles anymore, so my home is never a complete disaster everywhere all at once. But rarely is it ever clean and tidy all at once, either. As a result, I have this absurd notion that I cannot have all the spaces in my home clean at the same time.

See the word "therapy" up there in the title of my blog? It is there for a reason! My blog is my accountability place. I find it incredibly motivating to take pictures and write about what I've done. In fact, I just finished a challenge to do one procrastinated project a day for the entire month of May. (I did 24! I'm so pleased.) I decided to participate in the house tour to challenge that nasty, self-defeating thought. I can have all my rooms clean, tidy and ready for company. Of course I can. I just needed to do it.

OK. Enough talking. Thanks for bearing with me.  Hope you enjoy our small home. One other thing: it's been raining for a few days, it will rain, yet, for a few more. The house is darker than usual.

Geesh, you must be thinking, why is she bothering?

Well, it's clean! That's a reason to celebrate!



Our family, my husband, myself, our 15 year old son, our 12 (almost 13!) year old daughter and our Beagle live in our home which was built in 1949. War shortages were still in effect. Our house is 1230 square feet (or 114.3 square meters). It has three bedrooms (one on the main floor) and a bath and a half.

We tore out an old overgrown cedar bush and a topped off tree too close to the house a few years ago. I know nothing about gardening so restoring this area has been slow going. This area is also super challenging because it faces north. A few bushes I've tried to plant here have died.

But, hey, come on in.

This is our modest front entry. It's really just a hallway! I used to have a cabinet here, but it ate up too much space. I took it down and after living with nothing, realised I needed something. I just recently put up this little shelf. The bucket below holds our library returns.

This nook used to house the telephone, back in the day.

To the left we have our living room.

I quite like this room all cleaned up!

In case you were wondering why I still have cushions on my couch in an Accessory-Free challenge--

That's why!

Opposite the living room is where I spend most of my time. It is the dining room, but we only eat here on special occasions.

I do a lot of my projects here, work on the computer, plan my menus, work on the budget, and sew. It's a busy room!

Behind it is another busy place: the kitchen! It is small with almost no storage, barely room for the table, and an extremely bad layout. Notice, too, there's no dishwasher.

We all have to traipse through here to go to the basement or to the back yard (door to both is on the right)

Still, it is my favourite room in the house. I love my black and white checkerboard floor and decided to riff with the whole black and white graphic theme with my stencil on that soffit (in the picture above) and the little glass curtains I made.

I love having a big mirror here. It's like having another window and it just magnifies the best thing about this kitchen: all the light! (Sorry you missed it. There was a tornado watch in effect when I took these photos and it was hailing outside.)

Let's head back out of the kitchen to the hallway.

I will paint the back part to match the front, I just haven't done it quite yet!

That's my son's room straight ahead. Out of respect for his privacy (and my pride!) we won't go in there today. To his credit, he does keep it tidy.

This is our scheduling and school paper station.

The bathroom is tiny. The sink is original to the house though and I love it. I believe it is a half moon Crane.

I made the curtains from drop cloth and tea towels.

Let's head upstairs where we have the master bedroom, my daughter's room (not on the tour!), and a half bath tucked under the eaves.

I have a mini-library on the landing.

Here is our master en-suite.

I kid! It's a teeny tiny powder room. It's become another favourite room since I spiffied it up.

The Master Bedroom almost didn't make the tour.

I put those paint splotches on the wall more than a year ago. I have paint, but I have fallen out of love with it and I'm trying to decide whether to be sensible and use it or wait until I find the perfect, affordable duvet cover to coordinate with. I am mighty tired of those splotches, though!

I'm aching to do something with the headboard wall.

You may have noticed the laundry room didn't make the tour. Oh well. Progress, not perfection, right? Click the link if you'd like to see it right after we transformed it.

Thank you so much for coming! It has been an enormous treat to have you. If you have a moment, leave a comment. I'd love to "talk" with you, just as if we were sitting here at my banged up kitchen table.

Care for an orange?

See all the fabulous and wonderful inspiring home tours here. I have!

June Challenge: Organizing

I've discovered that there seems to be more than one kind of organizing, just like there's more than one kind of trip.

Let's call one "Organizing en haute."

It's like taking a trip to Paris. (Thus the French sounding name. ahem.) It involves planning. It may involve organizing products, like dividers and boxes and labels. It is more than merely shuffling things around. It is not just de-cluttering (though getting rid of stuff is a really important part of it). Organizing en haute is grander: its purpose is to make a particular space function better. It involves assigning homes to things-- things which had different, inferior homes or were, until now, homeless.

In a nutshell, it is creating something new and better for stuff I have chosen to keep. It is highly intentional.

But, this project was nothing like that. No, this little organizing project was like a walk around the block.

What did I "organize?"

My nightstand.

I've just recently discovered Emily Henderson. (I know, I know. But we don't have our TV hooked up to the outside world.) She has a lovely little video about how to style the top of one's nightstand.

My nightstand is unfortunately much too small for me to "style" it. EH says I should have
1) light.
2) something low and horizontal to "ground" my tabletop, and
3) something to bridge the two, preferably something sculptural or quirky, or both.

Let's just say my clock is something low and horizontal and the lamp is something both tall and the sculptural bridge between the two. For quirk, I added my Matryoshka  dolls. (It seems I no longer have the smallest, solid doll.)

Wow. That sure is a dinky little "tablescape." I think a painting or picture on the wall behind the lamp is almost mandatory, here. Not only would it disguise that hatch, but it would brighten and balance the whole thing immensely. It's all just a bit too "leggy" at the moment. I think that as soon as the budget allows, I would like a prettier alarm clock--and swing arm lamps, too.

Nonetheless, I am enjoying my freshly cleaned and organized nightstand.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Decorating: The Stool

June Challenge: Decorating

I had hoped to have a bunch of projects to show you in this post but unfortunately, I have had a bad head cold. Last night, I couldn't stand the thought of not having a post for today, so I picked the quickest thing I could think of to finish.

My footstool.

Ever since my husband built a new leg for it, I've been meaning to stain it to match. Not that it will ever match exactly as they are different woods. I figured that if the staining didn't work, then I would paint the legs instead. Of course, that would mean making a decision about paint colour!

The cover is also loose, so I thought I would replace it at the same time.

I love that green burlap underlayer, but unfortunately it is in very bad shape. I should have just gutted the whole thing to "re-do" it properly, but that much work was beyond me. Plus, buying new foam for padding just isn't in the budget.

And that's why this project stalled for what, two years?

I have been dithering about my living room even longer than that. I wanted to choose some pretty fabric and recover the footstool with it. But what colour? What pattern? Compound that with the fact that fabric selection in my city is dismal and I was guaranteed to have a procrastinated project on my hands: because short of falling in love with something on the spot, I'd have to choose something that would go with everything else --which of course meant deciding everything else!

In the last few weeks, I've even been browsing Tonicliving and

Last night, in the spirit of just getting it done, I took it down to the basement and applied two coats of Minwax stain in chestnut.

The newly stained one is the right front. I did not put any polyurethane on it. I really did not want it to be shiny. I don't want any of the legs to be shiny.

I brought it upstairs this morning and just dealt with the fabric already on it.

I removed the old nails. Actually, they were stair tacks.

I stapled down the green fabric, put it in front of the rocking chair, set down the flowers and took a pretty picture.


Fortunately, my cold seems to be loosening its grip on my head, so I hope to have more organizing, decorating and cleaning projects for us soon!

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