Tuesday, September 29, 2015

A Retrospective: 4. The Bedrooms. 2007-2014

For my blog's eighth anniversary, I decided to take us on a tour of the changes I've made to our house over the years. This is the fourth in the series. The last areas to be featured were the service areas: The Bathrooms, Laundry Room and Pantry, 2007-2014. If you want to start at the beginning, go here: The Front and Back Yards, 2007-2014. As well, as they are published, each retrospective is also available under the House Tours tab above.

There are three bedrooms in our small house.

There's a fairly small one the main floor (it counts as small because you can just barely fit a double sized bed into it) and two larger ones, upstairs. (Both of them accommodate a double bed--or bigger--nicely.) Here are the floor plans:

These posts are lengthly, so it seemed a good idea to truncate them. Please click through to read through.

Monday, September 28, 2015

From the Weekend: Tape

I had taped the risers--top and bottom--with yellow frog tape less than 24 hours after priming them.

Looks like I'll have to prime them again.

Friday, September 25, 2015

5 Ways Clutter Costs

Take a minute. Look up from the screen. Look around.

Have you got clutter?

I do.

Clutter isn't just a mess--it's stress. And it costs me.

1. Time.

Who can find socks and underwear in this when you're running late in the morning and it is freezing cold to be standing on this concrete?

Argh--what's in that basket? Is it clean? Is it dirty?

2. Concentration.

Ever walk into a room and forget why you went there? That happens to me every time when I walk into a messy room. And when every room is messy?

True Story: We went without toilet paper in the upstairs bathroom for a few days because every time I wandered over to this closet where it is kept I was totally distracted. So someone started using kleenex. And then the upstairs toilet flooded. Twice.

Forget it!

3. Money.

How many can openers do you have? How many hammers? Tape measures? Paint brushes? I am always buying paint brushes. They're expensive! We also seem to have an abundance of tools--those are the things we can't keep track of and so buy more than we strictly need. The problem with this, of course, is that if you can't put one hammer back where it belongs, you don't put back the other four either--so who knows where any of them are?

4. Friendships.

Honestly, would you have anyone over?

Fortunately, even though I am mortified, I have decided that my kids' friends are always welcome, no matter how chaotic things are. But maybe, over the years, I should have made the kids tidy a bit, first?

5. Sanity.

I weep when this happens (and it happens a lot). I have to stop, wash these pots and pans and then I can make dinner. What could be a quick and easy meal after a long, tiring day at work becomes a dreaded chore.

In what ways does clutter cost you?
Ready to do something about it?

I am!

As I mentioned before, I've decided to declutter every day for the month of October and write about it. (I'll still keep up with the retrospective series.) These are meant to be quick, 15 minute decluttering sessions. I'm just going for the low hanging fruit, here. I may choose to go into messier, bigger projects as I have time, but I wanted to give the house a good going through before the holidays begin (though Canadian Thanksgiving does fall smack in the middle of October).

I've made up a schedule for decluttering. I've figured out how to make it a downloadable printable. (At least, I hope I have! If you have any problems, please let me know.) Click here or click the image below. You'll be taken to google docs.

Notice "your choice" every Friday. Notice, too, there's no attic, garage, or basement. There's no kids' toys or closets or spaces of any kind. 

However, I strongly recommend you become a clutter detective and use the second printable to customize your own decluttering journey. Just walk through each room and jot down what areas or what things you want to declutter. Then, schedule it on the printable. Click here for that or the image below. 

We start in less than a week.
(I know--where did September go?)

To be sure you don't miss a post in the series, have them delivered directly to your e-mail. Sign up below or in the sidebar. Glad to have you along.

Day 1: Let's Start
Day 2: Your Choice
Day 3: The Fridge is an Elephant
Day 4: The Freezer
Day 5: Recipes and Menu Planning
Day 6: The Food Storage Containers: Don't Declutter Just to Declutter.
Day 7: Any Kitchen Drawer
Day 8: Any Kitchen Cabinet
Day 9: Your Choice. My Choice? My Living Room
Day 10: Go Thru the Clothes Closet
Day 11: Declutter Your Dresser Drawers
Day 12: Declutter Your Handbags and Shoes.
Day 13: Declutter Your Nightstand
Day 14: The Medicine Cabinets: A Quick Win
Day 15: Simplify Your Make-Up, Simplify your Life.
Day 16: Your Choice. My Choice? The Painting Things.
Day 17: Clear Out the Coats
Day 18: Letting Go of the Linens.
Day 19: Declutter the Desk Drawers or Surface, Your Choice.
Day 20: Unpacking the Paper Pile
Day 21: Collect All the Digital Pictures. 
Day 22: Declutter Dvds, Cds, and other Media: Saying Goodbye to a Piece of Childhood.
Day 23: Your Choice. My Choice? The Top of my Desk.
Day 24: Craft Supplies or Tools, Your Choice
Day 25: Finish up an Unfinished Project.
Day 26: Declutter Magazines/Books/Bookshelves
Day 27: Declutter and Clean up the Laundry Room.
Day 28: Excavating the Purse
Day 29: Decluttering The Car: Not!
Day 30: Your Choice. My Choice? The Basement. Finally!
Day 31: Clear It All Out! 

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

A Retrospective: 3. The Bathrooms, Laundry Room and Pantry, 2007-2014

In honour of my blog's eighth anniversary, I am taking us on a tour of the changes I've made to our house over the years. This is the third in the series. The last areas to be featured were the Passageways: Entrys, Hallways and Stairs, 2007-2014. If you want to start at the beginning, go here: The Front and Back Yards, 2007-2014

The service areas.

You don't see these areas very much on house tours! Not unless someone has done something stunning, of course. Not to set you up: but I haven't. Done anything stunning, that is. In fact, my downstairs bath is in need of an overhaul. But I am getting ahead of myself.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Fall: Fluffing the Bedroom

I've been wanting to switch the bedroom over from a happy colourful summer vibe to a more serious yet cosy fall feeling for a while now. I do this mostly with my bedding. I like to change the sheets, rotate the mattress, and clean a bit. This year was no different. I was inspired by the gorgeous stuff at Parachute. Fresh crisp sheets just seem to go with the crisp fall air, don't they?

But I had a bigger job ahead of me than usual.

We're working on painting the stairwell, the library landing, and the hallway all at once (since technically, it is all one space). But that meant the bedroom was just trashed.

I kid you not.

It was a three day job.

I was trying out these family photos from the hallway. I thought I might like them on a picture ledge, here. Turns out I like white space more than my family! 

Mostly, it involved vacuuming thoroughly--and washing anything I couldn't vacuum.

Friday after work I focused on getting everything sorted and packed up to leave the room.

That included a left over sock sorting project from the AT Closet Cure.

Lots of lonely socks, a few pairs.

Whenever I cleared some floor, I vacuumed.

Here we are behind the bed, after vacuuming. (I thought I'd take pity on you and not subject you to the jack rabbit dust bunnies.) I dusted the bed, too.

I stripped the bed and washed the mattress pad--but the dryer conked out.

I'd planned an outing to Ikea with my Mom, so we went. That night we slept with fresh sheets, but old pillowcases and the old duvet cover.

Saturday, I continued clearing stuff out, and miraculously, the dryer was working again, so I stripped the box spring cover--as well as all the pillow covers and the duvet cover. The dust was unbelievable. (It was a dry summer.)

I assembled two nightstands I bought at Ikea. I couldn't get the drawers to work properly. I took them upstairs, anyway. At one point, I had four nightstands in the room!

I got the boxspring cover back on. (It's just a white fitted sheet. I'm not fond of bedskirts.)

My daughter helped me rotate the mattress and we got it back on the bed. Then, I vacuumed it. (Of course I did!) I wrestled the mattress cover back on (I'd love to have two--but they are expensive!) put on the sheets, (hospital cornered the top sheet, natch) climbed inside a new duvet cover to get it on the duvet and redressed the pillows with their freshly washed allergy covers and pillowcases before I left for work.

Sleep was lovely.

Sunday was all about fluff. And pictures. I decided that with the new nightstands, there was just too much black with the bed frame and the picture frames. So, I switched them for a couple of pictures I had taken of places in Jasper. They had been on the shelves in the dining room

(I've missed them!) I found one of them right away. The second one was more of a challenge!

Found it on top of a bunch of boxes on the shelves in the basement.

Then I measured and re-hung--but I think I hung them a bit too high. What do you think?

Hubs fixed the drawer problem for me. Turns out I'd put some screws in backwards.

As I was fluffing, I kept Justina Blakeney's principles in mind (even though I wound up with all my botanicals in one place!).

 you will note that I finally hung that Target mirror. 

I was also thinking about how best to express the change of seasons by my decor--but without "decorations." A sober colour palette seems right for fall. Something masculine and strong, like this plaid. (Though my daughter did call it a "big tea towel.")

Layers pile on the cosiness. Other than the bed, I can add some to this little love seat. (sssh, it's really the dog's bed).

The idea of making our beagle sleep with a squirrel makes me laugh.

I am pleased--and so relieved to have my sanctuary clean, tidy, and peaceful once again.

What about you?
Do you do anything in your bedroom for Fall?

Friday, September 18, 2015

Decluttering: The Donation Station

At the beginning of the year, I was all gung ho to declutter. Armed with the life-changing question: "Does this spark joy?" I was determined to be ruthless and pack up everything that didn't bring me joy.

I started strong, letting go of some Christmas decorations. Then, while doing the January Cure, I let go of lots of books from the shelves in my bedroom.

In late January, I started decluttering the dining room--a process which saw the eventual complete transformation of this room.

But then I stalled out.

Some of that had to do with getting busier at work. Mostly, it had to do with the fact that I took all those books and hobby supplies--and just chucked them into the basement.

But the urge to purge is still with me.

The end goal is not merely to have less stuff--though having fewer things does make life easier.
No, the goal of decluttering is to know that everything in your house is chosen. Everything in the house is either too useful to throw away--or indeed, is something which brings you joy.

In other words, part of living a deliberate and intentional life is to make sure that the things which surround you are also deliberate and intentional.

One of the ways to do that is to actually haul away the things you have decided to part with. (Yeah, don't tweet that!)

That day finally came.

This is my donation station. It's underneath my folding table in the laundry room. It is overflowing. We chuck stuff here regularly. But I don't clean it out as regularly as I should.

Carting away all this stuff is a way to begin to declutter, again. It's like starting to clean up by taking out the trash when the garbage is full.

Coming October 1st, I am going to participate in the 2015 edition of the 31 Day Blogging Challenge. Every day, for the month of October, I am going to declutter something-- 15 minutes worth--a bag's worth-- whatever I can do--and I will blog about it.

Does anyone want to join me?

I can write up a list of areas to tackle: one each day--or we can just do our own thing every day. What do you think would be more useful?

Thursday, September 17, 2015

The Story of a Wall

NB. I actually began this post long before I thought of the retrospective. In fact, I believe it was rediscovering this in my "drafts" folder which inspired me to do the retrospective. So, while it is not a part of the retrospective per se, it is a little side journey, a small look in greatf detail at just one wall of my house over the nearly 19 years we've lived here.


The year is maybe 2003, maybe 2004. (I'm going by the size of my daughter at the computer.)

The walls are very red. And I am still using film in the camera.

I tidied things up during the Fall Cure in 2006. But it was still VERY RED and VERY LOUD.

In 2007, during the eight week Fall Cure, I decided I would paint the room a neutral and quieten the whole thing down.

Things continued this way for a long time with various purges along the way, like this one during The Cure of 2009:



Looking a little sparse in 2013


And here, the best I think this wall ever looked, January 2015.

And, now....drum roll, please....

Totally different.
And yet, somehow, not!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Inspired by: Stairwells

I have been collecting images of stairwells for quite a while, now.

I need to re-do ours.

Ideally, I would like to remove the wall on the left--at least as far back as the closet and put up balustrades and a newel post. That would certainly help with the claustophobia.

Instead of something like this:

It would sort of be like this. (Though my little wall is only 21"--about two steps!)

But, of course, I would lose the arch and I'm not sure how I would feel about that. (Though getting furniture upstairs would be easier!)

Anyway, here are just a few images that have caught my eye. I really am a classicist when it comes to stairs.

So, so gorgeous: wood with white risers.

Basic and classic.


I like these--but I wonder if I'd get tired of them. Besides, they seem too "folksy" or kind of "country farmhouse" to me now.

Of course, there's my most favouritest ever:

Black and white.

If I can't stain the treads, then I'll do black and white. I know I'm probably asking for trouble as far as dirt goes, but if we stained, I'd probably have to use a dark one anyway.

We'll have to see how it goes.

Step by step.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

A Retrospective: 2. Passageways: Entry ways, Hallways and The Stairs

This is the second in a series of looking back at the changes I've made to the house since this blog began --over eight years ago.

Passageways are all those spaces we pass through--like hallways and entry ways and the stairs. I like them to be functional--and most especially plesant. They are scattered all over the house, though, so I made up floor plans in order to help orient ourselves.

Monday, September 14, 2015

AT Closet Cure: Assignment #3

This was doozey of an assignment from Apartment Therapy. It was deliberately designed to be broken up over Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Friday: Dresses and Skirts.

Although I only have 9 items in this category, it was hard to let go of some things.

I have one skirt (on the left, there, above)--actually it is a skort. I absolutely loved it for that reason. Unfortunately, I've put on weight since I bought it, so it is now too far above my knees for me to be comfortable wearing it without tights. (I hate tights.) So, after much dithering, that's in the donate pile.

I have two long dresses. The stripe I just bought this summer, so it's staying. The second is an L.L. Bean, a winter weight knit in plum and I adore it. It's my only winter dress--but, boy is it snug. I would be very upset not to have it should I lose enough weight to fit into it properly, so I put it back in the closet. It is that classic.

I have five--no six!-- short dresses. Two are properly tunics--very flimsy knit--but they still work. One is a maybe--and a fixer-upper. It also requires ironing before wearing. The thing is, my Mom made it for me and I want to keep it--but I won't wear it again. (sigh.)

The other three don't fit.

I'm keeping only 4 items. (The two tunics and the two long dresses.)

Saturday: Jeans and Casual Pants

Well, this was interesting. Turns out I had over twenty pairs of pants and shorts lurking about in the closet, the wash and various drawers. For someone who, in the past, has literally spent a winter wearing one pair of pants (though doubtless I had more than that in the closet) this was a shock to me.

I kept more than I ought to have (13!), but I did get rid of eight pairs of various yoga pants and shorts.

Namely, I kept two pairs of jeans which I can't fit into--but one of those pairs--my white denim NYDJ cost about $200.00!

I have a pair of jeans in the "maybe" category. They fit--but the denim is very heavy and I don't like how they feel when I put them on.

The rest are keepers.

For work:
(In case some of you don't know, I work in a paint department where I mix paint. So, I like to keep a dedicated wardrobe just for work.)
1 pair of capris (summer)
1 pair of yoga pants (winter). I could really do with one more of each, actually.

Strictly Summer: to put in my off season bag under my bed.
2 pairs of shorts
1 pair of white linen pants (to be ironed).

Winter/All Season:
1 pair of jeans
1 pair of leggings
2 pairs of knit pants, winter weight, both nice.
1 pair of knock about knit pants. (To be worn in the house and maybe on a quick run to the hardware store!)

Sunday: Tops and Jackets/Outerwear

This is a huge category.

First, the tops.
Total: 26

Summer: 12
plus work: 6

Winter: 4
plus work: 3

I am letting go of one--out of all of them!--yes, just one.

Second, Outerwear.
Total: 6

1 wine faux leather Fall/Spring Jacket
1 black Winter coat: to be replaced as soon as possible
1 black knit zippered jacket.
1 light blue hoodie from Vancouver

Let Go:
Navy Spring/Fall Jacket (too small and has been for several years).
Grey and Black houndstooth men's jacket (snug).

So, at the end of assignments 2 and 3, this is the donate pile (not everything is pictured as I gifted some of my sweaters to my daughter):

In future, it'd probably be best if I didn't pile the discards in front of my mirror!

From the comments thread at AT on this assignment, I learned that H&M Canada has partnered with Unicef Canada, to recycle, re-use and reduce waste from unwanted clothing.  In light of the recent refugee crises, that's where these will be headed.

I wonder what's next?
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