Category Archives: home decorating

Progress Report

Although I haven’t been reporting here OR keeping track explicitly of my progress, I will say that yes, I’m getting quite a lot done!

The living room got cleared out for DH to live in a bed there, while that was necessary. That bed has been gone since Christmas Day. When he started sleeping in our bed again, the living room was put together a lot closer to what I really wanted it to be. Sometime in here, the table we’d loaned out was returned and we took the round table we’d been using to the swap shop along with the base of the glass-topped table DH had used to take the cover photo for the memoir.

Three days after Christmas, we took more furniture out of here: a chair/ottoman, a small bookcase, the wrought iron table with the marble top, and 2 metal end tables. We rearranged what was left.

A few weekends back, we rented a van and removed the baker’s table from the living room and moved in a low dresser we bought.

Last week, the hall and kitchen were cleaned and culled.

Today, the dining room got cleaned and culled. I had no idea how much I’d stashed around the edges of the dining room until I took it all out this morning. It was a lot!

The only piece of furniture in the dining room which wasn’t moved was the table. When I remove the pieces from the living room and hall and kitchen again, they’ll be sorted: going away now, going away at a flea market, keeps (maybe), keeps (for sure), I’ll have more room. But so far, since these are all boxes I’ve been through recently, there’s not much that’s immediately being culled. That means the stuff needs to be boxed up, labeled, and then, oh yes, I need to find a place to stash the new box.

It will be neater and tidier, but there will still be WAY too much stuff.

Nightmares? No, thankfully; I’m not having nightmares! The only bad night I’ve had recently was Saturday. I returned the edited ms. of the memoir and talked to my publisher. Anything to do with the memoir is usually followed with a bad night, lots of anxiety, etc.

I sat bolt upright around 2 a.m., with a piercing scream in my head which I managed to NOT do, but I woke DH up anyway, because I made a sort of a loud gulp and I’d probably pulled the covers off of him.

jian-xhin-y2yWnOkOUM0-unsplash

Photo by Jian Xhin on Unsplash

I keep doing what’s needed for the book, but I will be very glad when all the steps are something I’ve done.

 

New Living Room

The plan for this week is to finish the revamping of the living room. For one thing, someone is coming to work on the house next week and I’d like it done before that. For another, it seems like I can work on this without issues.

Part of this will require work in the kitchen/dining room too. There’s a new dresser (well, new to us) going in the living room. The table that is sitting where that’s supposed to go has to be emptied and moved. The only sane place to move it is the kitchen. There’s currently no room in the kitchen, sooooo…. you do the math, right?

That means this morning, although it seems contrary, what I will do is work on the kitchen/dining area to get the living room finished!

Move the empty hole around some more, and make it bigger I hope!

(No image this time, sorry. Went to find one, couldn’t find one with books that worked. The only thing close is tagged as a living room, but looks like a retail counter to me! I don’t live in a retail store anymore, or I’m trying mightily NOT to!)

So

This is Monday, the day I’m supposed to do 6 areas of my house (it’s 5 Tues – Fri). I don’t know if I’ll make it back into this, but the chaos created by the oncoming winter, DH’s injury, visitors, etc. means that I need some kind of plan.

And since I spent a long time devising that one, I think I’ll try and pick it up again.

We’ll see how it works?

One thing really did come of the 90 challenge I set myself and that was the end (apparently) of the panic attacks. If that’s true? I can’t tell you what a relief it is!

J

The New Entry?

This morning I had an epiphany about an entry. Talked to DH about it. It will displace the ironing board and the pantry overflow.

  1. We bought, some time ago, a vintage ironing board cupboard. This houses the ironing board and iron and hangs on the wall, no legs. We had one of these in my childhood home, most efficient! My idea was always that it was on one side of the new broom closet. DH said, “We’ll see.” I’m not sure if DH has to make me an ironing board to go on the cast iron piece in the cupboard, or not. We’ll look into it. In any case, it needs to be sanded, repainted before it’s put into place. Definitely a summer job!
  2. We get the Dutch bench out of the attic and put it back beneath the window on that wall. (Expense = $0) Or, we can move the beautiful bench I bought and put it there. Since we already own both, whichever one we choose would cost us $0 as well.
  3. That we put up 2 coat hooks, one on each side of the window. (We don’t own these. Although Gawd knows, I have lots of hooks!) Unknown expense.
  4. That we move the stray sock basket next to the wall next to the washer.
  5. That we move the 3 round wire bread baskets next to the table where they’e used.
  6. I paint the mullions on the laundry window the same color we’re painting the baseboards. (We will already have the paint. Extra cost $0)
  7. That we move one of the closet doors to hide the washer and dryer part of the room, making it possible to hide that mess. (We maybe able to use what we have for this already too!) This probably won’t work, the dimensions aren’t the same on the closet door I measured. . . .

At the moment, our entry is by the front door and always a mess. There’s a coat/hat rack which was taken from an old fire department. I love the history of the piece, but I hate the fact that there’s always a row of messy coats, hats, mufflers, etc. It has a narrow shelf above it we added, but the shelf isn’t big enough to take anything of size. There’s a bench below, but because of where it is, jammed up to the stairs, between the base of the stairs and the front wall, you can’t sit there without fighting the jungle of coats.

We do have another coat closet, but it’s full of motorcycle jackets and DH’s hobby equipment, mostly. The last time I looked I think I had one coat in it. He’s also filled the upstairs equivalent of this with hobby equipment. His hobby takes a lot of space and for a while it looked as if the necessary equipment and supplies were no longer going to be available. He’s culling it down a little at a time, but it takes reminders from me and tolerance. He’s not the person who filled the living room with boxes, 8 high — I am. Filling two closets, etc. isn’t anywhere near the same amount of stuff! And I still have 2 corners of the house and the storage unit full o’ my stuff. I have less than last year, yes, but still ….


We bought a new to us dining room table last night. I thought DH was set on it, he thought I was. It was cheap, but not quite what either of us thought (it looked better in the pic than it does in real life). We may buy another table I found yesterday instead and donate this one to Habitat, where we got it. We don’t mind donating to Habitat, but usually do it with a check and without hauling furniture around.

We’ve been together for > 40 years now and we still miscomminicate this way every now and then. Fortunately, this wasn’t all that expensive. . . .

However, the jury is still  out. We haven’t actually decided to do one thing or the other, yet.


The table has been salvaged. How? DH sanded and then waxed it. It looks MUCH better! We’ve used it a couple of times. This weekend we looked at other tables in antique shops, but decided not to buy anything else unless we love it. We now have 2 tables which are good, but not terrific. Need to replace those with something we both really like, or not buy anything else anyway.

Today…

We got the last of the old dining room rug free (it was under a heavy wardrobe in one corner), which is the next step in the redo the kitchen/kitchen storage project. We talked about replacing the light we’d decided we were going to sell and the next steps of that:

  • Getting the “new” shade out of the attic. Got both of them out, decided which one we’d use and which one was being sold. 5/1/19
  • Figuring out its dimensions and buying/mounting an appropriate pendant lamp kit. Tried 2 different ones, neither do we like the looks of. More search and procurement needed, along with returning the unwanted lamp kits.
  • Remove the old light and replace it with the new.

We also talked about our potential new broom closet, cleaning supply closet, and other items which are likely to be stored in and around the kitchen area.

More progress! It’s not a lot, but it’s progress.

The Unhibernated Dining Table

The dining room table had been “hibernating,” or something. It had a length of fabric over it and the cherry coffee table, which currently has no home, upside down on top of it.

That means of course, we couldn’t eat at the table. During the winter, since this is the north side of the house, in a room that’s cool by nature, that wasn’t a problem.

But I bought new rugs yesterday for the dining room. In order to get them in the room and convert it to the two or three separate functional spaces it needs to be to USE those rugs? The table had to be cleared. It is.

Unfortunately, it had also developed a rather bad check (crack) while storing the coffee table! DH looked at it and said something like, “Hm. You really want a round table, right?” and indeed I do. One of the pieces of research I did on decorating talked extensively about the effect of square or rectangular tables in a room, that is that emotionally, it’s says, “Stop!”

I bought the table and chairs to decorate our Tampa house, in 1985 or so. It’s oak, modern, and rectangular, which fit the open-concept, new/modern house we had. It was our kitchen table. There was a tiger oak dining table, which I sold a few years back, an English antique, it was one of our first pieces of “real” furniture. A relative of DH’s contributed tiger oak chairs. We still have the chairs, they’re heirlooms.

So, DH may make me a new table top — we’ll see! But in the meantime, the dining table has emerged from where it was hibernating — progress!


Other things I bought yesterday were a desk organizer and a sign, also for the kitchen/dining area. While at the company’s website, I decided wtf, I’d take their decorating “quiz,” because it could hardly be worse than all the others I’d tried.

Much to my surprise, the description of what I like was pretty accurate:

“You love the fresh, stylish-yet-simple look found in today’s updated Farmhouse Décor! Your style is graceful and uncluttered but retains a welcoming and warmhearted feel. Clean, soothing whites, taupe and grey tones, mixed with weathered wood and the occasional splash of color create a simple backdrop that’s easy to live with and even easier to accessorize! If you love the look of painted bead-board, or ship lapped walls paired with wooden floors…you’re all in girlfriend!”

Well, okay. I like whites, (and matte black) but I hate most greys and taupes and “greige,” ug. Lots of splashes of color. Yes, I like painted bead-board. Shiplapped walls? Nope, but this is a log home, it looks like we shiplapped the entire building! Wooden floors? Well, I like my wooden floor, I just wish it had been finished before we moved in!

“Farmhouse style reflects a way of life that is intimately connected to the land. It represents a lifestyle where necessity and a do-it-yourself attitude demand that items be repurposed and reused – often by generations of farm families. You love this style because it hearkens back to the simpler days of yesteryear and satisfies your longing for good-old-fashioned hard work, practicality, and close family ties.”

I don’t know if any of this is true or not. Certainly we do a lot of DIY and I like reused items quite a lot. But I said years ago that I liked “shabby” not because I loved chippy paint, but because I liked the fact that you didn’t have to fuss to maintain the surface. My observation about modern decorating is that it’s all about surfaces: clean, shiny surfaces — and they demand extensive caretaking. I do NOT want that. I want a place I can put my feet on the table or couch without stressing about it. The Tampa house was beautiful, but it had a great room with a white floor and the other floors were all med. grey carpets. Took a lot of maintenance to keep up the huge horizontal surfaces (which I didn’t do well).

“A Farmhouse style home is unpretentious, but definitely stylish, with an emphasis on useful yet aesthetically pleasing items. Flea market finds and DIY masterpieces are combined with new items and reproductions – it’s all part of the charm. A neutral color palette sets the stage, followed by weathered or painted furniture, apron front sinks, open shelves, and farmhouse tables. Complete the look with grain sack, linen, or ticking stripe fabrics, farm and industrial accents, galvanized tin items, vintage signs, chalk paint, white ironstone, and mason jars.”

I agree with all of this, up to the apron front sinks. I’m not fond of most of the rest of it: grain sack linens, ticking, farm/industrial accents, galvanized tin items, vintage signs, chalk paint, ironstone, and mason jars. I like all of that in moderation and HATE most of what I see. I call it “cheap Chinese crap.” I’m not fond of cutesy. I don’t want this place to look like the Sears catalog or any other. 

This was weird, because I hadn’t found anyone who seemed to have any idea that I might like a huge old industrial pressure cooker (we use it to hold fat wood) as well as the LCD op art looking thing on my bedroom wall (it’s a thermometer). If you read this blog at all, you know that I’ve written several posts about trying to find a description of my preferred “style.” And, although I will likely never put up a sign about farm girls, farmsteads, or country, or sweet tea or… this is pretty darn close!

The company has NOT asked me for this review, and I’m not getting anything for it, but the company is this one.

Different

I have been reading a book I’ve had for some time, and only used before as a reference: Home Comforts by Cheryl Mendelson. She has this to say, which I found really mind-boggling:


“The sense of being at home is important to everyone’s well-being. If you do not get enough of it, your happiness, resilience, energy, humor, and courage will decrease. It is a complex thing, an amalgam. In part, it is a sense of having special rights, dignities, and entitlements — and these are legal realities, not just emotional states. It includes familiarity, warmth, affection, and a conviction of security. Being at home feels safe: you have a sense of relief whenever you come in and close the door behind you, reduced fear of social and emotional dangers as well as physical ones.” (page 7)


 

As an abused and neglected child, I had none of those things. Home was, as I have said elsewhere, the place where they knew how to put the (emotional) knife so it hurt the most. And, if a person wasn’t actively hurting me, they were wondering wtf my problem was? So, I have no expectation of safety at home.

I also have no experience of someone as she talks about caretaking a home as a way of showing love.

DH’s circumstances were different from mine, but his childhood home wasn’t happy and protective entirely either.

I have been for years trying to figure out what makes a place “home” and the most I could come up with was cozy and safe, so that’s what I’ve been heading towards decorating wise. But it has been an ongoing problem for me, because I want something I have never had, and decorating magazines and books just do NOT talk about how to create a home-like atmosphere.

And then there’s this:


“…what a traditional woman did that made her home warm and alive was not dusting and laundry. Someone can be hired to do those things (to some extent anyway). Her real secret was that she identified herself with her home.” (page 9)


And that I’ve never done.

The panic attacks happen in at least one predictable way, or used to. That was if I set up something to please myself. I was sure others would see what I did as laughable, stupid, or just wrong.

That’s a product of years of conditioning as a kid. It’s part of the cyclic rant: “Someone will break it. Someone will steal it. Someone will deride it or make fun of me,” that is the verbal side of my panic attacks.

Standing in front of a bookshelf with palms sweating and near tears, because I displayed some of my favorite things isn’t an experience I remember fondly, but it used to be common.

I identified myself not with the space I occupied, but internally. Inside was my only safe harbor.

I feel rather at sea in some ways. Years ago, my therapist told me to nurture the wounded kid inside me. I asked, “How?”

She looked at me and said, “If you’d had a kid, you would have learned, because your instincts and the child’s needs would have taught you. But you never had a kid. And you weren’t nurtured. I’ll have to think about that.”

And we came up with some answers, but not a lot. Although I don’t see myself as an uncaring person, frankly, I suck at relationships.

I ruin friendships, put off people, and always have. Some of it was being wounded, because I said inappropriate things, but much of it was just that I never learned how to build community, closeness, not really. I try hard. I try to have integrity. I try to be of use to the people I know, but I’ve never been sure I do it right, and think I screw it up, all the time.

The house is much the same sort of thing. It used to be that every time I did some new decorating thing or worked on cleaning the house, what I said to my husband was, “Are you mad at me?”

And although that’s pretty pathetic, it’s still the truth. These days, by contrast, what happens is that I’m grumpy. I was this morning, when I cleaned the kitchen.

You know? I’d really, really love to outgrow my childhood. Maybe by the time I’m 70?