Category Archives: Before and After

As If I Haven’t Got Enough To Do

I found this plan to declutter the entire house in 30 days.  It might well take me 30 weeks or even 30 months but I’m going to give it a go.

At this point there is only one bathroom.

At this point there is only one bathroom.

The first 4 days begin in the bathroom.  Depending on the scope of one’s clutter I would allow about 30± minutes for each task. And be ruthless.

Since we have no linen closet nor medicine cabinet the under-sink cabinet is pretty much a shambles.

Since we have no linen closet nor medicine cabinet the under-sink cabinet is pretty much a shambles.

Day 1: Medicine Cabinet
Toss expired medications, hotel shampoos that you’ll never use, and throw out lotions you’ve had since 1990. While you’re at it, give the mirror a quick wipe, too.

Even totally cleaned out the cabinet is looking pretty gross.

Even totally cleaned out the cabinet is looking pretty gross.

I’ll focus on the cabinet under the sink since we don’t actually have a medicine cabinet.

It's nice to start with a clean space.

It’s nice to start with a clean space.

I wiped everything down and returned the wire shelves which seem to double the storage space.

We were hoarding a ton of soap under there, some that has even been eaten by mice (ew), which we don't use.  Move it to the laundry room.

We were hoarding a ton of soap under there, some that has even been eaten by mice (ew), which we don’t use. Move it to the laundry room.

After throwing away samples of shampoo and lotions which we’ll never use (or maybe we already used it and just didn’t toss it) I returned almost everything in a more orderly fashion.

Doesn't that look better?

Doesn’t that look better?

And I found something I had been thinking about recently and didn’t know I actually had.

Make up sponges.

Make up sponges.

I’m storing them front and center is a plastic tub to keep them clean.

Tah dah!

Tah dah!

Here’s the rest of the bathroom list.

Day 2: Shower
Get rid of the extras and empties in your shower.
Day 3: Makeup Drawer/Bag
Go through your makeup bag or drawer and reassess some of the items. Hot pink eye shadow you haven’t touched since 1980? Toss! Lipstick that doesn’t smell quite right anymore? You know what to do. If you haven’t used it in a year, it’s time to trash it.

Day 4: Linen Closet
Over time those neatly stacked towels start to shift and folded sheets somehow end up on the floor.  Take stock of what’s in the linen closet, straighten what you want and consider donating items you haven’t used in more than a year.

Are you focusing on getting the house ready for the holidays? A special celebration? Next year?

 

Black and Tan

I have come to learn that the style of gallery wall I like best is known as the “collected gallery wall”, meaning the grouping is curated over time and assembled in one spot.

I started by laying everything -- pictures, photos, objects -- on the floor.

I started by laying everything — pictures, photos, objects — on the floor.

As I looked through my items laid out on the floor I noticed a lot of sepia tone, black and subtle colors.  I also noticed I had souvenirs from trips and photos that reminded me both of family and travel.

I moved one piece at a time into the "wall" pile.

I moved one piece at a time into the “wall” pile.

As I began to pull together just the ones that related to each other colorwise I liked the variety yet cohesiveness.

I cut out some of the shapes in brown paper and hung them on the wall between the mudroom and the kitchen.

I cut out some of the shapes in brown paper and hung them on the wall between the mudroom and the kitchen.

Going against all the rules I’m using different shapes, colors, sizes, and themes.

It's a start.

It’s a start.

Usually I’d just whack nails in the wall but this is taking more time and thought than I would have hoped. I’ll keep working.

How do you choose what goes on your walls?

Don’t Look — It’s Gross

I’ve been doing a lot of laundry lately but that’s not the reason the inside of my washer is yucky. It doesn’t smell bad (since we switched to powder detergent) but it looks disgusting.

The bottom unit is the washing machine.

The bottom unit is the washing machine.

Even though I leave it open to air after every load, I don’t dry the gasket with a towel.  I think I should do that because I have some, OK lots of, mildew inside the gasket around the door.

This is the black mess inside the rubber gasket just inside the door of the washer.

This is the black mess inside the rubber gasket just inside the door of the washer.

I mixed up some bleach water: 2 to 1 water to bleach. (It’s probably supposed to be 10 to 1 but I’m an overachiever.) Then I took a wash cloth and wiped down the inside with the bleach mixture.

I even let the bleach-soaked rag just sit in the offensive area for awhile.

I even let the bleach-soaked rag just sit in the offensive area for awhile.

I wish I could say it came clean but there was only minor visible improvement.

At least I know it's clean even though it still looks icky.

At least I know it’s clean even though it still looks icky.

I’m going to try and start a new habit of drying the inside of the washing machine gasket after every load.

What cleaning problem do you overlook on a regular basis?

Interim Mantel

Between using the fireplace mantel as a catchall for fragile items I didn’t want to get broken and other things that I didn’t want to put away, the area above the fireplace became kind of Bohemian Eclectic. (Is that a style?)

A loose display of items on the mantel. The little chair holds my mother's pewtered baby shoe and her necklace.

A loose display of items on the mantel. The little chair holds my mother’s pewtered baby shoe and her necklace.

As I unpack things that we put away during the renovation I am rediscovering some meaningful things that just want to be displayed.

La Bocca della Verità we picked up in Rome next to a print of Île de la Cité  featuring Notre Dame.

La Bocca della Verità we picked up in Rome next to a print of Île de la Cité featuring Notre Dame.

Remembering our trip 3 years ago to France, I searched the house for this watercolor print of Notre Dame Cathedral.  Finally found it in the Cottage attic.

Notre Dame Cathedral viewed from the left bank.

Notre Dame Cathedral viewed from the left bank.

I almost always leave these two blue Kosta Boda vases on the mantel because I love the shape and I love the color, especially the subtle shading. I think they contribute to the reason I want to use blue in my Christmas display instead of red.

Love these vases.

Love these vases.

Alike yet slightly different.

Alike yet slightly different.

The double frame is of Charlie and me on our wedding day, fall five years ago.

Nothing special, just some favorite things.

Nothing special, just some favorite things.

So the mantel is not dressed for fall, no pumpkins or gourds but items that remind me of things that happened in “Autumns Past”.

Are you nostalgic for something?

A Brush for Everything

I am trying to return our pink bathroom back to the way it was before the renovation began and we took everything loose out except our toothbrushes. (Not that this bathroom was ever great.  That’s why the renovation included 2 full baths.  Unfortunately they are both still in the rough-in stage.)

There's not much room in here.

There’s not much room in here.

I like to use a fresh washcloth each time I wash my face or bathe so I’ve always kept a basketful on the top of the toilet. (Maybe that not the ideal spot but this is a tiny bathroom.)

So tiny is this bathroom that there's barely enough room to use the facilities.

So tiny is this bathroom that there’s barely enough room to use the facilities.

When I looked at the Longaberger basket that perfectly holds two folded stacks of washcloths, it was pretty dusty.

This basket used to have 2 plastic inserts which I unfortunately ruined in the dishwasher.

This basket used to have 2 plastic inserts which I unfortunately ruined in the dishwasher.

Golden Wand - soft brass bristles

Golden Wand – soft brass bristles

I have a brush that is made of soft metal bristles.

"Removes lint -- renews nap like magic" as printed on the brush

“Removes lint — renews nap like magic” as printed on the brush

Even if its purpose is to raise the nap on suede and velvet, it was ideal for dusting this basket.

A fresh supply of washcloths.

A fresh supply of washcloths.

Back in action.

Do you have tools that seem somehow obsolete and you don’t know where they came from?

Still Trying to Rid the Clutter

It’s invisible corner week at this decluttering blog! According to that blog: “These are the little piles, stacks, or collections of random things that have settled into odd spaces like the corner of a room, under a table, at the end of a counter, etc. that have become so much a part of the everyday landscape of our homes that we don’t even notice them anymore.”

Looking into the dining room from the living room -- you'd hardly call this an invisible corner.

Looking into the dining room from the living room — you’d hardly call this an invisible corner.

“Walk into a room. Take a critical look around and see if you have a bunch of stuff that your eyes and brain have been tuning out for a while. Deal with that stuff.” It seems my brain has been tuning out not just corners but entire rooms.

Every time I clear a horizontal surface, be it table or floor, someone uses it for a resting for his stuff.

Every time I clear a horizontal surface, be it table or floor, someone uses it for a resting for his stuff.

Darling son came over and took away the broken microwave which has been replaced, 2 stereo components we were disposing of for church, as well as a few odd brass pieces like the old front door knob that wouldn’t turn.

Our microwave was only 2 months old when it had its demise.

Our microwave was only 2 months old when it had its demise.

I’m still using the window seat as a paint staging area but it won’t be long before all the painting will be finished and the unused paint can go into basement storage.

I have a lot of paint projects going on.

I have a lot of paint projects going on.

But things have definitely improved in the dining room.

The clutter is removed.

The clutter is removed.

As I’ve said before the dining room is visible from all the other first floor rooms (except the mudroom, and bathrooms).

View from the conservatory.

View from the conservatory.

Next project in the dining room: finish painting the paneling.

Are you is the fall cleaning mood/mode? Holidays are coming!

Vintage Trays and Spray Paint

I picked up 2 metal trays from the FREE table at church. They measure 13.25″ square with a depth of approximately 1″.

Vintage metal tray times 2.

Vintage metal tray times 2.

This same tray is for sale all over Ebay and Etsy from $7 to $26.

Why are they out in the driveway?

Why are they out in the driveway?

It is described by an Etsy seller: “Lovely vintage Mid Century red and gold stylized peacock design square metal serving tray by Maxey. This sturdy square metal tray is accented with a stylized peacock and foliage design along the center of the tray in shades of metallic gold and black which are set on a matte red background and bordered with a gold rim. The back of the tray is a matching matte red shade. It is signed “Maxey” along the bottom of the design.”

Under the "peacock" is the name "Maxey".

Under the “peacock” is the name “Maxey”.

First of all I thought the peacock was a chicken.  And as lovely as they are (kidding) I’m going to desecrate them (just like I did my ceramic Christmas trees) with some spray paint.

Grey primer to prepare the metal surface.

Grey primer to prepare the metal surface.

I painted them front and back first with grey primer then with Valspar “Hubbell House Golden Maize” to give the living room a little jolt of color.

I should have stopped here.

I should have stopped here.

Then I got an even bolder idea but should have quit while I was ahead.

My new idea involved this bit of fun. Grrrrgh.

My new idea involved this bit of fun. Grrrrgh.

The details are forthcoming if I can improve the outcome.  If not, I’ll show you the fail but won’t bother telling how I got there.

Do you get grandiose ideas? Should you stick with the basics? Or is trying and failing better than never having tried at all?