Category Archives: Before and After

Framing and Mat Cutting

The thing that’s been holding up the finishing of the gallery wall is that I needed mats for some of the pictures and they needed to be custom cut.

The brown paper space holders are still in place.

The brown paper space holders are still in place.

Custom cut mats are expensive so the next best thing was for me to find a piece of mat board in a color that would work for the remainder of the items. I had to ask the person behind the counter at Michael’s if they had any other mat board in stock other than what was out and she found a piece of taupe (Michael’s moniker) which I would call mushroom. It’s actually very close to the Benjamin Moore paint color “Sparrow”.  Mat board comes in 20 inch by 30 in sheets for about $16 and they won’t cut it down and sell a half sheet, for instance. So armed with my inconveniently large piece of mat board I set up a mat cutting station on the kitchen island.

Matt cutting station on the well-lit kitchen island.

Matt cutting station on the well-lit kitchen island.

I do have a secret weapon when it comes to mat board cutting which I bought in college and have kept for decades.  Oddly I knew exactly where it was and although the box was rather torn up my Dexter Mat Cutter was still in perfect condition.

The Dexter mat cutter.

The Dexter mat cutter.

The Dexter is designed to cut the interior bevel in a mat. I put in a new blade with is key to a clean cut.

The blade can be set at any angle -- the greater the angle the more difficult the cut.

The blade can be set at any angle — the greater the angle the more difficult the cut.

Lightly mark with an erasable writing instrument (pencil or chalk) on the front of the mat guidelines that match the desired opening.

I mark the mat board lightly with pencil.

I mark the mat board lightly with pencil.

With the blade tilted in the mat cutter (it can also be used straight for cutting the outside edges) line the mat cutter up in one corner and cut along the line.  It helps to push the flat edge of the cutter along a straight edge.

Be sure the bevel is going in the right direction along all the sides.

Be sure the bevel is going in the right direction along all the sides.

It’s important to turn the mat as you cut it so the bevels are all going the same way.

The beveled inner edge of the mat.

The beveled inner edge of the mat.

Because this mat board has a black underside the bevel is black instead of the more usual white.

The underside of the mat board is black, the top is taupe. It could be used either way.

The underside of the mat board is black, the top is taupe. It could be used either way.

Two more finished.

Vintage photos of Paris that came in the mail as a postcard for an art exhibit.

Vintage photos of Paris that came in the mail as a postcard for an art exhibit.

My vintage Paris photos.

What are you hanging?

The Space Everyone Sees

Days 8 and 9 of the 30 Day Challenge to Declutter are the Mudroom/entry hall and coat closet respectively. Last week I realized that adjacent areas to newly clean spaces look atrocious and the comparison makes it difficult to pat one’s self on the back for all the good work.

I few items get waylaid in the mudroom while we're coming and going.

A few items get waylaid in the mudroom while we’re coming and going.

The garbage, recycling, and old microwave how now been put in their respective places.

Mudroom back to normal

Mudroom back to normal

The mudroom itself stays fairly neat so all that it needed was a quick vacuum.

The mudroom closet doesn't look like this anymore.  Let's organize!

The mudroom closet doesn’t look like this anymore. Let’s organize!

The closet is a different story. This week’s realization is that I keep things in the totally wrong place.  Why must I keep a giant roll of bubble wrap in the mudroom closet and why isn’t all my wrapping gear together?

Coats and boots belong in this closet.

Coats and boots belong in this closet.

Our mudroom closet is essentially a coat and shoe closet with the purpose of keeping the mudroom itself from becoming cluttered with junk.

I don't mind the vintage slide projector in the closet but the bubble wrap has got to go.  I know the perfect place.

I don’t mind the vintage slide projector in the closet but the bubble wrap has got to go. I know the perfect place.

After removing incongruous items and finding a suitable place for them I designated a shelf for me, a shelf for Charlie and a shelf for shoes.

Much better.

Much better.

The top shelf has a basket for hats, scarves, and gloves.

Thankfully we can keep the doors closed.

Thankfully we can keep the doors closed.

Now if I could only finish the hall wall gallery. It’s coming.

Do you store items in a logical place? Or stash them then can’t find them?

Decluttering the Bedroom

Our house is still torn apart except for a few rooms.  The bed has not yet been set up in the master bedroom so we’re still using the back bedroom so I’ll attack what I can in the 30 Day Decluttering Challenge.

The bedroom tasks include:

Day 5: Nightstand
Nightstands collect books, water bottles and electronics along with gobs of dust. Clear it off, wipe it down and leave only the bare minimum.

We've been sliding this bookshelf all over the second floor.

We’ve been sliding this bookshelf all over the second floor. Now I’m using it as a nightstand.

I’m just going to give you a before and after of the nightstand because it was a relatively easy project.

Before on the left and after on the right.

Before on the left and after on the right.

Day 6: Dresser 
Dressers can hide a lot in their drawers.

My dresser is the front one in the picture that I'm clearly using as a dust rag rack. Erggggh.

My dresser is the front one in the picture that I’m clearly using as a dust rag rack. Erggggh.

I opened every drawer and refolded messy clothes and even discarded a few items.

The top drawer is dedicated to scarves, hankies, and ladies gloves. I did what I could to organize them.

The top drawer is dedicated to scarves, hankies, and ladies gloves. I did what I could to organize them.

I was able to empty the bottom drawer and use it as a temporary linen closet for the master bedroom.

I did so much straightening I freed the bottom drawer for 4 king size sheet sets until the linen closet is built.

I did so much straightening I freed the bottom drawer for 4 king size sheet sets until the linen closet is built.

Day 7: Master Closet
Cleaning the master closet task means going through and tossing outdated and unworn clothing . Try not to let sentimentality get in the way of decluttering!

My closet in the Treetops room is stuffed to the gills but in good shape.  Our master closet is not finished yet.

My closet in the Treetops room is stuffed to the gills but in good shape. Our master closet is not finished yet.

I’ve been using a closet in the back bedroom so I decided to start on one of the floordrobe piles that were created when our master bedroom closets were removed.

Honestly -- how does it get like this.  See the improvement below from the same viewpoint.

Honestly — how does it get like this. See the improvement below from the same viewpoint.

We have plans for a fabulous new closet but until that time there’s really no place to put our clothes thus the piles on the floor.

This is the progress I made in here meanwhile clothes are in piles everywhere else.  It's a start.

This is the progress I made in here meanwhile clothes are in piles everywhere else. It’s a start.

Although I really did try I was a total failure at this particular task.

I’m not even halfway there. Sheesh!

What are working on?

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?