Stuff Management: The next phase of home renovation

For the past few months, we’ve been getting wonderful surprise packages from my friend, Gwen. If you follow her blog, you’ll know that she possesses unlimited energy and discipline toward anything she puts her mind to (giving up dairy at the drop of a hat? not spending a dime on anything excess for a month?) but what she really excels in is household simplifying.  I can attest to the extent to which she reduces within her home, because as she does it, she is thoughtful enough to put aside little tokens for our family. They include sentimental objects (like sunflower bags we sewed together in 6th or 7th grade), fun things (a French book for Will), and little gadgets that she makes (hair clips for Kate).

I am not so disciplined.

In fact, my influence may work in the opposite direction; I sent back the sunflower bag with explicit instructions that she keep it forever, so that when we’re sitting together in the retirement center people will comment on how cute we look with our matching bags.  But this weekend, I let my inner-Gwen reign supreme.

In a fit of energy and enthusiasm, I stayed up all night on Saturday and organized the kids’ toys. Paul had a head cold and didn’t make it passed 10 — just long enough for me to nearly kill him by making him move pinball machines with me — so I was up all night working by myself.

My catalyst was the spring Children’s Clothing Exchange, which started accepting items on Sunday. Saturday afternoon, I talked Paul into buying a small storage unit for the toys and after the kids went to bed, I started in on the work. I literally poured each and every toy they own into the center of the front room. First I sorted by theme/type. Then I went through each and purged.

Unfortunately, I only have photos of the finished product, taken in poor light this morning.

Please ignore that we still have to sand, paint, and repair the walls and trim in this room. It’s one of several rooms we still have to renovate. As for the paper blinds we taped up there 5 years ago?  Hmmm, well, a drawbacks for having a handy husband is that he can completely be on board with spending a year’s worth of savings on better wood to use under drywall so that the walls are straight.  And contemplate a few year’s worth of work trim.  But window treatments?  Not so much.  Don’t misunderstand, it’s not really a financial thing, since I wouldn’t know what to do, anyway.   Actually, the one room in the house that actually has something in the vein of window coverings is the kids room… because my Mom gave me old curtains she had used in a previous home.  Our paper window blinds aren’t there because we’re tacky.  It’s because we’re clueless.

Games and puzzles are in a chest in the front room right now.  Except for some hats, costumes, and stuffed toys in their room, these are their toys!  They can see everything, it’s all organized, and clean up makes sense.  Same with inside the kitchen — just a few items and all organized.  Sometimes?  I like to just open the doors and look at how plates are with plates and pots are under the stove and all dessert toys are in one bin, separate from the fruits and vegetables.

The feeling leaves a fabulous, if unnatural, calm.

And did you note that fantastic kitchen?  We’ve had it for months, as a result of my favorite manner of shopping… bottom feeding.  They are floor models from the local pottery barn that we picked up at a discount of 75% off the original price.  A little beat up, but nothing a touch-up stick can’t fix.  We also bought a bunk bed for Will this way.  It’s not a fast way to shop (we signed up for the bed about 2 years prior) and it’s not particularly convenient (Will’s bed has been in pieces in the front room since August) but it is definitely a way to save.

Oh, and that table?  With the clear tape covering the rips and tears?  We took it and the matching chairs out of a neighbor’s garbage after Katrina.  Remember!  Not tacky.  Resourceful.

Will’s room is also getting together.  We emptied the closet and put in an organization system.  All his clothes are now here:

I talked Paul into going forward with this without refinishing the inside of the closet.  We still have to paint the room… and are working to find the inspiration for doing this.  Once we paint the room and finish trimming the lights we can put together his bed — and then the kids will each have their own room.  Whoa.

With Will’s room empty, this means we’ve moved into the study!  We’re using the old stuff now and hope to put matching work tables with wall shelves above in the future.

We switched up our standard paper window hanging routine to opt for the Priority Mall box look for this room.

Note the unfinished outbuilding in the back of the last picture.  We have many more beefcake home-fix-it photo opportunities in our future…

Until then, anyone have decorating advice?