Thursday, April 17, 2014

ORC 3: Working with Inspiration

Here we are, smack in the middle of the six week One Room Challenge hosted by Linda of Calling it Home. I am working on my Mom's bedroom. The before pictures and our plans are in Week One and the demolition of the closet is here in Week Two.

Taking out the closet meant moving the junction boxes in the ceiling so that each one is the same distance from both the back and side walls. Mom did that. She also moved the wiring for the switches. My Mom and my husband cut and installed drywall pieces. Now, my Mom is in the middle of taping and mudding. The bones of the room are coming along.

But really? This week, week three, hump week, if you will, was all about shopping and making decisions based on our inspiration.


What makes a room great?

For me, it is always the balance struck between harmony--and difference. A perfectly harmonious room can be bland, boring. A room with too much difference however can be too chaotic, an utter mish mash of line and colour. It's an art, not a science--and we all like different degrees of harmony and difference.

Doing a room for someone else--no, with someone else, means knowing where they are on this scale of harmony and contrast. My Mom picked the above interior because, in her words, it is "clean, neutral (versatile), fresh and serene."

I have a high tolerance for contrast--and it's all the textures which appeal to me. As with any good neutral room, (and this is an extraordinarily beautiful room) the range of textures is wide, from soft fur and shag to gentle shell and all the way to shiny glass. There's pattern everywhere, from the tone on tone drapes, to the woven shades and bench seat and the line of nailheads on the headboard. Even the nightstands have inlay. I hardly know what to say about that statement piece at the foot of the bed. It captures every single element of the room. This bedroom is breathtaking. It is magnificent. I am in awe of this room.

It is also highly harmonious. There's not a lot of colour. Everything is white (off white, or cream) gold, silver, with the merest touch of black. There's not a lot of tonal contrast. Other than the curtain rods, the darkest element here is the headboard--a taupe, maybe, which seems to be the same tone as the darker one in the drapes. Mom and I spent a lot of time discussing this room in comparison to others and realised that it was this feature, this tight control of the tones in the room which contributed to the feeling of serenity and calm. Every time we considered buying something I asked her: will this make it look busy--or calm?

We have a small problem in her room in that we don't have those windows: they do a lot of heavy lifting adding visual interest to this wall. To take their place we thought we might use these pendant lights from Home Depot. (Our budget, by the by, is teeny tiny.)

I am worried they won't have the heft we need to carry the wall and balance the headboard. Following Pam's lead from a previous ORC, Mom wants to add mirrors behind the nightstands. We'll have to see.

Speaking of nightstands, I'll be joining that revered sorority of Ikea Rast hackers. Needless to say, ours won't have mother-of-pearl inlay. They won't even have Ostrich look-a-like vinyl. (Best Rast hack, ever. We did try to find a vinyl that might work.) No, instead, I think I may have to do something more pedestrian like this: 

Mom has a beautiful antique walnut stained dresser that I don't want orphaned--and I think we can add the contrast without making things too busy. (Fingers crossed.)

As for the headboard, another DIY. There are so many on-line tutorials! We got the fabric for it, finally. 

In fact we got all the fabric we're going to need for the room. It took us two days (and two fabric stores and one wasted purchase) to find it. And we had to change our colour scheme from silver and golds, cream and taupe to pinks, cream and soft brown. We just could not find anything we really liked for the drapes. (I ordered some lovely samples from a couple of weeks ago but they haven't arrived yet and we are running out of time.)

Here are the fabrics we've chosen:

Every single one was at least 50% off. Mom was absolutely thrilled. She loves a bargain.

We're still looking for a rug.

That's Mom.

and baseboard. I have yet to source nailhead trim for the head board. (I am scared to death that if I have to order it on-line it will never arrive in time. I am in Canada. Things can get hung up at the border for ages.)

So, the punch list is long: but we know where we are headed. And Mom's excited. She loves pink waaay more than silver and gold.

To check on the other crazy participants and their amazing projects, click here for the links to the invited designers and bloggers and here for the linking participants, like me.

See you next week, hopefully with a few things accomplished!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

ORC 2: Moving Backwards

Oh Dear Lord.

What have we done?

On Day One of Week One, I happily bought some paint my Mom and I had picked out for her room, corralled my daughter, son and husband, a sander and some spackle and headed over to her house to repair her bedroom walls and get them ready for painting.

Here's my crew.

We left them to sand and spackle. Mom and I went shopping.

As we shopped, we talked.

Mom told me how she had originally designed the room so that the closet--which is on the outside North wall (floor plan below) could be moved, eventually, to the south wall--to act as a barrier between the two bedrooms upstairs.

She asked her builders to put the closet in so that it would be easy to remove.

It was one of the many things they did not do. (They also put the window in the wrong spot making the closet move impossible.)

South is at the top of the drawing, west on the right, east is the window wall, and north is at the bottom, of course. That line protruding from the North wall (and circled) is the wall of the closet. It held a light switch.

She currently uses a funny space outside the room as a dressing room, so, technically, she doesn't need a closet inside the room. As well, there was no decent wall for the bed. Because of the angle of the door, when the head of the bed was at the south wall, (top of drawing) the bedside table had to be impractically small. When it was on the west wall, she had to go around the bed to the closet. Putting it against the off centre window was too cold.

And then, as we talked, she fell in love with the idea of having the area in front of her window deliciously free for yoga practice.

So we decided to knock out her closet.

On Day Two of Week One, we arrived to find she had cleared it out and taken off the doors.

We knocked it out.

It took us (OK, mostly my husband) about 8 hours.

He was not a happy hubby that day.

On Day Three of Week One, we discussed how to deal with the electrical.

We realised we had to see what was going on behind the drywall, so we knocked out some more.

Why not? Never mind the fact that my hubs and I don't have a clue about two vital areas of home improvement. One. Drywall. We don't have drywall in our home, so we aren't familiar with it at all.  (The walls in our home are made from plasterboard.) Two. Electrical. It scares us.

Mom decided to call in a friend to help. So, when we left, we left the room like this:

After the first week--our to do list is now longer, not shorter! I think we've gone backwards.

Oh Dear Lord.

What have we done?

You can read the first post in this Challenge series here.

You can read all about what the other participants are doing here (the invitees) and here (the party crashers, like me.).

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Bullet Journal: My Try

I am a list maker.

I love to make lists.

Long lists. Bulleted lists. Lists within lists. Great big mind dump lists.

The bullet journal was designed for people like me.

Here is a short little video which explains how it works:

Other than show up at my job, I almost never have to do any particular thing on any particular day--or at any particular time. All planners based on a schedule, even one with only a few lines to each day frustrate me. No room to make a list! But I need my lists! So I was making them on the computer--and printing them out. And I'd make them every few days--and keep the old ones 'cause, well, I hadn't quite finished everything up. I starting to get piles of lists. To Do lists. Piles. Stress.

Bullet Journal to the rescue!

I started using this system in a 40 page exercise book I bought for less than a dollar. I didn't want to invest in a fancy schmany notebook for something which may not work out. After finishing my first month, I've transitioned into a bona fide moleskin lined journal. The compact size and the fact that it is hard cover will be great.

A couple of caveats:

Its not a planner. No. This is a task management system. In fact, one of its drawbacks is that there is no way to capture events that really must be done on a particular day other than the Monthly "list view" page which isn't really large enough. It is also constructed as one goes along, so it's a bit of a problem to jot down an event occurring several months down the road. There are more than a few creative solutions to this which a little googling quickly revealed.

1) Create a "Future Dates" page as Kim Holmes explains in this post on the Bullet Journal.
2) A rather elegant solution (with a rather inelegant name): the calendex by Eddy Hope.

I did the former. I wish I'd done the latter. And the beauty of the system is that I can do the latter, if I want, when the time comes, later.

The absolute best thing about this journal, though, is that I can create lists of any kind--based on the quirks of my very own mind. For example, I have three lists which pertain directly to my goal to follow-up on Minimalist March.

"Items to Schlep" is a list of items I have to take to various stores to sell, "Items to List" is a collection of things I need to post on kijiji (our local version of craigslist), and then there's "Places to (which to) Schlep" with phone numbers and hours of operation.

It is too cool to be so organized.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

A Tale of Two Lamps

Well, technically, it's a tale of three lamps, but that doesn't quite have the same ring to it, does it? And we're not really concerned with technicalities when we're decorating, are we? No. We're interested in nuance, in hidden meanings; relationships.

I found these little lamps at Target.

I loved them. I thought they went really well with all the riotous colour going on at the bed opposite.

The little green gourd called out to the duvet cover and said, "Hey, how are ya. How are things around here?" And then they fell to chatting about where they were from and their travels abroad.

But, the little green gourd would not shut up. It was beginning to get rather obnoxious. Then the duvet cover started whispering to me at night. She felt she just might be upstaged, poor thing, even though I assured her it was impossible and I was just seeking balance. I'd look at the little green gourd and could not figure out how to carry on. How should I cover the loveseat?

Trying out something dark really sent the duvet cover into a tizzy. Too much competition! The navy had nothing whatever to do with the bed. The two wanted some sort of relationship.

And how would I finish off the curtains?

Little green gourd, I thought, you really are rather short. And bossy.

Out shopping with Mom for her bedroom makeover, I came across this watery wonder.

It did not shout across the room to the duvet cover. In fact, it waited patiently for a proper shade (and accessories).

It calmly suggested a direction for the sofa. It quietly nudged the curtains the way they should go. And even what to do about the mirror frame became clear, too.

The watery wonder will be like a good friend to the others: respecting them but improving them ever so slightly. It is here to stay. (Even though in a perfect world, the shade would be more white than ivory.)

One of the little green gourd lamps went back to the store. The other found a new home on my new sleek desk where no one will feel put out.

The End.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

One Room Challenge: Mom's Bedroom. Week 1

I have been an avid fan of the One Room Challenge for a few years, now. Essentially, a bunch of blogger, hand-picked by Linda of Calling It Home blog take on the challenge to transform a room in just six week--and blog about it in real time.

This time, Linda has thrown the challenge open to anyone who wants to participate, and since my Mom called me in a panic just last week about what were we going to do with her bedroom, I've decided to accept the challenge!

And it will be a challenge!

First, the room is at my Mom's, meaning I will have to go over there to get things done. Second, my Mom is a bit of a hoarder. She is changing her ways--but the process takes time and gentleness. She is highly motivated to create a pretty room--I just have to be careful the stuff in here doesn't become a problem somewhere else. Third, she is raising my six year old nephew and isn't in the best of health, so though I want to get things done in six weeks, I am not going to insist on any particular pace for her to get things done. It's also her dime!

Lastly, there's the room itself.

It was built during the disastrous renovations which my Mom had done on her house more than twenty years ago. There aren't proper frames around the windows, so any curtain hardware we mount tends to pull out of the wall. The windows are also cold--so she currently has up two sets of curtains.

They are the first thing you see when you enter the room:

Immediately to the left of where I was standing to take the picture above, the wall with the door, is this:

You can't tell from the way I took that picture, but the doorway is not flat on the wall: it is angled. The room needs baseboards and because of the angles, they will be a challenge to cut and install.

At the foot of the bed is a closet and a funny little alcove where is currently keeping a couple of duelling dressers. Discussing it, Mom and I have no idea why she didn't just make this area a very large closet. Then again, I am hoping we can carve out a little space for her to do the yoga she wants to do.

And lastly, opposite this wall is the headboard wall.

Or, it will be, once we have a headboard!

I caught Mom on a bad day: she wasn't expecting me to come and take pictures of her bedroom! But she is a good sport. When she saw them she said they'd just make the "afters" look a whole lot better!

This is our inspiration image.

I have checked Amber Interiors but haven't been able to find any other shots of the room to help us.
Isn't it gorgeous?

Bring it on.

Here's to all the other linking participants and our first week!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

April Goals

Even though I wound up focusing on decluttering and Spring Cleaning, I really didn't take any time to really think about what I wanted to do--or what I should do. And while that worked for last month, I want to take a more deliberate approach to my time this month. 

Minimalist March: Follow Up.

According to the rules of the game, you are supposed to have removed the items by midnight of the day you decluttered. Obviously, this would have been extraordinarily inconvenient and somewhat wasteful of gas and time. But the point is a good one--and one I confronted during this challenge more times than I could count. I discovered many items that I have decided to let go of--but hadn't yet removed--from efforts I've made in the past. Now, from this particular, effort, I have more piles than ever. The majority are things I want to sell. So, selling them will be my first and major priority. To wit:

1. List the items I can sell myself.
2. Schlep items to various stores to either sell outright or on consignment.
3. Schlep remaining donations to various places.

Overhaul the Laundry Room.

I love the idea of an "overhaul." To me, it indicates a thorough assessment of the room and all of its contents to ensure all is working as it should.

1. Clean from top to bottom (including the machines themselves).
2. Assess every item in the room and deal with it. A lot of things slated for --you guessed it-- selling are sitting here waiting for me to get around selling them. By the end of this month, I swear.
3. Do any repair and/or decorative touches waiting for attention.
4. Finish up any projects and/or deal with items lingering related to projects.

Health and Fitness

1. Keep a Food Diary.

This is more complicated than it looks from that simple one line entry above. I am reading The Diet Fix, by Dr. Yoni Freedhof. Apparently, the food diary is one of the most effective tools around for managing one's weight.  Recording what I eat accurately will involve measuring it. Every single time. The best way to approach that--especially when I am working--is to pre-measure--that is, pack up pre-measured portions of snacks and meals. That will be time consuming.

Of course, then, in the evening, I need to sit down and look up the caloric value of what I ate. Grumph. I have never in my life counted calories--just because I hate the idea of doing all this work. The focus here, though, is not to allocate a daily maximum and subtract, no, the idea is to make sure I get both a minimum number of calories at each meal (and snack) as well as a minimum number of grams of protein. It won't be onerous all month, of course--just in the beginning while I get things sorted out. There'll never be a good time to do this, so I might as well just do it now.

There will be other things I'll do this month. One thing on my To Do list (now stored in a Bullet Journal which I'm excited to tell you about) is picking colours for a whole house paint scheme. I was so energised by repainting my bedroom that I'm now anxious to do the whole house! That will take a while, though.

Have you thought about what you'd like to do this month?

Monday, March 31, 2014

Weekly Declutter: Minimalist March Days 27 to 31

Honestly, I didn't think I had enough things to get to the end of the month. I got to Day 28 without much effort, really. But then, I realised that Days 29, 30 and 31 taken altogether total 90 items. I started to freak a little--and then I just started to collect and pile. Pile and collect. After a few days, I had this:

This is the chaos I lived in pretty much all month.

Day 27 

I won't enumerate everything here, but included is a school project of my daughter's, unsatisfactory spray bottles (kept to spray the dog when he barks, but they sort of fizzled, and sssssh, a bag of hallowe'en candy found shoved to the back of the closet.)

Day 28

You know what that stack of books with the red spines really is, don't you?

Not books. No. Guilt. Guilt I have had for probably forty years.

My mother gave me that stack of books back when I was about ten or so. They are all by the British author, Enid Blyton. My mom bought them all, all at once, en masse like that--and the pile just overwhelmed me. I was a late reader--and this was too much! As well, being written in British-English, I stumbled on the strange but familiar language. For example, characters would often "box" one another's ears. They did it fairly frequently, it seemed to me. To this day, I have no idea what they were doing. (I did read her two boarding school series, The Twins of St. Clare's and my favourite, Darryl at Red Roofs. I longed to go to boarding school ever after.)

Day 29

The only thing to note here are the roller blades. I meant to sell them last spring when we cleaned out the basement, then, a year ago.

Day 30

Finally letting go of the odd bits of blue willow china I have kicking about. (The box contains 20 pieces.)

Day 31

Just stuff.

I have items leftover.

I thought long and hard about whether I would put these towards playing another round of the Mimimalist game in April. The thing is, collecting items, though worthwhile, started to infringe upon doing other things-- and my dining room was a constant mess. I think it would stress me out to continue, right now.

So, unfortunately, though I'd love to keep going, I need to focus my efforts on something else with the limited amount of time I have: namely, getting my weight down and improving my fitness as well as other projects around the house.

So, below, are my "extra-credit" items. (A class assignment of my daughter's involved her "casting" a movie based on the S.E. Hinton novel, The Outsiders. Of all the things!)

Total number of items decluttered: Days 1 to 31: 496.

496 + "extra credit" of 6 = a grand total of  502

Not bad.

But it is a drop in the bucket if it is really true that the average household contains over 300,00 items. Yikes! I guess that means we're down to 250,000, now. Yay.

The very best thing that happened this month? My thirteen year old daughter cleaned out her room and her closet. She was amazing.

If you'd like to read any of the posts in this series from this month, here they are:

On a Roll: Days 20 to 26.

And if you'd like to join the girls in the google+ group, here's the page for that. I'm sure they'd love to have you! Here's a great article to get you started: 25 Things to Throw Out.
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