Sunday, November 22, 2015

From the Weekend: The First Snow

It was very late this year!

I think it actually snowed, if you can call it that, this little skiff, on Thursday.

I made sure to run out and get a picture on Saturday, since we were going up above zero again, today.
It didn't melt.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Minimalism and Decorating

interior by Nicole Franzen. Source.
This is minimalistic decor, as a style of decorating. Not what I'm talking about.

Can the two ever be compatible?

In March of 2014, I flexed my minimalist muscles and eliminated over 500 things from my home. (To be truthful, I am still in the process of eliminating them. There are books still in the garage.)

The next month, I spent a great deal of time--and money--buying stuff and transforming it for a makeover of my mother's bedroom.

Recently, it happened again. Everyday, Mom bagged up stuff to remove from the house--and as she was taking that out the back door, I was coming in the front with bags and bags of stuff to transform another room and decorate it.

Do I simply have contradictions in my personality? Are these two endeavours even remotely reconcilable?

It is cliche, but true: minimalism is about living with less. It's about decluttering, letting go, getting rid of stuff. At least to start. The goal, as I see it, is to live only with what is essential to your life whether that's a backpack and good shoes and lots of socks or a modest house, a yard, kids and a dog (and all that goes with that.) It's about buying only what's really necessary when it is really needed. (And then asking yourself, is it really necessary? Is it really needed?) You could say it is quite anti-consumerism. It's about being uber intentional.

Decorating, however, is not anti-consumerism. Not at all. Even in the world of DIY decorating (and maybe especially in the world of DIY decorating) one has to buy all kinds of stuff to make the room work. Line, shape, colour, texture, balance, unity, contrast. These are the tools to create harmony and beauty. A mirror, for example, can't be just any old thing one has on hand. It has to conform to specific dimensions. The frame needs to be a certain finish to either blend in or stand out from the other elements in the room. The shape should be just so.

The gorgeous Trumeau mirror my husband made for my Mom's dressing room during the Fall 2015 One Room Challenge. Most definitely, not minimalist mirror frame!

What brings the two together? Draw a venn diagram. Label on circle minimalism and the other decorating.The intersection? William Morris, of course.

It is quite OK if, for you, beauty is essential.

I believe it is--and, I'll take it even further.
I believe beauty is an essential component of being a minimalist. 

One perfect set of dishes, for example, eliminates many that may be just so-so. One perfect pair of jeans replaces five mediocre ones. A pair of perfect mirrors eliminates ten held onto "just in case." The best drill you can afford, the best couch makes so many other less satisfactory purchases unnecessary. (In fact, I read on a blog somewhere that someone's father had given her the advice to buy the best bed, table, and couch she could afford and all the rest would sort itself out. I wish I had had that advice!) This is one of those lessons you can learn after much trial and error (and money wasted) or you can embrace from the get-go. 

One doesn't need much, (that's the minimilaist part) but what one has--that can be beautiful (the "decor" part). 

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Being Home

Today was a day off. 

A long awaited, much anticipated, jealously guarded day off.

A day off work.

A day off dealing with my Mom and her house.

A day off from feeling stress and panic and worry and anxiousness.

There were times in the past six weeks that I felt like little pops of sweat or something were just exploding out from the pores of my skin. Just like in the comics.

That didn't happen today.

I felt a bit lost. A lot relieved. Grateful for your wonderful comments. Tired. (Though I slept 11 hours, I think). Still tired.

And very happy I could finally turn my attention to my own home.

I concentrated on the bathrooms and the kitchen. My desk is a comfortable mess and I left it that way. Just sort of took a stab at the living room. I got the machines going. Changed three lightbulbs so I could see. We know what to do.

I'm not done. There's more to attend to. But I am treating it like a treat--like I get to lavish some love on my things and wash, and wash, and fold and fluff and putter. Love puttering.

It's good to be home--even if it isn't perfect.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

ORC 6b: The Final Act. The Tiniest Dressing Room

Tiny, but fierce.

We're done. The One Room Challenge (tm) for the Fall of 2015, hosted by Linda of Calling it Home, is officially over. Mom is thrilled with her dressing room. I won't lie--this was extremely challenging--in almost every way--and I am glad it's over. The room reveals of the 20 invited participants were truly inspiring, as were those of my fellow guest participants. They were just what I needed to tidy up those last little details and get this puppy done.

If you're joining me for the first time, I took on the challenge of transforming a weird little space at my Mom's house into a glamorous dressing room for her. She loves drama and glitter and gold. So, that's what we did.

In week one, I showed you what we were dealing with, the floor pan and my inspiration: Creating a Dressing Room from Chaos.

Week two was all about getting the dratted closet out: Down and Out, or is that Out and Down?

Unfortunately, so, too, was week three: Coming out of  the Closet, No Wait, it's the Closet Coming Out!

I learned why dry walling is a professional's job in week four. From Dry Walling to Walls Drying.

And in week five, I learned how to lay vinyl planking--and assembled Ikea pax units for days and days (and days): The Infrastructure is In!

A few days ago, I let you all know I'd be late to the reveal party and showed you the state of the room in The Walking Deadline.

And so here we have it.

When you come up the stairs, there are two "rooms" on either side of the stair railings. I am standing in one of them taking the picture below. As you can see, we put up sheers to give Mom some privacy. (I think we'll attach another set so that they are more opaque.)

Here's the entrance.

The print (of a work by Georgia O'Keefe) is to the right of the photo, just out of frame.

Quite the difference from before:

Turning the corner, we had an awkward hallway ending in a closet.

Now we have this:

Let's take a closer look, shall we?

I spray painted a chair Mom already had and she made the pillow. Nothing says glamorous like leopard!

Beside the vanity is the sweater tower.

A closer look at that lovely valence;

Isn't the Trumeau mirror fabulous? My husband made it for me this past week. I was inspired by this site. 

There's 14 inches between the pax units and the wall--just enough room to hang a rod for her fabulous dresses.

The shoe shelves are all that's left of the old closet.

There's a story behind these gold frames.

Originally, this wall was going to display Mom's jewelry on all sorts of hooks and knobs. But, she hated the idea. Absolutely did not want to "clutter" up the wall with bangles and necklaces and what all. To add insult to injury--my husband agreed!

Mom says she has some pictures she'd like to hang--but she can't find them and can't think where they might be. Running out of time, I decided I would buy three Ikea brown wood Ribba frames and hang something in them. Probably scarves.

We get to Ikea late one night only to discover they are being discontinued. Dear heavens. But wait, look, there's a display of three of them! We take them to As Is to have them priced--and as we were negotiating the price with the As Is person--the glass in one of the frames broke. And there's no more glass. And that's when I started to cry. In Ikea.

As it turned out, Mom found her pictures, I went back to Ikea and picked up a gold frame and found the perfect scarf in her collection.

I love it. Love it.

Aren't these ladies just fabulous? Mom found them for 99 cents each at Value Village:

And that, my friends, is that.

Thank you so much for being a part of this with me.

Friday, November 13, 2015

From the One Room Challenge: Masterful Closets

The One Room Challenge is an incredibly demanding event. Not only is the time frame a genuine challenge (and it is five weeks, not six, as the first post supposedly marks the beginning of the first week--and the sixth and final post is at the end of a week. You manage to lose a week that way). The bar is set incredibly high by the wonderful individuals Linda invites to participate as the sponsored challengees.

There  are twenty such dynamos who inspire the rest of us--and there were quite a few of the rest of us this round--over 175 linked up as "guests." As I tend to become somewhat obsessed,  I went searching for individuals who, like me, had chosen to take on a closet make-over. It was fun to follow their progress. So, here's a nice little round up of closets from the ORC.

There was only one invited participant who worked on a closet. Cassandra of Coco and Kelley created this ethereal dressing room/lounge. So pretty.

There were four guests who worked on their closets.

Anne is a girl after my own heart. She knocked down walls, too. She was able to get more pax units into her space, though. I love all the light this closet has.

I wish we had had as much space to work with as Ashley's did with her dressing room. Goodness knows, Mom could use it!

This was fun to watch. Tammy and her husband planned and built their very own custom closet. Tammy even hung wallpaper for the first time. You go, girl!

Lovely details in this closet. Melissa  has some serious skills with acrylic! I love her pink and navy colour scheme.

And finally, if you'd like to see how Mom's little dressing room compares, here's a sneak peak!

Congratulations to everyone who participated--no matter what your project was or how far your project progressed. We are all a lot further than we were a mere five weeks ago!  And some of us have lovely spaces, indeed. Thank you, Linda.

Update: The dressing room is done! You can see it here.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

ORC 6: The Walking Deadline

A.L.M.O.S.T. there--but not quite.

I am converting a funny little leftover space at my Mom's into a dressing room for a five week on-line decorating challenge called the One Room Challenge. It is hosted by Linda at Calling it Home. Every Wednesday twenty invited and sponsored bloggers post progress on their projects. On Thursdays, anyone insane enough to join can link up.

That'd be me--and 170 others.

Catch up on former weeks:

Week 1: Creating a Dressing Room from Chaos
Week 2: Down and Out or is that Out and Down?
Week 3: Coming Out of the Closet, No Wait, that's the Closet Coming Out.
'Week 4: From Dry Walling to Dry Walls

Ugh. This project just won't go away. I'm done--but it's not.

It's all those tiny little details that you figure won't take long--but always do. In fairness to myself, though, I knew we were a week behind when I posted last week. But I am ever-optimistic. "Too optimistic" say some. (ahem).

Just because what can go wrong will go wrong--especially when you most need it not too.

I bought four lampshades and three light fixtures this week for the vanity. I cried in Ikea. The sheer volume of clothing and shoes my mother owns is utterly overwhelming to me. The three pax units we purchased and assembled are no where near enough--she has three to four times as many clothes as will fit into the dressing room.

There's no room in the room for the bench. It had been going to store her sweats--now she has nowhere to put them.

We haven't figured out her jewellery. She has vetoed every idea I had and I am out of them.


Pictures still need to be hung.

You'll notice that one of them hasn't any content. Another detail.

Clothes, too.

I didn't pick up any hangers specifically for skirts. I haven't seen her in a skirt in a long time, and I don't have any, personally, so I just didn't think of it. Another detail.

Ditto the wire for the privacy shears.

Chris is re-drilling the holes. I'd originally put them too close to the wall.

The drapes are sewn (yay Mom) and hung--just setting the pleats.

FYI: Planning pleats is hard. 

And this.

Mom's Big Book of Rembrandt paintings (or maybe it's on Renaissance paintings) has been very useful in this project!

This is part of a mirror building project that due to measuring errors on my part and my husband's determination to make it work for me caused, well, you know one of those bitter, nasty, high volume discussions that couples get into.


So. we're all tired and stressed and it's not over yet....

Soon. Please God, soon.

Please congratulate the other guest participants, here and the invited participants here. Their finished rooms are quite inspiring.

Update: Woohoo! It's done. Come see.

Punch List:
Empty out every last little thing
Take down remaining shelving
Tear down closet   
Repair dry wall and rebuild closet bit
Prep and paint walls 
Tear out carpet, underlay (padding), and staples.
Put in plywood for floor and level.
Lay down new flooring
Buy new light fixture(s)
Install new light fixture(s)
Sew window treatment
Install drapery wall for privacy and doorway
Find a bench/make one
Cover the bench Not using it.
Buy one pax wardrobe
Assemble 3 Pax Wardrobes
Reconfigure floor vent --not doing it.
Put down a threshold strip
Install closet rod(s)
Install shoe shelves
Egads, I just thought of it--baseboards! We need baseboards! Installed!
Figure out Jewellery storage/display
Move clothes back in.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

ORC 5: The Infrastructure is In!

What a week! We made a lot of progress. Lots and lots of hours on my knees, though!

It's all about the plywood, this week.


Oh goodness! Laying a floor is not for the weak of knee. 

We decided to lay vinyl planks. The floor underneath needs to be absolutely level. For some reason, the floor inside the former closet wasn't level with the floor outside it. It also moved a lot.

Mom had her contractor come over and look at it for us. He advised me to put down a 3/4" piece of plywood and screw it down every six inches on square. 

As a result of some very tired math calculations--I got a piece much, much too large. I got 6' by 4' when all I needed was 4 feet by 30 inches! 

So, Mom got out a small skill saw and cut it in that room, barely five feet wide. I would have gotten a picture, but I had to hold my 18 month old nephew. (Yes, through out all this, my mother is looking after a toddler.)

I got it screwed down.

44 screws.

It doesn't move anymore.

Then came the leveling compound. Our goal was to simply level out the unevenness--to create gradual dips and rises instead of abrupt ones. If this were any other room, I'd have planed down the offending bits. 

This particular patch was a do-over three times! First, the toddler and the cat walked through it. Then, after I'd patched it--I walked in it! 

Without baseboards to keep everything square, the perimeter of a vinyl plank floor is supposed to be secured with adhesive--so that's what we did. In the areas where there is unevenness, we found we had to put weight on top to keep the edges down.

I ran into trouble. The last pieces were to be no more than two inches wide. Two inches! Those boards were not easy to cut. In fact, it probably took me as long to cut four planks into two inch wide pieces as it took me to lay the entire floor. Seriously.

The Shoe Shelves

Mom's shoes will be housed in the little nook left over after from the former closet.

But first, before I could put up the shelves for the shoes, I had to cover up the big hole in the wall:

These are the pipes for the bathtub. We wanted to make sure we maintained access to them, so I painted another plywood panel and screwed it in. 

My panel is absolutely square. It is the former construction crew who left a mess of an opening like that. It took some effort to be that sloppy.

My husband cut down some former shelves (twice! I was quite challenged in the measuring department this week.) He also painted them for us--and ta da--shelves for shoes!

I also painted the balustrades and railing and the window trim.
Mom and I assembled the three pax units, too. Whoo hoo! 

Hooray for infastructure!
Now for the clothes--and the pretties.


The pocket-book took quite the hit this week. I bought:
  • a rug on-line--it's arrived, already.
  • three light fixtures so Mom could choose which one she wanted-- returned two.
  • fabric from Tonic Living for recovering the bench. It has arrived. It only took a week.
  • fabric for full length pleated drapes. A valence just isn't going to be enough coverage.
  • another pax unit and shelves from Ikea. I am calling it her sweater tower.
  • hardware to hang the shoe shelves.
  • tchotkes for the vanity
  • 96 slim-line hangers
  • artwork
  • plywood

  • more paint
  • two new light switches and a new switch plate.
  • HVAC supplies for redirecting the heating vent. Why? Because this:

Yep--a heating duct right underneath the sweater tower.

Punch List:
Empty out every last little thing
Take down remaining shelving
Tear down closet   
Repair dry wall and rebuild closet bit
Prep and paint walls 
Tear out carpet, underlay (padding), and staples.
Put in plywood for floor and level.
Lay down new flooring
Buy new light fixture(s)
Install new light fixture(s)
Sew window treatment
Install drapery wall for privacy and doorway
Find a bench/make one
Cover the bench
Buy one pax wardrobe
Assemble 3 Pax Wardrobes
Reconfigure floor vent
Put down a threshold strip
Install closet rod(s)
Install shoe shelves --almost there! Hubs is making three more.
Egads, I just thought of it--baseboards! We need baseboards!
Figure out Jewellery storage/display
Move clothes back in.

If you'd like to catch up:
Week 1: Creating a Dressing Room from Chaos
Week 2: Down and Out or is that Out and Down?
Week 3: Coming Out of the Closet, No Wait, that's the Closet Coming Out.
Week 4: From Dry Walling to Dry Walls

If you have time, please check out my fellow ORC enthusiasts at Calling it Home.

Some of the professionals (who post on Wednesdays) are in quite a pickle, aren't they?
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