Sunday, June 10, 2012

Finally, A Home Office

Last week I made a list of things to get done on the house. Since I wasn't supposedly doing anything insane like making a list of EVERYTHING that needed to be done to the WHOLE house, I called it my Little List.

Yah. Well. I'll point out that two of my last five posts were about alcohol consumption, and one was about cookies. I'll let you figure it out.

I still made too ambitious a list. I've learned in the last two weeks that a "little" list for me should look more like this:

1. Paint that wall. Just that wall. Sometime before you are forced to sell and go into the nursing home.

End list.

The "take-away" from this (besides a few extra gray hairs and an awesome sangria recipe) was little lists, even given an entire week's vacation, need to be SMALL. Like, three items with time built in for extra trips to the hardware store, attacks of neuroses, and random dumb crap. Seriously. You need a dumb crap margin. Who knew. Now I do.

One thing I did get done was conquer the clutter in the room off the foyer of the house, which we call the Front Room. It was the only place I was likely to find the workspace I need to do my part-time freelance writing. But it's also a portmanteau, a room that's also got to be a little bit library, a little bit coat room, and let's be honest here, a little bit "I don't know what to do with this (fill in the blank), so I'll just dump it here" room. That's why there's a big fat loveseat stuck in there with a future elsewhere and in the meantime being used as a coat rack.

[DISCLAIMER: What follows is a collection of photos that set my teeth on edge. Photographing a dark wood paneled room at any time of the day is an endeavor made of fail, and it's been noted I'm not a photographer to begin with.]

You saw the before photo. It's the one place where a bad picture is actually okay, because it contributes to conveying the overall badness of the visual:

You can tell a successful gal lives here.
I removed some remaining carpet tack strip left behind in the move-in frenzy, cleaned, organized, put down an new rug, hung art, rearranged furniture slightly and got rid of a vintage kitchen cart that was NOT working as printer stand, though it was working great as a garbage stuffer and toe-stubber. The room was put together with items I already had (the rug is the big exception), and that determined the color scheme. However, the aqua, coral, and pear tones seemed to make the wood paneling less stark feeling and more homey.

I took down the broken shutters and put up cafe curtains, which were refitted from a handmade curtain from another use. The dresser moved from one wall to another. It was $15 from a yard sale a few years ago, repainted by me; the replacement knobs were ridiculously more expensive than the dresser itself. The chair is $5 garage sale find, painted and re-upholstered by me.

Here's another before and after, from the opposite end of the room:
I wouldn't have been entirely surprised if we'd found D.B. Cooper hiding in the mess on the left.
This sofa will be moving to the basement lounge room when it's done being remodeled, and a desk will take its place when the family computer moves into this location. (Hey. I TOLD you this was a portmanteau room). The quilt is one I dragged out of a barrel full of farm implements in a barn somewhere near Bay City, Michigan. It was in near perfect condition, and I paid $20. The pattern is called New York Beauty. The bolster in front of it was made from an antique runner, but I've decided right now while writing this post and looking at that photo it doesn't belong there. Too lacy and fussy.

Below are the fabrics used in making the cafe curtains, both from Michael Miller from a few years ago:
What the poor lighting and less-than-stellar photography fail to convey is that the colors in the fabric are a little more subdued than they appear, and the carpet just a little brighter. The colors in both blend perfectly in reality.

Above is a little desk detail. The desk is a little Arts and Crafts oak desk. The photo is of me and my sister from a few years ago. I love it because, well, we cleaned up better than usual. The rock is shaped like the letter "L," and my sister found it for me while we were on the trail along Cabin Creek in the Buffalo National River in Arkansas.  The two aqua planters/vases are unmarked though I suspect they are McCoy. The one on the right holds business cards, paper clips and bits and pieces. The little wood duck is a hand carved piece from my Great Uncle Leonard.

Commence bad owl jokes now:

The owl mirror is one that a good friend found in her garage (are you done yet, Sherry?) and gave to me because she knew I'd think it was a....hoot (I warned you).

The Doily of Crazy Colors (that's its official name in my house) was made by my Great Grandmother. The aqua McCoy planter belonged to my Great Aunt Ruby, and I'm using it to throw car keys and sunglasses in when I come home. The monster face is kid art. The mail sorter has a vintage flash card thrown into the front of it. I haven't quite decided yet what "I will not." Um, here: I will not eat rhubarb, wear plaid pants, or eat at buffet restaurants. Discuss.

The artwork is from my kids, popped into frames I already owned, which were spray painted Krylon Avocado. I love that Ben drew this beautiful bird, but was disinclined to finish his sky. I love that two flowering branches were deemed enough, and a third erased. In the top drawing, Noah decided that dragons lived in my coffee cups. I only wish. 

Over on the other side of the window, an inspirational housewarming gift from a friend. Below that, a little collage piece I put together for myself. The Western Bureau was what my friends called the apartment I lived in before I bought the house. It was a flat in an historic dairy building just west of the news media outlet where I worked. The quote below is from Irish writer Brendan Behan; "I'm actually a drinker with a writing problem."

Below, the trash can solution:
Before I'd been using the one on the left, which is actually a plastic 70s era planter. But it was too big and clunky, and I was always knocking it over. The one on the right is a piece of Italian pottery I picked up nobody-knows-where, is actually quite a bit more compact than the planter, too heavy to tip easily, and the aqua color is perfect.

From the chapter called "keeping it real:"

Yup. It's an old milk delivery crate full of shoes. I've fully given up on the idea that my boys were going to neatly line up all their kicks on a rug. This isn't attractive, but it keeps the shoes corralled up in one place, and real people live here.

Though this room has some issues (which is why you really only saw two sides) that are going to require some remodeling and repairing down the road, this little two-day project helped get it into more presentable shape until those bigger changes can take place.

So we don't leave the blog post with a picture of a bin of shoes (and you should be thanking your lucky stars now that blogs don't come in scratch and sniff) I'll leave you with a view of one of the built-in shelves with all my aqua vases.

Next week I'll review some of my other accomplishments from Little List Week. You know, the ones beside drinking and eating cookies.


  1. Great job on the office! It looks awesome and I love your aqua vases!!! Those curtains are super cute too! I totally get how insanely LONG it takes to do anything....Mom and I spent probably 2 hours just pulling wallpaper up from under her mirror in the bathroom! :)

    ps- that quote is hee-larious!

    1. Isn't it the truth? I think shows like HGTV have ruined our concept of how long this stuff takes. When I think of how long you guys just waited on loosening those old shower valve stems.....well, my eyes roll back in my head. And thanks for the encouragement!

  2. Everything looks just perfect. I love your color combos. And "dumb crap margin" - ha! amen to that! It looks like a great place to go now and feel peaceful and calm. While you're considering working on the rest of that list!

    1. Thank you! It is cozy, and with the loveseat cleared off, I think any future lists will include "regular naps."

  3. It looks great, Laura! I love all the personal touches, like the boys' artwork, the most.

    (P.S. You can send any rhubarb you don't want my way.)

    1. Thanks, Janelle. The boys' artwork makes my heart go warm every time I look at it. Right near a work space seemed the perfect place to put it!