Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Hallway Makeover

Over the last two weekends we spent some time revamping the basement hallway. Not only was the hallway painted a hideous greige color, but it also wasn't as functional as I hoped it could be.

See, the basement hallway is right off the back door, which we use as our primary entrance. My house seriously lacks entry space. The front door opens right into the living room; no foyer, no entryway, certainly nothing as convenient as a closet. Just the front door right in the frick in the middle of the living room.

The back door isn't much better. It opens directly into the kitchen. There's no sun porch, no mudroom, no closet, just a teeny bit of space next to my "pantry" and a hallway to the basement.

I have been ruminating over how to transform the hallway to add more storage, especially shoe storage, for months now. Finally, I decided to get off my duff and go for it. Then in a 10-minute consultation with the Boy, we solved the shoe storage issue as well. After some carpentry work by The Boy, and painting by me, we turned an eyesore into a wonderful blanding strip (basement landing strip).

The shoe storage was made by adding a board to an existing ledge. It's MUCH better than having shoes pile up in the middle of the floor.

We also added key and mail storage, and more hanging space.

What you can't see in the before pic, is that we removed the bifold double door to the basement which was never used anyway. The entire space feels much more open now, and I love the continuation of the kitchen color in the hallway.

Did I mention no more piles of shoes by the door? Bliss.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Easy Peasy

Over the past months and now years I've been focused on decluttering, I've pretty much purged the easy stuff. Clothes that don't fit or are stained and torn, things I never use and don't care about, magazines, etc. were all tossed without agony.

Now that most of the easy stuff is gone, progress is much slower. My urge to purge is stronger than ever, stronger in fact that my ability to let go of a lot that's left. That's why to satisfy my urge-to-purge and keep making progress, I find it helpful to tackle an easy decluttering project now and then.

So far this weekend I tackled two.

1. Easy target #1: Under the Bed

There's no room in my tiny bedroom for end tables, so a lot of clutter ends up getting shoved under the bed. What is supposed to be a temporary fix ends up becoming a dust-bunny wonderland. On Friday I came home and dragged everything out from under the bed and decluttered. It was an easy win that felt great.

The stuff lurking under my bed

Decluttered: One pair of ugly brown shoes with pink bows (Yes, really. WTF was I thinking when I bought those?), pair of black heels that hurt my feet, empty shoeboxes, clothes, metal case and trash.

kicked to the curb

2. Easy Target #2: Junk drawers

While surfing last night I stumbled upon the 21-day challenge on a new-to-me blog, A Bowl Full of Lemons. The first challenge? Declutter a junk drawer. Easy, relatively-quick and definitely something that needed to be done. I immediately jumped up and did two.

Decluttered: Trash, filled notepad, loose notes, etc.

junk drawer #1

junk drawer #2

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Happy Weekend!

We enjoyed two entire rain-free days (a rarity this year!) this weekend.
The Boy and I put them to good use.

We visited my favorite garden center and made our veggie selections for 2011.
Choosing tomatoes always takes me forever.
I also managed to find some more flowers I had to have.

Then we tucked the seedlings away in their new homes.
This year the Boy learned how and planted his peppers all by himself.

I prettied up the front porch, even though the mailman is the only one who uses it.

We also tackled the first project of 2011, sprucing up the basement stairway, which also serves as our entry closet. Here's a sneak peak; it's not ready for the big quite reveal yet.

We even found time for some R&R and a bike ride.

I couldn't have planned a better weekend really.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Now You See It

I loved the little white picket fence in front of min hus from the moment I first saw it.

But six years later, that little fence is looking neglected. At first I thought it could make do with a coat of paint, but when I trimmed the bushes a few weeks ago I saw that it needed more than that. Boards have dry rotted. The whole fence needs to be replaced. There goes another big project for the to-do list.

But this morning I had another idea. Do I really need a fence? Plastic fences look so, well, plasticy and a new wood fence will eventually need more maintenance. What could be more simple than getting rid of the fence altogether?

Hmmm... I think it could work. Thoughts?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Minimalist Fail

Last Saturday the Boy and I loaded our trusty Civics to the brim and drove 45 minutes to sell our crap in my mom's community yard sale. I had been dreading this for weeks because although I have some stuff I'd like to sell, garage sales never work out for me.

The Boy however had a lot of stuff to sell, stuff that was taking up space in the attic, stuff that could actually sell and make money, so I went along mostly to help him and my mom. Sure I was hoping to make some money too, but deep down I knew that wasn't likely.

Are you wondering where the failure part comes in yet? Hang on, it's coming.

I was already grouchy as we packed the cars. The point of how much energy and time our useless crap takes up became crystal clear as I added up the time spent gathering crap to sell, cleaning it, pricing it, packing it, plus the hours of the actual sale itself. And don't even get me started on how much money I wasted on crap I never used or barely used.

At least, I reassured myself, this would be the last time I ever had to do this again. I promised myself I would never again stray from my usual method of packing crap up and donating it to the local Volunteers of America.

The sale itself went more smoothly than expected. When it ends, my mom is happy, the Boy is very happy, and I made my best haul ever, a whopping $50. Yes, 50 bucks for well over 8 hours of time by my estimates. Completely. Not. Worth. It!

The Boy had enough stuff left over that he announced he would be participating in our neighborhood sale next month. Not me, I said, I'm done. I'm out of the yard sale business.

So we begin packing up our wares and deciding what we would take home and what we would donate to the charity who came to take any worthy leftovers each year, when my mom offers to give us her donations to sell at our sale and keep any money made. The Boy heartily agrees, and even I, greedy with the thought of making some extra dough, said yes.

So we go from being able to fit everything in just the Boy's hatchback to....wait for it.....stuffing our cars even more full with crap to take home than it was when we arrived that morning. Yes, we left the yard sale with more crap than we came with.

I was fuming before we even finished packing the car. Mad at myself for getting so caught up in the prospect of an extra buck or two that I readily agreed to do another day's worth of something I truly detest. The lesson of just donate it that I'd promised myself I wouldn't forget? Already gone. Le sigh.

Self, repeat after me: Yard sales are NOT simple! Donating your crap is simple.

image credit: Jan Tik

Sunday, May 8, 2011

The Declutterbug Returns

Gip Plaster had a great post on Friday about the importance of keeping the decluttering conversation alive, which inspired my post today.

If you check my clutter busters category, you'll see posts from many of my on and off decluttering efforts. I doubt I'm unique in that I will often get the declutter bug for a few months or weeks, then motivation wanes and I let the effort go, and on the cycle goes. There is no shame in this. I don't think decluttering should feel like punishment because actually, when done in the right frame of mind, it can be tremendously fun and liberating.

Like I recommended in this long ago post, decluttering is an ongoing effort. What you might not be ready to part with today, might be easily purged six months from now. So let go what you can and reevaluate your items again in the future. Slow and steady progress is still progress.

Though I've taken more carloads of crap out of my house in the last few years than I care to remember, there's still clutter left. A shining example of this is my area of shame, aka the attic. Anyone who is fooled into thinking I'm an aspiring minimalist would quickly forget this notion if they saw the attic.

Yesterday the Boy and I attacked the attic with two purposes in mind: to attempt another clean up and find more stuff to get rid of at next week's yard sale. I also needed some fuel for my newly revived urge to purge.

The picture above, believe or not, is actually an improvement than what it was before we started, given there is a clear walking path down the middle.

The results of yesterday's purge fest?
  • At least a carload of items for the yardsale, most of which are the boy's

  • Three bags of trash, including items I inherited from previous owners when I bought the house but hadn't yet disposed of (hey, it's only been five years!)

  • One bag of items to donate including clothing and sheets

  • At least a carload of cardboard and paper to recycle
See updates to the Dearly Decluttered list if you want the nitty gritty details.

I also managed to sell this Mersman end table on Craigslist, and thanks to listening to the Boy's unfailing pricing advice, made $10 more than I originally paid when I bought it off Craigslist. I can't tell you how excited this made me.


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