Tuesday, February 24, 2009

February, Week Four: Creating a Bedroom You Love

I haven't exactly followed Leeds' program for the bedroom--instead, I've created my own. The closet was the first thing I tackled, ahead of when it was scheduled in the book. And I ended up finishing the bedroom this weekend, without reading Week Four.

However, I haven't quite created "a bedroom I love." That will have to wait until I finish the rest of my organizing. I have committed to decluttering and organizing before I settle into home improvement, which is what the bedroom ultimately needs: new paint and a new floor, at the very least.

In Week Four, Leeds gives more guidance on organizing one's closet. She suggests organizing clothing by color (which I have been doing, more or less, for years now--got one thing right!). She also suggests using clear shoe racks and organizing one's purses.

Here are some other closet suggestions: having everything face the same direction (check), using one type of hangers (haven't quite achieved that, but I did get rid of the wire hangers), throwing away plastic covers from the cleaners, keeping specific types of clothing together (N/A), arranging everything in color order (check), and keeping shoes off the floor (check).

Leeds also makes recommendations for reorganizing one's purse. This is one area where I don't have too many clutter issues: I've always been a light packer, whether I'm traveling or just going out and about, and I don't carry too many unnecessary things in my purse...and I regularly clean it out. Leeds looks in her purse every evening and pulls out the things she's added that day (e.g., receipts). I'm not quite that methodical, but in general this is an area that I seem to have control over.

Leeds does not like metal hangers that hold multiple pairs of pants or skirts and recommends that the reader "ditch" them. I bought a couple of such hangers a few years ago, and I actually like them--with a small closet, I find that they help me keep my pants accessible. They are kind of a pain sometimes...but they are a space saver and I'm keeping them. She also dislikes sweater hangers, and as I mentioned earlier in the month, I did get rid of one of those, in addition to a shoe hanger. I'm going to put them in my kids' closets, where there is a lot more room (oddly, both of the kids' bedrooms have walk-in closets, unlike the master bedroom).

Finally, Leeds discusses ways to create your own bedroom sanctuary. I'm not quite at that place yet...but I hope to return to that task after I get the rest of my life organized. At least, for now, we have some peace and order in our bedroom!

My mother-in-law has been asking to see our before and after photos, so here they are in all their decrepit glory. And I just have to clarify to her that we HAVE dusted in the past 2 years!

Because our bedroom is on our main floor, it tends to be the room where everything gets dumped, and the kids gather (in our bed). Therefore, the bed and room seem to attract a lot of kid clutter on a regular basis!

These photos are really embarassing!! Look at those horrible dressers! Can you believe we were living in that chaos and going to sleep every night looking at that?

Buried in all the clutter was a beautiful ceramic blessing bowl a dear friend gave me. I have NEVER used it. But now that I can see it, at last, I intend to fill the bowl with written blessings. I would also like to find a way to hang more of our photos so that we clear off even more dresser space.

The basket on the side of my bed has been there for at least 2 years, if not longer, ever since I was on maternity leave. It was full of books, journals, and other stuff. I cleaned out my bedside table so that I could keep some of the books in the bedside table...and voila, a clean floor!

Look at that eyesore! Previously I posted photos of our clean closet (still clean).

I have to give full credit to my lovely husband, who very willingly purged his clothing, cleaned out his bedside table (inside and top), and cleaned out and off his dresser...and vacuumed when we were all done! He's also been helping to keep the kitchen clean since January!
Now that I'm done with the bedroom, I'm going to use the remainder of February to keep purging items from the kids' bedrooms and the study (which will be the focus for March).
Given that the study is the worst room in the house (with possible exception of our former cat's room in the basement, filled with stuff), it is going to take me all month to tackle it! I know my mother-in-law is waiting with bated breath, and will be completely shocked if we actually plow our way through the mess! (Hi, Olga!)
Onward and upward!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Our Family Is Drowning in Books!!

This afternoon, I dragged myself up (still being sick) to one of the upstairs bedrooms to start burying my way through the crap. We have two bedrooms for three boys, and right now the two older ones are in the larger bedroom, but it's all temporary. Eventually...when the 2-year-old starts sleeping through the night (when hell freezes over?)...the two younger ones will share the larger room. Chris (the 12-year-old) is not too keen on that idea, because it involves giving up the bedroom he's had since he was three. But for now, he's putting up with having a 5-year-old camp in his room.

At any rate, both rooms are trash heaps, for two reasons: (1) the temporary nature of the sleeping arrangements, such as the crib set up in one room that is no longer used because the 2-year-old was jumping out of it, and (2) as my mom once said, our kids seem to love messes. I really do believe that's true.

What's worsening the situation is that Nicholas (2) is going through another phase where he loves to pull everything out of drawers, cupboards, purses, you name it. He has gone through these phases before and then passed out of it, so we can only hope.

I went upstairs today to start tackling one of the bedrooms. I've only made a small dent in it, alas, but at least it's a dent. At one point last year I had made quite a bit of headway in the room and even cleaned out the walk-in closet, but one evening we had friends over and all the kids trashed the place. The closet hasn't been cleaned up since then.

I'm coming to the conclusion that our children use only about 20 to 25 % of what they own...if that. So I'm trying to be somewhat brutal in discarding things. We have a huge quantity of stuffed animals, but they hardly ever play with them. (They seem to prefer the little plastic characters!) We are overloaded with books, books, and more books! Plus we are constant users of not one, but two, libraries!, so do we really need to own so many books?

Much of what I was doing today involved going through books and designating piles for paperbackswap.com, the consignment store, and Goodwill. While at the consignment store this afternoon, I heard one woman say that Goodwill will no longer take a lot of toys because of the new lead rules. So now I'm going to feel even more guilty getting rid of the toys, but it can't be helped.

The owner of the shop told me that she heard recently that keys have lead in them. I just looked it up--sure enough. How many parents have let their babies play with their keys? Good God! What will we discover next?

I forgot to take a before-and-after photo of the bedroom. It's still a mess, but not as bad as it was. I'll have to remember to take a photo of the other one, once I get brave enough to go in there.

My goal is to clean and organize the rooms reasonably well so that when it's time to do the bedroom shift, it will be much easier.

I haven't finished our bedroom yet, but I figured that while I had time during the day (and the kids were out of the house, with Mike at the children's museum), I should take advantage of it.

More on "Not Buying It"

My organizing activities have slowed down quite a bit this week because I caught my 2-year-old's cold/flu bug! However, I took the day off today so I'm hoping I can drag myself upstairs to start on the kids' bedrooms, even though I'm still feeling great.

This morning I finished Judith Levine's Not Buying It. Levine and her partner Paul decided to go for a year without buying anything beyond food, personal care items, and bare essentials (such as the New York Times). You can read my full review on GoodReads.com, if you're interested. But here are some random points related to the topic of this blog:
  • Levine points out the irony of Real Simple magazine: Mike gave me a copy of Real Simple featuring organizing lists for Epiphany...and although I enjoyed reading it and got some ideas out of it, in general it does promote shopping! Although it does promote some positive, simplifying ideas, it also encourages the reader to buy new, expensive, shiny and simple-looking products. The title of the magazine is somewhat deceptive, I agree.
  • Because she's not buying books, she becomes a big library patron (as am I). Where we differ is that I live in the beautiful, book-loving city of Portland, Oregon, where we always pass library bonds and fund our libraries adequately. She talks about the distressing state of most of our public libraries, and her difficulty in finding good reference books for such simple things as making silk flowers. I feel very lucky that I do not have to deal with that, and I am a huge believer in library funding!!
  • I am dismayed at Levine's refusal to pay more than $0.25 per visit when she goes to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The "suggested donation" was $12 at the time of writing the book. She's chagrined at the cashiers' consistent lack of thank yous for her paltry donation. She believes that the Met is so wealthy that it doesn't need her money. This is not because of her year of not buying it, but simply because she is being a skinflint. In fact, she saves $8,000 that year. Couldn't she have given a little of it to the museum? Even $5 or 6?
  • Levine goes to visit a man named Richard, who lives far off the grid. He explains why he keeps his small amount of money out of the bank, because it's "more likely than not your money will be financing some venture that is unfair to people, unfriendly to the earth, or both. In a bank or stocks, money gets up to no good. It's filthy lucre." Very good point. In our daily lives, we constantly make compromises, in our purchases and our investments. Levine does, too, when she has to buy clothing for her elderly father who is in stages of advanced dementia. She opts for the inexpensive, sweatshop variety of clothing for him--not only because it is cheap, but also because he wouldn't care what it looked like. Another compromise, as she realizes all too well.
  • Again, another reason to be grateful for Portland, Oregon: Levine and her partner save their hazardous wastes and take them to a disposal site and pay $23 to get rid of them. In Portland, our METRO government has regular hazardous waste collection days. As she says, "in America, saving the earth is something of a bourgeois consumer privilege." This is indeed true. The same can be said for eating healthy.
  • Levine does cave in a couple of times to buy items of clothing. On one occasion, she describes the appeal of going shopping and buying something fun and flirty. I have to confess that I have experienced that rush as well...usually for me it's finding something delightful at a great bargain. If I pay too much for something, I usually feel guilty about it. Lately, I've been trying to stay out of the stores unless I have a specific purpose, and focus on organizing and offloading instead.
  • As partner Paul is preparing to install a "closet system," Levine mulls over the whole concept of household organization, including closet systems. Just think: The Container Store, Hold Everything, Linens and Things, and other storage stores hardly existed 20 years ago, and now they are everywhere. We have more CRAP, and we need more places to store it. That's not even considering the preponderance of self-storage units out there. Apparently Americans spend about $100 million per year on closet systems. (I am not criticizing all closet system purchases, but just marveling at the fact that we spend so much money organizing all of our stuff!!)

    (Google Facts: The self-storage industry grew from about 289 million square feet in 1984 to nearly 2.2 billion square feet by the end of 2007, according to the Self Storage Association. The average American home has grown from 1,400 square feet in 1970 to 2,300 square feet today, but the average size of the household has shrunk from 3.1 to 2.5.)
  • Levine rants about Bush quite a lot (after all, the year of not buying was 2004, during election season). I was reminded of his great idea to have Americans open private investment accounts for Social Security--remember that grand plan? Where would we all be now if he had been successful? In the toilet even more than we already are. Interesting that Republicans don't talk about that idea any more...further, Levine's observations about American's shopping habits and corporate greed are very timely given today's economic crisis.

I like books like this that make me think about my own habits and lifestyle. I am thinking more carefully about what I am purchasing and how much good I will get out of my purchases. I'm already quite thrifty, but my concern about how many possessions we have (that we don't use much!) is making me think much more carefully about every purchase.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Gee, Thanks!

My knitting friend Katy (our sons have been friends since preschool) nominated me for the Kreativ Blogger award. (I'm not entirely sure what this award is or why it's spelled wrong...but I'm all for spreading the word about blogs!) I gather that it's for blogs about creativity...

Here are the rules:
1. Copy the award to your site.
2. Link to the person from whom you received the award.
3. Nominate 7 other bloggers.
4. Link to those on your blog.
5. Leave a message on the blogs you nominated.

And here are the blogs that I think you should check out.

1. The Year of Living Obsessively, by Jennifer in Arizona. Jennifer found me a via a web search on One Year to an Organized Life. It turns out that we both found the book and had the same idea to blog about our adventures. I especially appreciated the fact that she too has three kids and a disorganized life. It's been really fun to have a blog friend on my journey. Jennifer also has another blog, Broken Bananas, in which she chronicles her own adventures with three kids.

2. Another new blogger friend lives in Arizona and blogs at Life According to Lizzi. I "met" Lizzi via Goodreads--we have similar taste in books--and I love her well-designed and creative blog. She just posted photos of her new house, and it's easy to see that she's an artist at heart.

3. I think I discovered Collage Diva via Lizzi's blog. She is blogging her way through the 12 Secrets of Highly Successful Women, a book I own but have never read! Maybe that will come

4. Lelo in Nopo blogs about Portland living, food, and creative pursuits. I don't her know personally, but she appears to be a highly creative person, and I always enjoy reading her blog.

5. Posie Gets Cozy is another blog about creative pursuits, crafts, cooking, and Portland life. I especially enjoyed her recent post about Portland hill walks.

6. Susan Beal writes West Coast Crafty. She is another Portland blogger who writes about crafts and has recently published a book, Bead Simple.

7. Another crafty blogger who has written a book (Bend-the-Rules Sewing), Amy Karol blogs about her crafting and creativity at Angry Chicken--love that name!

8. And one final nomination, since every single one of these bloggers is a woman. Chris Bohjalian is one of the few novelists I know who regularly blogs. It helps that he writes a column for a local newspaper and can just use his columns...but I always enjoy reading his writing (as well as his novels).

Okay--so I bent the rules a little and tagged eight blogs instead of seven. I hope the blogging gods will forgive me!

Not Buying It

I'm reading Judith Levine's book, Not Buying It, at the moment. The reviews of the book are mixed, but so far I'm enjoying it. She wrote it in 2003, and it's fascinating to note that after 9/11, the Bush administration exhorted and urged people to BUY MORE!!! And look at the mess we are in now.

Here are some interesting points she makes:
  • The average new American home grew 150 to 200 square feet every few years, from 1,660 square feet in 1973 to 2,400 square feet in 2004, with many measuring four times that size.
  • "Interest rates or currency supply want a little nudging by central bankers now and then, and prices and wages may ask for a little bullying by legislators and regulators. But these are just adjustments around the edges. For the most part, Adam Smith's Invisible Hand guides itself." No longer is this the case, as all know too well!
  • There is a business to be made in providing crisis intervention services for people suffering from "disposaphobia." And Ron Alford of Disaster Masters, Inc., has capitalized on this need! I like this term, disposaphobia! It's what my children have...and it's what I fight against every day!! Check out these before and after photos ...they make me feel so much better about my own clutter!

My organizing year is already forcing me to think twice about buying things, and this book comes at a perfect time. Do we really need a new bedroom set, or should we refinish the one we have?

February, Week 3: Take Time for Your Space

I have not been going as great guns this month as I did in January, partly because my kitchen organizing was such a huge project! We have been making headway in our bedroom, but we're not done yet (with the dressers)...so I haven't posted the photos yet.

Last weekend I went through the bin on our floor that was full of all sorts of odd items (!), cleaned out and reorganized my bedside table, got rid of all the stuff by the bed in a basket that has been there since I was on maternity leave, and began working on the top of my dresser. My hubby also cleaned out his bedside table and part of the closet as well.

The lovely thing about cleaning out the bedside table is that I now have room for some of the items (books, etc.) that were in the basket on the floor...such as my One Year to an Organized Life book!

I'm hoping to finish the dresser in a few days...as soon as I recover from the nasty cold/flu that I got from my 2-year-old. I don't feel up to much cleaning today...but blogging is fairly low effort.

February, Week 3 concentrates on creating a shopping list for any tools, further examining how we spend our time, and considering how to maximize closet space.

I guess I should have read this chapter before finishing my closet! Oh well. Someday perhaps I will want to invest in one of those really expensive, fancy closet systems...but for now, we have the basics of one and that's just fine with me.

What's It All About?

Q: Leeds asks how to get your my personal and work environments to support you. Why are you embarking on this organizational process, and what are you seeking? How will this work change your life for the better?

A: I anticipate that a more organized, cleaner space will decrease the stress in my life and improve my overall mood when I am at home. I seek to be able to find things easily, without having to fight through clutter. (Sunday a friend called to ask if they could borrow our DVD of the Lion King. I knew we had it, and Kieran and I found the case...but could we find the DVD itself? No. This is what I want to prevent or at least minimize in the future.)

Q: Has there ever been a time when you knew exactly what you wanted to do with your life? Did you stick to those goals, or did something else force you to take an unexpected direction?

A: I always admired my sister, who knew she wanted to be a doctor at an early age. I have been more likely to just follow the path in front of me, taking detours when they looked interesting or challenging! I knew I wanted to be a mom--I guess that's one thing that I did apply myself to. I never imagined that I would be a publications manager at an engineering firm, though!

Q: Are you in the middle of life changes?

A: Not really. Unless you count the impending teenagerhood of my first child!

Q: What do you do well? Is there any way you could make money using your gifts?

A: Coming up with ideas. Finding creative ways to think about things. Helping people. Buying or making people gifts. Being a friend. Supporting others when they are going through tough times. Planning events. Writing. Leading projects or teams. Networking. Fortunately, my job seems to use many of those talents...I guess I'm lucky!

Q: If you could do anything you wanted in life, what would that be? Dream big.

A: I think I'd be a full-time writer and travel the world. If I were to attempt that, I'd have to take a big pay cut...so at this stage in my life that's not really an option.

Organizing Tools

Leeds then suggests that the reader make a list of organizing tools I need for the bedroom.

Hangers: She likes wooden hangers--I do too, but I'm sticking with the plastic to save $. I did get rid of the old wire ones though.

Shelf Dividers and Stackable Drawers: Check--already have enough of these. Same with acrylic boxes.

Shoe Racks: I used the stackable drawers for my shoes after I got rid of the hanging shoe rack. If I had a bigger cloest, I'd definitely go for shoe racks.

Jewelry Organizers: I have an earring and necklace hanger on the wall (which needs to be dusted) and two jewelry boxes. I like jewelry! None of it is expensive though. I suppose I could try to get down to one jewelry box, but it would probably be hard.

Drawer Organizers: I could probably invest in a few dividers for my sock and underwear drawers.

Belt and Tie Organizers: I don't really wear belts. I put all my scarves (which I also don't wear that often) in a bag on the closet floor. My husband seldom wears ties, but he has a tie hanger.

Leeds suggests that the reader have a closet organizer come out and give a professional design (there is no charge for the design itself). Because I'm trying to do my organizing year inexpensively (especially in this economy), I've elected to work with what I have for the most part.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

In the Drawers

I've been having problems with Blogger lately, so I haven't posted for a few days.

Last weekend I tackled my sock and underwear drawers. Similar to many other orifices in my home, I don't think they'd been cleaned out for years! I took the opportunity to get rid of some of the shabbier articles of clothing and voila, much cleaner drawers! Here are the befores and afters (it's not every day that I show people my underwear drawer!!!):

Tonight Mike and I both cleaned out the drawers of our bedside tables. I found THREE smelly eye mask thingies, two gel eye masks, along with various journals and other things I never use. (I did not buy the eye masks for myself!! They, along with tons of bath products, have been given to me by family members and friends who clearly think I need to do a better job of relaxing!) I also cleared out the basket of books and other stuff that's been on the floor by the side of my bed ever since I was on maternity leave 2 years ago!!! (The contents have changed, but the basket has been there ever since!)
This weekend I'm tackling the top of my dresser...the WORST part of my bedroom.
Good night!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

February, Week Two: Get to the Bottom of Your Closet

I was so excited to tackle my closet that I jumped right in before reading the chapter! It seemed to be the best place to start on our bedroom.

Previously, I had two hanging racks for shoes and sweaters...plus two two-drawered plastic containers, which contained swimsuits, nylons, belts, and scarves. My pajamas were piled up on the plastic containers, and the floor space (out of sight) had tons of purses and other paraphernalia. The top shelf contained sweatshirts and my wedding dress (in a box)!

After going through my closet and consigning clothes to Goodwill (Regina Leeds asks questions in this chapter about whether the reader has emotional or sentimental connections the clothing one keeps--and this is not really the case for me), I followed her suggestions and sacked the shoe and sweater hangers (which were COMPLETELY covered with dust on top!), and it really freed up the space in my closet. My shoes moved into the plastic drawers, and my sweatshirts, nylons, and swimming stuff are now in containers on the top shelf. I rolled up my pajamas and put them in a basket on the floor, along with my various purses and bags. And the scarves are all contained in a purse on the floor as well.

I got rid of all the cheap wire hangers (as Leeds recommends) as well.

Mike has still not gone through his clothes (or shoes--on the very top shelf), but has promised to do so. Although, I must confess, he doesn't have nearly the amount of clothing I do! On the other hand, most of my clothes in the closet are for work...and he can just wear jeans most days.

I am perfectly delighted with my clean closet!!! And now onto the dresser!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Closet Chaos

Sometimes I wish I had a nice, big walk-in closet. Our upstairs bedrooms have walk-in closets, but oddly, the master bedroom does not. I'm sort of a closet hog...I have two-thirds of the closet, at least, and poor Mike has a third! But most of it contains work clothes, so I suppose I have an excuse.

During the last two nights, I've been going through my closet, weeding out items to give away. I've identified several skirts I've had for years and have not worn much, and I've also discovered that I seem to have a preponderance of jackets. My most typical work attire is trousers, top, and a jacket...so there you go. I think, however, that I probably have too many...so I will go back and take another look. I did discard one of the two similar black blazers I own.

I followed Regina Leeds' advice and took down my hanging sweater and shoe dividers, which created a lot more room for my jackets! (Leeds does not like the hanging trouser holders, either, but I'm keeping those--I do find them to be a space saver.) I also got rid of all the cheap wire hangers that have come from the dry cleaners.

I'm putting away my swimming stuff to the very top shelf in the back, since I don't use them often. And I put all my scarves in a bag, and my nylons and tights in plastic containers. This freed up space in the plastic bins on the floor...for my shoes. Let's hope that puts Nicholas off the scent for awhile!!

I should be able to finish the closet by tomorrow and be able to move onto my dresser next. Already, the closet is looking better!!

In the meantime, I'm off to make chicken tortilla casserole for friends who are visiting from Washington DC...in my still-clean kitchen!!! :)

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

February, Week One: Bedroom Questions (continued)

My blogging friend Jennifer has very bravely posted photos of her bedroom. I'm not quite as brave of that. I'm going to wait until I have cleaned and organized areas of my bedroom before I post photos.

But I still have a bit of writing to do before moving on. I still have to make a plan. I'm supposed to list all the improvements and changes I'd like to make in my bedroom. First, I will list what I can do this month, and next, I'll list the things I will do over time. So here we go:

This Month:

1. Go thoroughly through my closet and designate which clothes to donate

2. Go through the dresser and do the same

3. Clean out my closet and reorganize

4. Clean and organize the inside of my dresser

5. Clean the top of my dresser

6. Clean the floor on my side of the bed (I have quite the collection of books and magazines!)

7. Clean out my bedside table

8. Clean the remainder of the floor

9. Help Mike go through his clothes (hint, hint, honey!)

10. Help Mike go through his side of the closet

11. Clean Mike's bedside table

12. Thoroughly dust the room, including baseboards and windows

13. Vacuum

14. Clean the closet doors

15. Wash all the bedding

And Later:

1. Buy a new bedroom set

2. Paint the walls

3. Rip up carpet and decide on flooring

Leeds asks the reader to think about the location of his or her clothing. Is it tossed onto the floor, or draped over a chair? (Confession: Sometimes I drape my clothes over my closet rod because I don't have enough spare hangers accessible to hang them all up.) What else besides clothing is stored in my closet? Shoes, pantyhose, scarves, purses...and clothes to take for dry cleaning or mending. Is there space in my closet or is everything smashed together? Smashed together. I'm already looking forward to applying organization principles to my closet!! Do I have multiple wardrobes in my closet because my weight fluctuates? Thank God, no...although I do generally store my out-of-season clothing in the attic.

And finally, Is the closet floor a shoe graveyard? Now that is indeed a very interesting question...

...Because this little adorable gentleman has recently developed a women's shoe fetish. I have one of those hanging shoe containers in my closet (Regina Leeds highly encourages her readers to reconsider the use of those things, because she thinks they take up too much space)...and Nicholas daily takes out my heels and tromps around the house in them.
Yes, a two-year-old cross dresser. Progressive parents that we are, this is not alarming to us. I mean, can you blame little boys for realizing that women and girls have much better clothing and shoes??? Boys and men's clothes are SO boring! And the shoes don't make nearly as much of a satisfying clomp on wooden floors as pumps do.
So at any rate, I am having a horrible time keeping my shoes organized...and even located in my bedroom. They are ending up all over the house. Yesterday Mike had to keep Nicholas from wearing my boots to go to the grocery store. (I thanked him profusely for that!)
So one of my goals in my bedroom organization will be to put my shoes out of reach somehow. Yes, I will be taking away all of his fun! I might still let him wear my shoes occasionally, but one pair at a time!
Okay, so enough pontificating. Onto the fun part: going through my clothes and purging!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

February, Week One: Bedroom Questions

The focus this week is to diagnose my bedroom's shortcomings, devise a plan for transformation, and take a clinical look at my wardrobe.

Here are some of the questions Leeds covers, and my answers:

Childhood sleeping arrangements: This is an interesting point to ponder, as when I was a child, my parents felt it was important for everyone to have his or her own space. Even though we didn't have tons of money, I always had my own bedroom. Until I was 14, we had a four-bedroom house, and then in my later teen years we had a five-bedroom house. At one point, my sister and I shared a room to try it out, and we enjoyed it, but eventually went back to having separate bedrooms because we liked having our own space.

I have always wanted to give our kids their own rooms, too; however, then we ended up having three kids! In order for each of them to have their own rooms, we'd have to give up our study or family room. (During my childhood, people were less likely to have designated "office" rooms.) On the other hand, they spend a heck of a lot less time in their bedrooms than we did as children.

Control over bedroom decor as a child: Fortunately, I had complete control over my bedroom decor as a kid. My parents helped me with paint, bedding, and curtains. When I was younger, I had a red, white, and blue room--with flag curtains and a royal blue carpet. (To this day, I still like blue carpet!) Those of you who know me well probably find this fascinating--who would have thought me to be such a patriot?! :)

Then when we moved into our newer house when I was 14, I took the smallest bedroom in the house, and my dad built me a fantastic loft bed with a built-in desk and dresser. (Even though he'd never even made a drawer beforehand!) I LOVED it. My walls and curtains were yellow, and my desk and matching bookshelves were in green formica. I know...sounds very 70s/80s, but it was great.

Current bedroom: When we moved in, the bedroom was painted a wine color, and we haven't gotten around to repainting it. The color has grown on us, but the room is way overdue for a paint job and new floors. So I'm not that crazy about our bedroom, but it's okay. Leeds asks what I like and dislike about my bedroom, and the answer is (1) not a whole lot and (2) the clutter. The bedroom desperately needs a complete redecorating, and we just haven't put a lot of energy into it.

Can I remodel easily? Yes, I think that we could repaint and refloor, and it would vastly improve the room. Also, new furniture would be a big improvement!

Is the room filled with things from my past, and is the past heavily represented in my space? Our bedroom furniture is mostly hand-me-downs. Our bed frame (which we are not using at the moment) and my dresser belonged to my grandparents. We bought a matching cherry dresser for Mike. Our bedside tables are both hand-me-downs we got from my cousin (along with other furniture) when we got married. None of it looks new or nice; it's functional but nothing particularly pretty. I actually fantasize about having a four-poster bed (like Regina Leeds' childhood room), but it would probably take up too much space in our smallish bedroom. That's why we still have a full-size bed. Bedrooms in older homes are not usually very big.

Do I share this room with someone? Yes, my husband...and fortunately, we have similar tastes in decor. I probably do occupy a lot more of the bedroom than he does...most of the closet space is mine!!

The next step is to make a plan for the room--what I can do this month, and what I will do over time. That will be the topic of my next post.

February: Creating a Bedroom Sanctuary

In the introduction to February, Regina Leeds asks the reader how you would describe your bedroom. Sexy, comforting, nurturing, inspiring, etc.? Well, not so much. I would currently describe my bedroom as messy and cluttered! I am ready to tackle our bedroom using the same organization strategies as I used on the kitchen (which, by the way, is still staying clean--hooray!).

Leeds describes how her parents decorated a bedroom for her when she was a girl, and it was designed to be the type of room her mother had dreamed about when she was young...crystal chandelier, four poster bed, frilly dust ruffle, etc...but Leeds herself didn't like it at all because she never felt it was hers.

The habit of the month for February is simple: to put my clothes away every night before I go to bed. Should be simple, right? In theory...but I think if I create more room in my closet and purchase more hangers, it will be much simpler. Here we go: whee!

Monday, February 2, 2009

One Month Down, Eleven to Go! Kitchen-Check!

This is my last post about my kitchen...which I finished this weekend, with the help of my wonderful husband.

Friday night we actually watched a movie and I multitasked by cleaning the junk drawer--which I had been putting off! Here's the before:

And the after--yes, we have too much incense (and lighter thingamajigs). But we do use them (although lately our very sensitive 5-year-old complains that the smell makes him sick!).

On Saturday I tackled the refrigerator--which was chockablock with stuff!!

I chucked out quite a bit of stuff, including bunches of takeout condiments (as Regina Leeds recommends), clearing out quite a bit of space. I also reorganized the food into logical groupings and DEEP cleaned all the surfaces.

Finally, I followed Leeds' advice and went for the "bare" look for the front of the fridge. We both have decided that we like it! But we've decided that we'll put one thing on the front, just so it won't be so bare...we will select it carefully--either a child's drawing or a quotation. Doesn't it look much cleaner and neater than before (those of you who have been to our house will remember how cluttered it was before). Let me tell you how long it takes to remove magnetic poetry from a refrigerator: about 20 minutes of painstaking peeling!

While I was working on the fridge, Mike tackled the kitchen nook, which had become a clutter magnet. The nook was one of the things we loved about our house when we moved in, but we really have not kept it very well cared for. I would like to do some further work on the shelves, so they look a bit more artful. But at least for now it's cleaned up. Here are some before photos:

And the after:

It was nice to have a clear space to lay out drying valentines! Now of course we have to clear off the valentines so it looks neat again. A never-ending process...
At last, the corner of the counter was cleaned as well!

That yellow cup by the sink contains a growing toy soldier that my mother-in-law gave Kieran after Christmas. I had hoped to put it away until next Christmas, but Kieran rediscovered it and put it back into water again! I shall try one more time, so I can get it cleared off the counter!
I cleaned under the sink and was able to move our compost container down there and off the counter.

I also tackled the windowsill, which was looking cluttered and messy...washed the windows, dusted the tiles hanging above the sink and the windchimes...and scrubbed down the kitchen cabinets. As I was doing so, it was hard to keep myself from plotting about how to paint the kitchen. I'm planning on doing a Mexican theme--with yellow, red, and blue colors. After I do more organizing!

Now it's onto the bedroom next!