Organization Shmorganization

I’m not really the organizer in our household. Heck, I’m hardly the “cleaner” (although when I get the urge, watch OUT! I do it to the nines, thanks to the Cinderella-sans-wicked-step-relatives upbringing my mother imparted on us). Dave prefers things organized, but not museum-like or dust-free, just pile-less…and it’s not that I don’t. I’m just not great at it.

So, what better way to waste time (and pre-baby time, at that! Yes, I started this post before Hadley arrived…heck, at this point I thought he MUST be a girl!) than to take a fun Better Homes and Gardens quiz about my organization personality. Of course, the description is pretty dead-on:

I’m not sure the last time I “planned” a “party” (although I’d love to do that…I had to reel myself back in when I started planning our upcoming baptism get-together; gonna be very low-key with very few folks), but the “key traits” part of it is accurate. I realized that a lot of my decorating involves the “collector” part of this description. While I’m by no means a hoarder, I’ve got a kazillion antique items that I love to use to decorate. I’d say that I have a “collection” of various items, be they antique glass (especially milk bottles…yep, I have a soft spot for milk in glass bottles, but I particularly like to make the connection to my ancestral family’s old farm – I do happen upon “Homestead Farms” bottles on occasion, and that’s my bloodline!), cake plates, McCoy pottery (my maiden name, so, y’know),  I also suddenly thought, “Well, that’s not really very simple. Why do I have this stuff, and why do I show it off the way that I do?”

Easily sidetracked? Yes, please.

Anyhoo, while Dave and I strive to live simply and attempt to simplify as much as possible – especially now that the baby’s here! – the antique items I have hanging around are ones that mean something to me. No need to clutter the joint up with things you don’t love. But, when it comes to decorating, I tend to put out “vignettes” (a sweet, professional way of saying “clumps”) of stuff. I would like to work on how to implement a cleaner way of decorating with all these, erm, clumps. We’ll see how I do with the upcoming

What I particularly like about this quiz (especially when searching for the energy and motivation I’m craving) is the fact that you can click “Get Guide Now” and receive plenty of organizational suggestions for your “personality”. In my case, they simplify (there’s that word again) the tasks and provide suggestions – some of which I already use.

Once a season (okay, a couple times a year – but it was about four during 2011-2012 thanks to Operation Maternity Clothes), I go through my clothes and donate what I’m not wearing, as well as switch out the seasons and store the non-season items. I also use books in decorating, and when placing books on bookshelves, I organize them but also switch their directions to add interest. And, no; there’s no Dewey Decimal System in place. Let’s just say that Beatles go with Beatles (there are a lot of those, so they get stuck together), old movie stars live with old movie stars, self-help books all co-exist, etc.; sometimes I go crazy and organize by color, though. Maybe because I can’t do something so *crazy* at my work libraries.

So, if you’re bored (ah, the luxury of time!), feel free to take the quiz and let me know what your personality style is. It’ll be neat to see if anyone’s as disorganized scatterbrained free-spirited as me!

Pin Theft

As many women using the world wide web, I likes me some Pinterest. (Sorry, guys – I have yet to see a single non-chick using it. Feel free to Friend me if you’re a fan of it, too!) I’m not addicted to it, but I can see how a person could easily jump into that territory. There’s just so much inspirational material out there on the web; how could we NOT love a tool that helps us “save” ideas for later and share with friends?!

The funny thing is that part of my job is learning and educating about the responsible use of information – ie plagiarism, intellectual property, etc. Every time I pin something, I think about where it’s coming from, if the individual who originally posted it to the internet CARES that it may get pinned (and the original source in the process) dozens of times, and whether it’s legal. But, I do it, anyway.

I know that a lot of the stuff on Pinterest is actually originally shared by bloggers, who love knowing that people may try their idea (a craft, recipe, DIY project, etc) or find inspiration to do their own thing. Heck, lots of blogs ENCOURAGE us to pin their ideas. So, that’s what I’m telling myself every time I decide to repin for my own purposes. However, the items that I’m sharing here today are from the original sites (not the reproductions that I’ve been inspired to create)…just to be clear. Now, for the fun, hee hee.

For me, Pinterest has been valuable for planning my nursery. Talk about inspiration! Beyond the fact that I have actual proof that a nursery can be blue and NOT shout “It’s a Boy!” loudly (remember, we’re not finding out the sex…and we’re stickin’ to it ;-)), there are a kazillion ideas for nursery art. It’s to the point where Dave jokingly says that we’ll run out of room…and it just occurred to me that I should just keep pinning since, one day, we might just have a playroom (in a different house). 😉 Mwahahaha, he’s not safe!

So, here are some of my favorite nursery pins (the images are linked to their original sources)

While there’s a tad more green to the wall color, this gave me some great inspiration for our room. Sure, there’s lots about it that we won’t be doing; we’ve got a dark wood antique rocker to use, our floors ain’t that purdy (we’ve got a large neutral rug that I’d like to layer a couple of throw rugs with), and we’ll have a lot more color. But, I LOVE the combination of blue and yellow, plus the embroidery hoop-with-patterend-fabric wall art.

While the orange isn’t a definite, the brightness and combination of fun color are definitely an inspiration for our space. I also love the mix of old and modern. By the way, I’d like to complete about 90% of the nursery, then if it’s a boy throw in some orange accents and if it’s a girl use some deep plum…but, hey, I could always throw both in. What other room could you do that without being put into a padded facility?

I know, this is an unimpressive picture, but the link provides you with some DIY crib skirt ideas. I’ve already purchased a $2 sheet that seems to be an antique (but who minds cutting an antique sheet when it cost $2?!) which will hopefully work for this project. It’ll add some of the classic, ruffly baby softness to the space.
This is another unimpressive picture, but it’s close to an accent color I’d like to use, specifically to paint a free dresser we’ve got (luckily, it’s not as big as this…although I’m starting to wonder whether it’ll be big ENOUGH, eep!) that will double as a changing table.
Aaaaand here’s the art! Yes, it’s the alphabet twice…see anything else? 😉
I’ve recreated this using a blue instead of gray and a neat stamped font.
Here’s another theft on my part. My version uses the same colors, but a different font and a small, horizontal layout. My mother sang this to me as a child, so I HAD to have it in the room somehow.
How cheeky is this?!
I used the inspiration from this piece, but it looks quite different – with a green background and another cool stamped font. I LOVE this one.
The inspiration from this nursery was the idea of some of the accessories, but more importantly the large glass jar used as storage. See the jar at upper left housing the old alphabet blocks? Why I think that’s neat, I have no idea. I just do.
So, that’s just a handful of nursery inspiration I found on Pinterest. Whatchya think? Disjointed and hard to picture? Or neat ideas that’ll create a fun, creative space? Feel free to share an opinion.

Parsons Project

So, our office was in a desperate state. Books everywhere. Three, count ’em three desks, all piled with papers – very important papers, mind you (well, most of them), but a clutter of STUFF, nonetheless. It simply wouldn’t do, and the husband was even more fed up with it than was I. Actually, I can live in clutter as long as things are relatively CLEAN – you know, the difference between “cluttered” and “unclean” (and there is QUITE a difference) – but since I used the office way less than Dave, I felt it only fair to put the axe to the grindstone. This is a partnership, after all. We’re all in this together. *insert other team-building cliches here*

A rare Dave cameo.

My plan has evolved over time. It’s gone from tearing up the cheap, ugly, no-padding-used carpet (to our dismay, the floors underneath were treated poorly by the *grumble-so-and-so’s* who were the prior owners – they knew they’d be putting the rug down, so what’s a slop of paint between strangers? While they were at it, they drizzled white paint on the carpet, too) to creating a completely feng shui space for my creative cutie to write and work. Heck, I’ve even posted my frustrations about this space in the past. Between the “big life changes” going on around notre maison (everyone calls their house a “casa”, but I received our Bringing up Bebe book today so was inspired to try out my rusty French skills — hey, it’s Mardi Gras!!) and the “dude, get on that already”-inspired challenge I’m setting for myself, I figured I’d better get things goin’ in this room, be them perfect or not.

The ultimate goal: Declutter by any means possible. This meant moving Dave’s childhood (but space-sucking/only-used-for-storage) desk into the basement. Don’t worry, we’re saving it for future generations…it’s safe down there. 😉 It also meant doing away with Dave’s cheap-o, press board computer “workstation”. But, this isn’t all about Dave doing away with his stuff. It just happens that my desk was in the best shape of all three, and I had something else in mind for my own work space (that could hopefully help make an office in a future house more stylish and feng shui-able).

My idea was inspired by, of COURSE, a project undertaken by the folks at Young House Love which involved creating one’s very own parsons table/desk (or a facsimile thereof) using an interior hollow-core door. Since this was my first of such project, I already know that mine is wobblier, rougher and generally more flawed than it should be…but it still looks pretty good and I’ve got a husband that couldn’t be prouder. So, in hopes of not being too premature, I’d say “mission: accomplished”!

We purchased the lumber and had the hollow-core door trimmed down to a manageable size. Man, did that Lowe’s worker look at me like I was a crazy lady! I found a small piece of trim to “finish” that side (although it doesn’t fit *perfectly* – no one would notice but me, probably). I used brackets to attach the legs to the “top”, then “trimmed” out the front and sides (none in the back) below the top. Here are a few “before” shots of the room for a better idea of what we were working with:

Dave’s side of our disorganized craziness.

“My side” of the office. For the record, that’s not all my stuff. It’s a mutual mess.

Even after we removed the third desk (from the right side), it was still…well, embarrassing.

Aaaaand here’s some of the building process:
Soon-to-be table/desk legs that almost killed our saw. Note the burn marks.

 Wee Wee and his sidekick, S.U., “helping.”

Spackling (well, wood putty-ing) a bit of the end trim job.

Aaaaand a variation of this is what my poor husband had to deal with for well over a week. This or an in-process version (first coat of primer, second coat of primer, first coat of white semi-gloss, etc). But, finally, as a belated birthday present (or a way to say “I’m sorry for the mess!”), I finally cleared off my desk for the 2012 Great Desk Shuffle. This involved clearing off both desks, moving his “workstation” to the garage (so much easier said than done!), shifting my old desk to “his side”, and scooting the faux parsons table into its new home.

Work in progress…
This is where I’ll leave you. Dave’s got lots more on and in his desk now (it looks really good, in my humble opinion), but we’re still working out the organizational logistics. I’m also hoping to get a lengthy floating shelf from IKEA (courtesy a dear friend who lives much nearer to one) to go above my space, and we’ll both be sifting through still more “stuff”.

It already feels so much more spacious and organized, even with the crap still laying in piles. I’ll be sure to share the organizational tricks we’re using (yep, I’ve already got a few tricks up my sleeve, mwahaha) and the final, handsome space when it comes together. There may be lots of work involved, but it is therapeutic to make your space a lot more enjoyable, usable and fresh.

*On a side note, just gotta admit publicly that I’m not in love with the office wall color. It was one of many VERY early color decisions that we made, and while it’s a neutral tan, I see more pink and darkness in it than I’d like. I’m also no longer in love with our green/burgundy vibe (not sure I was ever in love with it…yeah, I should’ve broken up with it awhile ago) and want to come up with an improvement to the curtains. It needs to be a happy, creative, airy space, and I’m going to get it that way if it kills me! Er…let’s take the drama back a few notches…I’m going to get it that waaaaayyyyy uuummmm with lots more online researching for inspiration (ie Pinterest and blog reading, holla!) and hopefully some thrifty finds. Yeah. Like I said, the ultimate goal is for a peaceful, creative, organized space to share with Dave, since he spends a lot of his time at home here. It’s a labor of love more than anything.

Bi-Polar Design

If there happens to be any individuals still in existence that attended HCCC with me (*gasp* over a decade ago), and happened to take our awesome public speaking class, they’ll see that blog title and mentally jump to a speech I made. See, I was diagnosed as being bi-polar at the time, so had done a lot of research to understand it better. I felt that others also needed to understand its stigmas and misinformation. Strangely enough, since then I have discovered that I was simply experiencing good ol’-fashioned depression. I digress…

Let’s take a quick field trip, shall we? Those were always fun — until someone got sick on the bus. Luckily, this is a virtual field trip, so no nausea goin’ on, unless you’re preggers like me.

First, check out this House Tour at Making It Lovely. I’m not an avid reader of MIL, probably because I gravitate towards bloggers that focus, sure, on incredible design, but that also…well, have lots of flaws. The glossy, magazine-like inspirational blogs are awesome (don’t get me wrong!), but they’re not daily reading for me. I suppose I prefer reading stories, and seeing progress, and knowing that mistakes and wrong turns were made before reaching a gorgeous final product. In  short, the glossy ones take my self esteem down a few pegs. I need all the SE I can get. (Maybe I just need to read back further on this blog and I’ll find their warts. Hey, I WANT to be a fan!)

(If you don’t want to come *cough cough, spoil sport, cough*, here are a few pictures to help with the visual. These by no means belong to me; I have linked the sources! Honestly, there’s much better eye candy at the links provided in my text.)

Anyhoo, after checking out MIL’s house tour, well, I actually drooled and said “Ahhh!” out loud. Sure, they’re not done with their space yet, either, but the design and inspiration that’s there is insane. I see it as bold, gutsy, colorful, modern-yet-vintage (hello, mid-century furniture!), patterned, and jealousy-invoking. It actually reminds me a bit of our friend B+B’s space, which always leaves me feeling inspired…and incredibly bland, myself. I adore this space and think, “If I asserted myself and got over my design bipolarity, I could do that. Possibly.”

Secondly, I shall drive the yellow bus over to Layla and Kevin’s space over at The Lettered Cottage. *sigh* This is clearly a different space. It’s so different, it’s on another planet. Y’know, if Neptune consisted of nothing but light, bright, vintage charm. This is what inspired me to purchase a white slipcover for our living room couch. No matter your style, you’ve gotta admit that it’s gorgeous.

The third “visit” is to House*Tweaking. It’s the closest style to my house’s current wardrobe – well, kind of. I think that the earthiness and eclectic vibe is the direction in which my little design vehicle has been steadily driving. Some of the rooms are comparable to a few of ours; others are GORGEOUS and mine can’t touch ’em. Strangely, though, when I look at their spaces, I think of the concept of wabi-sabi, which I’m interested in incorporating in all aspects of our life here. It’s definitely a “make do with what you have” method, but with lots of style thrown in. Good to know they’re compatible, at least.

(Ohhh, this is lovely!!!)

Aren’t they all so different?!?!

It’s difficult to be in love with such varying design styles (there are tons more I won’t mention here) – can you see why it feels like a fit of bi-polar (if not simply multiple personality disorder – apologies to any of my mentally-challenged rights advocates buddies in the audience)? How to make it all fit together?

I suppose it’s a wonderful thing that one’s style (clearly I put a lot of stake into style; others, notsamuch, which is cool – but I do feel that it’s a reflection of one’s inner self, and what better way to introduce visitors to your home to yourself than by saying “this is me!” with awesome curtains?) can change and transition through life as humans tend to naturally. While the inspiration that I find often leads me down the jealousy path, I’d like to *attempt* to focus on the positive direction on which it can lead me – “oh, I like that, how can I make that ‘my own’?” Especially on a budget.

It’s always a challenge. It’s an internal struggle, but it’s also an external one – if I’m changing my mind or flip-flopping on ideas all the time, how can I expect the hubs to even follow along let alone stay on board? And, honestly, it’s hard to discuss design with a guy. It just is.

So, for now, I’ll make my mood boards to see what direction life may take and see what comes of it. Thanks for coming along on this little field trip – I feel better. 🙂

Oh, pardon me! Where are my manners? Do you have a favorite? Or a style that you only wish you could attain? Do share! I love hearing what inspires others.

Mantle with no Fireplace

I’ve dreamed of owning a house in which I could build a fire practically my whole life. Sure, I could do this unsafely without a fireplace and chimney, but I can’t even convince my husband that a fire pit in the backyard would be safe. He’s no fun.

So, while our current 90-year-old house isn’t the house for my stupid smokey dream, we found a way to enjoy a small version of a mantle without the help of a contractor…or any construction beyond the use of a drill, for that matter.

Dr. Oz, if you’re wondering.

This is the wall that we stare at most. It’s above our slightly-turned TV (classic, no? No sexy flat screens for us), so the twig-and-faux-berry wreath that was hanging there simply filled the space. Didn’t do anything other than add a bit of crimson and texture to the wall, really.

But, with the help of this Christmas Tree Shoppe wall shelf (I believe less than $20), I had envisioned a way to add some architectural detail (whose shape, incidentally, mimics the tops of the doorways throughout the house) and place some art. I can even consider creating some “mantlescapes” to change seasonally.

It took lots of measuring, and 2, count ’em 2 extra holes (hidden behind the ledge, thank goodness), and I’m still not quite sure it’s level (even if I had had a level at hand, it wouldn’t have mattered; we’ve got that crooked house from the nursery rhyme), but it’s an improvement.

While we’re at it, I thought I’d share a couple of cheap art projects that I’ve already started shuffling around the “mantle”.

The first is actually pretty darn near free, and you can see it above. I’ve been piling up some frames that have outgrown their pictures for some time, and this is one of those cases. Funky, weird textured frame (looking almost tropical…how did this thing end up in our house?) + muslin fabric I’ve had lying around + fabric glue from another project + the perfect antique key that I thiiiink I found some place = free art! For now, it doesn’t have a wall hanger on its back, but it’ll do.

The other piece cost $3…plus tax. I had seen pieces like it on the interwebs, so once I dug up the tiny bags of Bingo buttons at an antique store this past weekend (in Concord, Mass. – more on that later!), I knew immediately what to try with them.
The Concord antiques shop that hooked us up, big-time. Anyone get why it’s got the punny name?
Using a double-matted frame with no paper background (the texture and color of the frame’s backing always interested me), I glued the numbered wooden buttons directly on, finally putting the glass back and letting it dry for at least an hour before setting it on the “mantle”.
Can’t do any project without a cat nearby. Glad to have the Winston stamp of approval.
What I love most about these pieces, besides the cost, is the modern vibe that you can find, even from old objects. An old key. Old Bingo buttons – seriously? I love antiquing, whether I’m “good” at it or even consistent (I do it when it’s an option, I’ve got time, and the mood strikes me), and especially love getting pieces while out of town. Hey! Come to think of it, every time I look at my sideboard, I think of how we found and purchased it during our honeymoon. And now I’ll think of our mini-vacation to Boston when I look at the Bingo art that I now looooove.

Anyone here into antiques? Or are you a strictly “new stuff” sort of person? Eclectic, like moi? Do tell!