Thursday, October 29, 2009

First Room Completed!

When I was a teenager, I went through a phase of being a slob. What is it about that age? Is it part of establishing our own identity or perhaps a little passive rebellion? Or is it biology? Do teenagers need more sleep and therefore don't have time to pick their clothes up off the floor? Whatever the reason, the older I got, the more I grew out of it. Having my own apartment was finally what killed my slovenly ways. I pretty quickly realized that if I didn't clean up, no one else was going to do it for me! I also found out that it is a lot easier to clean a tidy house. I am not a fan of cleaning, though I like my house that way, and it seems a lot easier to take 2 minutes to put something away when I am done with it, then to spend precious hours on Saturday cleaning the whole room. This system works great... right up until I get extremely busy, and that is when my teenager tendencies return.

So, as you might have guessed, the house took a nose dive for the worst during the week of the 19th, when I was busier than a one armed paperhanger! On top of normal home wear and tear, my freelance work was very crafty and thus I have craft items strewn hither, tither and yon. My dining room looks like an art class tornado hit it. On Thursday I decided I had had enough. The phrase "tidy room, tidy mind" kept floating through my head, and I knew I didn't have a tidy room in the house. I decided to take the time to put one room in order so I at least had one place I could sit in my house and not feel stressed out.

I chose to work on my library. As I mentioned yesterday, library sounds fancy, but really the room is just a den. It's a small room off the dining room where I have my TV and a few bookshelves, but I love the sound of having a library, so that is what I am going to call it! In any case, when my sister moved out of her old house, I told her she's welcome to store things at my place until her new home is ready. After all, the one thing I have plenty of is space! So when the movers came by and put her yard care equipment in my empty garage stall and her furniture in my spare bedroom, they also dropped off the furniture she was giving me. However, I hadn't exactly prepared the room for new furniture, so it was sort of just crammed in there any which way. I spend a lot of time in this room, so it was the one I tackled...

I tried at first to kind of cheat and just move the two old chairs I didn't want out of the room and put the new furniture in, but that didn't work. The room just didn't "flow" and the bookcases kept getting the way. Finally, I accepted the inevitable - in order to make this work, I was going to have to take almost every single item out of the room and start fresh.

So, out came the old chairs, the new-to-me furniture, the lamps and the decor. I tried to cheat on my big 6' bookshelves and only take half of the books off and then slide them to the middle of the room... but eventually I realized that if I was going to do this, I had to do it right. Every book had to come off and the shelves had to be moved out of the room along with everything else. I even rolled up the rug and took the pictures off the wall. The only thing I left in place was my TV. It is in one of those big armoir cabinets and because of where the cables and electrical plugs are, it can really only go in one place in the room. There wasn't any point in moving it.

Once everything was out, I realized this was one of the few times I could easily deep clean the walls and floor. I swept the room (I have hardwood) and then reluctantly threw on a jacket and headed to the store. I hate leaving when I am deep in cleaning mode, but I needed some Murphy's Oil Soap to do it right. Back at the house I mixed up a bucket and scrubbed the floor "Cinderella style" on my knees. I also cleaned the windows and got out my duster with the extension pole to clean the crown molding. When I was done, I rolled the rug back out and vacuumed that. I was finally ready to set up my room.

I've mentioned that I have been reading some design books lately; they talk a lot about the focal point of the room. In my case, the obvious focal point is the TV, so it made the most sense to put the couch facing it. This seems horribly obvious, I know, but at one point I was considering putting the couch against a different wall that would face the door. The point though, is to have rooms that are functional. If I had had two focal points - say a TV and a fireplace, I might have to really think about what I wanted to be the main area of focus, or how to make the two work together. Fortunately in this case, it was easy.

Once the couch was in, the next thing was the bookcases. After all, what is a library without bookcases? I was trying to place furniture by size - start with the big stuff and work my way down. As I was putting the cases into place, I noticed a number of nicks and dings, so out came the Old English polish (fortunately, that I had on hand.) Eventually, after polishing the bookcases and then going ahead and cleaning each item, I got each piece of furniture in the room just the way I wanted it. One piece didn't fit though, I had a smaller antique bookcase that had been in the room, but it just didn't quite work with the new arrangement. Then I had a brainstorm! My antique bookcase is fairly formal, so I took it into my living room (which is a rather formal room) and removed from there a fairly modern bookcase, which just happens to be fairly close in color to my new-to-me furniture. (Yes, I have lots and lots of bookcases.) The swap worked great, both cases look better in their new rooms.

Now with the furniture in, I moved to the art on the walls. I ended up swapping two pieces and moving another one over about 6 inches from where it had been hanging. Once that was done, all the books were replaced and then I started on the decorations. I decided to listen to the design experts and go with the "less is more" style. I wanted cozy and comfortable, but not cluttered. I ransacked other rooms, grabbing freely from other parts of the house and picked only things that worked with the colors and style I was putting together. When I was finally done, I sat down on my couch and looked around with pleasure. Not only was I really happy with the way things came together, to my surprise I actually have more room rather than less. Why, I even have two walls now that I want to find art for. However, I am going to wait to find just the right thing - no running out to get something just because I can.

Over the last week, the library has become my haven. It is where I read, relax, even work on projects. It is my favorite place to be. Just the other night I lit some candles, grabbed a favorite book and then closed the door to rest of the house. I never close that door usually, but that night it just felt right. As I was telling a friend of mine the other day, I am so happy with how the library came out, I actually tidy it up before I leave it. If I throw an afghan over my legs while reading a book, when I am done, I fold it and put it back. I mean, I don't worry about it if I just get up to get a glass of water or something, but every night when I leave the library I look around and make sure that everything is in its place - throw pillows are on the couch, afghan folded, coasters put away, etc.. My mother has told me that she loves her condo so much that sometimes she just sits and looks around it; I always thought she was a bit wacky. Now I am starting to get it.

There are a few more things I would like to do with it. If I had the money, I'd love to replace the windows with some historically styled energy efficient ones. When I was cleaning them I could feel the drafts coming in - brrrrrr. (This is why I spent almost my entire home improvement budget this month on weatherproofing products.) There are also some smaller things that I can do: get the art for the walls, replace the ugly cheap brassy door knob, fix some of the floor molding, that kind of thing. But for now, I am completely happy with it. And the cost?

$3.99 for Murphy's Oil Soap.

That's a price I can live with! Who says home decorating has to be expensive? Of course, the downside of all this is that all the stuff I didn't put back in the library is now cluttering up the dining room, and the living room is still torn up from where I took out the bookcase. In other words. every room surrounding my little haven is a disaster!! Ah well, that's what this weekend is for. I am hoping to tackle another room. I need to work in the yard, but Saturday it is supposed to rain. If so, you'll find me in my living room, hair in a ponytail and dust rag tucked in my back pocket, looking around and figuring out what to move next!

Photo by: 정호씨
via flickr

No comments: