We built our house two years ago. It had most of the necessary things for life, but unless you’re a veteran new home builder and you go full custom (and have some serious patience), you don’t end up with everything. Life also changes and our needs change … adapting is a key element in long term fulfillment.
My life changed when my husband’s job was eliminated, we had a brand new house and our youngest child was rapidly approaching school age. I had to figure out adding extra income while working from home, because I really did not want to give up time with my children. For the last year and a half, I have been working from the kitchen table. It’s manageable when the house is empty, but I am always having to clear away my work (not to mention fighting distraction) when writing, praying, or studying my Bible. My boys are constantly wrestling (very loudly, I might add), my daughter is constantly singing (sweetly, but with bravado and passion), and there’s a non-stop chorus of “Mommy…?” followed by the range of questions every parent vacillates between treasuring and barely enduring. And let’s not forget my sweet husband, strolling in and out with questions, comments, jokes and proclamations whenever the mood struck him.
I discovered pretty quickly I needed a space of my own. Tim was not thrilled with the idea of sharing his home office. It will be a while until our basement is finished and habitable. So I set my sights on the guest bed room. There were some desk/Murphy bed options that could work, but no: expensive, and really not all that cute … but even moreso we have a decent flow of house guests, some that may not be too excited about sharing their “luxury hotel room.” I considered my upstairs closet, but the children are still little enough that I have to be at least partially accessible for all those same things that I needed to get out of my face. Not too close, but not too far.
The pantry always aggravated me with its constant clutter (clearly its own fault, not ours!). We don’t eat packaged foods regularly, so that pantry was more of the junk drawer than anything else. The location is also smack dab in the center of the house, so every time we have guests for dinner, I experience a good amount of stress making sure that door stays shut. Because of course when another family is here is exactly when our kids suddenly have to run in for scissors, tape, a charger cord, a flashlight, string, a hammer (what? no!), diet foods (you may not have the Isagenix chocolates!), shards of construction paper (pull that one sheet of just the right color, the rest of the pile goes flying) and who knows what else. We also kept the “guest only” beverages (aka sodas) in there. We kept them to their guests-only status by putting them someplace where little hands (or big ones) were easily spotted when trying to be sneaky.
This may sound strange, but as a very visual person my moods can be really impacted by what I see surrounding me. At the very least, something non-cute can pour gas on the fire if I’m in a mood. Maybe it was one of those days where a few things were going awry … and suddenly I glance over and catch sight of that disaster zone of a pantry. My irritation that was maybe a six? Yeah, now it’s at 10. Mushroom cloud-level.
I had had enough and decided to just go for it. The whole process became inevitable when Tim hired someone to clean out/organize the pantry for me while I was away for the summer (yes, you can add in “awwwhhhh isn’t that sweet” … he is such a good husband). I came back from NH and while it was a huge improvement. it still was not visually acceptable for guests in my mind. And I still did not have an office. Then I looked over a saw a little sign laying around I had bought months before: “stop wishing and start doing.” This was a phrase my Dad used to hammer (pun intended) into us during childhood. So, it was decided: the renovation was on!
Many people asked how I knew how to do this. Or where I get my ideas. My parents are the original DIYers. There was never a still moment in our house. My dad is famous for saying things like “there’s nothing more relaxing than hitting a nail with a hammer.” Even in their 70s in retirement, my dad and stepmom are still renovating and reinventing anything they can get their hands on. I try desperately to bribe them to come down and work on my house … and occasionally my begging is heard and accommodated. That said, I have learned a lot about projects from watching my parents (I’m nothing if not observant). Also, I bought a little fixer-upper before I was married that we all (including my now husband and my late sister) worked on together. Having a design background helps with color choices, etc. And in between fashion and motherhood I had a small interior design business. So I feel pretty confident in making these projects happen. To top it off, there’s nothing quite like a tight budget to fire up the self-motivation to just do it. Stop wishing and start doing. Stop thinking of ideas on why it can’t work or won’t work.
I also do love me some HGTV. And we all know that has done wonders to up America’s home décor game … and remind us that we really can do it.
So first came the great clean out. Summer organization notwithstanding, there was still a phenomenal amount of stuff in there that was never going to co-exist with the office of my mind’s-eye. Most of it could be relocated to other parts of the house: garage, basement, wherever. Anywhere but here – I needed the space. So in the end, I just decided I needed to get this thing done. We’ll deal with the cleanup in aisle six later.
- I went out and bought my paint, wallpaper and furniture up front. I did this to put myself on a timeline and force the project front and center. It would drive me even more insane if this project dragged out.
- I took everything out and piled it on the kitchen table and kitchen island for a week. Basically for an entire week I was living my nightmares after watching “Hoarders.” Even my dog would perch on the back of the sofa, just to escape the chaos.
- I took down the builder-grade wire racking system with help from my eager-to-help daughter and was left with gigantic craters in the walls. This took about 1 1/2 hrs.
- I spackled the holes with a little help from my kids because “spackling looks fun.” This took about two hours total, split over an evening and day. Spackle-sand-spackle-sand. Then wash all the spackle dust from the walls and the floors. Sweet husband brought a dehumidifier up from the basement to accelerate the process.
- Paint: Two coats. I got some on the ceiling, but I am not concerning myself with that at the moment.
- Wallpaper: I bought peel and stick so when I get tired of it I can get it off super easily.
- Putting together the furniture took the most time. My daughter loved helping with this, like “adult Legos.”
- My husband kindly installed the shelves at my spatial direction.
- Adding items back to room and putting on the finishing touches.
- Relocating the piles of stuff still sitting on the island. Kind of anti-climactic, but it had to be done, I couldn’t hide out in my new office all the time.
The only thing I need to do now is get a lock for inside the door. A must in order to keep the critters out! I am already finding them in there “doing homework, in the peace and quiet.”
Thanks for reading my blog! I would love to hear your comments and answer any questions you have. Pop back by soon for a Fall fashion update!