And Again…

So, I found the before pictures for my earlier post and they got me motivated to do one more step for “cabinet #2”.  I’m so ready for these to be finished.  I’m not a patient person and really hate to paint.  I know, weird for an artist, but I like the finishing part much more than the early layers of a project.  I much more enjoy the “coming together” part!

Anyway, here are the before and after pictures for cabinet #1:

And the one that I’m finishing up tonight – before…0425161846a (1)

and after…

I was attempting to make it look less like a built-in and more like an old hutch that was put into an alcove.  The counter is pieced together wood scraps painted in several layers and distressed.  I moved the glass cabinet doors down to the bottom and left the top shelves open.  The legs that are “holding” up the  upper shelves are from our first dining room table.  That table top is being used as our new butcher block island in the center of the kitchen – next project, next payday.  I’m working on an idea for the lower cabinet hardware and still need to finish up a bit of trim work and finish painting the walls.  I can’t find the pitcher to complete the set up on top of the hutch.  Who knows where it’s hiding.  Lots of boxes of keep and give-away stacked around here!  The clutter, project pieces and tools are driving me a bit crazy (crazier).

I love that the two cabinet projects reflect our different personalities, but that they work together.  So excited to be ditching the fear of expressing ourselves and really turning this into our home!  Less manufactured housing and more unique and loft-like.

Home, Sweet Home!


Are you ready.  Counter re-do number 1 is almost finished.  I still need to paint the bottom cabinets, but have not yet decided on a paint color for them.  By deciding on the color, I mean that the proper color(s) in the proper amounts has not yet hit the “Oops” counter at The Home Depot.  I’ll be patient for a while longer and then may actually have to pay full price.  That would be sad, but we have scavenged so much stuff already that it wouldn’t be a deal breaker.  I’m leaning towards a 50’s style Jadite green.  We’ll see.

On the scavenging front, let me explain where most of the wood we used came from.  On Saturdays, our IKEA sells carts full of pieces.  Broken, leftovers from displays, odd items – you name it.  A whole cart costs $10.00.  We’ve bought three.  Our purchase included perfectly good shelves, cabinet doors, partial dressers and beds, bed slats, and some stuff we couldn’t figure out the original intent of.  The cabinet top and trim  on this project came from that batch.

As much as possible, if we found ourselves saying, “We need to buy….”, we stopped and waited a bit and tried to brainstorm another way.  I’m pretty proud of how we did.

Of course, I can’t locate the before photos.  The shelves replaced upper cabinets that hung down very closely to the countertop.  The “brick” replaces painted vinyl wallcovering typically found in a manufactured home.  It was a “lovely” wheat pattern that I painted over a long time ago with a bright yellow.  The pattern had a tendency to show through no matter how many coats of paint were added.  The countertop used to be chipped formica in a riveting beige color.  Now wood slats covered in shiny poly.  My husband used galvanized pipe with copper accents for the shelf.  Very un-manufactured home and more us!

Tomorrow, I’ll post the cabinet I was in charge of and you can see how different our personalities really are.  I’m so excited that we are pitching out the rule book and doing our own thing!


Happy Anniversary to Me!

Yesterday was the anniversary for this blog.  Two years!  The first year was not a stellar success.  I started and stopped almost immediately, but this last year I’ve done a pretty good job of sticking with it.  I’m proud of that.  There’s been some down times and up times and good posts and bad, but that’s a realistic reflection of my life!

The home renovation continues.  We’re still in the kitchen.  The floors are all down and sealed.  Two counter areas are being worked on and are looking pretty cool.  I actually remembered to take before pictures and will post as soon as we get done with them.

Having moved as much as I did growing up, I’ve always held the idea in the back of my mind, that re-sale value had to be considered when doing any home project.  Boy, has that changed.  We live in a really expensive area of the country – one of the fastest growing counties in the country.  Square-footage wise, it’s pretty big – about 2600 square feet and it’s on almost an acre.  Our mortgage is extremely low for the area.  Downsizing is the trend right now for folks trying to live a more simple, intentional life, but that’s not a wise choice for us.  It appears that we are living here for the long haul.

I’ve finally taken real ownership of my home.  Cabinets are coming out, dramatic changes are happening and we’re making choices that are fun and work for us.  I’m excited about the change in mind-set and the direction our choices are taking.

Pictures of the transformation should be up by this weekend.  Lot’s of painting and putting back together to do first.

Two more boxes of stuff are leaving the kitchen and dining area.  It’s all coming together nicely.  This renovation stuff is hard work though.  Sometimes I look at the dust and boxes and piles and to-do list and just want to give up, but like this blog – I’m sticking with it.

Sweat, dust and more dust

Shelves are hung in the hallway and the cabinet is being painted a soft blue color from my stash of paint.  I’ve been collecting “OOPS” paint from home improvement stores (the paint that customers rejected or that was mixed incorrectly).  It’s sold at a great discount and I’ve just been buying colors that I like and saving them for renovation day.  I’ve also collected paint from friends that were discarding partial cans if it was a color that I liked.  Saving a lot of money and saving a tiny bit of the environment as well.  Every little bit helps, right?

Hubby is finishing the plywood in the kitchen and dining area – prepping it for the three coats of polyurethane that we’ll be applying today.  This involves sanding and dust.  Lots and lots of dust.  Do I need to mention that I’m not the greatest housekeeper in the world and there was already significant dust all around.  Maybe a few cobwebs also.  Said cobwebs are now coated in dust.  To bad it’s not Halloween.  We’re decorated and ready.

Anyway, it should time out right to finish that up the floor today.  Then tomorrow we can move the big stuff back in there.  We’ll still need to build the new kitchen island out of a butcher block table top that used to be my studio desk.  The walls will need to be painted and the cabinetry.  The top cabinets were ripped out on the wall by the sink and above the refrigerator.  I have never used the cabinet above the fridge.  Removing the other cabinets opened up the whole wall so I can hang a bit of art in there.  We removed another set of upper cabinets as well.  Those will be replaced with open shelving and will hold our dishes.

It’s a lot of work – renovating our home.  I’m impatient and want it all done now!

We didn’t really start out to redo the whole house.  Floor damage (a caved-in floor and two water damage holes at the front and back door) required some repair.  Pulling up old carpet meant new flooring all over.  Years of decluttering and a desire to live a more intentional life kind of sealed the deal.

In some ways, it’s a mid-life “crisis” of sorts for me.  I’ve been dissatisfied with the status quo for a while and I’m ready for a big change that proclaims, “Hey, I can live life differently!  I can make better choices and be free of the old decisions and choices.”

Not that I regret all my past choices and decisions.  Everything that I’ve done in my life has brought me to who and where I am.  But, life changes.  Children grow up. We grow up (and older).  I’ve become more aware of time passing.  I’m not so busy keeping up with the demands of a houseful of kids and their needs and I’m becoming more aware of who I am and who I want to be.

All the decluttering, all the life-style changes, all of the desire to be intentional…it all added up to a house re-do…

to a Sunday full of sweat and dust and joy.

Change can be good.  Change that comes from dreams and plans and choice is very good indeed.


No Longer Needed

Today I am working in my hallway.  Its almost a room, square footage size, with a short hallway coming off of the living room and opening up into a “space” as it moves towards the second living area which we use as a classroom and studio space.  Well, a storage area right now, but keep an eye on the dream.

This space has three bedroom doors, a bathroom door, the laundry room door and living area door opening off of it.  It also holds a built in desk and countertop with cabinets above and below.  The desk had cabinets above it also.

The whole space is dark, cramped and pretty much useless.  The cabinets have always held a disorganized, random amount of junk and the countertop – always piled high with stuff.

I’ve tried stronger light bulbs, lamps, under counting lighting – you name it.  Still dark and depressing.  A couple of months ago I was sitting at the desk and looked up at the cabinets looming above me.  They were semi-full of books nobody ever looked at and miscellaneous papers and “office” supplies.  I pitched or donated 90% of it.  Haven’t missed any of it.  I’d planned on putting up shelves, but realized that I didn’t have anything to put on them.

So now, it’s bright and white with a few family photographs and a picture I love.

As the declutter has progressed, I realized that the other upper cabinet had never really been used on a regular basis as storage for anything.  We just stuck stuff there when we didn’t know what else to do with it.  Tore it our yesterday.  The bottom cabinet is staying to store all the computer related stuff that has to go somewhere:  cords, games, gadgets and gizmos.

Shelves are going above the cabinet to house my daughter’s collection of books that she is reading or is going to read or can’t bear to part with yet.  They are currently stashed all over the place and can’t always be found when needed.   I think there will also be room for the few movies that we are keeping.  We have Netflix so a lot of them are going to the thrift store since we never watch them.

Of course, I forgot to take a “before” picture, but I’ll remember an “after” picture (I hope).

It’s definitely a sign of progress and a changing attitude that the cabinets are ripped out.  One of the reasons that I was attracted to this house in the first place was all the storage space.  Now, I’m seeing it as a definite negative!  The storage space is just no longer needed.

Back to painting!


Today, I was back in my studio determined to give it another go.  I pulled out a small box of papers – you know, the kind of stuff mixed media artists collect – small images, bits of color and pattern, quotes, and other bits of ephemera that might be useful somewhere, sometime.  Talk about micro-managing.  I’m hip-deep in unmade decisions regarding canvases and half-finished works and I’m sorting through bits of paper that are inspiring new projects.

Anyway, about that time I heard the roaring rumble of the trash truck pulling around in our cul-de-sac.  I stepped to the window and watched.  Watched as the two guys labored tossing my five extra trash bags (as allowed by our trash service) into the pit of the truck and then attached our giant can full of debris onto the ramp and dumped it in with the rest of my discards.  Watched as the mechanism smashed it and compacted it with the rest of my neighbors trash.  Thought about my next door neighbors tiny little bag of trash.  Thought about how much I was sending to the landfill.  Knowing that I had recycled and donated what I could and there was still so much…

So much stuff.  So many regrets.  Wondering what the trash guys thought of me and my piles of bags each week.

I watched as they drove away with the stuff I had thrown away and the emotions that trailed behind them – sadness, regret, anxiety, fear, loss.

And stood there with the remnants of those emotions, but mainly with a feeling of relief, pride, and a sense of accomplishment.  And felt so much lighter.

It’s all well and good to proclaim that it’s just stuff – that we are not our belongings, but…

for a lot of us, the stuff is just a symptom of past trauma and abuse.  It’s  the way we coped with things we didn’t understand and couldn’t deal with.  The decluttering effort is therapy.  There is no quick solution.  It’s laborious and difficult and challenging.  It’s tears and anger, sorrow and grieving.

But, today as I was watching that big truck pull out of sight around the corner…those five bags transformed into “just stuff” as I finally let them go.


So I’m  stuck in one place today.  The studio.  My goal is to spend more time making art.  Therefore, I need to make the studio a more inviting, functional space.

I’m doing okay on dumping the old projects and supplies that didn’t rock my world.

I’ve sorted out scraps and leftovers from finished projects for my art class.  Art journals are packed away but accessible for future perusing and inspiration.

Art pieces from the past?

Filling up a storage cabinet and numerous plastic tubs and basically piled all over the place.

Some aren’t too bad.  Some are crap.  Some I like, but don’t want to clutter up wall space with.  Some have been claimed by children and others, but are stored here.

What the hell do I do with them?

Part of me thinks that a giant bonfire might be a symbolic and therapeutic way to deal with the crappy ones.  However, my family and I don’t always agree about what’s good and what’s not.

There is time, resources and emotions worked into every piece.  The time and resources, I am at peace with.  The emotions?  That’s another story.

I don’t even know how to work through the stress, tension and anxiety that flows to the surface as I contemplate some of the pieces and what to do with them.

Storing them away to be dealt with sometime in the future seems to be the easy way out.  I don’t know that the “easy” way is the best way.  Maybe it’s just not time to deal with it all.

Maybe I just need to take a deep breath and get rid of it.

Like I said –


I don’t want to be stuck.  I want to move.  I want to move forward and be free.

Anybody want some art?

Good Words

I found a good book at IKEA on Sunday during a trip with my daughter.  We bought it to share.  We are both trying to be money conscious and careful about what we purchase.  She is moving to her first apartment since graduation and becoming a real grown-up.  I am so proud of how much she is decluttering in preparation for a post-student life.  I’m thinking back to how much I moved across country after graduation and marriage.  So much stuff!

Anyway, the book is entitled Kinder Homes: 50 Ideas for Creative Living.  I’ve just started looking through it and have already come to a stopping point – a place to read and absorb and savor the words that I’ve read.

“Stay hopeful, be creative, simple and down to earth.”

Words from a person miles and miles away from me in another country and yet they have summed up everything I am working towards.

Yesterday I was discouraged and that feeling carried over to today.  We fixed a plug above my studio desk and hung my “inspiration” bulletin board, but other than that, I didn’t accomplish much towards working on the house.

Everyday stuff filled the rest of my day.

I will stay hopeful and know that each small step is a step towards a more conscious life.  All my efforts make a difference.

The “everyday” stuff is the stuff that life is made up of.  It’s all good.


Have you ever noticed that when you are away from home, it’s easy to dream big dreams and make big plans, but…

…once you are back home and in the thick of things, it’s easier to just go with the flow and accept things the way they are – even if it’s not the way you want things to be?

So much to do and being overwhelmed are causing some serious anxiety for me and I feel like I’m losing momentum.

But I’m going to persevere.  Pile by pile, box by box and item by item, I’m going to keep working.

Today, all of the rest of the paperwork from our business that used to operate out of the house went to recycling (except for the absolutely necessary financial and tax documents that we have to keep).  Six boxes of paper gone.  Four neatly labeled and stored away.

Winter clothes are all washed, sorted and packed away or donated.

We’ve discovered that the water leak in the hall bathroom is much worse than we thought.  It’s spreading to the bedroom we were using for storage while renovations were taking place.  That room has been bumped up on the list for redoing.  Unfortunately, we’re going to need to do some rather serious demolition and rebuilding.  All that stuff has to be moved somewhere.  I’m not sure where since the kitchen and dining room floor is waiting to be coated in polyurethane so we can start using it again.  All of that stuff is in the living room and hallway.

Honestly, my life feels totally out of control right now.  I could just sit and cry.  But, I’m not going to.  Or at least I’m not going to for long.  Maybe for just a bit.  Then I’m going to fill another box for donation…

…and keep dreaming about my big, cleared out rooms with clean white walls and a shiny wood floor holding only those that I love and a few things that I need and enjoy.

So, I’m holding the anxiety at bay and holding on tightly to the dream…