Posts Tagged ‘cleaning and organizing’

I have designed several “perfect” dining rooms, since I started planning houses in my mind, when I was in perhaps the third grade. Some I struggled with for many months before I was satisfied with their dimensions, features, and colors, being aware that they were not going to efficiently do all the jobs required of them. (Some simply wouldn’t fit into the floor plans and still do what they needed to do, so had to be discarded.) Since then, I have learned a few things. One, is that there is no “perfect” room; a room is always undergoing evolution of some sort, and is not a static idea. Nonetheless, I keep reaching for finality.

When we moved into the farm house, and it kicked in that here was a house I could practically start fresh in, I was excited. I have a huge collection of pictures of decorating ideas of all kinds, and when I had sorted through these, and had picked out ones that spoke to me for this house, I had a fair idea of what I was after:

Red walls, or red-orange
Woodwork as is (probably is fir wood, cherry stained)
White or light ceiling
Sage green and fire-orange accents (unspecified)

These were a couple of my inspirations:

Orange Dining Room 2  Orange Dining Room 1

All that has changed several times since that decision in 2010.

At first, I tried to accommodate Will in the planning. I felt I had to take into account the fact that, since a series of min-strokes, he is practically blind in one eye, and that dark colored walls may not be acceptable. After much thought, however, I realized that he didn’t really care what the house looked like. If he did, he’d have tried harder to make sure our previous home was pleasantly maintained. As it was, in seven years he’d never made it possible even to finish painting the kitchen, and it had a well-worn look right up to the end…scarcely better than what I was starting with in this house. I decided to do exactly as I pleased, and if he didn’t like it, he didn’t have to look at it.

So I decided to try to find a retro area linoleum similar to the rose-colored poppies I currently have. I couldn’t love it more! But it is getting hopelessly worn, to the point that there is almost as much brown showing (the backing) as there are poppies.

Paint colors were still a problem, but I knew I wanted red-orange on the north wall. I found the perfect wall paper – a pattern with a brilliant red-orange background, sage-green foliage like twirling vines, and lively-looking birds that did not seem to have just flown in from the tropics. (I don’t want tropical-looking birds in the midst of my house on the plains.) Of course, by the time I scraped together the funds to purchase it, the pattern was discontinued. Plan B was another bird pattern, this one with a white background, the birds and foliage being black and silver. It will do nicely, and I feel I will remain happy with it for some years.

March9-May3 2014 541
I can do the red-orange theme in some kind of flooring, or perhaps paint the black heating stove some wild shade. Engine enamels and wood-stove paints come in an amazing array of colors. I’m thinking of this brand:

Nov.12-Jan15 2015 240
What else? I knew I wanted birds in other ways than wallpaper. Lots of birds, because nothing is quite so lively and inoffensive as a songbird, unless it be a butterfly. I was feeling inspired by ideas such as this:

March9-May3 2014 228  Nov10-Jan21 2014 231

I had regretfully discarded several other ideas, such as rabbits and coffee, deciding that they simply didn’t cover all the ground I needed covered emotionally for a dining room.

March9-May3 2014 338 March9-May3 2014 394

I had put together a list of words and phrases that described my hopes for the “feel” of each room in my home, and the words for the dining room were:

Growth, Cheer, Nurturing and Productive Curiosity, Organization

I had listed all the things my dining room regularly gets used for, including:

  • Food preparation, including meat processing in freezing weather, and processing garden produce in summer
  • Cooking (on heating stove) – 2/3 of year
  • Meal planning, recipe and cookbook storage
  • Eating family meals, and with occasional guests
  • Dishes storage and display
  • Some food storage
  • Formal study periods in our homeschool (Scripture study, history, science, music, art, home ec., crafts, etc.)
  • Household planning, also school books organization
  • Art display, both school and formal
  • Socializing
  • Watching videos and movies
  • Listening to music
  • Office work and writing (Will and I)
  • Laundry (during winter weather) – including drying clothes near stove
  • Sewing and similar
  • Rock cutting and polishing
  • Tool and chainsaw repair
  • Care of wounded and sick critters
  • Raising small batches of poultry in a box or large bucket

Clearly, organization and cleanability were paramount. Besides getting used for almost everything, it is the room that is on it’s way to practically everywhere else in the house. The floorplan of the house is fairly open, as well, requiring that areas be especially compatible in decorating feel. I had originally desired to make the dining room and adjoining living room quite different in colors, but realized this was going to feel odd, as well as cost more in paint and supplies, and in the end, decided to use different wallpapers, but the same paints on most walls and ceilings. I was going for a woodland feel…so discarded the traditional white ceiling idea. The walls of both rooms were broken up by many doorways and windows, and there wasn’t much clear space to enjoy wallpaper. Only the north walls are clear enough for this purpose.

Another thing to consider is our typical weather. For up to eight months out of each year, we have snow. Not nice, Christmas-card snow (though I’d tire even of that), but snow that is equal parts dirt, having arrived in blizzards, being driven into our yard along with topsoil from the neighboring fields. White, gray, and nondescript brown dominate. So all neutral colors were out of the question, as far as decorating was concerned. I craved something springy and vivid. Hence, the red-orange, like poppies and red-wing blackbirds, and the hearts of certain new buds.

The answer was spring yellow, and deep robin’s egg blue:

Aug10-21, 2014 655   Copy of Aug10-21, 2014 763

These colors go with everything in a sweetly integrated way, and so far, everyone I’ve shown the results loves it…except one friend who happened to have a migraine headache, and felt overwhelmed by the yellow.

Relaxing in this room with my favorite mug of coffee certainly makes the gray snow more bearable. I can think of strawberries, iris blooms, lilacs, meadowlarks, and baby lambs, when I contemplate my main rooms now, even when it’s -30* F. (Living room, dining room, and kitchen all partially share the new-leaf yellow and robin’s egg blue, so I get to enjoy it nearly all the time.)

I still have a ways to go to make the room everything I want it to be, and the weather has still been too cold to risk trying to hang wallpaper. (It snowed again this week, twice…though hopefully this will be the last time this spring.) I would like to make the entertainment area more efficient, less cluttered, and easier to care for. I would like to modify my set of open display shelves, to accommodate some storage drawers, a platter rack, and also glass doors. I still haven’t found anything like the right flooring to replace my linoleum…which was laid in 1928, according to the condition of the floor under it…which has never been finished at all. The first owners simply finished the hardwood around the perimeter of the linoleum.

I might go with the red-orange, as specified before, or I might pick a black-and-white pattern, maybe something like this:

May4-June18 2014 333


It looks overwhelming on the page, and I’ll have to see how things are after I have my bird pattern wallpaper up, but I think it’s going to be lovely in action. We’ll see how things feel in a bit. I might save the black-and-white continuing theme for smaller areas, such as potted plants, thus:

May4-June18 2014 404

It would be fun to paint up some pots similar to these (above), don’t you think? And I love the sunflowers, too. I even have a copper kettle (too dilapidated to be more than decorative) which would lend itself to this lovely idea.

That brings me to what kinds of flowers I’ll need, to compliment my birds. The roses below are inspirational:

May4-June18 2014 246

But perhaps will not be the right item. I’m thinking, morning glories, or orange mallow flowers, or day lilies. Sunflowers are really very over done. There’s a lot to choose from there…but whatever I do, it also has to allow for Western meadowlarks, since they are my favorite songbird. There is nothing in the world quite like their liquid-sunrise music.

And of course, I’ll need some barn swallows painted on the walls of dining room and hallway (maybe living room too?) here and there, for accents and to drive home the outdoor feel of the place:

Aug.28-Sep.2, 2014 231   Aug.28-Sep.2, 2014 242

I also have a lot of figuring to do, regarding the remodeling of the understairs closet area between the dining room and hallway. I’ve chosen to split about half the space right down the middle, and make highly accessible cupboards opening off either side. (The front section, opening into the hallway, will remain a coat closet, and I want rabbits, thus:

Attic2 (2)

…lining the cabinets.) This means careful re-thinking of all the uses for dining room and kitchen, too, as the kitchen needs some help, and I am planning quite a big remodeling project for it. It has great potential, but is neither easy to use nor easy to care for. So I have a stack of pictures, lists, and thoughts related to this subject, and need to let them incubate before I’ll know enough details. Finally, I want to make my school book section more refined. These products should do:

Desk File Organizer  Clear File Envelopes

I’d love to fit this shelf in somewhere, but don’t see how that’s possible just now:

Turntable Book Shelf

Meanwhile, I feel at last that I have a space in the dining room that I can begin to be proud of, and truly revel in.

Last, but not least, here is an inspiration for outside the windows:


My house isn’t built of brick, but I can make a similar sweet look, after a nice painting job on the exterior of the house.

Note: All paints and wallpapers have been from Sherwin-Williams, and I am very pleased with the knowledge and friendliness of their staff. The desk and file organizers, as well as the rotating book shelf, come from Levenger.

Update, June 26, 2015 –

Well! I found some chairs I love.

Aug2-Aug9, 2014 450

They are designed by a local woman, are reasonably priced, and are very complimentary to what else I have going on in my home. What do you think? (I’m not sure what the woman has available these days, as these photos were taken in August 2014, at a local fair where she was selling them.)

Read Full Post »

March 1, 2013 –

Wedding and Family Camp 019  Wedding and Family Camp 017

Though this room is a heap better than it was last year, in that the floor is not torn up by moisture, the ceiling has a temporary patch on it where rainwater ran through, and it is not full of junk…it still has a long ways to go. Clutter is the main problem, and the one I am having the hardest time knowing how to fix. This room, naturally, has become a catch-all for anything I don’t know what to do with, but don’t want to throw away. This means that the closet is full of craft materials and projects for Someday, the desk is full of unsorted stacks of paper in several categories, and the table in the middle is where I put things when I’m in a hurry (which is most of the time). (That tall fluff of feathers are peacock plumes, which the kids’ picked up out of the yard of an acquaintance who raises peafowl.)

But…the tall cabinet is orderly with children’s craft supplies, games, and jigsaw puzzles, and this makes holiday mess-making and school crafts go smoother.

Doll House, Back Room - August 2014


My dollhouse is another project which is awaiting my attention.


August 5, 2014 –

At last, I have had the proper motivation to deal with my back room. Friends came to visit for two weeks, and I needed a guest room. Wow, what a workout! This room is now far from perfect, but is certainly more pleasant now.

Aug2-Aug9, 2014 375  Aug2-Aug9, 2014 374

The table in the middle of the room is gone – moved to the attic, where eventually, I hope to use it as a secondary study area, and a place to work on crafts. The card table in the second picture was given to us by a friend.

Aug2-Aug9, 2014 372  Aug2-Aug9, 2014 373

My bookshelves are properly organized and cared for, and my horse equipment (I lack a tack room, and a horse just now) is all together and protected. Desk piles and files are divided according to subject, though not everything has a home yet. Beneath the desk is a laundry basket full of odds and ends for sewing, such as old jeans to cut into quilt blocks. Slow and steady may not win the race, but it eventually gets me to my destination.Aug2-Aug9, 2014 371  Aug2-Aug9, 2014 370

I have developed work stations for my various projects – though I don’t work directly in this room much, as it is still not insulated. Rock cutting, for instance. I have wanted to learn this skill for four years, and at last have my opportunity. So my rock-cutting mentor sent me home with a handful of so-so sapphires and a machine, and said, “Have fun! And you will.” And he’s right, though learning something new is always nerve-wracking for me. Good light – in this case strong sunlight – is a need for cutting rocks, so this is an ideal situation, though not an ideal set-up for the machine.

Then, behind the rock cutting machine is a small desk I keep for organizing information I plan to use to further my own soul – quotes I want to take down or apply, and my journals. I have my work planned out for me in manageable bites, with my Quotes Journals lined up in chronological order on their own shelf, except for one I’m working on, which is accessible on a different decorative shelf with my current Quotes Journal.

Aug2-Aug9, 2014 368

My file cabinets are 90% re-organized and culled – a real victory, as this had not been undertaken in over seven years. I’m still working on that abhorrent crafts closet. My dollhouse has been improved and made attractive. (That’s in a different post.)

Aug2-Aug9, 2014 369


Beneath my dollhouse, I have room to store some children’s books that the kids don’t much appreciate, but I do – an extensive collection of fairy-tales, for instance.

Lastly, I have quotes on child training where I’ll see them often…

Aug2-Aug9, 2014 376  Aug2-Aug9, 2014 377

…plus pictures of people I have compassion for, taped up where I’ll notice them, but still in private area where no one else is likely to notice. (Explanations of one’s soul can be bothersome.)

Read Full Post »

Here are a few pictures from around the house, showing the dents we’ve been able to make in the messes.

In case you missed the original post on that subject, here is what the house looked like the first time we walked in:

This bedroom is typical of every room in the house. Actually, it’s piled less high than were many of the rooms.

This storage room is another prime example. Nowhere to step without stepping on stuff.

Here are the improvements:

These two pictures were taken in the living room. While many of the old cans, bottles, and jars from the basement had to be stacked here, it is still an improvement. Originally, the entire floor (including under the couch) was littered with magazines, mouse turds, and sewing supplies.

Here is the “After” picture of the bedroom at the top. No, most of the floors are not washed, but at least there is walking room!

Another bedroom. This one was full of clothes, books, and spilled food. I want it to be a music room, complete with piano, fiddles, guitars, and trumpet. Will’s extended family were all musically inclined, and I enjoyed playing my homemade fiddle in highschool. Among the four of us (Will, the children, and I), we play several instruments.

I love the way the main floor divides neatly into two halves. This is the door leading from the dining room to the hallway. That is the Hall Closet of the Feminine Hand opposite.

Where to From Here?

I feel we have a long ways to go, even though the majority of the spaces are cleared of trash and excess belongings. For instance, nearly every wall and floor needs washed. This will not be a bad task once the weather warms up sufficiently, but has been imossible to attack while the mercury insists on reading in the 20’s (F.).

Not that everything is terribly dirty. Many of the bookshelves have developed less dust buildup in eighteen years than mine do in eighteen days (no joke). And the walls in the living room proved shockingly clean, when given the wet white cloth test.

But the floor in the kitchen, which I washed prior to us sleeping on it on New Year’s, took three gallons of water and over an hour of scrubbing. Oh well, a small price to pay. The dining room floor – old linoleum covered with red poppies – made me smile, once I realized how bright it still was under its coating of dried mud. I was a bit disappointed in how dull the hardwood floor around the perimeter of the room looked once it was scrubbed, but I think a refinish job will fix most of this. The floors since then have stayed remarkably clean, and brighten up with just a swipe of a cloth. A far cry from my present floors – carpet and hardwood alike – which are so worn that they altogether resist cleanliness.

I know once all the old dirt and grime is scrubbed (and scraped) away, the house will feel very much like home. It already largely does.

I have begun moving other belongings to the farm house, stowing them in cabinets and cupboards. It is my hope that by the time we are actually ready to move, we won’t have much left to do. On the other hand, we can only move out so much of what we use on a regular basis.

At least I can take comfort knowing that our current small house has forced us to be rid of things that we don’t really use. We won’t have a whole lot of trashing to do, and very few garage sale-type items.

Read Full Post »

Entryway Cleaned Up First Time, Farm House - September 2009


Here is the farm house entry way after it’s first cleaning and mopping. Will and I took a deep breath and plunged in – wearing work gloves – to remove the mouse-mess-infested, ever-smelly mountain of trash in the corner. In this pile we found many surprises.

I had assumed, at first, that this pile was primarily camping gear and miscellaneous belongings of the old woman’s grown son, from his occasional stays here throughout the years. It appeared as if he liked hunting and camping, and had used this house as his local headquarters while on vacation.

But the top layer was deceiving. Underneath the camping gear, we found everything from boxes of unused note cards (mouse-infested), to rotten oranges, to used toilet paper (no joke).

After carrying everything out to our pickup box trailer to haul it to our big dumpster in town, I mopped and disinfected the unfinished floor with a solution of white vinegar infused with lavender buds and orange peel. This solution will kill viruses and bacteria, and left a noticeably pleasant scent.

Since this photograph, the entry way has again been filled with trash to be hauled away or burned, but, overall, it’s still progress.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: