Heading into this winter, I knew that in my heart of hearts what I most wanted was to get the inside of the house better organized. In the warm months, we absolutely live outside and the house tends to become neglected. On top of that, when we moved into our new home just over two years ago, we left a number of key areas unfinished, and I went into this winter still battling a pervasive sense of chaos in the house. While I totally accept that the chaos will never go entirely, I was sorely in need of even a false sense of organization, particularly when life got even more hectic with homeschooling our youngest.
As seen in previously posted pictures here, what I think of as the back wall of the large, open central room in our home, was never really finished properly. We didn’t put any cabinets for the kitchen on that wall, and a makeshift bookcase and desk at the kitchen end of the room made the space practical if not ‘complete’.
When I became the main teacher of our youngest in November, my little four-shelf bookcase had to give up two shelves’ worth of cookbooks in favour of schoolbooks, and my tiny Victorian desk quickly experienced overwhelm. We made it work, but my desire to create more storage and increase the workspace in that part of the room ramped up hugely. This isn’t the best ‘before’ shot, but you get the idea.
I’ve been known to lunge at the nearest possible solution when feeling pressed: when heavily pregnant with our older boy and trying to quickly furnish our first house I voted to buy the first sofa I sat on and that’s exactly what we did. Over the past two years I had resisted a number of antique dressers and cabinets that would have looked lovely in the space – and been a wonderful way to reuse an old, existing piece of furniture – but done little to lend the much needed organization. The wait has been well worth the short term increase in chaos caused by the necessary removal of my workstation while the new unit has been built and painted over the past two weeks.
It was certainly worth it to see Reggie meeting a new friend (the stuffed lab of our youngest son, which predates our real live lab by a few years).
This dog loved having visitors in the house and seemed to have a lot to say, if only with his eyes, about the whole process.
For a while, the chaos in the kitchen seemed to invite that inevitable companion, even MORE chaos, when youngest son decided to set up shop with half of his Lego collection. I’m oddly proud to say that losing a good chunk of the kitchen island to a world made out of Lego for several days didn’t rattle me too much (and then one day I reached my limit and kindly demanded that the removal process begin).
The painting was done yesterday, and now we’ll have to wait about a week until we can put anything on the painted surfaces. We’re also missing the worktops (wood), haven’t yet decided about tile for the bit of wall below the open shelving, and we’ll have a magnetic board framed above the desk. But none of this has stopped me from setting up shop again at the desk and enjoying this much longed for bit of infrastructure in the heart of our house.
Taking time to live with a gap in the busiest part of our home was such a good idea; when it came time to sketch out what I felt we needed there, it came quickly and almost drew itself. And now we’re almost there. I already feel more organized just looking at what came into being in just a few short days.
My husband reflected recently that many people today, ourselves included, live like kings. We had to agree that in fact we live better than kings, when you consider the cold, drafty castles of the past and everything that went with them. All of which is just one way to consider how fortunate I feel to have all of this.
I was listening to an author being interviewed on the radio today about his new novel, in which he wanted to focus on the chaos of modern life. He referred to the ‘agony of raising children’ in modern life, and this resonated with me. There is so much of modern life that is complex and unnaturally chaotic, and much of it feels unnecessarily so. We most surely do not need all of ‘this’ in order to live good lives, raise our children effectively and yet this is where we have got to in our society at this point in human history. It’s pretty hard to break that down, as this is where we are.
I really didn’t intend to turn philosophical with this post, but it’s hard for me to put this post together without doing so, and the least I can say is that I’m grateful to have the means to alleviate the pressure I feel in my own life.