Sunday, September 13, 2015

Making Room, Piece by Puzzle Piece

I love our home. It's a 1934(ish) cape cod, with tons of charm. It's a cozy 1600 square feet, and those square feet are distributed in fascinating ways. It's not a front-staircase cape, but a side-staircase one--which  means that upstairs is...interesting. I love my home for the character, but envy newer construction's open layouts, frequent outlets, and larger rooms.

We have been working hard over the past two weekends to make headway on the Great Rearranging Project. It's like a Rubik's Cube, or one of those little plastic puzzles where the squares have to slide around to make the picture, and sometimes you have to slide pieces way out of order to finally get to the beautiful final image. That's pretty much what this process feels like.

We discovered that we have a list of around 10 things that has to get done before we can start decorating our nursery. FutureBaby's room, or Mystery Baby as I've taken to calling him/her at school since that makes more sense to 8th graders and adults alike.

They are:

1) Move Bryce's Morris chair and nesting tables to his office.
Which resulted in...
2) Move Bryce's desk setup to the opposite side of his office to make space
3) Move the barrister bookcase to the TV room and the other assorted stuff to the back room, a tiny little closet-like room that is uninsulated (for now) and is quickly becoming a catchall room for putting stuff that we have nowhere else to store.
4) Take out all the books from the barrister bookcase to decide how we're going to rearrange them... some are Bryce's from childhood and can go in the nursery, some are older programming books, and some are interesting math-y, science-y books. Those are still sitting on the office floor.
5) Paint the dining room, finally, so that the deep red that no longer looks nice since we took out the wall to the kitchen and that's now a serene Flint Smoke blue-grey is GONE. Put the furniture in the dining room in the new empty space left behind by the removal of the Morris chair.
6) Put furniture back in the dining room, making space again where the chair once was...
7) Raise the giant nautical/topographical map of the Maine from Boothbay Harbor to Bath,
so that there's space for...
8) Moving my desk from the nook upstairs down to the living room in that newly empty space,
Which means...
9) Finding homes for books that won't fit downstairs anymore, and in general rearranging all the books in our home so that we can...
10) Retrofit Bryce's floor-to-ceiling built-ins in the nursery to accommodate both books AND a makeshift closet
Made possible by...
11) Moving the furniture out of the nursery and into the nook vacated by my desk,
which also makes possible...
12) Redoing the flooring and the walls of the nursery, since it's all crappy wallboard and floor is a hemasote tile,

AND THEN, THEN we can get the crib and the dresser in there and the glider (whenever we find one that will fit up our ridiculously narrow stairway) into the nook, and fill the bookcase that I've emptied with children's books and space for bottle supplies and a low-light lamp for nighttime feedings and sleep routine miscellany.

Oh, and before Bryce can do any of the woodworking, he has to finish building the speakers he's been building for a friend since about May, which are almost done but taking up most of his workshop space and time.

I feel exhausted just typing that, let alone being smacked in the face with the reality of all these tasks until they are all done. Oh, and did I mention that I am blessed and lucky enough to have not one but TWO showers coming up? I am so super excited and feel honored to be celebrated so thoroughly, but a side effect of that is that we have to find space to put all of the wonderful things that will be coming home after those events. A beautiful problem to have, but it certainly lights a fire under us.

So I keep repeating, I love my house, I love my house, the character is wonderful, we will figure this out.

This weekend we made HUGE headway. We made it through #8, with the exception of the piles of math, science, and software engineering books in the office and some continued finagling of other books. Last weekend I also took all the DVDs in the bookcase already in our TV room and put them in small tubs, alphabetical order by genre (so far): Classics, Funny, Romantic Comedy, Action/Scary, Children's/Holiday, and then put those tubs in the closet in the TV room. This is a closet that currently holds most of my skirts, pants, and dresses, since our closet in the bedroom was set up by someone who was more physics-challenged than I am and made the second clothes rod high enough to maybe hang a onesie. So all my blouses and cardigans fit, and all of Bryce's clothes fit, but all those other things have to live downstairs. Because again, COZY, CHARACTER. My goal is to get the closet to hold less of my clothes and more things for storage. Also, now I have a miraculously EMPTY bookcase, which originally I thought I'd use for some of my children's books and bins for toys, but only has one shelf that is high enough to accommodate most picture books or useful canvas bins. SO, it is holding my Harry Potter hardcovers, my His Dark Materials, my Series of Unfortunate Events hardcovers, and I'm deciding what else might live in there. I have stacks of books without homes right now, shouldn't be too hard to fill it.

Maybe part of the problem is that I want our house to be organized like a library, with books arranged by genre, carefully curated. It's doable. Bryce wanted to take all our books out of the shelves and sort them... which would be some kind of feat. I think we could fill a room's entire cubic footage with our book collection. AND I've been culling a bit, taking a hard look at which books I want to hold on to and would reread or want in my collection versus summer reads I will never revisit. But the stack(s) without a home just seem(s) to keep growing.

This will all come together, I know it will. It feels like a hot mess right now, but this weekend's progress makes me really, really happy.

What's funny is we'll probably have to move a whole lot of stuff when it's time to babyproof, but that seems so very far in the future that I just can't worry about it. Ha.

Some pictures for you to help visualize all this shifting and changing and morphing:

Bryce's Morris chair and tables in his fancypants office, you can see evidence of book piles in the bottom left. This room is like Ode to Stickley, and the room that when I saw it for the first time cemented that this Bryce person was special. It's like an Arts & Crafts museum room, and super cozy. Some day I will figure out how to make my phone pictures depict the outside windows NOT as though a nuclear blast is going off.

New space for Bryce's desk, which was where the chair is now. It's a little, um, sunnier than it used to be.

The barrister bookcase (glass lids up) had to move because it was where the filing cabinet went next to Bryce's desk. It fit PERFECTLY here, in the TV room, and just needs to be filled back up with books, books, books.
Emptied red bookcase in progress... all of Mr. Potter and His Dark Materials, most of Series of Unfortunate Events (missing 1-5 in HC, a used bookstore treasure hunt that's been in the making for years), TV show DVDs sadly neglected on the side of the biggest shelf because their place on the media shelf you can't see got taken up by a vertical turntable thingie my stepfather gave Bryce yesterday. Some DVDs up top that need to find a new home, sadly neglected yoga gear & some shoes I need to get rid of in front of the mirrored closet. That mirror is a magical tool for making that room seem bigger. You can also see one of the first sets of speakers Bryce made in the reflection... :)
The old red dining room (and some wine and cheese)
The new beautiful dining room! The blue grey is the same as the kitchen, and that creamy color? The exact match to the cabinets! So light and airy and warm and inviting... I'm really happy with it. 
See? See how it all ties together now, looking in from the living room? The kitchen and the dining room are all one space, and it looks SO much bigger than it actually is. And it sorta kinda FAKES that open layout I so envy... That's Abner over by the slider, hunting chipmunks through the screen. He approves of this new setup. 
Looking out to the living room from the dining room and a smidge of kitchen, where you can see my brand-spankin'-new office space... right in the middle of everything, which I actually love. I am no longer the crazy wife in the attic nook! You can see the topographical map of Maine...moving it up totally made space for my desk and a lamp. Stay tuned to see if I can keep it this neat for the long haul... 
Lest this all look too neat and tidy and fancy-dancy, the fallout upstairs in my nook from all this moving. I have to file all this stuff, we have to find a place for the printer, and the filing cabinet will come downstairs. I think that bookcase is moving, and I'll get one of those cube things to hold the books when the glider goes in. Abner effectively turned that comforter into a bed and destroyed it. :( This nook is going to haunt me until it's done...
Books, books, more books at the top of the stairs... some displaced, some needing to be rearranged. Bryce built this beautiful bookcase top to the staircase railing bannister doohickey. We tried desperately not to bang it up when finagling my desk down the stairs, since apparently people in the 1930s had miniature furniture. Bookcase railing saved, creamy wall to the left just SLIGHTLY gouged. Priorities. 

There you have it, the slow transformation of our spaces so that we can get working on making the nursery a believable baby's room. I feel like half our puzzle has been slid in the right direction... just a little more to go!


  1. Whew. I'm needing to rest just after reading all that. I LOVE the new dining room space. I can't wait to see Mystery Baby's room when it's all done!

    1. Thank you! Mystery Baby's room is a work in progress. I have some neat little things already in the room, but it's really a disaster. I love the new spaces as they are all evolving though! I went for a walk tonight and came back with the house all lit up, and it made me so happy to see these new warm spaces. :)

  2. It's so hard to manage stuff in small spaces. The problem with big spaces--you just accumulate more to fill it in. You've made great progress and your house is adorable. Finally--yay for two baby showers! Such wonderful people in your life!

    1. Thank you so much! It's true, I guess you do fill the space you have. I can't help but think if we had more usable closets we'd have less clutter... or maybe just more stuff? I am super lucky to have such wonderful people supporting us and wanting to celebrate our impending addition! :)

  3. Love the new color in the dining room! I love the accent blue wall with the creamy wall. This looks like quite the project!

    1. Thank you! The grey blue was an awesome find. It was the one paint chip we both picked when we set ourselves loose on Home Depot to pick a paint color, and it works so well on that whole wall. It was two weekends of work, but well worth it! I love painting. so rewarding, especially when you're covering something that needs to go.

  4. Wow, what you got done on your list was quite impressive!

    Thanks for sharing the pictures - you have a really fantastic house (the first photo in particular looks so cozy and wonderful). It's hard to get new furniture and things to fit spaces, but it looks like things are coming along.

    1. Thank you! We are still plodding through, but we do feel like we're making visible progress. Although it seems for every thing we complete, there's a ripple effect... :) We love our cozy little house, even though today it brought me to tears. Just a tad too cozy for certain furniture items...

  5. The dining room looks amazing! Your house looks so cozy, so many reading spots.

    1. Thank you! We are big on reading spots, so I'm so glad it's apparent in the pictures. Our baby won't lack for books and good modeling of a print-rich, literacy-focused household, that's for sure! :)

  6. you will get there! people in 1934 managed to raise their babies in smaller houses, else we wouldn't be here. So you will do it too!