Friday, August 8, 2014

Settling in.


// We found these three mix-and-match pieces for about 60 bucks total at Fred Meyer. (Is it a grocery or discount store? What are you Fred Meyer?) Eventually there will be some cushions and perhaps white spray paint, but now we have a place to drink our morning coffee. Mario and I sat out on the porch just last night and had a mini date. //

When Kiddo was a wee thing, I used to put half of his toys up in the closet. Out of sight, out of mind. And when he seemed a little indifferent to his playthings, I'd pull them down and put the others up. It was a constant rotation that kept his attention piqued and gave him the sense that he always had something new and exciting to play with. That's how it feels to unpack a house. Sure, I saw that tchotchke not a month ago, where it sat perched atop my dresser for years, but in new surroundings, under different light, and when seen with a fresh perspective, the way I feel about it can change. I can better decide if it's a treasure or a space hog that flew under the radar for far too long. Put something in a box, and it emerges without the old filters that let it hang around unnoticed. One of the great, and often underestimated, side effects of moving is its ability to provide renewed insight into the things you have (or don't have).

Although we took great pains to purge pre-move, and I'm so glad we came to our senses on that front, there are things we couldn't place a value on until we tried to fit them into our new abode. That antique bench we used in our old entryway? Love it. But do I want to curl up in it with a book? No way! And so we must decide if it's worthwhile finding another place for it until we have a proper entryway again one day. That big screen tv stand from Ikea that no longer has a giant circa 1998 tv to support? I had the brilliant idea (if I do say so myself) of making a seat cushion for it so we could use it for additional seating and storage in the living room. I had visions of a Pinterest-worthy creation and my mother-in-law declaring me to be an unrivaled homemaker. Until we drug it in from the garage last night and realized there were too many hurdles to overcome. But that whole experience was not for nothing: I am using the practice of shopping my own house to come up with ways to make things as cozy as possible (a concept she discusses in The Nesting Place). I'm not running out and buying new things and, most importantly, I'm thinking outside the home decor box for perhaps the first time. For instance, we had to split up our couch and loveseat since the living room fireplace precludes its use in that space (I've never met a room more intended for a sectional sofa). And you know what? It's working out great! The upstairs loft needed small but comfortable seating and found it in our loveseat. I just had to force myself to reconsider its purpose--which is to not sit side-by-side with its mate.

In the end, if something doesn't serve our purposes in the way we need it to at this point in our lives, it has got to go. Easier to say than do, of course, but who likes to live in clutter or surrounded by unloved items?

The it doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful mantra sure applies to our home right now. While mostly done, we still have a couple empty walls and unfinished rooms. Mario and I are sharing an office for the first time in our decade-long relationship, and I haven't quite figured out how to meld our two styles. (He's had a room dedicated solely to his home office for over 10 years. Because he works from home when he's not traveling, it was necessary to have that space. Unlike me who had my desk in the corner of the living room. But, you know, he conducts actual business while I mostly read blogs and order things off of Amazon. Except for the 4 years I spent writing papers and tackling organic chemistry problems. One pays the rent, one spends it. Potato, potatoe. Still, his office space was his own, complete with teetering piles of letterhead that I could ignore simply by closing the door. Now what do I do? Draw lines with painter's tape like I did when I shared a room with my sister? If you cross that line, you are sooo dead. But I digress.) 

Another example: we need something for the end of our bed. A bench? A trunk? Who knows. But the point is, the perfect piece will present itself when the time is right, so for now we are leaving the space blank. Because I'd rather have it unfinished than toss something we don't love in its place. We also have additional wall space for more art. Instead, we'll collect pieces that speak to us when we come across them. So what if that wall collage is a little lopsided for the time being? See? Imperfection can be lovely, too.

In the meantime, I have some projects underway and a few more boxes to tackle. Oh, and a closet to unpack. I found my t-shirts and shorts right off the bat, but things could get dicey come September if I haven't found the pants box and cardigan tote. I'm also relieved to have found my underwear... they were missing for some time and I was close to a mandatory rationing period. But there is storage for when all things wearable are rediscovered! (Yay for small victories! The glass is half full around here!)

Here is a glimpse into just how perfectly imperfect things currently are:

// A collage wall in progress (carried over from our last house, with a few additions and subtractions). // Rods hung and curtains hemmed by yours truly. Not a handy husband in sight. //
// Kiddo's handmade treasures, gifted to me over the years, awaiting their permanent homes. //
// A family photo collage in the upstairs loft--one of my first projects in the new house (and my favorite so far). I upgraded all of the frames almost a year ago, then immediately had to stow them away while the house was on the market. They are finally making their debut. // Throw pillows! Oh, throw pillows! Why haven't I used you before? //
// The loft area at the top of the stairs came with a huge built-in shelving system. We originally discussed asking the owner to remove them (they stumped us a little since we hadn't actually seen them in person), but I'm so glad we didn't. This nook we've created is perfect! And because we have storage for all our tchotchkes, miscellaneous collections, games and books, we were able to ditch all our old decrepit press board Ikea bookshelves before we moved (complete with sagging shelves--one actually disintegrated moving it out of the house--apparently we like good meaty books) and gave Kiddo the custom made solid wood bookcase from our previous living room. //
// Kiddo's room, unmade bed and all. After hunting for a bed frame for weeks, and finally resigning ourselves to an Ikea model, we stumbled across this one at an antique store (for less than Ikea, can you imagine?). Kiddo loves it the way it is, which saved me from having to refinish it. The woodwork, oh the woodwork! Swoonworthy, this bed. It must have once belonged to a ship captain or someone named Wadsworth. (A shout out to my main man Mario for building a custom box spring with his own two hands when our existing one wouldn't fit in the frame. If smoking wasn't so darn bad, I'd nominate him for a Marlboro commercial. 'Cause he can ride a horse and birth a calf, too. Did you know? It can be rather annoying, his innate talent, but I try to take the high road. Besides, I can name all the phases of mitosis and bake a mean cookie.) // The room has some rather loud wallpaper on one wall, which we initially were going to ask if we could remove, but somehow it just works. How lovely when that happens. //
// The Legos made it! Praise be! //
// The avocado plant made it, too! Despite Mario's best efforts to kill it in a hot car! //
// A woefully unpacked closet. Which is a disservice to a rather wonderful, fits all my clothes and I don't have to share a single square foot with my husband, closet. Once I unpack all the boxes, it will be the perfect place to hide from my family. //
// An anniversary present from Husband. Bought at a street market last weekend. Before I even realized our anniversary was coming up. It was Tuesday, our anniversary. (Isn't it sad when your anniversary falls on a work night and your husband is out of town? Being a grownup isn't all it's cracked up to be, I tell you.) Eight years under our belts and we still like each other! //
// A little windowsill candy. For the record, I loved succulents looong before bloggers were supposed to love succulents, though I'm not unhappy to finally be on trend, if not a little late. //
// Dining room chairs, and not a two shall match. //
// The poor generic light fixture we love to pick on. It can't help that it's boring and gold. (Though somehow this picture makes it look almost cute. It's like one of those glamour shots people used to do in the 90s, minus the feather boa.) To be fair, it was hanging much lower when we moved in and I cracked my cranium on it not once, but twice. Goose eggs and all. We didn't get off to a good start. It shall get tucked away once we find The One. //
// Our old chopping block that used to be in my husband's grandparents' summer camp in Upstate New York. We hauled it from his parents' ranch in Montana back to New Hampshire where it served as our kitchen island. We had it powdercoated in red before we left; she's now a stunner and also perfectly imperfect with her charming little dents. Here's to third generation furniture! //
// A funky vintage antler mount Kiddo and I found the other day. It's not broken; it was born that way. Asymmetry can be charming, no? //
// A piece of Pyrex turned key bowl. //
// An attractive landing spot for our bills and junk mail. //
// Tiny entryway still in need of storage solutions. //
// We are still in the process of establishing our favorite delivery joints. //
// One of the first things unpacked. Must. Have. Coffee. //
// Oh, Pyrex. You're such a charmer. //
// A home for our rather large cookbook collection and my next big painting project. (It will be this pie rack's third color since we got it for free (!!!) when the shop below our apartment closed in St. Charles, Missouri nine years ago. Handmade, solid wood and a forever piece. The owner's husband was a carpenter and also made the bookshelf that now resides in Kiddo's room. Also free. And also a forever piece. That phrase the best things in life are free rings so true here.) //
// A seltzer bottle turned vase and the perfectly imperfect tabletop surface. //
// Marquee letters spelling out our initials. //
// We'll find a place for you, bench. We love you. //
While we are on the subject of housing and home decor (again! I swear this isn't turning into that sort of blog. I've managed to make this space about everything and nothing in particular this long, why find a focus now? Besides, I'm woefully underqualified to write about such things.), I have to give a shout out to the natural light this house gets. Not a single one of these photos was edited. Our last house was in a wooded area, and all the big windows were north/south facing, so we seldom got natural light. It was hard to photograph things with all the shadows, but I never really noticed how dark it was inside until we moved here. Perhaps that contributed to my glum disposition? I feel like I've upgraded to HD. Glorious natural light! I sing your praises! And cool breezes! Cool breezes! Despite 90 degree days, we've only turned the air conditioning on 3 or 4 times, and only during midday. Sometimes I almost reach for a light sweater in the morning. I feel schoolgirl-ish inside!



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