Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Design Without a Dime

From the bean of Green Bean.

I hate my house.

No. Really.

I know that we green types are supposed to "bloom where we are planted." We supposedly love tiny little houses squeezed in between other tiny little houses in an uber dense urban setting where mass transit, farmers' markets and recycling facilities are abundant. And, yes, I've read and re-read the country mouse post. I get it.

And still . . .

I hate my house.

Okay, maybe hate is a strong word. And it's not the whole house. Just parts of it. Big parts of it.

I miss the vintage kitchen in my old house. The character, the temperamental Wedgewood stove, and the enormous make shift pantry that was born as a broom closet.

I miss the spacious back yard in my new (yet to be found) house. The sunny spot for raised beds. The back corner cozied up with a chicken coop. The rugged climbing tree with a homemade tree house and the large (unwatered and totally chemical free) lawn big enough for the boys' dog (also yet to be found).

Although we've lived here for years, I've never found space for all my things. The shelves above the washer/dryer bow under the weight of our towels and bedding. The one car garage - too small even for my husband's sedan - bursts with paint cans, last year's jam and chutney, small kitchen appliances, camping and exercise equipment and the "riding stock" (e.g., bikes).

Yet, here we are. And, I suppose it is high time that I, like my garden, bloom where I am planted.

With that in mind, I spent the weekend finding my space in this space. I cleaned. I reorganized. I let go of the meaningless, the unused, the clutter. I went a little Chile.

In doing so, I found fabulous metal stakes for labeling plants in the garden.

I came across a wooden board and had Mr. Green Bean fashion it into a shelf for an armoire.

I cleared out a garage cabinet and found a home for the canning jars. Some extra clothesline I came across along the way, plus some hooks and nails already in place, became home to those pesky canning bands.

I rediscovered a vintage recipe folder, picked up at an estate sale years ago, and filled it with recipes. It turns out that, for most of my cookbooks, I've only found one or two recipes that I really use. Those recipes stayed, the cookbooks found a new family and the shelf found a bit of breathing room.

I unearthed a pile of river rocks and moved them (along with some supplements from Freecycle - someone else's decluttering) to the front of my Victory Garden fence. There, they hide the weeds and pretty up the garden.

I found space in my closets, my cupboards, my pantry and my dresser. I also found a big ole pile of things that I don't really need after all. And I guess I found myself a garage sale, a load for the rummage sale or a Freecycle Rampage.

My house, minus loads of clutter, plus some creative re-design without spending a dime? I don't hate it so much after all.

Dislike seems the more appropriate term. ;-)


The Mom said...

Good for you. I find it hard to see pictures of other people's houses. I wish I had their space. I wish I had less stuff. Its always amazing to me how much room all those canning jars, canners and dehydrators take up. My house is tiny. My yard is set up funny and I wish it were just a little bigger. But, in the end its ours and we make do. A little rearranging and prettying always helps. I just never find the time!

Farmer's Daughter said...

The grass is always greener on the other side. I'm jealous of public transportation, bikability and walkability. But I wouldn't say I hate my house :)

I, too, need to do some rearranging around here. Our house is still way too big for us, but the plan is to stay here forever, so I'm sure we'll eventually outgrow it. My problem is my office/paperwork. I still haven't found an effective way to organize in there.

Erin aka Conscious Shopper said...

My husband and I always say, "When we're in the country, we wish we lived in the country. When we're in the city, we love living in the city." Both have their own appeal.

I love how you've found ways to make do. We downsized this year from 1800 square feet to 1200, and we're definitely getting creative with storage space.

City Girl said...

I LOVE the canning jar lid idea...I'm definitely going to have to implement that! Thanks!!!

Kathie said...

Awesome! Amazing how a shift in mental attitude and some de-cluttering can make a huge difference, isn't it?

Condo Blues said...

When I did a big basement clean out and reorg, it felt a little like Christmas because I found quite a few things I wanted but forgot I had. It's strange but after recycling and donating a lot of that clutter I felt like I had more stuff in the house, not less because the stuff I had was stuff I used because I found (or in some cases refound) more easily and could use it more often.

kale for sale said...

I am in constant want of a different home, you know, the one with the roomy, romantic garden I can eat from, instead of the shared, bamboo ridden, half shady yard I have. And yet it's surprising what can be harvested from a few pots on the back deck or what blooms beneath the mulch of bamboo. Thanks for reminding me to look at what I have and not what I don't have!

Kasey aka Green-Eyed Blogster said...

I'm feeling the same way lately. I look around and feel like my stuff is owning me rather than the other way around. Time to declutter!

Green Bean said...

Mom: It is so hard to find the time, isn't it. Didn't I say we've been here for years. :) As to the "homesteading" stuff, who knew it took up SO much space and was so hard to organize.

Abbie: So true. The thing is that I love having friends and downtown in walking distance. I just also want a little more yard space and a better configured house. Nothing wrong with wanting it all. :) Good luck with the office. That's the one place I haven't tackled yet. Saving the worst for last.

Erin: Wow! 1200 feet. And here I am complaining about 1600 feet. I suppose at that size you really do have to let go of the clutter and get creative.

City Girl: Thank you! I did that a couple days ago and so far, it seems to be working. I've had so much trouble figuring out what to do with those bands and they otherwise take up way too much space.

Kathie: Totally!

Lisa: So true. Those plant stakes were something I ogled in the spring but didn't want to splurge for. I had no recollection whatsoever of owning those. Also, my husband just handed me a nice metal seed saving kit that he found. Something I owned from way back when I gardening in a purely flowers. Christmas indeed.

Katrina: You are right. In a way, the small size of my yard makes it easier to keep on top of pests and other problems. Too much more space and I might get overwhelmed.

Kasey: Stuffing owning me? What an accurate way of putting it.

~Mad said...

"Bothered By My Green Conscience" - I'd love a chance to read this.
~Mad(elyn) in Alabama

Daisy said...

I would love to have more storage space. Our house is Victorian, and at the time it was built they didn't put in closets. We put in a built-in cabinet for linens, a set of shelves for a make-shift pantry, and more. I like your canning jar idea. That couldwork for me!

JessTrev said...

Ahhh...I love the rampage you went on! No house is perfect, eh? We are even moving -- soon -- and I can tell you that I will be working around the land we're getting in order to be able to garden to my heart's content. But close by? A bike path and metro! Farmer's markets, walkable restaurants, you name it. So, I can't complain. Even if there's no way I can get chickens. ;) Going for the bats instead - it's my little compromise.

Truffula Mama said...

We're on similar brain waves here! As it happens, my sister spent the entire day with me, helping me... rearrange and declutter. In the midst of the chaos we created -- my heavens! You should have seen the pile we had in the middle of the room -- she took a few breathers in the one little oasis we had going. Those design blogs and magazines make it all look so easy! Ha!

Green Bean said...

Mad: I'll add you to the pot. Check back on Friday to see if you won.

Daisy: Glad that might work out. If you come up with something better, do share!! Love hearing about how you managed to make some space in your Victorian.

Jess: Indeed, NO house is perfect. That said, bats would be cool. Very cool.

Truffula: Isn't that the truth. The magazines and shows only show the before and after. Not the buried under a mountain of !*)# middle.

Jennifer said...

Those big old stoves are really something else. If we had a gas line to the stove, I'd restore one in a heartbeat.

I used to feel as you do about our 800 square feet... I felt penned in at every turn by STUFF and lack of space. Then, I slowly started doing what you've discovered... reusing things elsewhere, realizing I just don't NEED everything I think I do and giving it away. I make sure everything has dual purpose, and a place that is easily found.

I don't have children yet, and I can imagine that that really changes how I could view a house. But for the past several years, I've felt VERY content in our small space!

I'm glad you are able to do some things to make your house more of the home you want. That's important.

Donna said...

I enjoyed this post and comments very much. We have felt stuffed in our 1200 sq feet and miniature yard ever since our son was born. So stuffed, in fact, that we are preparing our house to sell and are looking for a new one. I think that no matter the size of the house, everyone thinks they need about 300 sq ft more than they currently have, just like no matter the income level, everyone thinks they'd be fine if they just had about $300 more/month. Our top favorite house at the moment has 1500 sq feet.

What we're finding is that our wish list is so vast that we will have to compromise on multiple things because the perfect house simply doesn't exist. Personally, green bean, I think your house is wonderful and I'd love to buy it and let you look for a new one, but I'm afraid we just can't compromise quite that much on the location. :)

Green Bean said...

Jennifer: Our old stove was the best, in part because it had this enamel top that folded over the burners, when they weren't in use, and hid how dirty they were. :P You are so right, though, re a dual purpose. I recently inherited my grandmother's cake platter and I really wanted to use it instead of storing it for years in a back cupboard as I would have done it years past. I swapped it out for a tiered Southern Living platter, which I gave away on Freecycle and made some nascent caterer's day!

Donna: Ha! I get caught by someone who's actually seen my house. :) You are so right that no house is perfect. We too have been looking. I don't know if we'll actually do anything but we find that what we can afford will give us something different but not necessarily better. That said, I continue the ruthless decluttering. My next stop is my bedroom closet. Good luck with your house hunting!

Gretchen said...

Funny.... I'm sitting here, drinking my coffee & mentally preparing to do some major spring cleaning, organizing, reusing... and I find this fabulous posting! I feel so inspired now, to make the home-I-do-not-love into an organized masterpiece!

Thank you :-)


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