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Something clicked this year.

I was working my tail off on projects around the home (the studio, mostly) and adding other projects on top of unfinished items – for example, Exhibit A, the console table. At the end of my work day, I’d find myself feeling unsettled; it seemed nothing was getting completed to the fullest. I was pulling myself in ten directions, poorly multi-tasking and I self-induced my own crazies. If I wasn’t working, I was thinking about work – what I didn’t do and what I needed to do tomorrow.

I like to work, and I’m always going to want to make or do something new – case in point, the living room. I enjoy a full plate (edit: I thrive on it), and that’s okay.

But when it comes to juggling work vs. down time, Scott is always so calm, so collected. (This, among countless other things, is why I love him so.) He’s unflappable, and I wanted that, too. I wanted to relish in my down time, like him. I wanted to allow myself down time, period. When he would see my mind wander, he would ask me if I ended the work day by re-evaluating my lists (rather than stew on ideas late into the evening), and had I kept them do-able? He’d remind me to break my list up into smaller tasks, prioritize, and if the least important items didn’t get done – if those last 3 to dos don’t get the big check mark – in the grand scheme of things, what would happen?

Nothing, really.

He’s told me this many, many times in our 9 years together. And after a mid-week concert a few months ago, I allowed myself the next morning off. We went to breakfast, we enjoyed a moment of unexpected down time together, and when I inevitably felt rushed to get back to the studio, he reminded me again: What have you lost in the last 2 hours? Enjoy this time we have right now.

Finally, 30 years in the making, it clicked. It was my own little a-ha! moment. Is it because I was ready to listen? To learn? Isn’t that what they say?

I’m trying this, oh, new thing where I work to my fullest during the day, and I relax, have fun and unwind (to the fullest!) when I close my studio door. I still have big, long lists, but if something isn’t done by my imaginary deadline, so far, life has gone on. One thing at a time, then move to the next. I’m stepping back and un-learning how to multi-task. It’s learning again, but backwards.

My productivity ebbs and flows and some days are better than others – just like everyone else. And after months of giving this thing a good, hard effort, my balanced days are starting to far outweigh the frazzled ones. (Scott, do you agree?)

How do you handle your long lists and self-induced frazzles?

  • Claudia - July 13, 2012 - 7:33 AM

    Kim, this is something I’m working on too – I’m on a mission to stop multitasking – to focus on the one thing I’m doing NOW, and not to make mental lists or think about what comes next. This means that I can only do the one thing I care about at a time, not multiple half-assed efforts at once. I also have a husband who inherently does this and is trying (after 12 years) to influence me to chill out!ReplyCancel

  • Julia [Chris Loves Julia] - July 13, 2012 - 8:43 AM

    Oh Kim. I started following your blog a few months ago because I felt connected to you and your blog (all the way down to the way it looks) inspired me. You have been my virtual and artistic mentor. Secretly, I guess. Haha. I am an artist myself and run a little home design blog, we even recently finished up my studio!

    http://www.chrislovesjulia.com/2012/06/stale-nursery-to-lively-studio-reveal.html

    This post is exactly what I needed to hear. Some nights…errr most nights, Chris comes home and we get our little girl in bed and he asks, “What’s on the list tonight.” And I ramble off at least 3 things I need to, NEED to, get done. And I feel bad. And then the thing that I love so much started turning into something I dread. And I realized I needed to take a step back. Just like you. I just need to learn how to enjoy down time. And that it is okay.

    Anyway, all that to say–thanks!ReplyCancel

  • Kim - July 13, 2012 - 8:55 AM

    Claudia, our husbands are such smarties!

    Julia, I just left a comment on your studio, but I’ll say it again – it’s SO beautiful! That painted ceiling is to die for, and I’ve always loved those Flor tiles (we’re thinking of Flor for our living room rug now). Funny, I say Sophistikat was a potential option, too. Great minds think alike, right?

    Learning to enjoy the downtime can certainly be hard, and it sounds like (and from what I can see in your blog) that you totally get it. One step at a time, but we’ll get there! I’m getting closer all the time.

    OH, and somehow I ended up on your Etsy page yesterday. You’re a wonderful artist and inspiring in your own right, lady!ReplyCancel

  • jenn aka the picky girl - July 13, 2012 - 9:24 AM

    I teach during the day, and then in the afternoons/evenings I go home and eat lunch (very late), go to the gym, then come home and edit. Teaching doesn’t pay well, so I edit on the side. I’m working all the time. I love my book blog, but when I’m done with all the work, I write, which, even though I loved to do it, is more of the same.

    Last weekend, I crashed. I was so tired. I was so down. And I realized, I can’t keep doing this. I need a schedule. I need to stick to it. I need to be able to enjoy my life and not feel guilty when I’m NOT working. So thanks for reinforcing that I need to make my plans and get to it.ReplyCancel

  • katie - July 13, 2012 - 9:34 AM

    i could have written this post! well, not as nicely as you did, but i have been feeling the same thing lately. so thank you for putting it in to words :-)

    i think it’s so easy to get caught up in “whats next” and sometimes forget to just be in the moment. i am a huge multi-tasker, and it was always something i was proud of. but lately i’ve also realized that a lot of times, things weren’t getting fully complete, or i’m so frantically trying to do a billion things that i don’t even get satisfaction from checking things off the list.

    so i’ve been trying to only take on one or two big tasks at a time. in the spring i decided to spend 3 months focused on doing p90x and working on our kitchen remodel. and now that i’m done with those things, i’m focusing on studying for my next architecture test. once i realized it was ok to wait on a few items on the “to do” list, i instantly felt better.

    now i just need to be able to keep it up… good luck to you!ReplyCancel

  • Scott - July 13, 2012 - 9:34 AM

    Yay for downtime! For all you Husbands out there, helping Kim to realize the importance of the work-life balance has made us BOTH happier and more easy-going. I encourage you to assist your ladies, if necessary.

    As my Training Director at my 9 to 5 is so fond of saying; “Work at work! Home at home!”ReplyCancel

  • Kim - July 13, 2012 - 10:13 AM

    Jenn, we’ll work on this effort together! I’ve crashed in the past, too, and while it feels good at the time, I have guilt later. Down days are so, so necessary, but they feel better if you know you’ve earned it – as opposed to just crashing, hard.

    Katie, you make a good point. I remember interviewing for jobs out of college, and my ability to multi-task was a major selling point. Like saying, “hire me! I can do everything!”

    We’re also trying to do only 1-2 projects at time. First it was the studio remodel, then it was The Pet Shop site remodel. Now we’re working on a few new products for the Shop (including drawings and pillows!), and we’d like to give this blog a tiny makeover to match it’s newer, sleeker Shop counterpart.

    BUT! Not all at once.

    Scott, I love you!ReplyCancel

  • Jane Davila - July 13, 2012 - 2:34 PM

    I think this is something that all of us in creative fields struggle with. It’s all made worse when you work at home and you’re self-employed, because the work is always there and the guilt or anxiety to get through the to-do lists never gets “left at the office” since the office is usually in the next room. I have a friend who is one of the most centered and present people I know and she gave me a great tip – and when I actually implement it the day goes so much better. She starts off each day by looking at her to-do list and deciding which of the things listed are her three MITs (Most Important Things). If you can focus on getting your 3 MITs done, then the rest is gravy. And if those are done then you can relax at the end of the day without guilt. My days get out of control and stressful when I don’t do start this way or when I start with more than 3 MITs. I’m also trying really, really hard to step away from work on the weekends, although that only happens about 40% of the time. I think we all have to remind ourselves to take a break when we need to, refill the well when we feel depleted, and be present as much as we can.ReplyCancel

  • Kim - July 13, 2012 - 4:24 PM

    Jane, I like the idea of 3 MITs. That’s a good rounded number, and I’ll see if I can implement the idea in the coming work week. Thank you!ReplyCancel

  • ann - July 13, 2012 - 4:42 PM

    Kim – I’m happy that this is working for you. Dare I say that Scott is a lot like his father as far as chill time?ReplyCancel

  • Kim - July 13, 2012 - 4:58 PM

    Ann, yes, that sounds about right!ReplyCancel

  • Heather {ModernMealsforTwo} - July 16, 2012 - 11:29 AM

    I also have to take cues from Hubster and cut my INSANE list of to dos once in a while. Judging by the comments above, we’re not alone in the need to feel like we’ve rung every bit of productivity out of every day.

    I think a lot of it comes from building a business. When you start it and are still working you really have to put in a lot of time. It’s hard to know when to throttle back and enjoy the time you have.

    Random days off and breakfast on a weekday are a good start :)ReplyCancel

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Last weekend started like most. We went on our SociaBulls walk with Jackson, filled up at Bang Bang (we’re officially obsessed) and ran our errands. When we returned home that Saturday, I reminded Scott that we still had to hash out our annual summer yard sale date, and while doing so, I thought, you know, I could sell our ottoman. I’m sort of over it.

After that, it was a bit of a blur.

A recent poll of our condo building firmed up an August 4th sale date (more on that as we near in on the day!), which really isn’t that far from now. A few weeks ago, we had started a list of “to sell” on our chalkboard back splash, and so I added Otto. From there, I asked Scott if there were any items I could gather up, bag, and get out of the way until the sale. And before you knew it, we had added curtains, blinds, an end table, a bench, frames and shelving – to name a few. All of these things, however, came from our living room.

Before that started, you might remember our living room to look like this:

This is before we broke out the screwdrivers and spackle, of course. Scott took down our curtains, I wrestled up light weight furniture, and suddenly, our living room was looking, um, sparse. Of course I didn’t remember to snap a photo (because sheesh, the whole thing was unplanned), but here’s how our room looks after we rearranged what was left (when shot in direct sunlight – our curtain-less windows don’t help, either!):

It’s not terribly drastic, although in a room so small, every move seems to make a large impact. You’re probably wondering, what changed? Some things are impossible to tell from a photograph, so here’s the rundown:

  1. We picked up a $2 chair from a neighborhood yard sale (a few weeks ago) and added it to the room.
  2. No more curtains.
  3. No more end table.
  4. We centered our sofa under the window. How novel! Our media wall is tall, but it’s certainly not wide. For years, we’ve fought that by cheating the center of the window with curtains and pushing our couch to align with the short media wall. Our couch is now a good 3 feet off the art-shelving-wall (trust, it’s hard to to tell in the photo), and as a result, everything in the room shifted, too. Aah, breathing space.
  5. We swapped our Jubilee lamp (currently sitting on our sub woofer) and the red floor lamp – for now.
  6. Our lovely chair moved to the opposite side of the room. Before we centered our sofa, this arrangement would have been impossible.

But the best part, I think, is what can now be tweaked:

  1. We love the clean lines of this chair; we think it’s why it works on this side of the room. The room feels more open, even though there’s more furniture. Unfortunately, the upholstery is beat, and the seat isn’t fully attached. It needs a makeover.
  2. We got rid of the end table I painted (and then stained the top to match our blinds; oh, Kim!). We might add another table?
  3. Those blinds have got to go. This time around, we’re thinking light and airy – potentially white rollers or white honeycombs. We’ll also add back thin curtain panels to hide those speakers that have been exposed.
  4. We love this rug, but Jack has beat. It. To. Death. It was a steal on Overstock, but the 7′ square no longer makes sense with the sofa purposely off-centered. The only furniture legs that touch it is our arm chair and coffee table. We know this can be a spendy purchase, so we’ll be on the hunt for a deal (or a DIY, maybe).
  5. I’m not loving the sub woofer turned end table – perhaps we can encase it to look like an actual table.
  6. We’ve talked about reupholstering this chair since the day we got it. It’s a nubby, neutral fabric, but the felines in this house love the texture. This could happen a ways down the road, as we’d likely have to save up for the job.
  7. (Below) Our staggered shelves of art are competing with our media wall, and we decided something had to give – and it wouldn’t be the wall! It’s still important for us to have art, but we’d like to reassess what we have, rid what we have no sentimental attachment to, and clean up the frames so they’re all the same color. We’d rather the art stand out, and not the frames themselves.

Phew, there it is.

We like change; it’s good for you! For us! And while I had a bit of guilt over things like the curtains and blinds we bought almost 5 years ago, Scott asked me this: If we were to buy curtains right now, would we get those? No. If we were to buy new blinds right now, would we want red toned Venetians? Hell, no. Our tastes have changed, and they’re constantly evolving. As we live with certain items, we find what may work for us, and what might not. We scoop inexpensive finds, fix them up, and in some cases they eventually move on. Hey, remember when we had that massive fish tank? Aw, bittersweet.

Nothing is ever permanent, and isn’t that the fun part of loving your home?

Of course the challenge now is tweaking slowly, one step at a time, and within reason. In other words, what can we DIY? What do we have to replace? What do we want to replace? Where’s the best place to start? And can we do this on a minimal budget, please?

Oh, my. Do looming yard sales have you purging and re-imagining, too?

  • Carrie @DreamGreenDIY - July 12, 2012 - 8:08 AM

    I agree – Lack of permanence IS the fun art of loving a home! It’s the journey that counts right??? Cheesy but true =) Not to mention the excitement of searching for and finding new things to bring in – It’s sort of addicting…Best of luck with your little tweaks!!ReplyCancel

  • Holyoke Home - July 12, 2012 - 8:10 AM

    We JUST went through the basement and put everything for a to be determined tag sale in one place. Still have to decide on a date and make it happen! Living looks greatReplyCancel

  • Staci @ My Friend Staci - July 12, 2012 - 9:24 AM

    Our upcoming move (September) has got purging on my brain, too! The nice thing is that most of our stuff was free/thrifted so many items aren’t too hard to let go of. It’s nice to freshen up once in a while!ReplyCancel

  • Jillian - July 12, 2012 - 10:55 AM

    I think one large piece of art (print or a mirror) would look sweet on the wall opposite the media wall. I saw this mirror at the store where we bought our couch, and I’m kind of obsessed: http://www.uttermost.com/p-2618-cyrus.aspx?EID=140&EN=Category
    It looks really pretty in person!ReplyCancel

  • Jillian - July 12, 2012 - 10:57 AM

    My only beef w/ that mirror is the faux crackled look of the goldish circle. If it were plain gold, I’d snap it up in a heartbeat (it was on sale)….ReplyCancel

    • Kim - July 12, 2012 - 12:28 PM

      Jillian, I actually really like that mirror! And I do like the idea of putting a mirror on that wall, but our only concern is that’s the largest wall in our whole home. (Not counting the hallways!) It might actually be too small for the space, but you’re definitely on to something. Thanks for the idea!ReplyCancel

  • Julia [Chris Loves Julia] - July 12, 2012 - 1:21 PM

    How rejuvenating! I love your thought, “if we were to buy _____ right now, would we get those?” Gah! So liberating! I am the queen of tweaks, but this has given me a whole new outlook…and a reason to have a yard sale. :)ReplyCancel

  • Jillian - July 12, 2012 - 1:36 PM

    Now that you mention the wall being too large for just a mirror, i see that. Hmmmm. And now that yoh like that mirror, i’m wanting it all over again (to go on the wall behind our new couch). Eeeeeek!ReplyCancel

  • Kim - July 12, 2012 - 1:40 PM

    Jill, are you changing your living room layout? I thought you had a giant window behind your couch! Are you reversing the room?

    But yes, that mirror is awesome. I can see it fitting right into your home!ReplyCancel

  • Jillian - July 13, 2012 - 10:09 AM

    We’ll change up the layout a little from the sectional. Since the sectional was so huge, it had to be against the wall. But since the couch is smaller, we’ll maybe be able to have it come out from the wall more (we’ll just have to work w/ things when it comes, you know, you know). Behind where the sectional was is a giant window and a wall, but they share the space equally, with the window in the far corner and the wall meeting the front door. So the wall space for art or a mirror wouldn’t be centered over the couch.ReplyCancel

  • Kim - July 13, 2012 - 10:17 AM

    Ooookay, gotcha. I can’t WAIT to see how it all transforms. How fun! We’ll have to catch up at your place next time we’re in town. Love you!ReplyCancel

  • finley @ place i love - July 17, 2012 - 4:44 AM

    I think it’s a good thing to be ‘always tweaking’ and making changes otherwise a room can become dull and over crowded with junk that you never move or throw away. I like what you’ve done, good inspiration to us all to keep tweaking :)ReplyCancel

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Almost 3 months after we asked for your color input, we’ve finally painted the entryway console! Hooray! Hey, remember when it looked like this?

Now, it’s totally teal. It has little knobs! It’s shiny and blue and pretty!

We painted our table with the same products and methods we (mostly) always do, but due to the intricate Greek key pattern on the sides and a few alterations, we added spray options + wood filler. Here’s what we used:

• wood filler (any will do, we used Elmers)
• Zinsser Bullseye 1-2-3 water-base primer
• Valspar spray primer
• Glidden’s Totally Teal in satin
Minwax Polycrylic in clear semi-gloss, quart
• Minwax Polycrylic in clear semi-gloss, spray

Our table had a groove design element on the top that we were never really a fan of, so we used this opportunity to get rid of it. After filling the groove with wood filler, we smoothed it with our putty knife then gave it a quick sand to smooth it all down.

All the flat surfaces were primed using a foam roller, but we sprayed the sides and any of the decorative elements to eliminate brush strokes.

We followed the primer with 2 coats of our color and 2 coats of Polycrylic. A 2″ angled brush was used to apply our Polycrylic on the flat surfaces, and in the same way we used the spray primer for the sides, we did the same with the spray poly. Again, this eliminates any visible brush strokes or build up on the key design, however, keep in mind that the shinier your poly finish is, the higher the chances are for imperfections to show through! Using a high quality brush and avoiding over-brushing helps to keep streaks at a minimum.

Once everything was dried to the can’s instructions, we added these knobs from Anthropologie. The Greek key pattern only went around 3 sides, and the back of the console had a smooth, flat surface that begged for a bit of embellishment. I first mentioned the idea here, and while it’s not a real drawer, we can at least fake it!

We’ve since added our yellow vase to the table (sadly, sans flowers right now), but we’ll use the console-top as a drop zone for keys, wallets and lip balm.

My favorite part is – hands down – our fake drawer pulls (I think of them as earrings for the table), and I’m pretty sure Scott’s just happy he has a landing spot for his keys again. We couldn’t be happier with the blue – and we have you to thank for that! Nice teamwork.

What do you think? Is anyone else adding a touch of color to otherwise so-so decor?

  • Suzanna - July 10, 2012 - 10:09 AM

    The table looks fabulous! I love the combination of teal and yellow and I’m a fan of the table’s “earrings” too. :-DReplyCancel

  • kaylan - July 10, 2012 - 11:57 AM

    LOVE it! i can’t help, but feeling like i won since i was voting for teal way back when.

    i’m in the process of stripping and eventually repainting a dresser turned tv console. we’ve been debating colors since we bought it on saturday – white? navy? grey? yellow? i think white will win because i already have all the paint on hand, but a pop of color would be nice too… we’ll see how it ends up!ReplyCancel

  • Helena - July 10, 2012 - 11:58 AM

    Your entryway looks SO good. I love that you added the little drawerpulls. They are perfect!ReplyCancel

  • Caitlin @ Desert Domicile - July 10, 2012 - 1:32 PM

    I love it! Although I never officially voted, I was pulling for teal :) By the way, where did you get the little bowl/plate you’re using to hold your keys? It’s super cute!ReplyCancel

  • Lauren L. - July 10, 2012 - 4:34 PM

    It looks great! That table was a great find it’s perfect in that spaceReplyCancel

  • ann - July 11, 2012 - 7:20 AM

    I LOVE IT! You two are so creative. It must be genetic. Are you laughing?ReplyCancel

  • Amanda @ Our Humble A{Bowe}d - July 11, 2012 - 8:03 AM

    That is so fun! Great color and the accessories are fantastic.ReplyCancel

  • Jillian - July 13, 2012 - 10:11 AM

    You know me and earrings! pitter patter. I have a lil yellow vase that’s been in hiding since a decor reorg and now I want it out again! Love that blue! It turned out super pretty! :)ReplyCancel

  • Jillian - July 13, 2012 - 10:12 AM

    Does that thing even open? haha, good call on the pulls, would’ve never thought of ‘em!ReplyCancel

  • Kim - July 13, 2012 - 10:16 AM

    Jillian, thank you! I do know you and your earrings – you’re the reason I ever wear them in the first place!

    Nope, doesn’t open at all. Totally fake. Awesome!ReplyCancel

  • Anna - November 27, 2012 - 2:04 PM

    this is so cute! what is the name of the paint color you ended up using? I’m painting my media stand and I’m thinking a teal blue would be perfect!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - November 27, 2012 - 2:10 PM

      Hi Anna, it’s called Totally Teal by Glidden!ReplyCancel

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