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?
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?
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:
- We picked up a $2 chair from a neighborhood yard sale (a few weeks ago) and added it to the room.
- No more curtains.
- No more end table.
- 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.
- We swapped our Jubilee lamp (currently sitting on our sub woofer) and the red floor lamp – for now.
- 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:
- 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.
- 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?
- 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.
- 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).
- I’m not loving the sub woofer turned end table – perhaps we can encase it to look like an actual table.
- 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.
- (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?
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?