Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Chapter 1: The Plea For Help (In Which I Air My Dirty Laundry... er, House)

Well, alright.  Let's address it.  The elephant, that is.  You may have noticed (or maybe not, depending on how observant you are) That there are next to no photos of my home in whole on this blog.  Sure, there are bits and pieces, here and there, but nothing that gives you a big picture feel. That is by design.  And though there may be several factors feeding into the problem, they really all boil down to this one thing: I'm unhappy with my design and style.
Actually, more accurately put, there IS NO design or style.
You see homes all over crafty/diy/sewing blogland that are beautiful and meticulously put together.  Mine is not one of those.  (Even if it DIDN'T lack design - which it does - it wouldn't be meticulous OR put together, let's just own up to it right now.)

I could blame budget (and yes, that does contribute.  I stay at home with the kids and with that comes sacrifices - budget-ly speaking.  It's about priorities, and I don't regret the decision we made, but yes it affects our standard of living.)  BUT I know that excuse only goes so far.  Frugal and thrifty ladies have made houses homes.
The fact of the matter is, I'm fairly certain I do not have an interior designing bone in my body.  For how creative I am in other areas, I am SEVERELY lacking in this one.  I make things for my home - sometimes, and with varied results/satisfaction -  but all in all every room I touch seems to feel unfinished, somewhat generic, and wholly unsatisfying.  I see things I like on pinterest or in my blog feeder, but can't seem to duplicate anything.

I really don't even know where to start.  

And yes, almost my entire house feels this way to me.  With the exception of my kids rooms - which I like quite a lot.

Now, all of this explanation really is leading somewhere, I promise.  You've heard of a little something something going on over at Vintage Revivals, right?  I was going to enter last year, but couldn't even decide on which room to enter, that's the sorry state of my house right now.  I went back and forth about it this year.  "I should just do it."  "Why try?  There's like 50 billion entries." "That's it.  I'm doing it." "But then I have to show the world my dirty laundry... er, house."

You know what?  I'm doing it.  I'm showing.  You know why?  Because darn it, I want to win.  I want Mandi to come and give my home a Mandilicious makeover.  I want her to bring Hailee and I want them to show me how to FIX THIS DISASTER.  I want it more than I want to bury my embarrassing photos in the backyard.  (but only a little more, because folks, these photos are THAT embarrassing.)

My house needs help.

I finally decided on the main level of my house, since it's one big open room that has several different functions and it is the HEART of all the action around here.  It's the first thing you see upon opening the door, it's where everyone congregates during a gathering, it will take the most work to make it "right", and it's physically the hardest room to tackle (due mainly to its height).

So.  Here goes.  Come on in, let me show you around.  (deep breath...)

Ok, just kidding.  That photo's not good and it shows you next to nothing.  Let's start at the beginning instead, shall we?  

This is the inside of our front door.

Nothing much to look at here.  That door is your standard cookie cutter metal door that you can find on all the houses around this neighborhood.  It's starting to look old.  I'd paint it, but the thought scares me.  What if I screw it up?  I'd also like to take a moment to say that I'm not a fan of the wood throughout the house.  mr says I'm being picky and won't let me touch it because it's "fine" but I think it feels out dated.  Am I wrong?
And yes, that IS a baby photo of bug up there on the wall... I definitely need to update family photos. 

Next up:

You get it right?  Clown car because you shove as much stuff in the entryway as you possibly can... and this little space can't really take it.  It can't even really be classified as an entryway.  Let's break it down.

Directly to the right of the door as you walk in is another door.  It's to the garage.  (Don't get me started on how I hate that layout.)  There IS a closet, and because it juts out into the room, there is this little alcove here.  You can see the normal alcove-y type things - bulletin board/organizer for mail and important things which we NEVER EVER use.  A random large yellow hat.  ???  I admit, I thought it would be cute hanging there for summertime.  Kind of a functional decoration or something.  I don't know, I told you I don't UNDERSTAND THESE THINGS!  Typical key hook thingy.  Lots and lots and lots of scuff marks/scratches/nicks/peeling plaster from years of abuse and no painting.  Oh, that's right.  Did I mention?  The paint color of the entire main level has not been changed from its "builder's white".  Which is NOT my style.  I like fun.  Color.  NOT VANILLA.  And yes, we keep our kids shoes in a plastic drawer unit from Walmart.  Not enough room in the closet.

The closet.

After starting this post I realized that I hadn't taken a photo of INSIDE the closet.  Then I realized, that's ok.  Honestly, it might kill me.  So just know that it is a fairly small space in which is stuffed not a small amount of STUFF.  Coats, jackets, (it IS Wisconsin, after all) adult shoes, (not adult like XXX, just adult like not the kids'.  Jeez.  Get your mind out of the gutter.) folding chairs, toys, books, bags, purses, scarves, backpacks, boots, extra plastic grocery bags, wrapping paper, all of mr's scout stuff since he's the scout master, a phone book even though we never ever use it, and now I'm breaking out in hives thinking about the amount of STUFF in there so we have to move on.

Alright.  After the entry, we have:

Ok, I kid.  I know it's not really a hallway.  It's just this strip of tile leading us to:

I... uh... wow.  Where to start?  That chandy up there?  I totally did that.  It was old and gross.  The ball was ceramic to start, then mr dropped it and it shattered.  I made a new one with styrofoam and wall putty.  I felt pretty handy and proud of myself because you can't really tell.  I sprayed it all black and loved it.  Then mr hung it up, and not only does the chain drape a ridiculous amount (I mean, seriously) but we discovered that two of the lights don't work.  This was one of the first DIY projects I did, which means we have lived with insufficient lighting for almost 4.5 years.  Because 1) it's better than the gross 80's glass/brass shade that was up there and 2) we can't afford a real chandy from a real store and C) mr can't bear the thought of expending the energy to take it down and I'm afraid I'll electrocute myself.
Everyone's a little jealous of this tile.  Don't be.  I mean, it's pretty.  But holy cow it's impossible to clean.  And even when it IS clean it doesn't LOOK clean.  The grout lines are so deep and the color is so... dirty looking.  That monstrosity of a piano was free.  It totally needs to be refinished and rekeyed.  Someday.  And that picture of Christ up there?  It's my favorite one, really, and in an effort to make him central in the home, I hung it up where it's visible from pretty much everywhere.  Unfortunately, that happened to be right next to that seriously ugly doorbell box thing.  So I inadvertently drew EVEN MORE attention to the box. See why I need help??  He's just up there, chillin' with the doorbell.  
This table...
has seen better days.  Just thought I'd throw that out there.  That is NOT a dirty table.  It is freshly cleaned.  Those are scratches and marks and lots and lots of strange residue and buildup we can't seem to get off.  This table is small.  It was the first purchase we made after we bought our house and moved here.  It has been crafted on, cut on,  (bled on...), finger painted on, markered on, eaten on (literally.  My two monsters don't know what a plate is for.)  It has been smeared with everything you can think of.  (well, maybe not EVERYTHING...)  I'd love a table with more room but there's this one little thing...
It's a conundrum.  We got a piano for free (yes FREE people.)  And I really want this piano.  I don't play, per se, but I'd like to.  And even more than that, I'd like to force my children to.  You know, when they aren't so young it seems like fun pounding all over it.  Once they hit that point where the novelty has worn off and they don't ACTUALLY want to play it anymore.  When it isn't cool and I have to bribe, cajole, threaten and revoke privileges to get them to practice.  THAT'S when I want them to start.
So there's this BIG piano in the dining room, because there was no where else to go with it that I could see and the top... well, that's my attempt at some kind of style.  I don't have a mantle, so I use the top as if it were one.  Or, I try to.  Then stuff just gets piled up there and...

Yes.  I made that lamp.  No, I don't like it anymore.  And at the back patio door?  There's a rug that has also seen better days.  The curtains?  I don't mind them.  But I can't seem to get the rod to stay up without bowing.  
The dining room is divided a bit from the kitchen with the peninsula.

I don't even have words for that up there.  Just know that if it comes into our house, it ends up on this.  It's a straight shot from the front door to here, so I suppose it makes sense... but... I think this next photo will show how much I need some sort of functional/pretty organization.  

You know that saying, "A place for everything and everything in its place"?  Well, that has no bearing in our house.  Mainly because there just ISN'T a place for everything.  There's clutter.  There are things that belong there but don't really have a permanent spot.  There are holes in the wall from nails and screws.  There are random things thrown up for decoration "temporarily" that have never come down.  That pot rack?  I love it.  Except I can't reach it.
Let's round the peninsula, shall we?  Then we can:

Ok, so I know the makeover doesn't include cleaning (does it??  Because, Mandi, that would be rad.)  But ignoring the dishes that obviously need to be done, can we discuss a few issues?  Like that window ledge that currently houses a bunch of coffee filter butterflies and some other things that I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH.  Wait, did I say that already?  Are you detecting a pattern?  Notice also the mismatched appliances.  Someday we'd like to get stainless steel stove and fridge beauties.  Someday.  Shall we view in closer detail?  Oh, let's do.  I'm making you feel so much better about yourselves, after all.
 The fridge doesn't fill the opening.  We store our broom and mop back there in the crack.  Because our closet is too full, remember?  The top of the fridge?  I can't even tell you what all that is.  Unopened mail, mostly.  If our power suddenly and inexplicably shuts off, well, I guess I'll know why.  Somehow I don't think an explanation of "I'm sorry but the bills were lost to the dusty recesses of the neverland on top of my fridge" will soften their hearts... Also, someone please, for the love of everything holy tell me what I should do above those cabinets.  Right now I've decided to display some Italian-looking oil and random food objects in old jars along with some very impressive spiderwebs and dust bunnies.  They're really my crowning achievement.  There is yet another cluttered area over by the opposite wall - see the radio thing that doesn't work?  We've already addressed the dishwasher/oven mismatched-ness, but did I mention that our dishwasher is now broken?  The one we just bought like two years ago, not even?  Yeah.  Broken.  Also, I'd like to point out that I thought a stainless steel garbage can was an awesome idea when we bought it - so much more stylish than plastic! - but it has NOT aged well.  Please ignore the potty.  No, potty training is NOT going well, thank you very much for asking.

The kitchen blends almost seamlessly into the living room:

See that bizarre partial wall there?  I suppose they needed to put it up to house the fridge nicely, but I have no idea what to do with it.

We have a lower level that serves as a "family room".  It's got the TV and couches and toys nearby.  But everyone - EVERYONE - always ends up squished together in this main area as if this is the entire house.

Remember when mini painted our carpet with eggs?  So thoughtful of her... If I had my way, I'd put hardwood down on this whole level.  Again, SOMEDAY.  I like the Ikea shelf, but the homage to college dorm days, i.e. the "bowl chair" is front and center.  

And it's ugly.  Paint spilled, food dripped, crumbs collected, coming untwined at the joints UGLY.  (And seriously.  What do you do with that weird partial wall??)

We read a lot and need the shelf for book storage, but I also like to display a few mementos here and there.  Of course, I don't know what to DO with half of them so they're all just kind of thrown up there.  Random fake cherry tree branches, book piles, frames and photos, artwork, baskets of puzzles and crayons, silver candle holders??  It's a hodge podge.

Over in the corner I've got my book lamp, which I still love, but it doesn't really GO here, you know?  It doesn't feel right.  Though not much in this room does.  The black scrollwork plaques on the wall?  That's a broken shelf.  I nailed the pieces to the wall for "artwork" back when we first moved in and had no money.  Also.  How many magazines does one family need??  (Those are all gift subscriptions by the way... national geographic for mr and food & family for me.)  Oh, and more branches peeking out there.  Those are supposed to be ON the table, but they fell off.  I decorate with branches because I can't keep living things... well, ALIVE.  We've been lucky so far with the kids.

From the living room, you can see... well, everything really.
 So we've pretty much come full circle now.  

 I do hope you've noticed the hideous lighting located throughout.  This one's the worst though.

I know what you're thinking.  You're thinking, "Oh, she just made sure her house was extra gross for these photos so she'd win and then it would look even MORE amazing in the after shots" - kind of like those poor women in the before photos who look half-drunk with their eyes partially closed and their skin sagging around their jowls because their mouth is hanging slack and their chin is pushed back into their neck which makes it look like they have double the amount of chins they normally have and they squinch up their eyes so they have even more wrinkles?  Then they make sure they rat their hair up so it's a frizzball and wear their most unflattering clothes.  
Don't pretend you don't know what I'm talking about.  And I assure you, my house is NOT that woman.  It really looks like this.  On a good day.

Alright, I realize that a lot of this decluttering and general cleaning can be done be me (since I'm pretty sure Mandi's gonna nix that.  Fine.  I'll just do it myself then.  Sheesh.) BUT.  A BIG BUT.  (No, not that kind...) A short list of things I really need help figuring out?  Sure, here you go:
wall color
door color
cabinetry color
general furniture layout
closed storage/organization ideas

I think I could go on, but I'll end there.

Look, I know I've focused on all the negative here (I mean, this is a plea for help, right?) but in all honesty, I'm aware that we are very blessed.  I don't want this post to come off as one big massive complain-y "oh poor me" trip.  The fact is, we own a home.  We are very grateful for that.  It's a home that's filled with love.  And really gross carpet/rugs.  And a complete hodge podge of crazy STUFF with no style or design.  But it's OUR crazy hodge podge and we DO love it.  We recognize that we are blessed and that so many others are worse off.  

But here is why I would really, really, really, like to win this makeover.
1.  I can't do this on my own.  I really, really can't.  Call it lack of "design thumb" if you want, but I'm completely inept.
2.   Budget restrictions.  There I said it.  We can't be the only family struggling in this economy, but maybe, just maybe we're the only family struggling who also has egg-stained carpet, a crusty old bowl chair from college, crazy photos thrown all over willy nilly, holes all over the place, a pine tree branch stuck in a tiny vase for decor, and incredibly cosmetically damaged walls.  Maybe?
3.  Good bones.  Right?  Nothing MASSIVE - I don't need Ty or anything - no major construction.  But seriously.  Still a LOT of work.  And really, a blank canvas!
4.  I am totally not afraid to work hard.  I want to take Mandi to my beloved thrift stores and let her show me how to use them to their full potential.  I want to get my hands dirty.  And my clothes.  And my hair.  And possibly my feet.  My day job is Mom-ing, so I don't work out of the house and I know I could wrangle a sitter for this (unless of course we want the artistic stylings of a certain 2 and 4 year old?  No?  Ok.)
4.  I love Mandi.  No, really.  Ok, ok.  Everyone's going to say that.  But I was Mandi's 28th follower.  Not kidding.  Ever since the seizure wall.  Yep.  Loyal.
5.  I need some of Mandi's mojo.  Really.  I need the bold.  The fun and crazy.  The unique.  And I need her to show me how to put it all together.

Please.  I'm begging you.  I am on my knees.  I shall pay you in diet coke and amazing cupcakes.  I will love you and hug you and squeeze you and pet you and call you George... my bestie.  You will make my year LIFE.  And it will be epic, I tell you.  EPIC.

*Be sure to check the right sidebar for all the fun parties I link to!


Anonymous said...

That would be wonderful if you can win this fabulous room makeover from Mandi!! Keeping my fingers crossed for you!

Jillian @ Hi! It's Jilly said...

Lol! Kim, you crack me up! I hope you win, because that would be amazing! Not that I'm saying "whoa that's really bad", just that winning would be awesome...and you are awesome.

Michelle L. said...

I hope you win! Not 'cause your house is 'ugly,' just 'cause it doesn't reflect the fun personality of YOU!

Mandi @ Vintage Revivals said...

Kim! Your blog was one of the first blogs I read too!! Awwww tears! I am so glad that you entered, I would LOVE to come and overhaul your space! Good luck!

Love your guts

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