Many years ago, in the middle of a huge home remodeling project, I discovered a little bit of wisdom that has helped me through some of the difficult moments in life. We had purchased a very old, really run-down house that was badly in need of lots of TLC. We didn’t NEED to buy this kind of house, but the first time I saw this house, I said, “This is the one! I can see so many possibilities here!” When we told our friends and family about our “new” house, and when they would stop by to see what we were working on, the most frequent comment was, “What are you thinking??? This is a wreck!” And it kinda sort was . . . except I fell in love with the old, unpainted woodwork around the windows and doors, the sun room / front porch, and the glass-paneled door off the dining room.
In the old-fashioned kitchen there was one whole wall of built-in wooden pantry cabinets with a pull-0ut flour bin (which was a great hiding place for youngest son when he was trying to escape from his big brother!), and on another wall was a vintage heat register that was absolutely charming!The two-story garage had originally been a carriage house, so the upstairs was a great storage area and it even had a door that opened up right over the driveway. No clue what that was originally used for, but it was certainly cute and quirky. There was an old pear tree behind the garage beside the attached storage shed. Boys being boys, that old pear tree suffered its share of “hatchet chops” and broken limbs.
But then there were the things that needed to be “fixed,” like the lean-to shed out the back door that was torn down to enlarge the kitchen; the twelve layers of OLD wallpaper that was removed from walls and ceilings; the steep and narrow staircase that was rebuilt and opened up; the pink tile on the bathroom walls; and carpeting that needed to be torn up and thrown away. We did so much to make that little house beautiful, and I still love that house – we created perennial gardens all around the house and into the back yard; built a gorgeous deck and resurfaced the driveway; fenced in the back yard and added a new storage shed next to my herb garden. But eventually we had to move out of that house, mostly because of the economy and the need to find work in another state. I miss that old house and the gardens, but here we are, kind of starting over with all of the painting, scrubbing, sorting, organizing, and gardening.
Oh, here is the lesson I learned during that time – when we were remodeling that old-fashioned kitchen, it was a horrible mess! There was sawdust, paint, hammers, nails, saws, brooms and buckets, old flooring and new flooring, old lathe and plaster, and new drywall just sitting everywhere and leaning up against the walls that needed to be painted. I was getting rather discouraged with the amount of time it was taking to get this project finished.
Finally, one day when there was still sawdust flying everywhere BUT ONE CORNER of the kitchen was finished (or at least they were not going to do anything else over there after I came in one day to discover that the construction guys had torn out that beautiful old heat register – and I had them replace it!), so I decided to clean up that ONE LITTLE CORNER of the whole upside-down house.
So, I washed the window in that corner and put up curtains. I hung a picture on one wall and placed a couple of little knick-knacks on the top of that beautiful old heat register (the register was black and set into a beautiful wooden case that was about four feet tall with a ledge that was five or six inches wide so I could set things on the top of it), swept the floor and placed an antique child’s high chair right in the corner with a little Amish doll sitting in it. Pretty simple and boring now that I look back on that little corner, but I discovered that if even ONE LITTLE CORNER of my world was peaceful and orderly, and if I just had a tiny corner to be creative, it made the rest of the HUGE MESS tolerable for a few more weeks. I learned to celebrate the little things in life – and that is exactly what I am having to do again, right now, as we are in the middle of painting and reorganizing my sewing room.
I hate having everything in uproar, but this is a pretty big job that we can’t finish in a day or two, especially since we can really only work on it on the weekends. We currently have two walls painted, half the cupboards on one side painted, and three drawers painted with the hardware painted and replaced. Today I hope to paint the three cupboard doors that are ready, but the other walls, cupboards, floor, and cutting table will have to wait a couple of days for me to be able to tackle them.
In the meantime, I cleaned up the ONE CORNER that is (almost) finished, and decided to make it feel like “home.” There is just so much more to do but today I am really trying to celebrate the little things, and stop worrying about the big stuff that I can’t do anything about anyway. Here are a few pictures of some of the organizational ideas that I’ve discovered along the way, thanks to Pinterest, and other bloggers. Looking forward to getting the rest of this mess cleaned up!
How about you? Have you ever found yourself in the middle of a big mess and just had to figure out how to get through to the other side? I guess this business of “celebrating the little things in life” could work for just about any situation! I’m sure going to do my best to keep my focus on what I HAVE and not on what I DON’T HAVE.
PS The black panel in the corner is the electrical box cover. It was a really dreary industrial gray, so we pulled the cover off and painted it a glossy black to match the cupboard and drawer handles. It looks so much nicer this way, don’t you think? I mean, for an electrical box that can’t be moved, I guess the only other things I could do is hang a picture over it – maybe I will, but in the meantime, it sure looks better than it did!