Friday, May 10, 2013

One Room

I was kind of in a funk all week long.

I felt like I should have been thrilled to be in the new house, but the new house was a chaotic dump of cardboard boxes.

Don't believe me?  Check out this photo of the basement:

And that's really only one corner.

So the clutter was getting to me.  David was working late hours with various end-of-school and start-of-new-job activities going on.  Zuzu got a diaper rash that morphed into Horrible Bacteria-Yeast Action That Required Prescription Meds and made me question my parenting choices (Have we not been changing her frequently enough?  Is it from using disposable diapers during the moving craziness?  Is it from using cloth diapers instead of disposable diapers?  Is it my laundry detergent?).  Zuzu hasn't been sleeping very well, probably due to transition to the new house, plus this rash, plus teething (bottom two teeth have popped through!  I think she's working on the top chompers, but they are still not in sight).  School is winding down, so my students are in that super annoying, "What do I have to get on the final to get an A?" kind of inquiry mode, which wears me out.  Also I need to write my final exams.  Weather has been gray and rainy.  And most stressful at all, there were some "issues" with the buyers of our old house, which pushed back the closing date by two weeks.  We were NOT PLEASED because that cost us another mortgage payment at the old house AND required extending our lease on the new house two more weeks.  But really our hands were tied, because the only other option was pulling out of the contract and putting the house back up the market, which would have put us back at square one.  Still, we lost some sleep over that.

All of this adds up the fact that, instead of enjoying the new house, I've been feeling tired and stressed out and cranky.

Yesterday was my day off work, and my best friend from high school was coming through town with her husband and daughter that evening on their way home to Kansas City.  I had insisted that they stay the night with us, but that meant I had some serious work to do.

I took Zuzu to daycare, then headed home and faced the wreckage that was The New House.  Why did I take Zuzu to daycare?  Because the moment I set her down, this is what I'm dealing with:

Once I was home alone, I looked at the disaster that surrounded me.  I took a deep breath, and then I sat down, checked my e-mail, pumped, read some blogs, and then finally worked up the energy to get started with the front room.  The problem is, I'm not exactly sure what's going to stay/go.  We won't be keeping a chair the previous owners left behind, unless I get adventurous enough to recover it... so, what do I do with it for now? Do I want the barrister bookcase in there?  I think so, but on which wall?  What will go above the fireplace?  I want to create built-in bookshelves on either side of the fireplace, so what should I do with the chair that's currently tucked in one corner?  Are we keeping the rug or buying a new one?  Am I getting rid of the coffee table to avoid toddler head injury or keeping it?  Where should the storage ottoman go?

I can't answer all of the questions, so I decided to quit trying to "finish" the room on day one, and just make it look somewhat presentable with what we have RIGHT NOW.

The first thing I did was take down the heavy brown curtains that the previous owner had left and hang up my linen ikat curtains from West Elm.  The curtains were high-quality, the kind that are insulated, but they were such a dark brown that they made the whole room dark.  Plus they were too short for the window, so they had that high-water look going on.  I'd been feeling like the house was so dark and dreary compared to our first house--I had no idea how much these curtains were contributing to that effect!  One small change gave the room much more light, and my mood lifted right along with it.


After. With the couch in place.

From there, I was on a mission.  I unrolled the rug, wriggled it under the couch, put the coffee table in place, dusted the window sills, slid the bookcase against the leftover chair, put a couple of lamps in place, watered a plant and put it on another window sill, swept, vacuumed, dug through a stack of frames and grabbed a framed poster from when Shakespeare in the Park put on the Tempest, and stuck it on the mantle just so there was something up there.  Then I looked around and felt very pleased with myself.  It was starting to feel like home.

Nowhere near finished, but at least we've gotten started.
And it actually didn't take that long!

Once the front room was done, there was no stopping me.  I tackled one room at a time and made my way through the entire house.  I started with the front room, then the back family room, then upstairs bedrooms, and saved the dining room and kitchen (the messiest rooms) for last.  I was so glad my BFF was coming over, because that was totally the incentive I needed to make cleaning more purposeful and fun.  I did not try to unpack every box (oh mercy, no).  But I did clear the front room and the kitchen of all boxes (they were lining the walls in the dining room, but at least they  were out of the way).  I straightened up all the bedrooms upstairs, did several loads of laundry, AND cut the grass (It's a small yard so it took about twenty minutes total.  Love that!).  I swabbed my cheeks for the Be The Match registry.

My only unsuccessful mission was my attempt to locate a birthday gift for David's niece and Mother's Day cards that I bought long before the move.  I thought I was so proactive and organized.  Now I have no idea where those items are, and it's already too late to get them sent in time.  #fail.  My mom will understand, and I'll let David deal with his family (as usual).

Don't get me wrong--we don't have any "accessories" unpacked, we still have boxes and boxes of things stacked in the basement, and our dinner plates are still at the old house!  (The stack was too heavy to add to the box I'd taken over there.)  But at least I feel like we have made some progress.

I literally worked all day long (minus two pump breaks and lunch), and I totally got my cardio in running up and down two flights of stairs moving things around and the equivalent of weight training carrying laundry baskets full of clothes and other items from one room/floor to another.  And it made such a difference (in the house I mean--my physique looks no different).  After spending several days feeling like we were camping out in the (dark) new house, it finally started to feel like we were living there.

But I think the thing that really made it feel like home was having our friends visit.

Zuzu is so excited to be sharing the tub with her friend Ellie Kate!


  1. I love it when motivation comes from unexpected places. The room looks wonderful! Much warmer and stylish. As well, the picture of Zuzu climbing the stairs gives me a glimpse into my future!

  2. Oh my goodness, so cute! So much trouble with those stairs though!

    AND FYI, yes, coffee table= toddler head injuries, Luke has taken a couple of really bad hits to the head from our coffee table, ours is going out when we get new furniture.

    Great job on all your hard work! And hope your BFF is enjoying her new car seat!

  3. The room looks great - love the curtains! And Zuzu seems to have taken to the house perfectly!

  4. It is so hard to just start getting yourself organized, isn't it? I never know where to start- but the curtains make the room look 324980 better.

    And yay for the two teeth. I think we're working on the top two right now and I have a legitimate bear on my hands because of it.

    Zuzu's bum up the stairs is so cute! ha!

  5. I've been in my new house since last September, and still haven't managed to unpack any accessories... I imagine our house looks pretty much like yours does right now, only we've been here for months! Great job getting stuff accomplished!

    Zuzu is adorable, btw! :)

  6. Oh ...your before afters are just fabulous!! and zuzu s looking so cute in the tub. Too bad she got a diaper rash. Some laudry detergents are quite prone to doing it. I was almost there to get the charlies detergent instead of dreft..but read in so many places that babies got chemical burns from it and backed out. These days I am trying tide, smell free, phosphate free one. Hopefully, thats the one!

  7. Well done - Zuzu is too freakin' cute! Henry is trying to master the stairs - he can manage going up but took a wee tumble (2 stairs) trying to go down while I turned my back for a second. Ooops. Congrats on the new house!

  8. I am incredibly impressed with how much you got done in such little time!

    I know it's stressful, but isn't it nice what you got done all because a friend is coming (aka: lit a fire under your rear)?

    I know that a certain June trip is kicking this family in gear... well... except that the deck will probably be torn apart or something. Gah. We always make major changes when expecting guests.

    Anyway, I think your house is definitely a home and SO lovely.

  9. You go girl. The more you put away, the more energy you'll get to do more. But still, unpacking SUCKS.

  10. I just wanted to stop by and wish you a Happy Mother's Day Brooke. Eliza and Caroline are lucky to have you for their momma and I wish you peace today♥

  11. The living room is beautiful!! It makes such a difference to get the boxes out of the way (even if they're just in the garage!).

    Yay for houseguest motivation!

  12. Love your home and great efforts but I'm really posting about nappy rash... In my experience (x4) it travels with teething and is almost certainly not something you've done. Take of the timing because if that's it you'll find it happens next time and you might save yourself one lot of stress worrying about it.

  13. Your front room looks awesome!! And wow on all you accomplished. Amazing job. And love bathrub pics!!!
    Betsy W

  14. I am tired just reading all that. ; ) I am sure your guests understood & were just happy to have a bed made for them & you to visit with. But I LOVE the curtains, & the couch in front of the window -- makes a huge difference!! (Will you come & redesign my living room?? lol)