We’ve been working on a special project! I wanted to share this with you today and we’ll (happily) update you on the continuing tummy shrinkage from the wraps next week.
When I was a teenager, I went to the home of a good friend to do homework together. In their den sat one of the old, ornately carved library card catalogs. I thought it odd, but I didn’t say anything. Then her pen ran out of ink. She got up, walked over to the card catalog, opened the right drawer, grabbed a new pen and came back over to sit down.
A light bulb went on over my head. It’s an organizational geeks dream! And I decided that once I was married and settled down, I would get one for my own home.
After Jeff and I got married and settled in, we started looking for one. That was well over ten years ago. We looked all over the place, and found that card catalogs were hard to come by, as many were sold off as libraries went digital while I was in college. For years, we’ve watched government auction sites and bid on many card catalogs, sometimes as far away as a ten hour drive one way, in hopes of being able to get one. We’d often lose the auctions because we simply couldn’t go as high as the auction would. We’ve seen single unit card catalogs go for over $600 with an average being around $500 for a 72-drawer unit. Many times, we just didn’t have the spare funds to swing it.
Fast forward to 2007, when we moved into this house, at the height of my illness. When we moved here, we had 8 days to find a house and get moved in. No pressure there! So we had very limited choices and we couldn’t wait for something to open up. Jeff was opposed to renting as we had to move my parents up here with us, too. We rented the house from the previous owners until closing, 27 days later.
The house itself was fine, but I absolutely hated the colors on the walls. Yellow-tan paint and dark wood in the main living area with an orange and brown open stonework fireplace. A 1980’s country hearts kitchen with dark cabinets and a tan countertop. That’s where the fairly normal colors end. A cranberry bathroom, a sunshine puke yellow bedroom, a spring green bedroom, a salmon orange bedroom (mine), and a pea green bathroom. There’s a room in the basement we call the ‘purple room’ because it’s lavender with neon purple trim- it was a hair salon in a former life. One of the other rooms downstairs is 1980s dark wood paneling with light wood floors. In other words, the whole house needed a major update!
This house isn’t, and has never been, representative of me or my family. It doesn’t look like what my family likes. That salmon orange paint on my bedroom walls makes me want to throw up every time I see it. I’m a light, bright, cool colors kinda girl and orange is my least favorite color. I don’t like dark wood, I like bright white, high-gloss trim. But I was too ill to do anything about it.
Finally, we painted my daughter’s room, ripped out the carpet and put down wood floors as her Christmas gift in 2009 and we recently ripped out the last of the carpet in the house, in my son’s room. We bought paint to re-do the main living area over two-and-a-half years ago, but never got around to the project because I was still just too ill to spearhead the work. With unemployment, we didn’t have extra money to complete the projects so we didn’t start.
Finally, a couple of weeks ago, a double-unit card catalog came available about an hour-and-a-half from here. We bid and marked our calendars to remind us to be online at the end of the bidding- we weren’t hopeful we could get it because this was a double unit. 144 drawers of organizational goodness! We expected the unit would go for over $1,000 based on our prior experience with bidding.
With 15 minutes of bidding to go, the price was $530, only a little over the average we’ve seen single-units go for. We held our breath and despite someone else trying to bid up at the last second, we won the bid!! We got both units for $665!
Happy dances ensued for both of us. Truth is, Jeff was just excited as I was! So last Friday, we emptied the seats out of the back of the van and drove over to pick it up. It is no exaggeration when I tell you this thing is HUGE! The set is five-and-a-half feet tall and almost 7 feet long!
It took a lot of work and creativity to get them both in the back of the van. They were far heavier than I anticipated, since the cabinet and many of the drawers are solid wood. It was a major struggle to get everything wedged in to the van. Every nook and cranny of the van was packed. We drove home with my seat pulled so far forward that my knees were in my chest so we had some place to put the drawers.
Once we got home, we began re-arranging furniture. I had decided to get rid of my china cabinet, because it didn’t match my current dining room set and I realized we could consolidate everything down into one small hutch. I’ve never placed much emphasis on china due to have kids with a propensity to drop and break dishes on the tile kitchen floor. We use Corelle for our every-day dishes. I also knew we could move the school shelf to the basement since we won’t be homeschooling this coming school year.
We were moving furniture when Jeff suggested that we go ahead and paint before we move in the cabinets. I was over the moon excited! We knew once the cabinets were in place, we wouldn’t be inclined to move them again unless we’re leaving the house! Living in a house where I hated the colors has been mentally draining, and knowing that paint was sitting in the garage was only making it worse.
We moved out the furniture that was leaving, pushed the remaining furniture to the middle of the room and started painting. We had to do two coats of paint on the walls and three coats on the trim in order to get everything looking nice. That took us until late Wednesday night. We still have to re-hang the curtains this afternoon and get three coats of trim onto the back doors, so that will now become our focus.
Then last night, we moved in the card catalog and got it all set up so we could free up the back of the van for the weekend. I’m just THRILLED! The kids were very excited about it and they handled all 144 drawers while Jeff and I hauled in the main cabinets- not a small feat through multiple twists and turns and up one-and-a-half flights of stairs!
This morning, we decided that my son could have the bottom row for his lego collection and my daughter could have the second row for whatever she’d like, probably craft projects. Then we have space for school and office supplies, batteries, sewing supplies, and the small, little niggly items that get scattered around a house that you know you have a hundred of but can never find. I started moving office supplies in last night.
Some of the drawers are solid plastic, but many are wood with an open slot at the bottom. This weekend, Jeff and I will decide how we’re going to cover the bottoms of the wooden drawers so they can be used.
So this project is definitely a happy mama project and has made me so thrilled at the prospect of being able to get more organized and not spend time looking for little things. Because I wasn’t able to organize as normal when we moved in and while sick, I’ve felt for a long time that things weren’t as I want them. Having a crazy work schedule plus homeschooling two children hasn’t helped with that feeling, as my time for organizing has been very limited and children don’t tend to be little organizational machines.
Painting the dining room has given me a big boost! We have an open concept floor plan, so we will need to finish painting the living room and the kitchen to match, and I’m perfectly thrilled with that. I’ve been wanting to re-do the kitchen for a LONG time- if you’re a long-time reader of my blog, you know I absolutely love my kitchen lay-out but I hate the wallpaper and the cabinet and countertop colors. So that will soon change!!
Once the trim work is done in the dining room, the next project will be to strip the wallpaper in the kitchen and begin painting. When we will move on to re-finishing the countertop and the cabinets and possibly re-doing the floor tiles. If you’re a member of our Real Food Cooking School, you’ll see the changes as we remodel. And because this is very much a part of taking care of mama and giving mama a happy, mental boost, we’ll occasionally post about it on the blog, too.
From there, we’re going to do something with the awful, open stonework fireplace and paint the living room. It’s going to be a very long, on-going project, but I will feel SO much better when it is done!