Mudroom to do list

The mudroom was top of the list of 2022 Home Goals that I shared last week. My plan is to focus on storage and decor–function and form.

Progress has already been made.

A grand total of 24 hooks have been installed. Excessive? Perhaps. But I subscribe to the philosophy that you can never have too many hooks.

I moved in the bench and umbrella stand that I made for our old mudroom.

We also added two dressers, which I painted last week.

They give us eight big drawers of storage, so I finally have a place to put my hats and mitts. As well as car keys, sunglasses, reusable bags, pens, notepads, phone charger, masks (who thought we’d need mask storage?) and so much more stuff.

One dresser is by the door–keys, outerwear, sunscreen, bug spray, etc. will live here. One dresser is on the landing by the kitchen. My vision is that it will become a kind of command centre for mail, papers, household stuff, and even some of Ellie’s toys.

Part of my goal with not adding built-ins right away is to discover exactly what kind of storage we need.

The dressers aren’t quite the style I’m looking for in our eventual built-ins and they’re not quite the right size for their spots, but they do the job for now. And the price was right. Matt’s Dad picked them up years ago and they lived first in his shed and then in our barn. After some repairs, a cleaning and a coat of paint, they are a great interim solution.

Here are some of the other things I’m planning to do in the mudroom.

Install dresser hardware

The dressers don’t have a lot of space to screw on drawer pulls. The centre recessed panel is actually glass, so I can’t drill through it. I’m likely going to reuse the old pulls, but I’m going to spray paint them black first.

Refinish mirror

I found a big oval mirror at a thrift store this fall. The rounded shape will be a nice contrast to all the straight lines in the room. I’m going to remove the decorative piece on the top and refinish the wood frame, aiming for a rustic finish that will go with our cedar ceiling.

Install nightlight cover plate

I remembered last week that I had one LED cover plate left from a three-pack I bought a few years ago (I was influenced by Young House Love). The mudroom would be a perfect place for a nightlight, so I dug it out. Bonus, the cover plate also has a USB port, so it will be going at my new phone charging station on the landing dresser.

Build key cupboard

During construction I had our contractors insert a little wood box that I made into the wall beside the door. This box is going to become a hidden key cupboard. A few rows of cup hooks will give us plenty of space to hang keys. For the cupboard door, I’m going to use a picture attached to hinges. Storage. ✓ Art. ✓ Function. ✓ Form. ✓

Hang art

We don’t have a lot of wall space for pictures (and I don’t want to put too many holes in the paneling). I’m planning on hanging one painting. Matt’s Mom and my Mom have both sourced art for me. Matt’s Mom gave us a painting by Matt’s Grandpa. My Mom’s friend gave her two water colours that he painted. They’re all great farm scenes, and I really like how the blue and green tones contrast with the beige paneling. (Note that despite the photo differences below they’re all close to the same size.) Which would you pick?

We are definitely at the fun stage of the mudroom. These are pretty quick, inexpensive, easy projects. All of these little details make the room function the way we need it to and personalize the space for us.

What’s your first project of 2022? How do you handle storage at your entry? How many hooks is enough?

Home Goals 2022

Last year I returned to annual home goals with some pretty big projects (garage, mudroom, treehouse). It was motivating and fun, and I’m looking forward to more this year (though some lower budget projects, as I’m also rebuilding our savings).

Here is what’s on my list for 2022.

Mudroom

The mudroom ended 2021 as pretty much a blank slate. It had a fresh coat of paint, but no decor and storage was pretty makeshift. Built-ins are still the plan for this room (the ones below would be perfect, thanks), but they’re down the road a little ways. For now, I’m looking for some make-it-work-but-less-makeshift storage and some pretty finishing touches for the room. First up, painting some dressers.

Source: Crisp Architects

Garage landscaping

The garage landscaping will likely be our big project of the year. I’d like to pave the driveway and add a patio and some steps for the mudroom and living room (like the beautiful stone steps below). This project will require some professional help. The DIY portion will be spreading some topsoil and grass seed around the garage. Matt’s Dad bought me a load of topsoil for Christmas, so we’re ready to go as soon as the snow melts.

Source: Renaissance Landscape Group

Plan for the worst

Natural disasters and personal tragedies throw people’s lives into chaos every year. I want to protect Ellie and me and the farm, as much as possible. Some of the things on my list for this year include digitizing important documents, making a household inventory, packing a go bag, updating my will, and streamlining our finances. (This book has tips to address all of these and more.) These are not fun tasks, but I know they will give me peace of mind.

History

It’s been very special to connect with the woman whose family first owned this farm, and I’m looking forward to learning more from her. I’d also like to go farther back in the farm’s history and learn more about the Indigenous people who lived in this area and do more to acknowledge their history. This beautiful book that I received for Christmas has been very inspiring.

Pond shore

The pond shore returns for its annual appearance on this list. This year, I’m hoping to continue to clear the shore toward the creek and finally build a little bridge across.

Source: Atlanta Trails

Vegetable garden

Hope springs eternal for the vegetable garden. Ellie has picked some things she’d like to grow this year, and I’m hoping that interest translates into more time in the garden. I feel like I learned a good lesson last year: the garden–even if I achieve a low maintenance level–needs attention. Fingers are crossed that I give it more of that attention this year.

Source: Charles Dowding

Barn

Our beautiful big barn. I love this barn, and I want to preserve it. There are a few cracks in the foundation and a few leaky spots on back roof. I’ve had some people out to look at the foundation, and their assessment has been that the barn is in pretty good shape. Though they’ve also provided me quotes to restore the foundation, and the estimates are expen$$$$$ive in the extreme. One thing I can do is eavestrough. This will be a relatively inexpensive way help to ensure water runs away and protect the structure.

I am excited by what we have planned for this year, and I’m looking forward to sharing more with all of you.

What are you aiming to do at your house this year? Are you focused inside or out? What would your dream playground have? Any tips for low maintenance gardening? Is there such a thing?

Looking back at Home Goals 2021

I returned to annual home goals last year after a four-year break. It felt good to be focused and have some projects to work on through the year. And I feel like I did pretty well at accomplishing my goals.

Here’s a look back at what happened around the farm in 2021.

Garage addition

Our biggest project last year (biggest home project so far) was the garage and mudroom. These spaces have made such a difference for our home and how we use it. There are a few things to work on still (Home Goals 2022 coming soon!), but I am so happy we did this renovation.

Playground expansion

The treehouse playground was a highlight of last year. Both for the actual building and for the fun Ellie has playing on it.

Pond shore

The pond shore is my perennial home goal. Last year, we cleared a little more of the shore, though I didn’t do as much as I hoped and I didn’t build a little bridge across the creek. What is clear, we enjoyed, though. I had bonfires almost every week with my friends over the summer, and Ellie and I make regular visits to the little waterfall.

Vegetable garden

I would classify the garden as a fail last year. I tried mulch, but didn’t build proper raised rows. And I didn’t spend enough time in the garden to maintain it. We did grow a few things, and I feel like I keep learning every year.

The last big junk pile

The last big junk pile is pretty much gone and our new compost area is built. I have a bit more to tidy this spring, but the view out the dining room window is vastly improved.

Bedroom refresh

I thought my new duvet cover might inspire other changes in our bedroom. That didn’t happen. (My Mom did gift me with new pillows for Christmas.) The space is working well enough. Though I still think a closet reorganization would be lovely.

History

I was able to keep in touch with the woman who’s family first owned this farm over the last year. In fact, I have a story of a special tree planting to share soon.

Black and white photo of two children sitting on top of a wood gate

The garage, mudroom and treehouse are the big wins of last year. The garden is the big fail. But overall I am really happy with what we accomplished. I work best when I have specific projects to focus on, and I’m looking forward to setting new goals for 2022.

What was your biggest accomplishment at your house last year? Did you have any fails? Did you set any home goals?

Word of the year: Content

At the start of each new year, I think of a word that I want to guide me for the next year. As I looked back over the last four years, I can see how the words have built on each other and stayed with me.

BalanceSlowResolveFocus

This year, I wasn’t sure what word I wanted to use.

Then I thought of content. (Pronunciation note: Being content. Not creating content.)

I have tremendous joy in my life and celebrate each day. However, sometimes my thoughts are ones of impatience, envy, worry, criticism or doubt.

My brain feels very full. I don’t have room for negativity. I want to be more content.

As I was writing this post, I found that one of the definitions of content is “a state of peaceful happiness.” That is exactly what I’m looking to achieve.

For me, content builds on my quest for a slow, balanced life focused on what’s most important to me. I feel like I know myself and have made the choices that are right for Ellie and me and the farm. But sometimes I second guess myself or wish things were different. Being truly content will take effort. But it will help me to quiet my brain a bit and appreciate each day even more.

What are you feeling as we begin 2022? What are you hoping to accomplish this year?

Merry Christmas

Yesterday, Ellie and I went for a hike at the back of the property. It was a nice way to enjoy the farm on a sunny snowy day. Together in this special place.

Due to the pandemic, Christmas may once again not happen the way we want. Life sometimes does not happen the way we want.

But like a sunny snowy day in a special place with a special person, there is love and there is joy.

Whatever form your Christmas takes, I hope that you find peace, togetherness (in some fashion), health, love and joy.

Thank you for reading over the past year.

I wish you and your family well this holiday season.

How to make a simple Christmas tree skirt from a tablecloth

After we’d set up the tree, after we’d strung the lights and hung all the ornaments, Ellie asked, “Where’s the cape?”

The “cape,” or the tree skirt, was the final touch to hide the stand and, most important, provide a spot to rest all of the presents.

These days, there are lots of options for the base of your Christmas tree. However, I still like our simple skirt. And simple is the best word for this DIY.

I made our tree skirt from a Christmas tablecloth.

Here’s how:

Find a round tablecloth in a pattern you like. Ours is about 6 feet in diameter.

Slit the tablecloth along the radius. (In other words, cut halfway across your table cloth from the edge to the centre. You can find the centre by folding the tablecloth in half and then in quarters. You’ll have a generous slice of pie. The point of the pie is the centre of your tablecloth.)

Cut a 6 inch diameter circle out of the middle of your tablecloth. This will be where the tree trunk goes. Use a plate or another round object as your pattern.

Sew a zigzag stitch around the edge of the trunk cutout and the slit to prevent your fabric from fraying.

Attach velcro along either side of the slit.

Drape your tablecloth around the bottom of the tree. Use the velcro to close the skirt. Put the velcro at the back of the tree so it isn’t visible.

And voila. Your Christmas tree now has a beautiful cape.

Does your Christmas tree have a cape? How do you style the bottom of your tree? Have you ever used a tablecloth for something other than a table? How many presents are under your tree so far?

The mudroom is painted – Plus 5 tips for spray painting a room

The mudroom is painted. The mudroom is painted. The mudroom is painted. Yay! Yay! Yay!

(And we even have some hooks.)

The spray painting was a bit of a saga, but not because of the spraying. The first sprayer I rented ended up being double booked (and I was the odd woman out). After a quick scramble I found another sprayer to rent, but when I got it home, it didn’t work (turned out to be a clogged hose). Third time’s the charm, and I finally had a working sprayer by lunch on spray day.

The spraying itself was pretty easy. I was not a pro by any means, but the paint went on fairly evenly and covered very well.

I decided to do all of the trim the same colour as the panelling (Abalone from Benjamin Moore at 75%). It’s a change from the rest of our house where the trim is painted white, but I like the seamless single colour in the mudroom. Plus, I don’t think white in a mudroom is the best choice for the way we live.

I was able to get two coats on in one day. Each coat took just a half hour. Then I let the paint dry overnight and took off all the masking the next day. When I was able to get a good look at the room, I was proud. The finish is not perfect, but I’m going to call it great. For the V-groove panelling and all the edges we had with the trim and hookboards, spraying was definitely easy.

Here are some lessons I learned from my first time spray painting:

Spraying uses lots of paint. The mudroom is not a big room (140 square feet), but I went through two full gallons.

PPE is critical. The paint aerosolizes. Any time I took off my mask or glasses, I could feel the particles stinging my eyes and throat. Don’t skimp on your protection (a hat and gloves are also helpful).

Have a brush just in case. You can gently brush out drips or “spits” without messing up your finish too much.

Mask, mask, mask. Cover anything that you don’t want painted. For us that meant the entire floor, the entire ceiling, the exterior door, the garage door knob and deadbolt, the archway to the kitchen, plugs, switches and the floor thermostat. Check your masking to make sure it remains in place throughout painting.

Keep the sprayer outside. Switching buckets and setting up the sprayer resulted in some splatters and drips around the machine by the end of the day. I put the sprayer in the garage on a sheet of plastic and pulled the hose inside, which meant that most of the mess stayed in the garage.

The paint feels like a big milestone. I sprayed the whole room by myself and it turned out well. Yay me! It’s also the last item on my mudroom to-do list. Now I can move on to fun stuff like decor and storage. In fact, we’re already using those hooks and have moved in some of our coats.

Have you ever spray painted a room before? Do you have any tips to share? Do you have any DIY sagas to share?

Odds & sods

Nov. 9 marked 2 years since Matt died. I didn’t mention the date or write a post because I don’t want to commemorate that day. If we’re focused on joy, there are lots of other occasions that I can acknowledge and remember him.

I love collecting quotes. Growing up, I would write quotes in the back of my journals. This month, I finally read Little Fires Everywhere. There were a few quotes that stuck with me, but this one feels like how I think about sharing Matt with Ellie.

“She told Pearl the outline of everything, though they both knew all the details would be a long time in coming. They would trickle out in dribs and drabs, memories surfacing suddenly, prompted by the merest thread, the way memories often do… Everything, [Pearl] had come to understand was something like infinity. They might never come close, but they could approach a point where, for all intents and purposes she knew all that she needed to know.”

I struggle that Ellie will never truly know her Daddy. He is everything. He is infinite. I tell her as much as I can hoping that she will approach a point where she knows him.

Here are some other things that I’ve been reading, doing and thinking about this month.

What is a conscious closet and how do you build it?

Letters to a young farmer

We made salt dough Christmas ornaments, including a paw print for Ralph.

I did a major clean up on my Instagram, turned off my data regularly and left my phone behind a few times this month. Focusing less on social media–from quitting completely to taking breaks–can actually improve your communications work.

Ellie loves shrimp and this is a super simple, delicious way to cook them.

Children’s book of the month. This one surprised me. I expected it to be scary, but it was so sweet and beautiful.

One more favourite quote from LFE:

To a parent, your child wasn’t just a person: your child was a place, … a vast eternal place where the present you were living and the past you remembered and the future you longed for existed all at once.”

As November wraps up this week, we are enjoying the beauty of our second snowfall at the farm–and struggling with our second cold of the month. Heading into December I’m thinking about holiday baking and presents. Thanks to a blitz over the weekend, I’m nearly done shopping, aside from stocking stuffers. I’ve never been this far ahead this early. Now I have more time for baking. Yum. Please share any favourite holiday recipes.

How did November go for you? Does anyone else collect quotes? How are your holiday preparations going?

Five tips to tackle a new DIY

This week I am going to spray paint the mudroom. Honestly, I’m a bit intimidated. I’ve never used a paint sprayer before, and painting a whole room seems like a big place to start. Plus I’m really proud of the mudroom and I don’t want to mess it up.

But I feel like a sprayer will give me the best finish (provided I do it well) and be fast. If it ends up not going well, I’m reminding myself that most of the walls will eventually be hidden behind coats, cabinets, a bench, mirror and more.

As I prepare to tackle this new-to-me DIY, I thought I’d share some of the ways I make a project like this less intimidating. I’d love to hear your tips as well.

Research

Take some time to figure out the best way to approach your project. I started by investigating the options for painting the V-groove panelling. Was there a really fluffy roller that would work? (Answer: Maybe, but the finish might end up a bit goopy. And I’d still have to do a lot of cutting in that would take a lot of time and also maybe not give me the finish I’m looking for.)

Once I settled on spraying, I called the rental store and booked the sprayer. I have since watched a lot of YouTube videos for the exact sprayer model that I will be using as well as other paint sprayers. I want to understand how they work and the proper technique.

YouTube, online tutorials, a manual, professional advice–there are lots of resources to help you tackle whatever you’re looking to do. You’re not in this alone.

Take your time

I am not a fan of jumping right into a project. I like to plan and think things through. I gave myself a week to reserve the sprayer, prep the mudroom, gather materials (more on this below) and learn as much as I can about paint spraying.

For spray-day, I’ve also tried to give myself as much time as possible. I’m picking the sprayer up first thing in the morning, and my Mom is booked to pick Ellie up from preschool, so I don’t have the pressure of a ticking clock when I’m painting.

Taking your time may mean booking time off work or having childcare lined up. Clearing your schedule means you can focus on your project and feel less stress.

Gather your tools and materials

When you’re taking on a new project, you may not know exactly how everything is going to go and exactly what you’ll need. Having your tools and materials ready can make things go more smoothly and ensure you’re prepared for the unexpected.

Maybe you’re going to try some plumbing. Have a bucket and extra towels, along with your full toolbox and any specific plumbing tools (wrenches in multiple sizes, a roll of teflon tape, etc).

I have my paint ready to go. I also have extra buckets, rolls of masking tape, sheets of paper and plastic and PPE.

Enlist help

Two heads are better than one. Many hands make light work. There’s truth in these sayings. Even if your helper doesn’t know what they’re doing either, sometimes it’s easier to figure things out together.

One of my friends suggested meeting up this week. I invited her to help me mask the mudroom–yes, I’m that kind of a friend. As she is also that kind of a friend, she said yes. A second pair of hands will make putting up the plastic to protect the cedar ceiling much easier.

Friend, family, neighbour, partner–lots of people are willing to help. Don’t be afraid to ask.

Focus on the reward

I am so excited to have the mudroom painted. Not for the painting itself, but for what comes next. Storage, hooks, decorating–all of the fun stuff. The thought of getting to the fun stuff motivates me to get through the painting.

Plus, if the spraying works out, I’ll have a new skill to add to my DIY repertoire.

Other rewards of DIY are saving money, finishing a space, fixing a problem, beautifying your home.

DIY can be intimidating. But like anything there’s a learning curve. Each project I tackle builds my confidence for the next one and the one after that.

If you’re thinking of trying something at your house, go for it. With a bit of preparation, you can make it happen.

How do you prepare for a new-to-you project? What’s a DIY skill you’ve learned? Is there a project that you’re nervous about tackling? Any tips for spray painting?

Mudroom door in Knoxville Gray

We had our first snowfall. We’ve had flurries, but yesterday there was finally enough snow to stick on the ground for a few hours. The time for outdoor work is coming to an end, and I’m glad that I crossed painting the mudroom door off my list a few weeks ago.

I chose a grey-turquoise, Knoxville Gray from Benjamin Moore. In pictures it looked like a nice, dark, saturated, not too bright turquoise. On the BM website, it looks grey. (And on a dim snowy day it looks quite blue.)

As I started to paint, I was questioning my choice. It was grey.

I had nice weather. It was a preschool day, so I had time.

I. Was. Painting. The. Door.

I envisioned speeding into town to get the can retinted to more blue, more green, more colour.

And then it started to dry. And it wasn’t grey. It wasn’t blue. It wasn’t green. It was the perfect nice, dark, saturated, not too bright turquoise.

Phew.

Next up, painting the rest of the mudroom (an inside job that will hopefully begin this week).

Who else has questioned their colour choice mid-paint job? Do you have any outdoor projects you’re trying to finish? Have you had any snow yet?