Walking down memory lane via the office

Sorting bills

Oooh, you’re in for a special blog post today. The next step in my office makeover was… wait for it… paperwork and filing. You can’t stand the excitement, right?

Paperwork may not be the most photogenic or interesting topic for a blog post. But it’s a fact of life, or at least a fact of my life.

I actually have some great systems to manage paper in my office. I’ve set these up over the last few years and they work pretty well for me. So even though I’m making over the office, I’m not making over absolutely everything.

This mail organizer is my main tool. As soon as the walls were painted, I reinstalled this right away. I only file paperwork a few times a year (all of our bills except for our credit cards are set up for automatic debits), so the piles of mail and bills grow and get messy. The organizer isn’t always tidy, but it avoids the piles.

Mail organizer

Receipts live in a box in a drawer until I reconcile them with my statements.

Receipts

You know we keep a pretty close eye on our finances. This reconciliation is one of the ways I do that.

Once everything is sorted, the papers go into our filing cabinet. The filing cabinet may not be the prettiest piece of furniture, but it’s very functional for us. I’ve seen some cool filing cabinet makeovers with paint, hardware and even fabric, so that may be something to consider for the future.

In the meantime, appreciate the nearly empty mail organizer.

Filing cabinet and mail sorter

The other paperwork I tackled was a huge box full of old schoolwork. As in from kindergarten through to university. Most of it ended up on the burn pile, but I kept a few things like report cards, class photos, my award-winning science project, a couple of memorable stories and this prophetic drawing.

Farm drawing

Even for the things I didn’t keep, it was fun to look back. I could see how my teacher’s comments on my grade 12 English essays made me a better writer–she was a tough marker, but completely right. In the kindergarten folder, I found this mimeographed matching sheet.

First test

On the back in my Mom’s hand-writing, it said “Julia’s first school test.” Awww.

First test

Now that I have returned from memory lane, I’m looking ahead again on what’s left for the office. Here’s where I’m at:

  • Buy and install light fixture
  • Unpack remaining boxes and organize china cabinet
  • Style china cabinet shelves
  • Sort and file paperwork
  • Install gallery wall #1
  • Install gallery wall #2
  • Reupholster seat of wooden chair

We’re down to two weeks to go in this mini One Room Challenge. Remember you can check out the official ORC participants at Calling it Home.

How do you organize mail, bills, receipts and paperwork at your house? Have you gone paperless yet? Has anyone else kept old schoolwork?

Mini One Room Challenge update #1

Vine flushmount light fixture

There are three weeks left in the official One Room Challenge. And three weeks left in my personal mini-ORC, also known as mission finish the office.

Already the motivation of the ORC is working. I had a very productive weekend, and I’m excited to see the finishing touches for the office coming together.

Here’s the to-do list update:

  • Buy and install light fixture
  • Unpack remaining boxes and organize china cabinet
  • Style china cabinet shelves
  • Sort and file paperwork
  • Install gallery wall #1
  • Install gallery wall #2
  • Reupholster seat of wooden chair

As you can see from the photo above, I have a proper light fixture now. I’ve envisioned this light fixture in the office for a long time. I second guessed myself for a moment when I finally bought it, but now that it’s installed it’s perfect. I love the dark metal and the vines and the crystals.

It’s kind of fun and a bit of a different experience to decorate a room completely for myself.

Something that’s also entirely for me is the gallery wall you see behind the light fixture. I’ll share more about that in a couple of weeks when I post the final the reveal.

Another personal favourite is the Brissac Jewel fabric by P Kaufmann that I used on my bulletin board and slipper chair. It’s making another appearance, this time on a wooden chair that past owners left at the farm.

Upholstering this chair hadn’t been part of the original plan for the office, but I couldn’t let this chair go (I have a thing for chairs). Covering a slip seat is a whole lot easier than upholstering the slipper chair. Pulling all of the staples out of the old upholstery probably took longer than adding the new fabric.

The dark wood and the bright fresh fabric look so nice against the white desk and turquoise walls.

Sewing desk

A major perk of the ORC is it ensures I complete all of the little details of a makeover. Details like paint touch-ups (which were also part of my weekend) and upholstering this chair.

It’s those little details that make a room come together. I’m thankful to finally be at that point with the office. Just a little more to go. We’re getting there.

So are all of the other bloggers that are participating officially in the ORC. Even though I’m not linking up, I encourage you to check out the other makeovers at Calling It Home. There will be new updates every Wednesday and Thursday until May 10.

Have you ever decorated a room just for you?

Makeover motivation from a mini One Room Challenge

It’s that time again. The One Room Challenge is taking over the blogosphere. It started last week and runs until May 10. More than 200 bloggers, 200 rooms and 200 inspiring makeovers.

I’m looking forward to all of the beautiful content arriving in my feedly over the next four weeks.

Once again this year, I’m not participating in the One Room Challenge. I’ve loved participating in the past and especially loved the results of our laundry room and master bedroom. But this time around, I don’t have a room ready for the six week timeline.

However, I do have a room mid-makeover. My office.

I’m thinking I can use the One Room Challenge and all of the activity of my fellow bloggers to motivate me to Finally. Finish. This. Room.

Office mid-makeover

So this is it. I’m setting a deadline, people. May 10. The office will be done.

Here’s my original to-do list, and where we’re at:

  • Scrape ceiling – Finished over the Christmas break–oh so long ago.
  • Paint ceiling, trim and walls – Finished over the Christmas break.
  • Add new shelf to closet – Finished and already filled.
  • Redo china cabinet and desk – Finished and partially filled.
  • Reupholster slipper chair – Finished and it’s oh so pretty.
  • Reupholster ironing board – Finished thanks to a lucky thrifting score.
  • Unpack all of my boxes and decorate – Started.

That last item is where I’ve been a bit stuck. I had so many boxes, which had been packed for at least five years–some of them longer. Also, decorating is kind of a big thing.

I know myself, and I know I’ll do better if I can break it down into smaller pieces.

So here’s the new to-do list of the remaining items:

  • Buy and install light fixture – I somehow forgot that I need a new light for this room since I removed and trashed the boob light that was here originally.
  • Unpack remaining boxes and organize china cabinet
  • Style china cabinet shelves
  • Sort and file paperwork
  • Install gallery wall #1
  • Install gallery wall #2
  • Reupholster seat of wooden chair

Totally doable, right? It’s mini compared to the full room makeovers other people are tackling through the ORC.

As slow as work has been on the office, it has been ongoing, even though I haven’t shared many updates. This weekend I made some progress on a few little shelves that will be part of the gallery walls.

Painting little shelves

I’m going to start sharing regular updates here to help myself stay on track. I’m not going to be sharing my makeover through the official ORC linkups on Calling It Home, though, because mine is so mini. I do encourage you to visit Calling It Home and checking out all of the projects for yourself.

And stay tuned here. Soon enough–with a little motivation from the ORC–I’ll be able to reveal the finished office. Four weeks to go.

Are you following any ORC makeovers? Official ones? Are you doing any makeovers yourself? How do you find motivation to finish off a makeover?

New upholstery for a vintage slipper chair

Slipper chair upholstered in Brissac Jewel by P Kaufmann Fabric

When my Mom was cleaning out my grandmother’s house, I asked if I could have the slipper chair. When my Mom showed up with a pink skirted chair, I was surprised. I actually didn’t remember ever having seen this chair before. The “slipper” chair I had in mind was a parson’s chair that had sat in my grandmother’s front hall. I ended up with that chair too–in fact it turned out to be one of a pair and I got them both in addition to the little pink slipper chair.

Yes, I have a thing for chairs.

I stripped off the pink cover and the old padding way back when we were still living at our first house. And the poor chair has sat naked in the pool room since we moved here to the farm. (I still had the pink cover balled up in a plastic bag. I slipped it back on the chair for a photo op. However, with no stuffing and an extreme number of wrinkles, the chair, which was already pretty sad, looks really, really sad.)

Reupholstering a slipper chair

I’ve always envisioned the slipper chair being part of my office, so now that that makeover is underway, it was finally time to give the slipper chair a new life.

This was a totally start from scratch scenario. I had the wood frame of the chair and that was it.

Wood frame of a slipper chair

This was also a totally make it up as I go scenario. I am not experienced in upholstery and am–like many people–a bit intimidated by it.

So I just dove in. I stained the legs to a dark brown. I covered the seat with some foam, and then put more foam on the back. I covered it all with batting, mashing it around the corners. I stapled, stapled and stapled.

Reupholstering a slipper chair

Then I covered it all with an old sheet, stapling the heck out of every fold.

Reupholstering a slipper chair

Then things got serious. I pulled out my bolt of Brissac Jewel fabric that I’ve had for longer than I’ve had the chair. There was lots of laying things out, turning them around, laying them out again, putting them back to the exact way they were before. And then doing it all over again. Once I finally figured out how to place the fabric, I then spent a lot of time stuffing material around the legs and trying to get the folds just right–or right enough.

Reupholstering a slipper chair

Reupholstering a slipper chair

I made my own piping and used flexible metal tack strip (plygrip) for the first time (this video was very helpful).

Reupholstering a slipper chair

I built my grip strength using my vintage manual staple gun–seriously, I’m almost ready for American Ninja Warrior. My fingertips are still tender. If I take on more upholstery, I would invest in an air powered staple gun. However, a project like this can be done with very basic tools–and very basic skills.

I covered up the messy underside with another piece of the sheet (although the packing crate that was used for the seat is pretty cool–I wonder what went to Montreal via Halifax).

Stamped wood on the underside of the vintage slipper chair

Underside of the slipper chair

My grandmother grew up in her family’s furniture store and reupholstered furniture regularly. She made the pink slip cover that was on the slipper chair originally. All I could think as I was working on this chair was that she would definitely have something to say about my technique if she was around. And I wish she was around to tell me how to do it right.

Right or wrong, though, it turned out pretty well. I can see the few flaws, but overall, I’m really proud.

Slipper chair upholstered in Brissac Jewel by P Kaufmann Fabric

Slipper chair upholstered in Brissac Jewel by P Kaufmann Fabric

Slipper chair upholstered in Brissac Jewel by P Kaufmann Fabric

Slipper chair upholstered in Brissac Jewel by P Kaufmann Fabric

I think my grandmother would be too.

My Grandma’s vintage knitting patterns

I really hoped to have an office update for you today, but it was not to be. Soooooo many boxes. So much unpacking. So much fabric and wool. I’m making progress, but it’s a little overwhelming to figure out how best to organize it all.

However, one thing that is unpacked and organized is all of my grandmother’s knitting patterns. In my last update, I promised you a peak at some of these, so that’s what I’m giving you today.

This collection is so special to me. My grandmother taught me to knit as a child, but I didn’t really make anything wearable until I was a teenager. She talked me through my first mitts, sweater, lace, cables and gave me the confidence to tackle pretty much anything. Now, I’ve taught a few other people to knit and have even started a knitting group at work.

Inheriting her patterns means a lot to me, and I’m working to take good care of them. Some of the oldest patterns date to the 1930s, I think. On the tattered bottom left corner of this book is “Canada 1936.” I’m choosing to read this as a date.

Vintage knitting patterns from the 1930s

Her patterns span the years, ages and styles. Not all have stood the test of time, but I’m not getting rid of any of them.

Vintage knitting patterns

There’s lots of clothing (she knit for all of her 14 grandchildren and 16 great-grands–we have two more greats and one great-great now), and there are other things as well like afghans or these lace patterns.

Vintage lace knitting patterns

These Mary Maxim patterns are a particular treasure. Grandma knit the sheep and sailboat sweaters for my cousins, and then they were handed down to my sisters, brother and me. My Mom eventually passed them on to my cousin’s kids.

Mary Maxim is a Canadian company started in the 1950s. Their patterned jackets–often featuring Canadian wildlife–are some of their signature designs. Check out that beaver and maple leaf jacket. Doesn’t get more Canada than that.

Mary Maxim knitting patterns

These Mary Maxim mitts are another Grandma signature. In our family, we had the birds when we were growing up, and then when my sister was a teen she convinced my Grandma to knit her a pair of crocodiles.

Mary Maxim crocodile and bird mitts

I’ve knit these a bunch of times in all sizes, even including a tiny thumbless Crocodilly for my nephew #3 when he was very wee–and apparently freaked out by Auntie and her camera.

Knitted crocodile hat and mitts

The other highlight for me is this Beatrix Potter knitting book. I remember when my Grandmother got this as a Christmas gift. In fact, the card from my Aunt is still tucked inside the front cover.

Beatrix Potter knitting patterns

The patterns in this book are all interpretations of Beatrix Potter’s stories and characters. Some are vedy, vedy British and a bit dated. Benjamin Bunny tams anyone?

Benjamin Button knitting outfits

But the graphs and the characters are timeless. I think this Jeremy Fisher with his dangling legs is super cute.

Jeremy Fisher sweater

My sister is about to add another great-grandbaby to the family in a month of so. I’m enjoying going through the patterns and picking out something for my new niece–and giving her a memento of her Great-Grandma.

Office makeover update

Made over china cabinet for office storage

I mentioned on Friday that I’ve been a bit frustrated by how long the office makeover is taking. I had made huge progress over the Christmas break, but then I went back to work and it felt like things came to a screeching halt.

Here are my previous posts about this project:

I’ve only been working on the office on the weekends, so that’s the biggest factor affecting my progress. Between working long hours at the day job, writing on the side, spending time with my husband, oh and eating, bathing and sleeping, something’s gotta give, and it’s been the office.

But, I feel like I finally turned a corner.

Here’s our original to-do list, and where we’re at:

  • Scrape ceiling – Finished over the Christmas break
  • Paint ceiling, trim and walls – Finished over the Christmas break
  • Add new shelf to closet – Two shelves are installed. Next step is to fill them.
  • Redo china cabinet and desk – This was the part of the project that took much longer than I’d hoped, but they’re done. And like the closet they’re ready to be filled.
  • Reupholster slipper chair – I stained the legs of the chair while I was doing the desk and the cabinet. I have the fabric. I need some foam. Then I’ll teach myself upholstery.
  • Reupholster ironing board – Because a primary activity of the office is sewing, I have an ironing board in the room. It needs a new cover to match the new office.
  • Unpack all of my boxes and decorate – Oh I am so excited to do this finally.

Finishing the furniture was a big step.

I decided to break up all the white with some wood, so I stripped the top of the desk and china cabinet and stained them darker. The rest of the desk and cabinet went white.

In the left side of the photo below you can see a glimpse of the tall narrow dresser that I made a few years ago for the weird little niche. I swear I bought matching hardware for desk drawers at the same time that I made the dresser. It’s been nearly three years, though, and I’m not sure where I put it.

Office makeover in progress

We’re approaching the “put-it-back-together” stage.

I’m looking forward to sorting my yarn, fabric, other crafting supplies and tchotchkes. I’ve already moved some of my magazines and knitting patterns into the china cabinet. There are some amazing vintage patterns from my grandmother. This may be a farm living, home makeover blog, but I’m going to write another post to show you some of them.

Magazine and knitting pattern storage

Often, I see bloggers moving so fast on makeover projects and doing multiple major renos in a single year. That’s not how I do things (obviously).

I’ve been thinking about this project for a long time, though, and it’s starting to look like the picture in my mind. I feel like this is going to come together–I’m not entirely sure how yet, but I think we’re going to get there.

Do you have a first project of the year? How’s it going for you so far? How do you balance projects with all of the other things happening in  your life? Any tips for organizing fabric or yarn? I admit I’m not entirely sure where to start with some of the things that have to come back into this room.

Office oddities

My office,which we’re making over, is an odd little room. It is by far the smallest of our bedrooms. It has a weird floorplan. And it’s also apparently haunted. Yup. You read that right.

Here is a floorplan that is mostly to scale. Note the off-centre window and light. The weird little niche just inside the door. The pocket door that leads into our bedroom (which comes in handy as the switch for the second light is in our bedroom).

Office floorplan

When we scraped the ceiling, we uncovered evidence of earlier walls, and Matt came up with the best explanation I’ve heard so far to explain the odd layout.

It appears that at one time the room was divided roughly in two. Matt’s theory is that half the room served as a large pantry for the kitchen, and the other half was a big walk-in closet off the bedroom. (You can kind of see the lines on the ceiling around the dangling light bulb).

Evidence of old walls on the ceiling

The closet theory explains why there are three full-length mirrors in this one little room–even the pocket door is mirrored. As dated as the mirrors are, they come in handy when I’m sewing and want to see how things fit, so they will be staying.

My office before

I’m doing my best to make the layout work for me. You may remember that our long term plan is for this room to become the foyer when we relocate the front door to the house. So I don’t want to do any major renovations that will be ripped out down the road.

I think I’ve come up with a furniture plan that will work.

Office furniture layout

I figured out how to make use of the tiny niche a few years ago when I set it up as a command centre with a tall narrow dresser, bulletin board and our calendar.

Beside the pocket door, there’s a track light on the ceiling. This makes that wall the best location for my desk.

I bought the china cabinet specifically because it was the exact dimensions to fit on the wide side of the window. The cabinet could also go just inside the door (where our filing cabinet is currently located). However, I feel like a tall piece of furniture might crowd the entryway too much.

I’m hoping that all of the changes will exorcise the ghost in the office.

When we were scraping the ceiling, the room got a little humid. The words “Raven Room” appeared in the steam on the window.

Raven room

So very, very odd.

Do you have an odd room at your house? How about a haunted room? How would you lay out the furniture in this room?

Makeover plans for my office

Our first project of the year is well underway, so it’s past time for me to catch you up. As I mentioned in my Home Goals 2017 last week, we are redoing the last of our three bedrooms, the room that is going to be my office.

My office before

This room has been my office since we moved here, but it’s never been set up as a functional office. It had a filing cabinet to hold our paperwork and a desk (left by the previous owners), which held my sewing machine. That was pretty much it.

Along the way, we added furniture that we weren’t using elsewhere, which gave me a place to store magazines and patterns. But most of my fabric, office supplies and knickknacks were still in the cardboard boxes that I’d packed when we moved from our first house–almost five years ago.

Having a pretty, well-organized, high-functioning room where I can craft, sew, write and work is important to me, and we’re finally going to make it happen.

Here is some of my inspiration.

And here’s our to-do list and an update on where we’re at so far.

  • Scrape ceiling – It has become a tradition that over the Christmas holidays we scrape a ceiling. This year was no different.
  • Paint ceiling, trim and walls – With the ceiling scraped, everything could be painted. The trim, ceiling and closet look so fresh with a coat of white and the walls are a fun dark turquoise.
  • Add new shelf to closet – I bought the shelf on Friday. I just need to trim it to fit.
  • Redo china cabinet and desk – I’ve stripped and restained the tops of the desk and the cabinet and primed the bases. I’m hoping to continue painting this week.
  • Reupholster slipper chair – The legs of the chair got a beautiful dark stain while I was doing the desk and the cabinet. I have the fabric. I need some foam. Then I’ll teach myself upholstery.
  • Reupholster ironing board – Because a primary activity of the office is sewing, I have an ironing board in the room. It needs a new cover to match the new office.
  • Unpack all of my boxes and decorate – Oh I am so excited to do this finally.

I don’t have any pretty photos yet. Here are some progress shots.

First up, the guest room, which is holding all of the things that used to be in my office. Oy vey. My poor pretty guest room. I hope no one wants to come visit for a little while.

Clutter in the guest room

Matt doing the messy work of scraping the ceiling.

Matt scraping the stippled ceiling

Where we’re at as of yesterday afternoon. Beautiful smooth ceiling, bright trim, oh so purty turquoise walls… and a makeshift paint shop.

Progress in the office

I do not like refinishing furniture indoors, but it’s a necessity in January in Canada. My freshly painted walls were so dusty, and I don’t have enough space to lay out all of the pieces that need painted. Argh. This stage is going to take a little while, but I’m feeling good about the progress we’ve made so far.

What do you think about the progress and plans? Do you have an office? What do you use your office for? How do you balance the pretty and the function in a work space?

Home Goals 2017

Alright. It’s officially time to start looking ahead. Time to share my Home Goals 2017.

Unusually, I’ve not been thinking about these for the past few months. Some of them have solidified over the last few weeks–one of them even started just before the end of last year. Some of them came together just as I was writing this post.

I think we’re getting to the stage where more things are done around the house–and the things that are yet to come are biggies. As in so big we’re not ready to tackle them yet (although I really, really, really want a garage).

However, there’s still enough to keep us busy for another year. Here’s what’s on the list.

My office

Turquoise and brass file cabinet from DIY Mommy

Source: DIY Mommy

Ahhh. My office. Finally a room of my own (thank you Virginia Woolf–not an affiliate link). I don’t know as I can convey the monumentalness of this project–except by making up words. Five years ago we moved to the farm. Since that time, moving boxes have been stacked against the wall in my “office.” I want to unpack and truly have a functional office. Finishing off my office will finish off another milestone for the house: the final bedroom.

The transformation is already underway. This is the project that Matt and I started right at the end of December–gotta keep up our holiday tradition of scraping a stippled ceiling.

Clean up the pond shore

Property clean up has been on my list every year. And every year I end up working on whatever spot shows up in front of me. This year I want to be a little more plannful. This year, I am cleaning up the pond shore–how’s that for an emphatic statement.

The pond is my favourite place on our whole 129 acres. And I haven’t been able to easily access the shore the whole time we’ve lived here. I’ve considered enlisting professional help, but I think if I put out a call, I should be able to find a few family members willing to wield chainsaws and weed eaters for a weekend.

Vegetable garden

The vegetable garden was our major project last year, and as a result I feel like we’re in very good shape to start this year’s growing season. However, there are a few things I’d like to add this year, like rhubarb, a second row of berries (maybe raspberries, maybe something else) and maybe some more grapes.

Most important, this year I am going to keep the weeds under control–another emphatic statement. I’m hoping a deep mulch will help me not spend my whole summer weeding.

Flower gardens

Last year our flower gardens were entirely neglected as the vegetable garden consumed all our time. This year I want to give them at least a little bit of attention.

I’ve dumped plants randomly in two beds at the front of the house, and they need a bit of organization. I’d like to add some more shade tolerant flowers to the turnaround.

I’m also planning to remove the flowerbeds at the back of the house (there are only so many hours in a day, and mowing is easier than weeding).

Basement

I’ve said it before. The basement has been hanging around long enough. This is the year we’re going to finish it once and for all–including fun art.

New barn cat

Ralph the barn cat

This one may be more of a farm goal than a home goal.

We have an outstanding barn cat in Ralph. So outstanding that we’d love for her to teach someone the wisdom of her ways. I’m not sure exactly how we’re going to go about finding her an apprentice, but we’re going to figure it out.

So there you have it. Six goals. Two inside, three outside, one alive. Some big, some small, one with a tail. Some easy, some tedious, some furry.

We’ll see how this goes.

Time to get started!

Do you have any goals for this year? What would you like to accomplish at your house? Any tips for introducing a new barn cat? Anyone want to help clear the shore at the pond?

Ready to reno… something… anything…

I’m getting antsy for a project.

I have to admit, I loved the little lull we had after garden season ended and we started spending more time indoors. Summer was busy and I always felt like I was eight steps behind all of the work that I should have been doing outside.

But now, I’m ready to get moving again.

I like to have something to work on, I love how our house looks after I finish, and plus it gives me some good content to share here with all of you. (Confession, I’ve felt like things have been a little dry this fall).

When I was cleaning the bathroom the other week in preparation for our annual Christmas party, I thought to myself, “Can I just rip out this linen closet? Even just the top part?”

Main bathroom before

Uh. Yeah. That sounds like a good plan when you’re having 15 people over for a full Christmas dinner.

I was able to restrain myself and returned to my scrubbing. (Anything to avoid cleaning the bathroom, right?) I’m usually not the type to just dive right into a reno without thinking it through and planning it out. That might mean projects happen more slowly around here, but it works for us.

I think I will likely end up leaving the bathroom alone. I want to tackle the whole thing at once, not just the linen closet.

Instead, I have my eye on my office, or our third bedroom. It’s the last bedroom that needs to be painted, and I think it would make a great project for the Christmas holidays. Then there’s the storage hutch makeover and finally unpacking the last of our boxes… only five years after moving in.

VIew from my office doorway

It’s become a tradition over the last two years that we scrape the stipple off the ceiling of one room over the Christmas break. We can’t break with tradition, right?

… Although I just saw Aniko’s (Place of my Taste) bathroom makeover with her chunky DIY shelves and the linen closet is calling my name again.

What would you do, office or bathroom? Do you ever antsy for a project? Are you a planner or a “let’s-get-this-party-started” kind of person?