Friday, 1 March 2013

Small Job, Big Task


As part of sparkly VikLit’s happy bloghop, Celebrate The Small Things, I’ve been challenged to talk about the small things which make us happy. And I happen to have some big news about a small project which took on unprecedented proportions but is today, finally, finished.* It’s my beautiful, re-painted, re-furbished and inflated (it really wasn’t this big before) study. And its wonderful calm and cleanliness is making me supremely happy. Work, you say? Bring it on!
*Ok, it isn’t completely finished, (I only started on the project five months ago and did you ever hear about Rome?) as my notice boards still need to be hung up. Essential as they are, they will make the study seem a little more cluttered again so today I’m going to call it finished and show you a picture before we all start to unpick the good work.
  
Shameful! Click to see how it got quite so bad.
‘Sorting Out The Study’ had been on our to-do list since we moved into this house eight years ago and finally, we had a date: December 2012. Meanwhile, in November, I would, ‘clear it out’. I took the job very seriously, sifting through the junk, every photo and every piece of paper in my determination to keep only the absolutely essential. The five months the task took I blame on the ‘photo box’, reams of my teenager’s pre-school artwork, my slightly baffling need to keep copies of every freelance project ever worked and several notes to boot and, ah yes, the diaries I wrote between the age of 13 and 23. But all that work! It would be such a shame if nobody read them from cover to cover, wouldn’t it?
New desk beginnings.
There was a gremlin in our plans. With the hugely expensive debacle of the boiler in December, as detailed in A Damp and a Freeze A Damp and a Freeze, I’d put the new study on the *back-burner* for a while. However, my very lovely and equally handy husband, who likes few things more than an excuse to browse an internet auction site which begins with ‘E’ and ends in ‘bay’, secretly sourced some end-of-line wood officially assigned to kitchen work surfaces and set about building a desk and shelving. He paid £400 for the wood. The nice man at the wood merchant’s, who agreed to saw the pieces down to size for a few pennies in the ‘beer pot’, assured hubbie, with much in-taking of breath and nose-tapping, that we would normally have paid five times as much.
Nearly there.
With some careful planning of how to re-use parts of the old desk and re-arrange some of the existing cupboards, and with the purchase of one pot of paint and two packs of dye for the curtains, the entire job came to less than £500. Wasn’t that the budget for Changing Rooms? And not a staple in sight.
Et voila! Note to self: tidy pc cables.
Every day’s a school day, as my French friend frequently quotes and this is what I’ve learnt, or perhaps been reminded of, over the past five months of the Study Job.
Even if the tax man says, ‘Keep This’ with a demonic point of his stubby cigar of a finger, it doesn’t mean you have to keep a record of every pencil ever bought since 1998. Ditto electricity statements, last year’s totally defunct house insurance and the MOT certificate for the car you sold three years ago.
It’s so much easier to discard children’s artwork if it can be left alone for ten years after its production (NB. Factor browsing and cooing time into its disposal).
Photos which do not make it to the photo album do not need to be destroyed and thus should not heap guilt onto the shoulders of the principal house keeper on every sight of the bulging box. Ok, boxes. Indeed, the small house required to store them should be off-set against the great waves of reminiscent joy on their re-discovery. However, easy access is not required, and frankly not conducive to the industrious purpose of a study, so a dusty corner of the loft might be a more suitable place for their housing (loft conversions may be possible).
A4 plastic wallets were of far superior quality in the good old days, as were cardboard index dividers. Gosh, things were made to last in the much maligned nineties!
Notice boards benefit from a clear out, rather than an additional box of pins.
It’s ok not to be able to get rid of cherished favourite novels but they don’t need to be on sight for you to know they’re there. Double rows of books are perfectly acceptable.
Just because something doesn’t have a specific purpose, doesn’t mean it does not have a place in a room where many hours are spent. Although, for the greater good, it is reasonable to fabricate a use to help the husband’s understanding – the door hanging heart, for example, would it double up as a stencil?
I have a lot of notebooks. I’ve spoken of my love of notebooks here before. It will be a sad day for me if I-pads, smartphones, tablets etc. etc. usurp the art of hand-writing. I know I should embrace the times but I’ve always been something of a luddite, way before I reached three score years and something. Besides, they do look pretty, don’t they?
I hope you’ve had a happy week and may all your projects be fun ones which unexpectedly take half of the allocated time!

26 comments:

  1. Wow - that sounds like a huge project! I'm a serial throw-awayer, but now Hubby's self-employed I need to keep much more paperwork than I realise!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm starting to think my problem with the project was that I simply hadn't appreciated its magnitude when I set out, not that the job ballooned at all! Good luck in learning to hoard, Annalisa! Hope hubby's self-employment is going well.

      Delete
  2. Shaking up your work space may change so many things. Hope those changes are as positive as they can be. Congrats on undertaking that project.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That sounds exciting! I'll keep you posted C. L! Thanks for popping by.

      Delete
  3. Man that's a BIG job, yay for getting so much done. House projects can be exciting and painful, you are doing great ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks SK! I think that's right - exciting, painful and eventually rewarding. Thanks for reading :)

      Delete
  4. What a huge project but CONGRATS on undertaking it and getting so much DONE OMG yay to study!!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love it, VikLit, it was definitely worth the months and months of sitting surrounded by papers in the small hours wondering what I'd started!

      Delete
  5. Looks to me that you got a lot done in four months. Good for you! You can spend so much time going through so many memorabilia. Aint nothing better than going down memory lane while placing some of those memories into your present life.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're right, Nancy. I decided to stop beating myself up about it and indulge now and again! There were times when I just went through chucking out paper but even doing that and tearing up old official letters/ bills (the hand version of a shredder) took ageees!
      Thanks for reading!

      Delete
  6. Congrats on the gorgeous new study, and here's hoping there are no more boiler problems. :-)

    ReplyDelete
  7. Congratulations! Enjoyed the blog and the new look study! The only problem is blog came so fast after the previous blog (don't blame you, it is good to share) that I didn't quite get in on time to comment on squashing and sqeezing which did make me think about taking things for granted and not valuing what you have got so am going to say it now! Having lost my previously unacknowledged sense of balance a while ago (happily now returned) I realise that you shouldn't take your oh so valuable senses for granted and I truly do appreciate all of them now. There you see, managed to squeeze it in!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Lyn! I love that feeling when you suddenly feel better after any illness and think that it was ALMOST worth being poorly to feel this good now. Vertigo is particularly horrendous so I'm not surprised you're happy to be back to five senses!

      Delete
  8. Wonderful accomplishment! Can you come to my house soon?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. He he, I would love to, Yolanda, but I'm afraid I'm all out of 'sorting' skills at the moment, I used up a decade's quota over the past few months ;)
      Thanks for popping in!

      Delete
  9. I had the exact double rows of books quanduary last night! It felt totally wrong so I double rowed my husband's books and did a strange lego like wall of my books instead so that I could see all the spines but have felt funny about it ever since because I like neat and uniform rather than neat higgledy. I am now just going to go down stairs and double row them all which will make me feel so much better. Well done for finally getting it all done. Your desk looks the perfect combination of enticingly tidy and organised with a few interesting things to stare at when your mind starts to fuddle.x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. How funny that you had the double row dilemma! So, how's it looking now? And I'm also dying to know how you got on with Larkism (love your blog) - are you cursing me?? Thanks for reading!

      Delete
  10. I have a room to do too. And like yours it's been on the to do list for about a year. Usually I love a good clear out but this one is giving me the hebegebes. I shall stand firm, repeat your name like a mantra and march in ... but not before Friday!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ooh, best of luck with that room and keep us posted - pictures please!

      Delete
  11. It sounds like you've accomplished a lot! What a beautiful study.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you AJ and thanks for popping in :)

      Delete
  12. gorgeous! So visual, descriptive and educational (have just written a big speal to be lost by google - i have'nt the heart or the time to repeat -sorry!) Basically loved your account which is far more exciting than when i tidy/clear up out!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Thanks Antonia, and sorry the Google demons got you :( I'm not sure the project felt that exciting at the time but was so worth it - I'm still on a high a couple of weeks later. Even better, it's still tidy (although the notice boards are still not up!).

    ReplyDelete
  14. The new-look study is gorgeous - it's surprising what a difference surroundings make to how you feel. I've had a good clearout of mine recently, and found all sorts of little treasures, including a tiny yellow duck in a stripy hat my grandma knitted for me years ago.

    If only they would stay tidy forever though!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ah yes, the memories! It's great finding things like that. Tricky bit is knowing if we're allowed to keep the yellow ducks once they've been 'found' ... It's just so true about the surroundings. Currently,it's still beautifully ordered in here as the Elves and the Study Tidiers come in every night and have a scoot around. I'm just worried what will happen when somebody else's study calls. Thanks for reading!

      Delete

Thanks for stopping by my blog. I love to hear your thoughts and always respond :)