The Truth of During, and the Pressure of "After"

Yesterday afternoon I spent 20 minutes "cleaning the house." Really this just means picking up misplaced things and moving them to another location. Occasionally they have a permanent location where they "should" go, but most of the time it's just all about moving things around.

Would you like to see the clean house?

Doesn't look super clean to you? That's because it's not

Still crap everywhere. But I promise I did "pick things up."

I think the hardest thing about renovation is having constant stuff around. There are tools and semi-completed (or excuse me, semi-started) projects everywhere, laundry that should be put away, dishes that should be washed, a dirty pair of shoes sitting outside next to the deck for 3 months, junk mail sitting on counter, home related notes/magazines/plans strewn all over the coffee table - you get the idea. And we don't even have a child (yes, I'm talking to you, you super hero renovating parents.)

Several months after we first moved in my mom asked if we wanted to have a cleaning service come once a week for a year (or something close to that) as a housewarming present. It was a WONDERFUL and amazingly nice gift idea, but I realized it was totally impractical. That might sound absolutely ridiculous. Our house will be dirty ALL THE TIME so wouldn't a cleaning service have a lot to do? Yes, and that would be the problem. The house would ALWAYS need cleaning and picking up, and I felt like I would be wasting my mom and CBH's money.

As a result, the last 3 years have been spent living in a state of constant, "Hey, where's the..." It's not really as bad as it sounds. Though our nook has looked better

This may look ridiculous, but I promise there is some reason to it. We've got piles of stuff that needsto go to the garage, baseball cards Chris promised his dad he'd sell, evidence of projects we need to do for a friend (NO WE'RE NOT HAVING A BABY - if you could pick out the baby gates - we're just modifying and installing them for a friend).

Sure, it would be really easy and take about 5 minutes to take all the tools to the garage. And about every 2 or 3 weeks we get the bug to speed through the house and put everything away. But the truth of the matter is that an hour later we're going to need all those tools again. And I get so pissed off putting everything away only to need to go out and grab it all again seconds later.

From time to time I have a total freak out about the constant disarray, but I've gotten better about managing it. Chris has asked me why I don't make organizing systems to make me feel better (he doesn't mind as much as I do, and seriously sometimes it gives me a panic attack), but because only 1/2 of the house is finished, really only 1/2 of the stuff has a permanent place to go. And so I just figure, why bother?

I've gotten better about minding the mess. I'm normally a really organized and meticulous person (you should see my computer filing) and Chris is as well. The first time I went over to his house when we started hanging out, he was showing me something on his computer and I knew we were meant to be because he was crazy organized too - love at first 'new folder.' :) I've realized that I just need to let things go to make the experience more enjoyable.

For instance, my art room currently looks like this

I'm thinking about repainting, sewing new curtains, and the work table got moved to the side when we were refinishing the TV room floors and turned this room into our temporary living room and I've just never moved it back (despite the floors being done for oh, almost two months). But I'm dealing with it. And clearly I don't mind enough to move it back.

One would think that with so much of my getting-paid-work (as opposed to house work) done from home I would be all over keeping the house in tip top shape. But frankly, after doing work for my brother's company or side jobs I've cobbled together, the last thing I want to do is pick up the house. I'd rather make a bird bath.

But the thing I do have a hard time with is the "after." As we've been closing in on finishing the TV room (and one day maybe even the front room) I think "We have to make this room look really good for the 'Before & After' post." We all know how much we look forward to those splendid, beautiful Before & After posts (and I'm right there with you).

As we're renovating and slowly turning our house into a home I don't mind living in a disheveled space. Hello bedroom (this is how it looks every day - some clothes on the floor and the bed never made)

And you may wonder what that strange metal pole is in the top of the frame? That's the skylight opener. Because our bedroom HAS NO WINDOWS (stupid previous owner) we only have a skylight. And we're so lazy we leave the opener pole thing in the little hook of the skylight so we just stand on the top of the bed to open or close it.

But I want to be able to have a good "After" to show all of you wonderful, dedicated, appreciated and awesome readers. I want to have something great to show you after you've spent months of your life reading through my mindless posts about stains, cabinets, paint colors, etc. all on the way to one day, hopefully, checking some more of rooms off our to do list.

I've got a nice little blog roll down the side of my blog that I always read. But I also find other blogs from time to time by click click clicking away. A few years ago a came across a blog and was reading through some posts and happened upon an "After." The bloggers had a kid who was maybe 3 at the time and I couldn't believe how gorgeous their house was. It was beautifully accessorized and their furniture was awesome. Me and Chris? We're too lazy to close our cabinets in our laundry room and we've got our back bathroom supply pile ready and waiting (for over a year)

But that "After" post of the beautiful room with a toddler I happened upon made me feel crappy. I looked at it and thought, "Is my house supposed to look like that?" There are all these renovation shows, blogs, books, magazines, etc. and I buy into all of it. I get shelter mags, we love Renovation Realities, and there are plenty of times I read blogs, see shows or look through magazines and it leaves me feeling inadequate. Especially as I've gotten into project management with my brother's real estate company and have now taken on some design jobs for people.

But what I have to realize is that I'm not an accessorizer. Sure, I love my colorful, plastic, too big earrings (much to Chris' dismay) but I'm never going to put gilded antlers on my coffee table. Not that there is something wrong with them, I just personally don't get it. I'm not going to use those antlers, so why would I put them on my coffee table? My style is all about practicality. There are plenty of gorgeous couches, but they're uncomfortable, cost too much and just don't make sense for the way Chris and I live our lives. And I've got to wrap my head around the fact that that's okay. In the end, I'm not trying to convince or impress anyone but myself. And Chris. I really like it when he says I'm right :)

I guess at the end of this long ramble I'm not entirely sure what the point of it all is. I guess I just wanted to explain that I finally don't mind that our house is never perfectly "clean" and I will never be good at "staging," and making an absolutely gorgeous and magazine worthy "After." But who really understands a photo of a kitchen with a cutting board with a knife and a perfectly set up cheese platter sitting on the counter? Is there someone about to run in the frame and eat up all that cheese? No. Our house will never look like that, and I'm totally fine with it. Now, off to patch some holes on my art room walls instead of vacuum up the wool fur on the TV room floor. I've got priorities people.


Heather said...

Amen! Did you read this article about why everyone's house looks the same?


I'm so glad you don't have antlers on your coffee table. Your house is way better, clutter and all. We always have tools all over the dining room table and we don't do a tenth of the home improvement that you two do.

Knowing that you file your sandpaper sort of explains why even your "mess" doesn't look messy to me.

Shasha Kidd said...

Looks pretty organized to me. You're still in remodel mode and you shouldn't expect it to look staged for all the photos. It's nice to see someone who actually lives in their home. (Those folks with staged photos with a toddler are probably supporting themselves with their website and have to make a good impression.)

kcorbeau said...

Oh wow, THANK YOU for writing this. Your blog is so inspirational for me as a homeowner - and my house also looks NOTHING like the perfect before & afters on other blogs. I always have a million projects and things and life going on, and I really appreciate that you talk about renovating your house as part of your life.
I also kind of love the link Heather posted above - thank you for not spraypainting everything oil rubbed bronze in every project you do.

meryl rose said...

Way to keep it real ladies :) I'm glad I've got you internet friends to keep me sane and happy and know that at the end of the day it's about our house and making ourselves happy :)

And Heather, your link was AWESOME!

Sarah said...

Thank You for this. I have tons to blog about, but Ive lost motivation to do so because I feel like it is small potatoes compared to most peoples progress. And I live in a constant state of renovations. The back bedroom? Full of stuff we are hiding from the new dog. And there's an air compressor on my back deck, un used shoe moulding in the back yard, paint cans sitting by the door to the basement because we are too lazy to take the, downstairs, etc etc.

thank you for keeping it real and I like your house. And who gives a damn if it's not all perfect? You put everyone's progress to shame and you're funny. So everyone or anyone can suck it.

meryl rose said...

Thanks Sarah! Your kind words give a twinkle to my sarcastic eye :) :) :)

Bunny @ 86n It said...

I'm sitting here with 3 empty gatorade bottles on my desk. I walked past a two piles of shoes between the bathroom and office.
I dream of a house where everything has a "place", but for now, where do I put 2 sledgehammers and a pile of scrap-but-useful 2x4's?

meryl rose said...

I leave Gatorade caps ALL OVER THE PLACE, hahahaha :) And those damn 2x4s: we have a "scrap" pile in the garage but it's always absolutely full of wood we refuse to get rid of because we know "some day we'll want to use this..."

Robin @ 3 acres & 3000 sf said...

Great post! You would feel right at home in our house. : )

meryl rose said...

house guest! ;)

worry wort said...

Well, you've already seen our house, so ...

meryl rose said...

Ahem, you have an adorable baby missy! :)

Julia at Home on 129 Acres said...

Thanks for sharing this post. I think a lot of us who are renovating our own homes struggle with the exact same emotions. As encouraging as the blogosphere can be, it can also be disheartening when other people's renovations seem to be going faster/easier or their houses seem more put-together.

Kudos to you for sticking with your project. Living in and renovating a space for three years is very challenging. It seems like you're able to keep it rewarding as well. Good job.

meryl rose said...

Thanks Julia! And it totally is a double edge sword sometimes with the blogosphere, but I think the best part is the great relationships and encouragement from fellow bloggers along the way that help in those super crappy moments when you feel like nothing is working.