An Empty Drawer

Spring is around the corner. It could be the warmer weather, or the extended hours of daylight, or the season of Lent that many of us celebrate, but something about this time of year moves us to want to clear the clutter from our lives. Spring is a season for purging, whether your clutter is physical or of a more spiritual nature. It’s just that time of year.

The other day, I tackled my bureau. Well, no, I didn’t physically take it down. But I faced the once-organized-but-totally-neglected mess in its drawers. I can’t remember the last time I put on a pair of pantyhose, yet I’d managed to stuff at least a dozen pairs into a shoebox-sized bin in the top drawer. Fashionable scarves that I haven’t worn once since this pandemic began were squished into a second bin. Socks and belts and random boxed jewelry filled in the spaces between the bins. And that was just the top drawer.

Everything came out of the drawers. I vacuumed them out and then neatly put back what I decided to keep. I could go into detail about how I made those choices, but that’s a subject for another day. And not the point I want to make today. Instead, what I found interesting, was that when I’d finished, more than half of the large, deep bottom drawer was empty. And my immediate impulse was to figure out what I should put in there. Surely I had other spaces that I could clean out and better organize, transferring some of their contents to this mostly empty drawer.

But I left it mostly empty, instead.

What was it about an empty drawer that made me uncomfortable or dissatisfied? Why do we always need to fill the empty spaces? I don’t think there’s an empty drawer or shelf anywhere in my house. Why is that? I saw an ad on tv the other day for a closet-design company. The poor people in the ad needed help because they had too much stuff and no where to put it, so the closet designers solved their problem by creating a wonderfully organized space for them. Now they had room for all their stuff. And more! How satisfying. But, I thought, what if they just got rid of some of their stuff instead? We’re so programmed to not consider that option. But, it is an option.

I wonder, if you and I looked around our homes today, would we find an empty drawer or shelf or cabinet or closet or tabletop? Or do we just spread our stuff into every available space, buying something because it will fill that one empty spot? How would you feel if you emptied one of these spaces and left it empty? Would it feel great, at first, but then feel like an itch that needed to be scratched? A void that needed to be filled? Why? I’m not trying to answer that question here. I just find the question very interesting.



Gratitude Spiral: Day 315

Today, I’m grateful for a home with a central vacuum.

Thirty years ago, it seemed like a good idea, although I’d never heard of it before. Our house was being built and we were asked if we wanted central vacuuming. I’m so glad we said yes. In those thirty years, we’ve had the motor replaced once, but the whole system has held up well. Emptying the canister in the basement yesterday, after a day of cleaning, my appreciation was renewed.

What are you grateful for today?

Adventures in Painting…

DSC_0380Spring always stirs in me a desire for change. And a fresh coat of paint is a relatively simple way to satisfy that desire. So, this past April, I decided to paint our family room. In the past 25 years, I’ve painted every single room in our house — many of them several times. So, I should have known better than to think repainting the family room would be a simple job…

Before painting, I decided that the front windows needed a make-over. Our two bay windows had been dressed in heavy, lined drapes since we first moved in. This was necessary at first, due to the house’s southern exposure. But since then, we’ve had a farmer’s porch built on the front of the house and the windows replaced with energy efficient glass. The light coming in isn’t as intense as it once was. So, it was time for the drapes to go.

After consulting with two local blinds companies, I decided to go with cellular shades. And to make things easy – though not inexpensive – I paid to have them installed. No pics of the drapes, but here are the new shades:

I love how light and clean they make the windows look! Can you see where the traverse rods and valance brackets were attached?

After removing the screws that held all the rods and brackets in place, I discovered that some of the plastic anchors were fused inside the screw holes, so I had to push them in a bit and spackle right over them. The yellow room (on the left) only needed a paint touch-up around the window. I couldn’t find any remnant of the Amber Waves paint among my collection of half-full Benjamin Moore cans in the cellar, so I bought a quart and did a quick touch-up. It looked almost seamless. Close enough.

The Maple Leaf Red room was the one I actually planned to repaint. I needed to choose a color. I was thinking “same, but lighter.” Something like terracotta. After collecting more paint strips from the local hardware store and the big home improvement stores than I dare to admit, I couldn’t settle on a color that was “different” and yet “same” enough. And the names of all those colors can be very persuasive: cinnamon, spiced apple cider, peach mousse. Seriously, who gets to think up all these names? (Coveted job title: Official Paint Color Namer.)

Anyway, when you can’t make up your mind, what do you do? You ask EVERYBODY for opinions! I spread out the paint strips on the window sill and cornered every family member and every visitor for an opinion. Eventually, all discussions converged on spiced apple cider. So, I bought a gallon.

The most important part of a good room-painting job, yet my least favorite part, is masking. Painstakingly taping every edge of every door frame, window frame, and baseboard seems to take forever!  — especially when you’re anxious to see that new wall color. And this room had a mantlepiece and a ceiling beam to boot!

Finally, it was time to open the can of paint. I laid out my drop cloths, assembled my tools: screwdriver, paintbrush, roller, paint tray, and pried open the can. It looked awfully pink! But the color changes when it dries on the wall, I thought. So I painted a splotch or two.

Nope. Definitely not what I wanted.

Back at the hardware store, I requested a pint each of the next two darker shades on the same paint strip as spiced apple cider: baked terra cotta and warm sienna.

DSC_0387Warm sienna is what I really wanted! It’s the darkest of the three splotches above.

I used the rest of the pint to cut in at all my corners and edges. I figured I’d probably do a second coat anyway if there was a slight color variation in the gallon-size of warm sienna. Then, I headed back to the hardware store for the third time.

At home, I popped open my new gallon of warm sienna. It looked a bit light…but I started to pour it into the paint tray anyway. Now, I know that the color in a mixed pint is not an exact match for a mixed gallon of paint, but this looked like a pink swirl in the leftover paint from the pint can. Something was wrong!

I called the hardware store and they told me to bring it back and to bring along the pint can as well. Turns out that it had been mixed incorrectly – somehow! Since they had to mix a new gallon for me and I’d already used the paint from the pint can, they did a paint match on what was left in the pint. Free of charge, of course. 🙂 Evidently, it was slightly darker than it should have been.

So, after four trips to the store, I was finally ready to paint! The good news? It only took one coat!

DSC_0396And after all that, I got to buy some new accessories: new rug, plants and stands, pillows, and lampshades…my reward for all that hard work 🙂