It has been almost a year since I publicly humiliated myself with the pictures of Batman’s messy former-bedroom and my subsequent clean up of said space (see “Organizing Batman” from March of 2012 if you are interested).
At the time I was pretty pleased with my accomplishment and the look of the newly organized area. As a refresher, this is what a small corner of the room looked like before my efforts:
The room was strewn with toys, books and dress-up clothes. Drawers hung open precariously and general chaos reigned supreme. In my defense, I did straighten the room periodically, and it didn’t always look this bad, but still it truly was embarrassing.
After I finished my project that day, the room looked like this:
I was pretty pleased with myself, if a little over-confident in my ability to maintain the order I had created. My friend Shane, who has been privy to the cluttered corners of my various homes over the years laughed at me when she saw the room. “Just wait and see what it looks like in a few weeks,” she said, not unkindly.
She was right. While the general order of the room generally stayed far superior to the previous state, it still slowly digressed over the year until last week it looked like this:
I will say once again in my defense (I seem to be doing a lot of defending over this whole area of my life) that the room didn’t always look this bad. When she heard that I was going to be re-organizing the room, Annabelle “helped” me by dumping the entire contents of a three-tier three-foot long toy cubby in the middle of the floor so that we could start “sorting.” The room was messy before, but holy moley it was really bad now.
The skinny pigs lived in a cage to the left and out of the above picture, and I am sure that even though they have “pig” in their names they felt intimidated by the piles too.
I decided enough was enough. We didn’t really need an entire room dedicated to toys, I told the munchkins. What we needed was a Reading Room. I told the kids that we would sort through, keep, and organize only the toys that they really played with, get some bookshelves, and move a comfy love seat into the room so we would have a place to read our stories every night.
This would serve two purposes: first, we would have a place to neatly store and easily access the dozens (hundreds?) of books that the kids owned and which currently were strewn from room to room, in totes, or under the bunk bed in their shared room. Secondly, we would have a quiet and comfy place to read where we could all sit together and enjoy our evening time.
The kids were on board for this whole-heartedly. Batman was especially ecstatic over the idea of a Reading Room. He loves his nightly books, and he was eager to get started with the project.
I tried to have the kids help me in the sorting process, but that went about like you would expect. The further we dug, the more toys they found that had been buried awhile and thus were like new and must be retained. I put the project on hold until they went to school one Monday morning and committed myself.
I started ruthlessly culling.
It wasn’t long before I had several large black garbage bags full of toys to donate, and several more to throw in the dumpster. Once the initial sweep was done the hard part came. I had to find homes for the blankets and pillows that had formerly been stored in the closet of the room to make room for the three large totes that I had filled with keeper toys. That entailed a purging of the shelf on top of the closet in the kids’ shared room to store said blankets and pillows. Once that was done, I needed a place for one of the two toy cubbies that had formerly resided in the skinny pig/toy room. That entailed moving the bunk bed over a couple of feet and finding a new home for the small bookcase that had formerly lived in that space.
This was one of those project that seemed like it would never, ever, end.
Despite all appearances, I am a very tidy person (throughout the rest of the house anyway), and all of this uncategorized clutter was making me crazy. I got really edgy, pretty crabby in fact, and almost obsessed with finishing the project. The whole process took over a week, but the room was finally empty, the kids’ room was re-organized to accommodate some of the toys, and the hallway and living room contained no collateral damage from the project.
The kids had helped me pick out some paint that would match pictures I had brought back from Africa and had been stored under my bed since we had moved into our little house (hmm, maybe I’m starting to see a pattern here), and once the room was emptied out they helped me get the painting going.
As usual, they were more than happy to start slapping some color on the designated wall.
They went right to work.
Once the wall was painted, I got DH to put together the tall, inexpensive (translate that as pain-in-the-ass behind to put together) bookcases, and started trying to organize the room. I am a fairly intrepid and experienced furniture mover and can generally accomplish great room transformations through sheer will alone, but this small room presented a significant challenge.
The love seat was *almost* too big to fit, and it took me pretty much every possible iteration of placement before I was happy with the setup and functionality of the space. To my dismay, the color of the wall didn’t mesh well with my existing curtains or the rug that was in the room, so it took another couple of days to find and purchase items that would be more complementary.
When I was finished I looked at the walls, and determined where I would put my African bamboo artwork. The only plausible choice was the wall to the left of the door when you entered the room. That left one wall empty and in need of decoration. I scanned my options, but couldn’t find anything around that would fit the color and ambience of my new space.
Fortunately or unfortunately, I am the type of person that likes to finish a project completely once I start it. This unfilled wall was really going to bug me. Especially since it was facing the love seat and would be the primary focus of any occupant utilizing the cozy little space.
In the happiest of coincidences, I got a totally unexpected box in the mail that same afternoon. DH carried it in and placed it on the kitchen counter. It was fairly large and not very heavy, and the return address was from a friend in Arizona whom I have never met in person, and know only anecdotally through his friendship with my in-laws, emailing, and interaction on my blog.
My friend David had no idea that I was in the final stages of a lengthy and painful transformation of one of the rooms in our little house, or that I had a wall in need of a peaceful adornment.
I had no idea that David was a painter.
Still, when the box was unwrapped, this is what I found:
It was a beautiful, peaceful, perfectly color-coordinated painting that was just the right size for the space I needed to decorate. I sat it on the love seat for this photo so you could see how well the colors mesh.
The whole room looks like this now:
The African pictures are positioned next to the love seat and I believe they go nicely with the new wall color.
And my new painting (beautiful though not-yet framed) is hung on the wall opposing the love seat, giving the skinny pigs a little culture in their area too.
The kids and I love to sit and read for an hour or so before bedtime, and the room is just as cozy as we had hoped, especially with my new painting on the wall.
But wait there’s more…
Just when we thought the decorating was all finished, another box came in the mail. Also from my friend David.
We opened it up to find the coolest oval-shaped canvas you could imagine.
The sight of the perfectly painted and signed canvas created quite a household debate. For some strange reason Batman thought it should hang in his room; I looked around my office for a spot for it, but that was fairly full after my last re-decorating binge.
And I still love the way it turned out.
I think it looks pretty cozy from any angle.
I ultimately put Batman in the dining room, where he is visible from many points in the house and really enhances the ambience of the space.
Although I know intellectually that it can’t be true, I feel that Batman is watching me. I think the picture glows with an inner light even in the dark.
Call me weird, but I feel that my own little Gotham City has a new sense of peace and protection.