But First! Regarding Knotty Pine:
Knotty pine is pine with many knots. This is thought by some to be very charming and warm. The dots on the walls are a pattern, and interesting. To some. Not to me.
To be fair, our knotty pine isn’t some cheap crap slapped up in the ’50s or ’70s, but was actually installed by the builder in 1940. So that’s very nice. But it doesn’t change the fact that the downstairs room is very BROWN and DOTTED and CAVE-LIKE and could use some lightening up. However, mine is not the only name on the mortgage, and that Other Person thinks that the pine of knots ought to stay just as it is. I don’t quite care enough to take a stand on this, so the brown with knots that makes up the tongue-in-groove walls, wainscoting, cabinets, windows and molding will remain as is.
So in the this knotty pine room are knotty pine cabinets tucked under the knotty pine windows. In these cabinets are lots of items. When we first moved into this house eleven years ago, I saw the cabinets and thought with delight, “Oh! We can put games and books and Barbie crap in them and there will be no clutter!” But the cabinets are only ten inches deep. They’re really more like bookshelves with knotty pine doors. No games fit in there, and anything Barbie just tumbles out when you open a door.
But that’s okay because there are too many things in front of the doors for them to be open-able, and my daughters are in college and don’t get the Barbies out any more.
In this room are two actual non-cabinet gigantic bookshelves groaning with books that we never read but are important references for history, motorcycles, and hand-loading. I admit that the vintage bee-keeping one is mine, and I plan to keep IT, if not actually to ever keep BEES. I want to say goodbye to one of the bookshelves, the gray metal filing cabinet (nothing says House Beautiful like one of those in your house!) and maybe some other stuff. We’ll see what I can get away with. About half the things in this room should go, really.
This room is a giant wooden sliding-block puzzle. To get rid of one of the bookshelves we have to move stack of CDs and put a few of the books in the cabinets. Everything I want to do to declutter starts with the cabinets, even though NOTHING IN THE CABINETS SHOWS. When I opened the first door of the cabinet on the left, this is what I saw at first glance on the top shelf: an abalone shell, petrified wood, archival library glue, a partial package of fresh unrecorded CDs, the creamer from a child’s Majolica tea set, Science Study Series Crystals and Crystal Growing (1960), The Railway Children (1898), three World of Warcraft Wrath of the Lich King sets, American Girl Doll accoutrement, and piles more that I am too tired to list. The shelf is packed. When I reached for the glue I started a cascade that landed on the floor.
Eight doors, two shelves per door. And this is just to make room for the other stuff no one will let go of.
Which brings me to the the archeology of memory.
My father worked in the aerospace industry. He followed the government-funded projects and was always reaching higher up the pay scale. So we moved and moved, year after year. I remember when we moved from the Mojave desert to the Inland Empire, my mother threw a medium-sized cardboard box into my room. “That’s what you can take with you this time. That’s all you get.” I learned early on to take only the most significant things, and to let my memory suffice for reminding me of people and places past.
Not so with the husband and children, who hoard things like they are repositories of all human history. See, they touch things, and the memories play out. It’s a kind of love; it’s magic. I worked in archeology for years. I understand. I respect the members of my household and their attachments too much to be the sort of wife/mother who would toss things away when they aren’t looking (not to say the odd holey t-shirt hasnt gone mysteriously missing once or twice) and so enlisted them (sans the absent elder daughter, whose things are saved in her room for later perusal) to go through all of this mess with me.
I must have caught them in just the right mood, because we jettisoned easily 75% of this stuff. Yay! And now six shelves are ready to receive books of great importance that are never opened!
Now, here are some things I learned while cleaning my downstairs room:
Do get inspired by finding a design website like Trouvais. Trouvais belongs to some woman who lives in my area who finds items and pics and uploads them as inspiration. I love her blog with the fiery passion of many fires. As soon as I get a freaking minute I’m going to make an awesome tableau on my mantel, SEE IF I DON’T. The one from Christmas is nice, but somewhat unseasonal.
Don’t carry heavy books when your fingers split open at the slightest provocation.
Do show your hands to your when this happens. Look stricken, if possible. It’s easier than you might imagine.
Don’t ever use the phrase “get rid of.” This will cause turmoil in many hearts. Ask me how I know.
Do say “recycle, donate,” and “give to the neighbor children.”
Don’t make your cleaning project have to do with other people’s stuff. They WILL thwart you.
Do get dressed in case you have to take the kid somewhere and leave the spouse on the job. I made a tactical error in attacking this job in my pajamas. The purging spell was broken when the husband got into the car.
So, are you a “keeper of all things” or a “release this from my lifer”? And do you live with a match or an opposite? (Also, what is your stance on knotty pine? And don’t you really want to write it as NAUGHTY PINE?”)
P. S. Are there any design websites that make your heart beat a little faster?