Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Visual Peace

One big storage hurdle I have yet to overcome is where to put my craft stuff. I dream of a craft room. It doesn't even have to be a whole room. I'd settle for a walk-in closet, or any closet. All it needs is just enough space to leave an in-progress project and some way of closing it off to small children. There is no craft room in our current apartment, obviously. If our neighborhood were just a little nicer we would put our chest freezer on our back patio and turn the back room into a craft area for me, but, anyway . . .

Most of my craft stuff is packed into boxes and tightly crammed into the closet in Joseph's room. But since I actually do crafty stuff from time to time things have migrated out into the main room. The sewing machine had a permanent spot on a visually prominent surface. When I first put it there we thought is was sort of charming and domestic. But, you know, it's not like I have a vintage treadle machine. It's just a pink and white Brother and once I stuffed a pedal wrapped in a cord under the arm and piled other sewing and cross-stitch paraphernalia around it the charm appeal wore off fast.

After paring down the kids' clothes I had a bit more closet space and an extra storage bin. We have a beautiful hinged wooden box from Eric's grandfather and it had been crammed full of fabric. I emptied all that fabric into the plastic bin and tucked it away. The box was just the right size for my sewing machine, my craft books, and my cross-stitch projects. There's even plenty of wiggle room to tuck in fabric for an upcoming project. The box is beautiful and was already taking up space in the main room. I put our wooden chess set and magazine basket on top of it and turned the lid opening against the wall to discourage Margaret from getting into it.

After a bit of tidying up I was left with chest of drawers with nothing on it but a potted plant and a small statue that I love (and, previously couldn't see!). I immediately wondered what I should put in that space. But the more I thought about it the more I realized that I loved having that "stuff-free" surface in the main room. That chest of drawers is centered in the room and is one of the first things you notice upon entering the room. And now it's a point of visual peace in a room otherwise filled with bookshelves. We have a lovely book stand from when Eric was reading for his comprehensive exams and I asked Eric to bring that out so we would have a place for sheet music. He added an open dictionary which I initially protested, but now I think it's really fun. We both are apt to wander over and teach ourselves a new word or look up something we're not sure about. Anything to build vocabulary is fine by me! And we are both musicians who now have a place for music. Setting up a collapsible music stand is enough of a hurdle for me to keep my flute locked up most of the time. Plus I don't think kids do well around anything that can be described as "collapsible."

All in all, a fantastic improvement. This decluttering thing is really addictive. Every time I achieve a new victory I think I've gone as far as I can. But once I'm used to the new standard I think, "More! I want more!" (or is that Less!). In the last week I've also given away a garbage bag of adult clothes and cleared out a large stack of books. The book purge gave me enough space to house all our CDs on the same shelf. I also got $25 in credit at our favorite used book store. Nice.

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