August of this year will mark the 10th anniversary of moving into my first home. It's taken a decade, but I think I've finally figured out what organized means to me, how to keep my house looking the way I want it to, why previous homes didn't work, and what my 'dream home' looks like. Let's reminisce, shall we?
Home #1: bachelor in an urban neighbourhood, August 1998 to July 2000
I loved this place the time I was in it although I did crave a larger home. Rental prices in its city were higher than in the city I had left so I had to give up my dream of having a one bedroom as a first home. I looked at about ten bachelors and picked the best one for its price. It had an awesome layout: ten foot ceilings, no windows overlooking the street, and clearly designated spaces. Sure, the carpet was bright red (think Mountie coats), the walls in the living space were dark wood paneling, the walls in the bathroom and kitchen were tiled in black, and the bathroom was literally a black tunnel with just a half tub at the end, but compared to some of the boxes I'd seen, this place had potential. I liked that there was an entrance area, so guests wouldn't see the whole place the second they stepped in the door. The kitchen had a bit of storage and there were two closets. I only brought as much stuff from my mother's house as would fit and left the rest in storage there. My furniture was a mishmash of bookcases my mother had made, a lawn chair for watching tv, a slab of melamine with legs for a table, etc. There wasn't a lot of space and I had no choice but to keep the apartment organized and neat.
My lifestyle there made it possible pursue homemaking endeavours. I was going to school full-time and working part-time, but I could walk everywhere (longest distance was 15 minutes to work), so I never lost any time in transit. I felt that I had time. The only thing I loathed was going to the laundromat and then spending a few days with a clothesline stretched across the apartment! I ate out a bit, but going home between classes was just as easy and quick as going out for pizza, so I favoured quality restaurant eats.
This apartment was a place to eat, sleep, cook, and study and it was only once or twice that I gave a thought to redecoration or finding 'real' furniture.
Home #2: One bedroom on the outskirts of a small town, August 2000 to May 2002
I loved this place, too. It was incredible to have a room that was just for sleeping! I wasn't so nuts that the bathroom was an en suite, so guests had to go through my bedroom to get to the bathroom, but that was okay. The worst part was that I was in the basement and my only two windows looked out onto the street. I just about never drew my curtains there. The kitchen was in the middle of the apartment, with two entrances, and it remains my best and favourite kitchen to date, not that I ever took full advantage of it. The apartment was in a small building with a lot of older people who were available to catsit for the new addition to my family. I still didn't have a washing machine, but the laundry room was the next door down the hall, so I didn't have to schedule laundry anymore.
My lifestyle there didn't suit homemaking endeavours and the place was humiliatingly messy. I went to school and worked full-time, and had a forty-five minute walk to school each way, as well as a half-hour walk to work each way (the bus would have taken fifty-five and seventy-five minutes respectively each way...). My apartment was the last of my priorities and it showed. Still, I started to dream of real furniture and picking out curtains....
Place to live #3: One bedroom in the boonies with outdoor space, June 2002 to July 2003
I won't deign to call this place a home. It looked great when I visited it, but life there slowly degenerated into hell. The landlords were noisy and nosy, the place was so damp anything on the floor turned mouldy, and there was no storage. I call my time there my lost year. I just ate bad stuff since the kitchen wasn't conducive to cooking, watched too much tv (the place came with cable), and surfed the net. The place wasn't just messy, it was filthy. If I wasn't working, I was taking mini road trips. I tried to only sleep at that apartment, but that was difficult because of the landlords upstairs. I vowed to never again take an apartment in someone's basement. I did love having outdoor space for the first time.
This was the first place where I acquired real furniture--a couch, a kitchen table and chairs, a coffee table--and where I actually tried to design a home.
Home #4: Two bedroom mobile home in the boonies, July 2003 to April 2007
A glorious mistake!
I started as a tenant and finished as an owner. I should never have moved into that place, but I was desperate to leave the apartment and was blinded by the fact that I'd have a whole house to myself.
The place never came together and was always excessively messy since I was always in the middle of some renovation project or another. I'd fix and organize something and there'd be a disaster in that area and my work would be for naught. I was convinced by this point that I was a slob. My 100km daily commute wasn't helping and I was spending all my time at home fixing a crisis instead of enjoying being in the country. I decided that since I was planning to move to Manitoba soon, I'd be best off to move to a place that wouldn't need work so I could take some time to just breathe and regroup.
This was the house where I started purging. Until this move, I'd never had to pay for a move, relying on my mother and family for help. When I realised just how much stuff I'd been moving around for years without touching it, I concluded that my packrat ways desperately needed to end. I did good in this regard and had a lot less clutter to move to the next place.
Home #5: Semi-detached in a quietish urban neighbourhood, April 2007
Finally, everything came together--time to deal with my slovenly and disorganized ways, a home that was conducive to the endeavours, a desire to tackle the problem, and a prize for doing so. I moved into my current home in April and without even realising it, I've been eating the elephant one bite at a time. There's so much more I'd like to do with this place, but I'm renting and will be gone in under a year. I'm satisfied with it being clean and decluttered.
Now, I'm envisioning home #6. I figure that if I pack up an organized home, the next place will be easy to set up and I'll be able to focus on decorating. I hope. :-)
What I've learned about myself is that my home isn't my number one priority if I've got a lot going on in my life and doing long days, but if the home is generally neat I will take the few minutes to spot clean and tidy so problems don't accumulate. Also, a dishwasher is really, really, really important!!!
"Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more. It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."