Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Sometimes function beats form

We are lucky enough to live in a big, old Victorian house.  Old houses are beautiful but quirky.  We don't have a lot of rooms in our house, but the rooms we do have are enormous. Big rooms with no closets.  Rooms with multiple doors and windows, meaning very little wall space for furniture. We often have to get creative in determining the best use for our spaces.  We have one room that we call the craft room that has desk space for the boys, a desk (office-space) for me, a large craft/sewing table, shelves for all our crafting supplies, and a sofa bed for extra guests.  This room is a hodgepodge of furniture and functions. 

Repurposing old furniture has always made more sense to me than buying new, both for our pocketbook and the planet. I love furniture that was made by hand, not machine, and that is made of all wood and not some unknown combination of particle board, plastics and god-knows-what-toxic-fume-emitting-material. I like furniture that feels solid. The curves of older furniture always seem a better fit for our old dame of a house than the straight lines of Ikea-esque furniture. I store my fabric in an old chest of drawers that has been passed down in our family.  I use the old nursery armoire to store my yarn (well some of my yarn- it won't all fit.)  When I realized that the children need a proper workspace for their "creations" I visited a local thrift store and picked up a really solid oak dining room table.  I put their pencils and crayons in baskets and wooden boxes.  So "resourceful" of me! I felt ready for a d-i-y tv show!

The thrift store table with the beautiful legs.

The thing is, it never really worked. Oh, they loved the table and created all sorts of wonderful drawings and sparkly-gluey creations, but it was always chaotic.  The boys really needed something that had storage (see the note above about the house having almost no closets.)  Somewhere to stuff gently put away all the glue sticks and scissors and glitter when it was time to tidy. We tried bookshelves, but the baskets never seemed to make it back to the shelves.  They would eventually end up on the floor when the creative urge struck and the table space was needed for a super-large drawing. As much as I nagged reminded them to clean up the table it was always a mess.  I thought about threatening to take away all the craft supplies, but I didn't want to stifle their creativity.  So it fell to me to keep the room tidy.  And that is always such a good solution: "Mommy can do it."  Maybe not.

One of my goals this year is to really get that room organized. Paint it. A nice cheery, creative yellow. We've lived in the house 8 years and it still has the lavender trim and floral wallpaper border from the previous owner (do they still make wallpaper borders?) 

Note the floral border and the paint swatches on the wall.
Every time I would go to the big-box craft store I would see the "craft table organization systems" and think to myself, that might really work.  But I would find myself thinking, "we are more 'natural' and more 'earth-friendly' than that."  And I finally realized that I was using a "should." It was someone else's voice that was saying "you should repurpose and old table and be all matha-stewart-y."  I really wanted that not-so-well-made, must-self-assemble, off-gassing-fiber-board-construction, straight-lined furinture from China that might, just might help us elimiante some of our clutter. OK- maybe I really wanted a custom made, solid hardwood desk just like the made-in-china contrapraction but I don't have $10,000 to spend on a custom made craft/homework table for my kids.   Drawers are a good thing!  So we bought it. And assemebled it.  And it looks great. The boys are already filling it with their craft and school supplies.  Everything is actually put away.  Everything has a home now. Well, almost everything.  And yes, I still feel a little twinge of guilt that it's not hand-made from a local aritst, but it works. And it makes my life easier.  And that brings me joy!

Yes, we are keeping the old wood chairs.

 Keep watching for more updates on the room.  Next up, choosing a paint color. And in case you were wondering, that old oak table is going to my basement for laundry folding. 

The power screwdriver.

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