Gallery Frames: Before Pictures

It’s been a while since I’ve shared updates for the home improvement projects I’ve been working on. If you would like to know what our house looks like, I’ll tell you:

My house looks like an estate sale.

I’ve been buying frames at garage sales and thrift stores to decorate a few blank walls, and I finally started hanging them.

Not counting the smaller frames which I’ve had for ages, I gradually accumulated about twenty or so large frames that can hold at least an 8×10 photo, but most are even bigger.

I don’t often shop at garage sales, but if I happen to spot some frames as we drive by, I make Doug slow down to a rolling stop while I jump out and buy all the frames. Then I jump back into the car, and we continue on our way to Chipotle.

Garage sales are the cheapest place to find frames, but Goodwill had some amazing frames as well in the $3 to $6 price range, and that was so much less than trying to buy them at IKEA, which I also considered. (I didn’t want them to all match, anyway.)

After buying them and letting them pile up in the closet and garage for many months, I realized it was time to make decisions about hanging them. I had enough frames to make two full gallery walls plus a few extra to hang in other rooms.

I did hang them, but I still haven’t put new pictures in them yet.

Now the kitchen, living room, hallway, and two bedrooms all display mass-produced art prints from the seventies and eighties. What really gives the estate sale look are the $1, $3, and $5 price stickers in bright blue and pink.

estate sale frames

This week my goal is to order new prints.

I have so many projects that are almost finished, I’d really like to finish one a week, ideally.

I usually do a focus post on a decluttering topic every week, but during this time of year I’m thinking more about projects I would like to finish before the holidays get here. My house will surely become more simplified if I can finish a few projects. Thanksgiving is in seven weeks, and I am not even kidding about that.

Do you have any projects to wrap up before the holiday season starts?

A New Design

at a flower stall in Venice

When my five-year-old daughter asked me what work I was doing on the computer, I was working, not procrastinating by checking email or blog comments or looking at Pinterest.

“I’m designing a website.” And with a pause…”It’s a page on the internet.”

Would she understand? I wonder if I should try to explain the internet, but I can’t. How do you explain one of the world’s greatest marvels to someone who is only five?

But apparently the internet needs no explanation because she is five already, after all. She knows how to play Angry Birds, and she wants her own email account.

For a moment it occurs to me that she will never have to live without the internet, and instead she will have to learn to take breaks away from it so she can hear herself think and to contemplate her own thoughts. I hope she knows that even if you don’t post a picture, the event still happened, and you don’t always need to tell everyone what you’re thinking and doing and reading all the time.

Years ago (it feels like ten, but it is closer to twenty) I went out with a guy who had a job at The Internet Store. Yes, the Internet Store was the actual name of the store, and people would go to the store to buy the internet for their homes and take classes to learn how to use Yahoo and email. It was all very high-tech at the time because that was when people still carried pagers.

Years from now we will be the grandparents of the internet age, the people who remember all the clunkiness and when it used to take five minutes to view an image on the desk computer from our dial-up modem.

The internet is one of my top-ten great loves. Who knows what may come, but until then, I’m very pleased to make this part of it.

To go along with the times, I gave the site a new design (I prefer to call it a makeover). I hope you enjoy it. It works well on phones and tablets too, if that’s your preference. (You can resize your browser to see how it will adjust to fit on those screens.)

Since it’s still new, it might be a little bit wonky as I work out any remaining kinks. If you’re using Internet Explorer 8 or older, your life will be better if you upgrade to IE9. If something looks funny on your screen, you might try resetting your browser’s cache so everything will load fresh. If you have any questions about it, let me know.

I’m very pleased to show it to you. I know it’s not easy to adjust to a new look, but I hope you like it too. I put a lot of thought into how people use this site and how to make the older posts easier to find. (After you’ve tried it out, you can email me suggestions.)

Feel free to take a look around. (Click here if you’re reading this via rss or email.)

How to See Hidden Clutter

If you really want to know what your house smells like, you can’t stay indoors. You have to go outside and get some fresh air, and when you return you’ll know if your house smells like dinner or laundry or paint.

I’ve even witnessed someone not notice a gas leak because she was so used to it.

Clutter happens the same way. You get so used to it that you don’t see it any more.

It helps to switch up your perspective sometimes so that you can see a room the way other people will see it. One way to do this is to take a photograph.

I took the picture above of the couch in a furnished apartment we rented last year (I liked the fabric).

A different time that I snapped that picture, I was surprised by the socks that someone had left on the back of the couch. I couldn’t see them at all when I was standing right in front of them. I could only see them in the picture.

Photographs help you to notice details like extension cords dangling and piles in the corners.

Another way to change your perspective about the way you look at a room is to invite people over. This never fails to make me notice the things we left on the counters or by the back entrance that I had been so good at ignoring before I knew other people would see it.

If you need to tackle something big, something like a Monica’s closet or a back room, the best thing to do is take everything out. I don’t do this for every clean-out project, but I did it for my back room makeover, and it was the best way to see what was filling up space (and to keep things from falling on my head from shelves above). Take everything out when you can’t see to assess the area because so much stuff is in the way.

The ultimate method, and this is not for wimps, is to stage your house and pack for a move. It’s better to keep up with your stuff before you have to.

It’s easy to ignore my own stuff (I’m more likely to notice my husband’s stuff). I even successfully ignored a Wonder Woman piƱata buckled in the back seat of my car for months. What method works best for you to start noticing clutter?