Tuesday, January 24, 2012

surround yourself.

Really, I wanted to start helping myself and stuff. But, in case you can't tell, this is not exactly the kind of space that stoked my creativity:

Our only computer. In our kitchen. Which is the hub of the house, and not so pretty (yet).
So thanks to a bunch of Pinspiration photos, I spent about a week (after work and on the weekend) turning this:

...into this:

That first picture was actually taken in summer of 2009, when we moved into this house. The middle of three upstairs bedrooms, we thought for SURE the purple room would be tackled before anything else - you know, to mask the obnoxious lavender. Well, turns out we (I?) actually gravitate towards the colors we once defined as obnoxious.

Current color of the family room
Wall of Green Indecision in the kitchen, right before we
ended up painting it...bright blue (more on that another time)

The purple room is still purple, but it's been reinvented a few times since we moved in. Initially, it was the office/where-the-hell-do-we-put-this room...

...And then we swapped furniture with the room next door, thereby turning the purple room into the guest room. And by guest room, I mean "room with a futon and a bunch of crap shoved in the closet." It stayed that way for a long time (maybe a year and a half?), until my brother announced that he and his wife and baby girl would be staying with us for a month last fall. AWESOMENESS, but that meant I needed to upgrade the room a little bit. Like by adding some non-sheer curtains (as most guests prefer that my neighbors not get to know them, shall we say, intimately. My neighbors probably agree). So, better curtains were added, furniture was rearranged, and - most importantly, as it leads directly into its current incarnation - the closet was emptied of its super-random contents (comic books, dead computer, Incredible Hulk action figure, box o'angsty high school memories).

Aaaand then Holiday Break 2011 hit. A week and a half of sleeping in, followed by a nap (yep), after which I plowed my way through my six-pound bag of candy, followed by another nap, intertwined with reading. Reading all about dreams, and making them come true. And I don't mean my childhood, scary-ass Freddy Krueger dreams (dude. The thing about that? HE KILLS YOU IN YOUR DREAMS. I was right to be afraid). I mean dreaming about the future, about my career goals, about what I wanted to be when I was a kid and how that does or doesn't coincide with my daily life now, at age 31. 

What's missing from my grown-up life? Somewhere along the way, I left behind my creative outlets. Writing, drawing, music, acting - even my job has gotten to a place where I no longer have the time or resources to continue developing new programs. Instead, I have to farm out my current babies (meaning my programs and pet projects...not the actual infants with whom I work) and delegate responsibilities and say "no" to myself and others when new ideas are floated. Sucky. And stifling.

But who's stopping me from writing? No one. There was one obstacle which kept me from translating any thoughts from pen-and-paper to the internets, though:

Might be kind of difficult to tell from the pictures, but the computer was in the middle of the kitchen. Which is in the middle of the house and opens up directly to our family room. We probably spend 90% of our awake-at-home-hours (so, you know, like, two hours per day...) in this general area, cooking, eating, watching television, staring at stuff (Kim Jong-Il-style) (I hope that's the last time in this blog I liken us to Kim Jong-Il). Not the most conducive environment for writing, or creativity in general.

source: ragebuilder.com
I'd been wanting to upgrade the desk for a while anyway, and I'll find any excuse to locate the right shade of green paint (see aforementioned Wall of Green Indecision, Kitchen Version). The purple room doesn't get used very much, and it has the second-biggest closet after the master bedroom, sooo...voila!

First, I cleared off the kitchen desk and removed the top. It wasn't attached, so all I had to do was lift it off the tops of the two file cabinets. I set up my super-totally-convenient-unless-you-actually-live-in-this-house workshop...

Yeah, this is our front room. As in, by the front door. As in,
the first room you see when you walk in the house. Perfect
for setting up tarps and getting sawdust everywhere.
...and took a good, hard look at the desktop. We got it from my mother-in-law before I started grad school, so HOLY MOTHER-IN-LAW, THAT WAS EIGHT YEARS AGO. It's seen better days (i.e., 1993 or something). The faux-wood veneer has been peeling forever, which was something fun to mess around with a terrible distraction while I was trying to write 20-page papers about organizing communities to overhaul the early childhood education system in the U.S. based on developmentally appropriate international models of toddler trauma interventions of...right. So I peeled it some. But with the desktop perched upon my trusty sawhorses (is that even what those things are called?), lo and behold, I was able to peel back the layers of the proverbial social work onion of truth the faux-wood veneer to reveal...

Ta-da! Just plain wood. Or maybe particle board. Again. Not familiar with fancy proper terms (like...wood). I tested out some primer on one edge of the stripped desktop, as you can see in the picture above, just to make sure it would accept the paint. It totally did, and one coat of primer...

...two coats of paint...

...and one coat of polyacrylic later, I had a clean, smooth, modernized desktop for my new closet-office. Now all I needed? A closet to turn into an office.

Purple room closet, after moving out the enormous dresser and removing
the clothes bar that had been nailed to the front of the lower shelf.
I tested out a little purple (hence the weird smear of lavender on the side of the closet up there). Purple test: Fail. Green it was. So after sanding and priming, I tested out a couple greens (I'm telling you, it's damn hard to get green right!):

Actually only two shades of green, just
in different locations to test the light.
We needed an outlet in the closet, since the closest one is a few feet away and would create an unsightly mess of cords along the floor. A family member helped us out with that step.

After J.J. totally surprised me by having the right opinion (yep...the "right" opinion) on a shade of green, it was time to paint.

After the first of three freakin' coats. THREE. Oh, green.
Ay, but she's worth it, no? Green, you saucy temptress.
The final result? Lovvvvvve. Totally cannot stop staring at it (there I go again...Kim Jong-Cathy: Looking at green. Looking at lamp. Looking at shelf.).

We still need to add a couple floating shelves underneath the built-in shelves - and, you know, put all of our stuff in there (printer, candy, tchotchkes...the essential elements of any home office) - but for now? Love. It was enough to get me blogging, so I am definitely calling this one a win.

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