Would I be interested in helping to update the high school teacher’s lounge? That was the initial email regarding the “surprise” make over that a group of parents wanted to provide to show the teachers/staff how much they appreciated the work they provided for their children and within the community. I received this email on November 17, with the intention to execute the transformation over the Christmas holiday break (December 27 – 30). Basically, one month to raise funds, make selections/specifications, order/purchase and install during the busiest time of the year: between Thanksgiving and New Years. Naturally, I said I would love to help in any way I could. I have two children currently in the high school as well as a graduate, so I figured this was a volunteer effort that was within my comfort zone.
A small group of us met with the principal to clarify any conditions that we needed to be made aware of and any restrictions. He informed us that we needed to use low VOC paint and that was about it. I thought it would be a great opportunity to also bring in a recycled flooring option that I have specified, FLOR carpet tiles. After assessing the situation, my thoughts were to:
An initial email went out to as many families as all of us knew sharing our intent and asking for donations of money towards the cause as well as time to volunteer to implement the design. We were stunned by the response within the first few days. As I had begun making selections and pricing out the costs, it looked like the donations would cover most of the expenses. I would pass my design discounts on where possible to help us reach our projected budget goals. I was able to do this on the paints/stains, FLOR carpet tiles, fabric for upholstering and labor costs for reupholstering and even on the tables from Bed, Bath and Beyond when a woman handed me a 20% discount coupon while in the check out line when she heard what the tables were going to be used for. The table lamps were donated by Timeless Interiors.
With everything specified and ordered before Christmas, we planned the schedule of installation. The carpet tile had been delivered to the custodial room and were being hidden under blankets. I had picked up the fabric yardage and was storing that along with the lamps at my office. I spent Christmas weekend assembling the end tables. The plan was that on Monday, the carpet would be ripped out and the walls and woodwork would be prepped for paint/stain (to be the messiest day of the week), Tuesday we would paint/stain, Wednesday we would install the carpet tiles, and Thursday we would have the sofa/loveseat picked up at Jordan’s and delivered and do final clean up and accessorizing.
Well- Mother Nature decided to throw a rather intense snow storm that Sunday into Monday – so the whole schedule was thrown out the window and we came in Tuesday to do our best to make it all come together with whatever volunteers showed up. The first issue that day was that the carpet was glued down for so many years – it took two very strong teenage boys along with some strong Dads to pull most of it up. There was an 8’x 8’ patch that would not budge. Luckily, the custodian walked in and mentioned a flooring company the school uses and perhaps they could help us out. Wednesday morning, Paul Ritchie of Paul Ritchie Flooring in Beverly and crew showed up to remove the remaining carpet patch and INSTALL the carpet tiles for us. I had intended to spend the day, along with volunteers doing this task. I am forever grateful that professionals did it!
Everything was coming together beautifully. A few on-the-spot decisions regarding paint vs. stain when the old wood would not stop absorbing the stain and it wasn’t looking any better than when we started. Apply paint!
I ran to Christmas Tree Shop on Thursday to see what I could find for adding some colorful accessories (on a strict budget!) to put on the shelves. As soon as I walked in, I hit the jack pot. $70 for all the decorative pieces of glass, ceramics and metal baskets. Sofa/Loveseat delivered Friday morning along with a handful of volunteers to move in all of the other furnishings. Chairs will be reupholstered in the coming weeks. (My upholsterer was on vacation.) Coffee table will get a crackle/antique finish applied in the coming weeks as well. Otherwise, we were able to make this transformation happen on time and within budget.
The added bonus: Monday morning, when the teachers returned from vacation – they entered their lounge in awe. I received wonderful emails and phone calls throughout the day expressing their gratitude for the time and money donated to this project. They said, “This gesture of kindness has improved morale, fostered collegiality and provided a space that is comfortable, welcoming and professional.”
A rather nice way to end 2010. Here’s to a new year of rewarding projects. Always feel free to contact me at lmk interiors, ltd.
email@example.com or (978)335-1140
Happy New year!
I’ll get to it when I have time… just keep re-organizing the piles…procrastinate…overwhelmed… we are having friends come over– hide everything! Oh yeah, perhaps we should just de-clutter.
At some point, is it possible to have everything in it’s proper place and have the home or office close to what we see in the magazine? Yes, the photos showcase staged environments at their best. But, with some planning and lots of organizing, I believe we can live and work in a space devoid of clutter.
As a designer, I sometimes find that what I design for my clients does not always translate into my own living space or office area. I create cabinetry, cubbies, shelves, closets, organizers and storage capabilities so that there is a place for every item in their kitchen, living room, bedroom and bath. When I look around my house, I find the pile of bills, the items I have read, but am not sure whether to file them or keep them out to review yet again, the clothes from the day before draped over the chair at the foot of my bed, the basement a receptacle of items that simply “can not” be discarded just yet. And that is just me, there are four other people plus a dog and two cats living in our home! The list goes on and on. In a perfect world, one would move into a home and have a pre-determined place for everything. Well, I am here to share that even I do not have this mastered.
That is why we have Professional Organizers, the Fly Lady, blogs to help us learn how to de-clutter, Container Stores and lots of books on de-cluttering as well. I would like to share a few bits of information that I have gathered to assist all of us with our battle against stuff.
According to Marla Cilley (aka The fly Lady), “Taking 15 minutes each day to de-clutter an area and clearing your hotspots are among some of the most powerful tools you can use to create a more peaceful home. Remember: You cannot organize clutter – you can only organize the things you love!”
Another great website overflowing with information on de-cluttering and getting your life organized is www.zenhabits.net. Leo Babauta shares his personal story and provides simple steps to follow that are similar to the Fly Lady’s but add a Zen flavor.
David Allen, the author of Getting Things Done (GTD) has some insightful methods of de-cluttering at www.zenhabits.net/the-getting-things-done-gtd-faq/ as well as his book: Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity.
Some of my clients have asked for initial help by a professional to get them started when planning to organize and de-clutter. I often refer clients to Professional Organizer, Nancy Black of Organization Plus to assist. She offers an initial 3 hour consultation service that helps when taking the first steps to achieving a more balanced existence. http://organizationplus.com/03_threehourtransfomration.html
With the holidays upon us, this is the time when most of us put forth a great effort to clean and organize our homes with the added incentive of company coming to visit. If that is what it takes to motivate us for the big push, then so be it. But for the every day living amongst our possessions, I do recommend finding that balance with some of the tips mentioned above. Happy de-cluttering and if you find you need someone to share your situation with, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or (978)335-1140.