Every so often it's necessary to stop, to assess, to create a bit of order. Yesterday was one of those days for me. Things had begun to pile up. My study wanted clearing.
I spend a lot of time in the study. It's where I keep the computers (one for work, one for play). It's where most of my sewing, quilting, and craft gear is stored. It's where I keep my power tools and parts box. It's where many of my books live. And it's where I've made a place for the special prize I bought a few months back: an all-region DVD player. (I had been longing to get one for years and finally found a perfect new one for very low price indeed on eBay.)
This not-very-big (10X12) room is where I earn my living and where I enjoy my life. It's a room that has to contain a lot of stuff but I keep it in reasonable order. Every so often, it's necessary to restore order; that's just sensible--you can't use what you have if you don't know what you've got and where you've stored it.
The odd assortment of furniture just barely fits--a couple of nice antiques, two large tables my stepdad made, and some other odd bits and pieces.
One of those homemade items is a work table that I re-made to make it more useful for my purposes. I used an old door for the top and I added an "orphan" topper (it was once part of some other piece of furniture) that I found at a flea market. The work table is really great for storing things I need to have in easy reach and it's very useful as a temporary holding area for items I intend to list on eBay (like the dishes and the stack of sheet music you see here), as well as a good place to pack items for shipment.
The base of the work table has shelf space that is great for storing even more supplies. I keep stuff tidy and boxes labelled--that just makes life easier.
My stepdad also made the desk, and I've written about it before because I really love this ratty old piece of junk that was never intended to be a desk at all. I've had a lot of desks in my life (more than 15, I've lost proper count) and not one of them suited me. In fact, it was after catastrophic annoyance with my previous desk (yes, I gave it away in a fit of pique and then had nowhere to work) that I decided to use this monstrosity.
The top is scarred and pitted--it was used in the workshop as tool space, and it had oil and other stuff spilled on it. The base was falling apart so that I had to use my minimal woodworking skills to force it back together. Then I slapped a couple of coats of paint on it using paint leftover from other projects but thanks to the table's previous life, the paint chips and peels constantly. Fortunately this doesn't bother me.
But the table had no drawers. How could this possibly work as a desk? An assortment of boxes and baskets, of course! Everything fits neatly. I am not constrained the way I was when I had desks with drawers and cubbies; now I can move things around in ways that work for me.
What do I do with the small stuff like pencil leads and paperclips? Easily taken care of with some found objects: a little jewelry box that I bought for 90% off as damaged salvage and repaired, an inbox that I painted and placed upside down, and a drawer insert from the dollar store--the latter fits under the inbox and I've fitted it with a knob so it can be pulled out easily like a drawer.
A small old glass-fronted cabinet has found new purpose in storing camera stuff--keeps them safe from dust and damage. Baskets hold immediate files. The silly little pink lamp is a yard sale find.....it decided to be pink because that was the only pretty color of spray paint I had at the time; the shade still wants a re-do.
There's even space in this room (just barely) for a cozy old basket chair where I can read or sew or surf on my 'play' laptop or watch videos. The side table is a little wonky but that's because I made it myself. I wanted a small demilune table but even the ones at the flea market cost over $100. I'd never attempted a table before and likely never will again. The top is the cut-off end of a shelf and the legs are an old closet pole. Total cost of this table: $2.49 (for a packet of chair brackets to hold the legs in place).
Things don't have to be perfect. They don't have to match. They just have to be suitable for their purpose. I really believe that if you always choose things that you like or that make you laugh, everything will work together harmoniously.
Obviously I like stuff. I enjoy it. I use what I am fortunate to have. And I am grateful for it.
I genuinely worry about people who reject the idea of keeping stuff because they don't have items on hand when they need them. Recently I got a panicked phone call from a neighbor who keeps her house minimal and very uncluttered. Her grandkids were visiting and she didn't have any pencils for them to do their homework with. She doesn't like my house--it's too busy and there's too much to dust. But just guess who she knew she could call to ask for a box of pencils at 8 PM on a Friday night? I was glad that I had plenty to share.
Despite what you read in the advice books and what you see on the decorating shows, there's good reason to keep stuff. The point is keeping it all in good order. That's what I do, and I enjoyed setting things to rights yesterday. I love living in this busy room--I have what I need and I know where to find it.