We have this area of our house that we’ve affectionately referred to as the Crap Room since we moved in. It’s a living room that’s between our garage and the main part of the house, and it’s very dated and dark and typically filled to the brim with all sorts of, well, crap. Kid toys, a full-sized punching bag, discarded shoes, backpacks, eight hundred tons of individual Legos strewn all over the floor, random pieces of paper, an old cat scratching post, pieces of various Hot Wheels tracks, dumbbells … anything and everything, pretty much. Several months ago I convinced JB to put in a door at the top of the little stairway so I could just close off the chaos of the Crap Room when it felt too visually overwhelming.
This past weekend we spent a few hours tackling this room — throwing away the garbage, donating the rarely-used stuff, and finding homes for everything else — and while it’s still dated and dark, it looks a thousand times better. A million times. I mean, you can actually sit in there now, although those wood-paneling walls do sort of wear on you after a while.
There are so many things about our house that I don’t love. I don’t love that we have no utility room and our washer and dryer are out in the garage. I don’t love my kitchen with its ill-placed, totally mismatched cabinets. I don’t love that the master bath is the size of a Porta-Potty and thus all four of us share one hall bathroom and people are always spitting “Sparkle Fun” Crest all over my makeup brushes and peeing on the toilet seat.
I’ve been hugely reluctant to commit to any major upgrades to this house, though. We did two big remodels on our old house and while I absolutely loved the results, I’d never want to make that kind of financial investment again. Basically, I don’t want to do anything to this house that we can’t pay for with cash.
It’s always kind of hard to find that balance between dreaming of improvements and being happy with what you have, isn’t it? When it comes to the lesser-loved parts of my house, I try to think of that Melody Beattie quote: Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.
Truly, I am beyond grateful for the things that make our house a home. What does it really matter whether I have design-magazine-worthy rooms, I tell myself, when my rooms are warm and more than adequate and filled with love and laughter (and if someone breaks something it’s not exactly the end of the world, because it probably came from TJ Maxx)?
Also, as I learned last weekend, a little elbow grease goes a hell of a long way. Some primer and paint on that paneling and I bet our Crap Room wouldn’t be that crappy at all.
I’m curious, what’s your approach to home improvement stuff these days? Do you have a wish list of things you’d love to do to your house, or do you feel pretty settled with what you have? Has your feeling about prioritizing upgrades changed with the economy and housing values (because boy, mine sure did)?