I spent the last week sifting through the flotsam of my life, culling and categorizing hidden stashes of proverbial “stuff” in our small basement office-guestroom. Elliot, my brave (and only somewhat begrudging) husband, was roped into accompanying me on this inward journey. At times it felt like being on an archeological dig, uncovering old birthday cards, expired passports, an emotionally-charged diary from when I was 19, tattered travel snapshots developed from actual film, and reams of useless paper, like cell phone bills from when we lived in Australia nearly a decade ago.
“The two most common things I hear from people as they start getting organized are: ‘Oh my God! I was looking for this!’ And ‘Why the hell have I been keeping that around?’” said Catherine Desjeunes, the organizer. She sat down with Elliot and I separately to attack our files, asking both of us about the kinds of paperwork we deal with, addressing two main categories, personal and professional, and creating new, clearly labeled files accordingly.
Catherine left us with the homework of filing our papers away in their new homes. I won’t lie: hunkering down for hours and sorting through our neglected piles is not how we wanted to spend our precious free time this past week. But after the initial tedious push, things progressed more quickly and now we’re both feeling lighter and more energized.
Then came the fun part: shopping with interior designer Annika Krausz. Due to that aforementioned micro-budget, we kept things cheap and cheerful, hitting up Ikea, Winners and local flea market Marché aux puces St-Michel. As we shopped, we kept in mind the colours in a vintage map I’ve been meaning to put up in the office, and in a framed work of needlepoint by Elliot’s grandmother I’d like in the playroom. The idea was to work mostly with what I already have and then choose a few key accessories like throw pillows, baskets, curtains and decorative objects. Then Annika would work her magic and pull it all together.
Working with a pro can really sharpen your vision and keep you on track. When I’d point to something I liked, but was vague about how I’d use it, Annika snapped, “If you don’t know where to put it, put it back” – wise words for those of us whose eyes are bigger than our checkbooks.
Below are some of our finds:
From the flea market:
From Winners Homesense:
And from Ikea:
See the final reveal of the double-duty rooms.