Cluttered Cupboards and Curtain Poles: Wk 26 – Day One

My theory during this renovation has always been that you can transform a dysfunctional house into a functional one by the construction of not a side return extension but of cupboards. The side return was somewhat luxuriously built to house them….a cupboard for a cupboard so to speak. So, with builders gone and the house tantalisingly close to completion we now have to our name a number of spanking new storage solutions. Solution, however, would appear in this instance to be the wrong word….

We have a walk-in larder. A boiler cupboard. A double doored utility cupboard. Two understairs cupboards. A suite of kitchen units made up of drawers, shelving and, of course, cupboards and a wall of wardrobes built across a chimney breast, a luxury which cost us (naively unknowingly at the time) an original feature.
Yet more are still in the planning….
A revamp on a chest of drawers to be used as a linen cupboard, an interior and exterior makeover of a built in cupboard in our snug destined for toy storage and a library-style wall of book shelves…..not technically a cupboard, I grant you, but certainly of the same family. This particular storage solution is still at ‘status:ponder’ however with the previously documented dilemma regarding its construction not yet having been solved. (Pondering Possibilities: Wk 20- Day Five) That said, true to form and built or not, each storage solution has had its content outlined and notated to include something along these fairly unsurprising lines…

Utility cupboard – specifically the washing machine and tumble dryer with all associated paraphernalia. (My planning OCD displayed here at its most extreme ….our shelving was built to accommodate exactly the dimensions of our existing washing basket…)

Larder – food… namely bulk buys (at the last stock-check we had more than ten bags of varying types of flour….) and large kitchen apparatus such as the bread machine (for which its shelves were, of course, made to measure) as well as less regularly used items such as mixers, juicers and all manner of things deemed useful when stood in the alluring aisles of Lakeland.

Understairs cupboard 1– the folded pushchair plus scooters and (little) bikes.

Understairs cupboard 2 – toolbox of essential fixing kit.
(NB. It will need to be a fairly small…)

Boiler cupboard – in addition to the wall-mounted boiler …a mop, vacuum, ironing board and clothes horse (though I hadn’t quite reckoned on how tangled such ramrod-straight items could become.)

Wardrobes– clothes and, excitingly due to the inclusion of Ikea shoe racks, a selection of heels taunting me with their unwearability.

So far so Feng Shui. What I had forgotten to factor in, however, is human error. Or rather human habit.

For the past year, with storage at a minimum and stuff at a maximum we have grown accustomed to opening a cupboard….any which one….and stuffing items within in a blatant disregard of my well-meaning planning. I point the finger of blame at myself as well as my spouse though some can also be deposited at the door of a robot-papered room as a little two year old has also begun to follow by example …meaning both washing baskets and toy boxes now need to be checked regularly for any items deemed missing in action….S’s torch for example, discovered under a mound of tomato stained clothes.

The result of our family fudging? A portfolio of over-stuffed cupboards concealing multiple out-of-context items and irate inhabitants who when trying to go about their everyday business are attacked at inopportune moments by a tsunami of grey ikea curtain panels. Or a landslide of laundry baskets spilling from within their hollows not washing but a selection of hazardous tools. Cue colourful language before the next stage….an injury of some kind…usually to the toe as items are kicked unsatisfactorily in some kind of misplaced revenge …before everything is restuffed back into the cupboard (perhaps) or left where it fell (more usually) and the commencement of stage three….the immediate abortion of whatever the business was that brought the fated person within proximity of the cupboard in the first place.

Whilst I’m sure we are not alone in allowing our cupboards to arrive at this wayward state, the difference at the moment is that ours are, perhaps more regularly than others, on show. Having spent the last six months documenting the progress on our house refurb it is with some pride that we find ourselves flinging open areas of the house which better mannered hosts would never dare to bare.
“This is where our washing machine and tumble dryer are hidden….” we might say before realising self consciously that we had revealed more than we had planned…a machine still chock-full of washing topped with a subsiding tower of stuff awaiting sale on eBay….a compost bin designed to be set into a worktop for example..not used due to its size (13l is a lot of stinky potato peelings), surplus-to-requirement chrome taps and boxes of leftover wallpaper.

In fact the reality of my meticulously planned cupboards is that not one of them yet houses anything they should. The understairs cupboards contain not scooters (neither of us are ready to brave O’s wrath should this prized possession be anywhere other than striking distance) or bikes (the new birthday balance bike, for which O is about two inches too short, is currently being hidden in the car boot so it can be extracted when in the proximity of a) a park and b) an osteopath as if O is reminded of its existence I end up doing seventeen hunched laps around the island) but boxes of leftover plumbing kit….the kind that look incredibly important and subsequently never get thrown away but without which the bathroom would appear to be functioning perfectly well. The larder has contained, up until now, a jumbled medley of the expected food packets and kitchen equipment in addition to piles of unopened mail, old magazines (I hoard them), some patio sealant (inappropriately…) and umpteen ‘bag for life’s’ and the wardrobe contains not only the intended clothes and shoes but also towels, sheets, boxes, curtains, throws, pillows a lightshade and a step ladder.

This disorganisation is not reserved, if I’m totally honest, to our cupboards. Our box room despairingly meets the same criteria….it being only marginally bigger than a cupboard and the rules to its use being, it would appear, the same….open door, lob item in, quickly close door. Whilst we have tried to train ourselves, possibly counterproductively, to live with this chaos and the anxious nausea it provokes while we ‘get ourselves straight’, a phrase which is starting to feel inexcusably overused, this week a couple of straws threatened to break the back of the proverbial camel which I will, for now, call S….

1) The first being a potential court summons if we don’t settle an unfairly issued parking fine ….the period for appeal having lapsed as the letter sat unacknowledged within a pile of dusty bank statements toppling like the Tower of Pisa over an equally dusty keyboard in our office.

2) The second being the excruciating process of wrestling with not one but two curtain poles with an incomplete set of tools in an attempt at regaining some privacy in our lounge and bedroom.

So with my mind made up to ‘get our house in order’ I got cracking. Identifying an old tub of Trade White Dulux in the snug….snap decisions such as these cannot wait for the delivery of eco friendly Earthborn…I set about emptying the contents of the office into the hallway and bedroom in order to freshen up the walls with some white paint. A ruthless cull was to follow before everything, minus four plastic sacks of wastepaper, was returned to its rightful position. Accessibility to Pebbledash HQ now addressed, life administration could resume.

And so it was that the age-old theory of blocked chakras…. translating simplistically to something along the lines of the westernised principle ‘messy room, messy mind’….began to pay dividend. Feeling inspired and dare I say it, energised I found myself working my way systematically through the house tidying as I went….stocking our newly positioned bathroom cabinets with products, rearranging the utility cupboards by transferring the to-be-eBayed gear into the virtual shop window (the bin is there, plus the Ikea curtain panels, Arne Jacobsen wallpaper and a good half a square metre of the emerald green metro tiles) and sorting out the shelves and drawers of both larder and kitchen.

Meanwhile, whilst the curtain poles continue to floor S by their obstinate determination to remain there, the poster wall has been meticulously installed and the first of our green factory lamps (from Mazda so says the label) hung.

So whether its Chinese principles at work or my concocted cupboard theories….it matters not. Something’s working……

Poster wall

Factory lamp hanging over the still problematic sofa corner….bit of rearranging of that nook still to come…
Larder after a tidy …though sealant still there (it being one of our highest shelves in which to keep it away from investigative fingers)


Bathroom cabinets up …and testing out a piece of patio stone as a potential shelving solution as recommended by my mother in law..


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