I want to stay focused on organization and compulsive hoarding in this blog, but I wanted to deviate a little with this post. We have recently been totally consumed with a project here at home that made a BIG difference in our lifestyle and organization. We renovated our kitchen. It started about a month ago, and the final elements are pretty much finally in place now. Just have to install in a new floor.

Our old kitchen was cramped, and by renovating we opened up a much more efficient layout. And while we more than doubled our working space, what was more important was what happened while packing up the old kitchen. We dug out all the cupboards and drawers, the pantry and appliance closet, and made some tough decisions. If you’re anything like me, you probably have a pretty jammed junk drawer, right? When was the last time you went through it? When was the last time you needed even 50% of the stuff in there?

Our junk drawer had old birthday candles, expired pizza coupons, dead batteries, and countless other things that never belonged in that drawer. And really, how many bamboo skewers did we really think we’d ever use??

What’s in your junk drawer?

We also found we had duplicates of things, especially plastic containers. I’m happy to say we whittled that collection down for the charity box and now have a much more manageable set of containers WITH matching lids. That certainly makes getting lunches ready in the morning easier!

Empty it out!

Even if you’re not planning a full renovation, I highly recommend tackling your kitchen junk drawer. Take out EVERYTHING and put it on the counter. Have a box for charity and a bag for garbage handy. Consider each item and only put it back if you really need it. Maybe put similar items together in a zip bag, like spare batteries or clothes pins. Perhaps you find stuff that has a home somewhere else and just needs to be relocated. Suddenly, it’s not so junky anymore! Power through for 15 minutes, and you’ll have solid results.

We went through Ikea for our renovation. Ikea has not asked me to do this post…I’m not being compensated by Ikea, and 100% of what I say here is based on my own personal experience and opinion.

We still have to replace the floor and paint the ceiling, but otherwise are good to go!

Here’s what we had before…this is from our house inspection when we bought the place. What you can’t see just to the left in this photo is an eat-in area. We use our dining room for all meals, so we had cobbled together additional storage and counter space by adding a buffet and table pushed against the walls. It looked cluttered, clumsy, and was awkward to get to while working in the kitchen.

We took everything out and started from scratch with just about everything coming from Ikea.

white Stat Ikea kitchen

We had visited Ikea in December and got a good idea of what we wanted. Then we worked on our plans using the Ikea kitchen planner software. We learned it works better in Internet Explorer than it does in Google Chrome. I also read a lot on the Ikea Fans forum: http://www.ikeafans.com/forums/kitchen-planning/

We contacted several of their suggested installers and picked one we felt most comfortable with. He came and measured our space, and gave us better direction and advice for finessing our design.

Then we coordinated with him, our electrician, and Habitat to make a schedule. My husband and I went to Ikea to place our order on Thursday, everything was delivered Friday. Habitat for Humanity came on Friday to remove the old kitchen for free. Electrician came to do some plug moving and adding, etc. We removed the tile back splash and bulk head over the weekend.

Our installer arrived Monday and finished the drywalling from the bulkhead. He also had to fix a plumbing issue the Habitat guys caused when they removed the sink cabinet. He didn’t get to building any cabs until Tuesday.
We went with Stat cupboards, oak Numerar counters except for the island, and used Ikea handles for everything except the Jadite knobs on my glass front cabs. Speaking of which, the glass fronted doors are from the Lidingo (I “think”) line, not Stat.

Our installer was amazing and really meticulous. Everything fits perfectly, even with unsquare walls. He didn’t rush and took his time…it was about 7 days of solid work for him, but I was very impressed.

Farmhouse Ikea sink: I love this. It’s bigger than the stainless steel sink we used to have and fits a large frying pan on the bottom for soaking. The faucet was from Rona a few years ago. Pendent light is from Lowes or Rona.

Ikea farmhouse sink

Fully extendable Ikea blind corner carousel: we have 2 sets of these.  Both levels swivel out and pull forward.

blind corner kitchen storage solution

blind corner kitchen storage solution

Floor to Ceiling Pantry Before:
floor to ceiling pantry

And After with Ikea pull out shelves

floor to ceiling pantry with pull out shelves

floor to ceiling pantry with pull out shelves

Stove area was moved almost 2 feet to the right…it was previously right by the sink and didn’t leave any room for someone to do cooking and someone else to do cleaning at the same time.  We replaced the range hood with a stainless steel model from Home Depot.  The white stove was the previous owners, and the black stove is ours.  We’ll eventually change it for an induction cooktop.  We also moved the fridge.  It used to be just to the right of the stove…now it’s on the other side of the room.

Before

After
herringbone tile back splash

Numerar Countertops: these have to be oiled often for the first little while and then less as time passes.  If they should happen to stain, we can sand it away.  They grow warmer in tone the more they’re oiled and used.  We had such little counter space before, this is very luxurious for us.  The school house lights are from Rona.  I’m glad to have the microwave OFF the counter, and the wine rack is handy.

wood counter tops

Jadite Knobs I bought from an Etsy vendor: http://www.etsy.com/shop/prettyware

jadite cabinet knobs

And now for the island.  We had originally planned to put the same wood on the island, but when we put in our order, that size was not available and no hint as to when it would be coming in.  So we started looking at other options.  I didn’t really want granite, but I priced out copper, soapstone, and concrete.  Concrete won, and I found a local vendor to custom create this for us.  I wanted something with a worn, aged look.

concrete counter

concrete counter

concrete counter

Here you see the inlaid cutting board.  We’re also planning on getting a piece of marble to fit the same spot for chocolate and pastry work.

concrete counter with cutting board inlay

I was also very happy with my tile guy.  He quoted a great price to do the backsplash and there’s 45 square feet there!  It’s a complicated pattern to make consistent and it involves a LOT of extra cutting but close inspection shows he knew his stuff! Tiles were .24 cents each.

herringbone back splash

Overall, we spent under $15,000.

The only real hiccup was with Ikea delivery.  There was a large cover panel which did not arrive with our order and our installer needed it to move forward.  He pointed it out as soon as he noticed and it took several calls back and forth with Ikea to get it delivered in good time as to not stall the whole schedule.  I didn’t feel the Ikea store manager made a good effort to contact me and keep me in the loop about this, and trying to get a hold of anyone from the store on the phone was impossible.  You can only reach their call centre in Montreal.  BUT it did get resolved, installation continued, and I’m now delighted with our new kitchen.

It’s made sharing the space with our children a real joy.  It’s so fun to have proper space to work with them at the island baking cookies, and not be crowded.  Once we have the floor in, we’ll finally invite our friends in for a meal and we can’t wait to let the party end up in the kitchen.

If anyone else is considering an Ikea kitchen, I definitely recommend it.  And if you’re in west GTA, I can recommend some vendors who won’t disappoint.


It’s been a few weeks since Mom told me she was getting a cell phone.  I was excited at first, but that wore off as day after day passed and still no call from her “new phone.”

I’m guessing she has procrastinated and has found other things to do instead.  Compulsive hoarders have a tendency to delay making decisions out of fear of making the wrong decision.  I’ve seen it time and time again with Mom.

She has a pile of boxes heavy with papers under the desk…the very same boxes she needed to move to check the phone jack on the wall.  She was attempting to go through these boxes paper by paper in case there was something important in there she shouldn’t throw away.  This meant ALL the papers got kept when only a handful should have been filed and the rest recycled (or shredded for privacy, which is another way of delaying because, um, she doesn’t have a shredder.)  The result of her dithering is a desk still jammed with paper boxes and no way to access the phone jack.  She’s still paying for the phone service, by the way, and because she wanted to keep the same phone number has maintained a more costly business line they had for my Dad.  The phone company also requires 30-60 days written notice of cancellation, so we’re looking at a loss of about $400 since November.

When I began this post, I thought about my own trouble making decisions.  My husband and I do research for a long time before making most decisions.  It’s a good thing to know what you’re getting into, but eventually you have to s*** and get off the pot (sorry for the crudeness).  My husband and I planned to get a new front door for over 18 months.  We had contractors come give us quotes.  We drove around the neighbourhood looking at other people’s front doors.  I visited several door & window stores looking at options.  If Pinterest had been around then, I’m sure I’d still be pinning to a “Front Door” board!  There were SO many options, we couldn’t pick just one.

Then, one day, Lowes had a sale on doors.  We walked in, pointed at one we both liked, and it was installed a week later.  We loved it!  It brighten the face of our house, is more energy efficient, and has better ventilation.  Why hadn’t we just done that from the beginning?  We make life too complicated sometimes.

Just Make Up Your Mind!

I want to be better at making decisions.  I think it could be a learned skill, and I want to model decisiveness for my daughters.  So I Googled “how to make decisions” or something like that, and saw a wealth of information out there.  It seems there are some common factors why people can’t make up their minds:

  • Too many advisors
  • Too many choices
  • Fear of worst case scenarios
  • Analysis paralysis
  • Talking yourself out of a decision

But there are some things you can do to help yourself.

  • Set a deadline for making the decision
  • Accept you might make a bad decision, be ok with it, and learn from the failure
  • Manage your emotions

It seems people make decisions with their hearts more than their heads.  Emotions aren’t rational and can confuse you from making a good decision.  If you struggle with a bossy heart, consider these:

  • Imagine a blank slate in your head.  Don’t allow any other thoughts or feelings and start from scratch.  (I’ve seen this work…I mean, it works for a character in the Pokemon graphic novels I’ve been reading with my 6 year old, Maddie, so surely…..)
  • What’s your body telling you?  Take a breath, calm your nerves, and still your movements to focus.
  • Visualize the outcome of your decision, and evaluate what would work and what wouldn’t.  Is it really so bad either way?
  • Ask do you need it, or just want it?  This is especially important for hoarders, or compulsive shoppers.  If it’s a basic need, it’s easy enough for your brain to make that decision.  But if you want it, well, that’s desire.  Desire is an emotion.  Emotions colour our thinking with all sorts of confliction, and we find we’ve talked ourselves into buying/eating/bringing home something we really didn’t need.  It could lead us to a temporary high, and then the all-too-familiar emotion, remorse.  And that…is just a bad decision.
  • Practice makes perfect.  Apply these methods often to get better at them.  Decision-making opportunities come up daily…sometimes, several times an hour!

You might find other useful ideas online.

I’m going to have to give these ideas a try.  Let me know if they work for you.  And remember, not all decisions are life or death.  What to have for lunch, what colour socks to wear (I choose black almost always), what route to drive to work…these are examples of ordinary low-risk decisions.  I want to get really good at making up my mind in these situations, and I’ll be better prepared for bigger, higher-risk decisions.   No more dithering or waffling.  No more sweating the details while missing the bigger picture.  No more fretting over beautiful, energy efficient front doors while the old ugly one lets in drafts.

In the meantime, I realize I can’t fault my Mom her indecision.  I recognize it’s part of who she is.  It’s part of her illness.  And perhaps she was never taught the skill of quick decision making.  I know she didn’t teach it to me.  I’ll find the patience next time I’m waiting for Maddie to choose between Raisin Bran & Cheerios at breakfast time.  We’ll work on the wants vs needs issues if they arise.  I’m sure they will.

While I can’t control the choices of others, I am in full control of my own choices. Knowing that is empowering.