I have been a bit under the weather recently. But I knew I was getting better when I suddenly raised my head from the kitchen table, looked directly across the room and had a bit of a eureka moment, “I know what we need to do with that corner!” I said, determinedly. Oli, who is used to these kind of random interjections, knew better than to question. Very wisely, he settled for, “Great. What?” as his response. Good option.
Because this particular corner of the kitchen has been bugging me for some time. There it is in the picture above. That piece of art is a footprint painting Rosa and I did last summer, in a flurry of painty activity one sunny afternoon inspired by some welly-boot painting over here. That cream thing is not just a random box, but a ‘funpod’, which I found second-hand for £30 and was powerless to resist. And that hideous orange thing…. yes, that is indeed a wardrobe. Bear with me….
You see, our house has no under-stair cupboard. It was only when we first found ourselves without one that I truly started to appreciate the vital role that the under-stair cupboard has in promulgating harmony and peaceable living. Without one, all manner of unattractive-looking household objects just lie about the place, periodically tripping people up, and making a nuisance of themselves. In our second flat, without an under-stair cupboard, the broom, mop and bucket all lurked clumsily behind the kitchen door, where they would every now and then feel ignored and fall over with a clatter to draw attention to themselves. The hoover was reduced to sitting beside the sofa, patient and ugly, like a dog waiting to be fed. It drove me mad.
Here, we have no under-stair cupboard for what I will conceded is a very pleasant and spoilt reason. That reason being a basement! Now naturally, a basement holds far, far more storage potential than a humble cupboard.
And yet. And yet. Does one want to trek all the way down to the basement in order to retrieve the dustpan and brush? Frankly, no. Does the hoover with all its Dyson-patented electrical whizzery really want to live down in the (very slightly damp) basement? Again, no. So here we have a kitchen with a problem.
I pondered it for a while, and I really did think that this wardrobe, slightly unpredictably, might be the answer. There is apparently no such thing as a tall cupboard any more. I even found a furniture site which told me as much, slightly apologetically, as I was searching. But a wardrobe, I thought, if just a single one, could be small enough to sit in the corner, yet capacious and tall enough to hold mop, bucket, broom, dustpan, brush, and maybe even the hoover! I thought I could paint it white or cream, and perhaps do something else (I was getting a bit vague here) to hide its Narnia-ish-ness. So to ebay I went, and the wardrobe was mine.
That was some time ago. And sadly, the flash of inspiration that hit me so suddenly while the girls were engaged in
painting their faces blue and hamming it up for the camera meaningful artistic activity , was that this piece of furniture was not working for me in any way. In spite of being in a kitchen, and full of under-stair cupboard things, it retained, stubbornly, an almost hilariously wardrobe-ish air. As if we had a lodger living in our kitchen who might appear at any moment, strip off, and start rummaging in it for a clean shirt. But worse than this, I realised it was not at all functional as a piece of furniture, as it had actually started to ATTRACT stuff rather than corral it.
I can’t be alone in having noticed this tendency? Some pieces of furniture, or storage, are a solution. They minimise rubbish, adding organisation and peace to justify the space they take up. Others are like a big beacon for tat, attracting every stray receipt, every lone shoe, each floating pen, endless piles of ‘just needs sorting’ letters, every weekend supplement that I surely-must-have-saved-for-a-reason-but-what-could-that-reason-be? You see those bags of icing power and the small pots up on top of it? That was taken AFTER I’d had my epiphany, and after I’d emptied it. Even empty, it still Attracts Things. I looked at my trusty kitchen wardrobe with suddenly murderous eyes as I figured out that – particularly since the goddamn hoover never even fitted in it – I could accommodate everything in it elsewhere in the house. Specifically, I could put some hooks up on the wall beside the stairs down to the basement, I could hang the mop, bucket, dustpan, and broom there. And then I could Get Rid of the wardrobe.
And then I realised, I could use the space it vacated to create a proper solution for displaying the children’s art that is creeping around our house in a steady march of unidentifiable paint blobs. I could take down the ‘painty footprints’ piece that has been up for longer than I care to think, and use the space rather better.
Because for ages I was very taken with frames like these ones, where you can drop pictures in and out. Or perhaps something like this. Or this. I had beautiful plans for something very tasteful and lovely. Chic and assured. Parentally indulgent, yet also artistic. Something which said, ‘I have children, but I still have taste.’
But then in a rare moment of clarity, I thought, ‘What if the art your children bring home isn’t A4? What if it’s shaped like a butterfly? Or it’s often A2? Or it’s a cereal box with an empty fruit punnet lovingly masking-taped on top and won’t fit any of the frames you’ve purchased / spray-painted / otherwise invested scarce time and energy into? What then?’
So when I saw this on the fab Apartment Therapy I was instantly smitten. Yes, I thought. I could hang three of those Ikea curtain rails on the wall behind where the wardrobe currently is, and move all the children’s paintings / drawings which are currently all over the fridge. ‘AND THEN!’ I thought (because this is the kind of dramatic interior dialogue I have with myself when the girls are throwing paint at each other, and Oli is washing up) ‘AND THEN! I could move the funpod into the corner, and use up the rest of my magnetic blackboard paint,by painting the girls a low-level blackboard, turning what was ugly-wardrobe corner into a kind of children’s art corner.’
When I remembered that I have a rather lovely white, frame that we got for Christmas, and which I’ve been hanging onto
because I hoard frames because I was looking for the right place for it to go, I knew it was all falling into place. The frame could, of course, go on the right-hand wall, where the ironing board is currently.
So what next? Well, a trip to Ikea is evidently in order. Such a fun, relaxing place to go of a weekend, after all. We need to sell the wardrobe (does anyone want it? I am not at all joking. We’re in East London). I need to dig out my pot of magnetic chalkboard paint, probably discover it’s all dried up, and buy some more. Oh, and of course I need to undercoat and gloss the backdoor and the bay window. Not to mention getting the whole kitchen redecorated at some point to disguise the very classy ‘damp proof course’ look we have going on at the moment, what with the bare plaster to waist height.
But the important thing is that now I Have A Plan. Not having plans annoys me. More on that in a future post….