House dilemmas

It seems that most people don’t have house dilemmas. Not in the sense that I seem to have them. I honestly look around me, and I think most people move into their homes, furnish them, and then that’s it. For some reason it all seems to take me rather longer than that, and I have been thinking recently about why this is so.

I have come to the not-very-sophisticated conclusion that really it all comes down to three things:

  • money;
  • stuff;
  • pickiness (a more flattering way of putting this third option is ‘a sense of style’. But let’s stick with pickiness).

Bear with me. I do have a point here. If you have loads and loads of money, you can easily and quickly find a solution to whatever house-dilemma you have. Need a sofa, in a particular shade of maroon, that will fit under a particular window which is a funny shape? Get one made, and covered in material that is dyed to your specification. Easy.

If you have no stuff (a situation which home-decor magazines seem to imagine is rather common) then furnishing your room is simple. A single shelf adorned with a vase and a clock here, a small side table that holds the remote control, and a large glass bowl of flower petals there. No complicated storage solutions to measure and locate. No extraneous pieces of furniture to shove into rooms already groaning and straining with toys. A single wardrobe in each bedroom is ample storage. A small bookcase downstairs, which is ‘dressed’ with colour-co-ordinated hardbacks and bookends, rather than double-parked with well-thumbed paperbacks. Life must be simple. If a little … minimalist.

And if you are not at all picky, then questions like, ‘But what kind of grey is it? A blue-ish grey? A dull grey? A warm grey or a cool grey?’ appear fanciful and even a bit silly. They certainly  would not keep you up at night, or have you googling images of ‘Elephants breath’ comparing the pictures of rooms in different lights with the paint card you hold in your hand. You can choose your paint colour in store, slap it on the walls, and hey presto you are done.

If, on the other hand… if just SAY for example, I mean hypothetically speaking… If you manage to combine the rather fateful facts of being at once a bit impecunious (shakes fist in impotent rage at brand new, water-tight, shiny yet unfeasibly expensive roof), with also owning more stuff than would seem possible for a couple in their early thirties, and yet also on top of all this being tremendously picky having a highly developed sense of what is stylish and what is not …

Well. I am  here to exclusively reveal that in those circumstances, making the house look lovely is rather more of a task than it might otherwise be.

In the spirit of bloggy open-ness, therefore, allow me to share with you some of my current house dilemmas.

AlcoveHere is the alcove on the left of the chimney breast in our front room. Obviously in an ideal world we would get a beautiful built-in cupboard and shelves. But here we are in our less than ideal world, with renegade wires and cables curling around on the floor like tentacles, and a basket of ignored children’s books looking rather more useful than it actually is. What we basically have here is a whole lotta alcove space, not being used very effectively.

Another view of the alcoveI am sharing this picture in a spirit of optimism that others will recognise this state of affairs, so I don’t want to hear you tutting (yes, I mean you, mother). Please note the carefully placed decorative effects: the bottle of Calpol on the middle shelf of the dresser, the Ikea baskets pulled out by enthusiastic little hands and inexpertly half-shoved back in, the Winnie the Pooh moneybox (why is this still downstairs and not in Rosa’s room?), and the overflowing in-tray.

Seriously, though. My initial thought on the alcove was to get some kind of interim solution, until beautiful built-in carpentry solutions can be ours. I thought of a Billy bookcase, with shelving units each side for CDs / DVDs. But then I drew back for a moment, and looked at what we have already. And I really think that having a big dark bookcase in this alcove as well as the Expedit, and the dresser, will be too much of a big ‘slab’ of dark wood across the room. Bringing me right back to where I started: a promising but ill-used alcove, with no particular solution that I can see.

ShoesThis picture is of the floor of my hall. I can’t be the only person with a hall floor like this. I mean, obviously in an ideal world everyone would not litter the floor with shoes, but would wear one pair, and then carry all extraneous pairs upstairs. But here we are, living in a shoe-strewn less-than-ideal world. And there are obviously lots of baskety, bench-based hall storage solutions. But none of them is any good if you live in a Victorian terrace with a narrow hall (and our current hall isn’t nearly as narrow as our last one was).

Ikea do a shoe storage box, which looks promising, but not exactly beautiful. And I did visit a house once where they’d put up skirting board level rows of hooks, and the shoes were all hung up…. Hmmm…

Soap powder etc on the dishwasherThis is a very small dilemma, but nonetheless one that bugs me. Our dishwasher tablets and washing powder live in this narrow space on top of the dishwasher, next to the breadbin. This is a very handy place for them to be. But pleasing to the eye it is not.

So can I find a narrow but tall basket or other receptacle to place them in? Of course not. But I’ll keep looking.

Letter rackAnd a solution at last! This was a house dilemma, but was solved quite recently. I realised our un-opened post was heaping up in an ungainly way in various places in the house, but didn’t have a home. I also realised that things I wanted to post myself were being left around and not actually posted. So I decided I needed some kind of letter rack. Obviously, being picky (see above) this wasn’t entirely straightforward. I wanted something with several ‘bins’, and I wanted something large enough for A4 post, and something with sides so stuff wouldn’t drop straight out. But eventually I found this one, and put it up. And in doing so I discovered a) that I can in fact use a drill whilst pregnant and also that b) sometimes a very small addition to the home can transform your day in a matter of minutes.

So to end on a high note, this is my letter rack. And I love it.

I will post more on my other dilemmas as soon as I find solutions. You can expect those around about 2017. Probably moments before we decide we have to move….

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10 Responses to House dilemmas

  1. leoni-fay says:

    IKEA is your friend. Take a child free day and spend it wondering round looking at each dilemma separately. Look at all colour ways and doors are important! The billy in white would look ok there (said the lady who has just had build in alcove shelves fitted!)

    Do you have under stairs cupboards? IKEA do some shoe racks that are cloth and you hang them on the back of a door. Not attractive but if hidden are great.

  2. Elizabeth says:

    Hi there, I did ask you on Twitter, but for belt and braces – longing to know where you found that letter rack? Vertical ones that fit A4 and with multiple slots seem a rarity! Thank you!

  3. rachel says:

    Hi Elizabeth! Sorry, I don’t think I got your tweet. The letter rack is from Amazon. I have to confess I did a LOT of research to find it, which I feel a bit torn about. On the one hand, I just about found what I wanted. On the other, that’s a part of my life I’ll never get back ;)
    Link here:

  4. Elizabeth says:

    Thanks so much for replying! Having put a few hours on the internet too I’ve since come to the conclusion that I might need something that sits on the edge of the kitchen work surface where all the post and paperwork collects and gets buried so I have decided to give this a go: Full marks to the website: they’re cheaper than other sites on many items, I ordered Tue, it was shipped yesterday and they have given me a 1-hr time slot for delivery today and free del. over £25! Amazing! I highly recommend browsing the site (warning: you might feel an urge to spend money!) And if this doesn’t sort my post/pile problem I may invest in your letter rack as well :-) Thanks again! (I love the blog BTW! Good to know I’m not alone in an impoverished state trying to use storage as the answer to everything…)

  5. rachel says:

    Just perusing the website now… got a bit excited that their first menu sub-category was ‘baskets’! I am holding you to blame if I end up spending tonnes of money there btw. ;)
    (And storage is indeed the answer to everything. Just so that’s clear.)

  6. Elizabeth says:

    My organiser has revolutionised my kitchen in a life-changing way! I have surface! I do not have a pile of paper that repeatedly slid onto the floor and in which school forms were lost amidst rubbish I didn’t know where to put. I have compartments for ‘to do’, ‘to file’, ‘stuff that hangs about’, ‘stuff to read at some point in the distant future when I have time to read free magazines – ha ha ha’ etc. Hope you found some nice affordable baskets and if so I demand a blog post about them :-)

  7. rachel says:

    Hurrah! Our letter rack is equally successful, which is great.
    Sadly although I LOVED the website, the baskets on it were quite expensive. Probably this means they’ll be nicer than the cheapo ones I have, but I’ll need to wait a bit before investing.
    In the meantime, I have been painting the playhouse, and making plans. New post today.

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