Home improvement, Serenity Prayer style

So, that little trick of hiding the wires in our office area? What a lovely example of just taking one small step at a time and enjoying the journey. I’ve enjoyed that little journey so much I barely notice the inward cringe my psyche makes when things get all cluttered and cat-riddled along that wall. That’s life, after all. If it wasn’t messy, we wouldn’t be living.

That said, I still struggle with not going whole-hog into a project and letting it just consume me. The very wise side of me recognizes the unhealthiness of that, and almost tempers the more impassioned side of me that, on her knees implores, “but wouldn’t a more cheerful laundry room be nicer?”

Oh, it would. It would. And that’s when I say the Serenity Prayer.

Do you know it? Just for a refresher, here’s the words:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

Courage to change the things I can,

And the wisdom to know the difference.

It gained popularity via Alcoholics Anonymous, but the original prayer was just that: a prayer. And there’s no rule that says you can’t use prayer in any part of your life, is there?

As you ascend the stairs to the second floor of our home, a doorway at the end of the hall beckons.

Something stinky this way comes.

I can still remember the surprise when I peered in and saw that the washing machine and dryer were located there: a laundry room! On the second floor! Of a really old house! I remember quizzing our real estate agent, trying to confirm that some seller wasn’t just toying with my feelings.

It was for real.

It’s been largely untouched since we moved in. But I spend almost as much time there as I do in the kitchen. Especially since becoming a parent. There are things I don’t like about the room, but haven’t gotten tired of just walking around the corner with a load of dirty laundry rather than down a couple flights of stairs to the basement.

Poke your head around the corner of the door, and this is what you see. Oh, hello flannel sheets we don't need any more this season!

That skylight not only adds natural light to the space but some delightful fresh air when weather permits. But some elements are begging for change. Like the wall color (doesn’t feel right to me), the floors, the lack of continuation of the floors into the closet, that awkward shelf thing hiding the dryer vent line out to the exterior wall. The laundry machines, while still serviceable, aren’t as efficient as today’s models.

I want to throw everything in that room I can away and start over. But I just can’t.

So, applying the serenity prayer to this conundrum, what would be reasonable to change, and what wouldn’t?

Things I must accept that I cannot change (at least right now)

  • Laundry machines: large, inefficient, and old as they are, they still work. I don’t need to replace them right now. But I do hope to in the next year or so. Even if I don’t, they do their job and I can live with that.
Not stylish, but they still tackle the dirt.
  • That vinyl floor: it is not damaged, and functions. The colors scream “totally 80s” but are not unworkable. Someday, a floating floor could be installed and cover the unfinished floor space in the closet too. Until then, it’s softly muttered oaths every time I clean it.
  • The litter box: I love the cats. Which is good because they often treat the litterbox like, well, crap. This model, with no corners, is pretty functional. But it would be nice to mask that scene. Give the cats some privacy in their poo poo lounge.
There's no hiding the smell somedays.
  • That awkward shelf-hiding-the-dryer-vent-line thing: Until the laundry machines are replaced and a more subtle cosmetic may be used to hide a traveling dryer vent, that’s where it hangs and needs to be.
I know what they wanted to hide.
  • The light fixture: I so badly want to rip that thing out and put something a tad more aesthetic in its place. However, a certain smarter-than-I someone reminded me of building codes that kind of mandate a fluorescent fixture in a laundry room. Lucky for me, fluorescents have come a long way in the style department. But I don’t want to rush this decision. In the long run, taking time to study this more will be worth it.
It's kind of harsh. Especially at 4 in the morning when you're carrying sheets from a sick kid's bed.

Things I can change in pretty rapid time

  • The wall color: it’s only paint. And given all the wallpaper I’ve removed from this house so far, I’m truly grateful that a little wall repair and selection of a paint color is all I need to do to make a pretty big change in the room. And because it’s only paint, I feel like I can afford to take a bigger look at the color possibilities and find something I love that won’t fight with, say, the floor.
  • Storage and organization: That three-drawered behemoth isn’t doing us any favors. And the closet off the laundry room – okay, really any horizontal surface in the entire space – just attracts piles. I need to make it pretty enough to care about, and functional enough to want to take care of all the things that could go on there.
The only thing in those drawers is a small roll of plastic bags for taking care of used litter.
And the closet? Two words, here: hot mess.
  • That giant bag of kitty litter: I will not apologize for buying litter in bulk. But it won’t take much effort to make it less obvious what the cats do in that space. They make it plenty obvious themselves, bless their hearts.
  • Window treatments: remove tension rod. Donezo. I want as much light in there as I can get, and it’s not a big window. This should be easy.
Battenberg lace is all well and good in its' place. But not in this window. It's hiding the window, at this point. Hey there, little retractable clothesline!
  • Power sources: ironing in that room is pretty awkward. I’d also love to set up a little sewing center in there someday. And a few months back, we accidentally discovered a way to run electrical to that space in a way that wouldn’t use up a whole book of expletives – maybe a page, at most.

So, what’s next? I think a trip to the paint store to assemble a pile of paint chips, and start scheming some colors that will play nicely together. And get to work, one thing at a time.

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