Tuesday, September 16, 2008

mix and match and moving

My tidying up went rather well yesterday. I'm now ready for autumn. Bring it on! My duvet has been aired and is on the bed. The flannel sheets are on the top of the linen pile. The cushion covers have been changed from bright to moody. The fall wreath is on the door - the one with yellow and reddish brown berries. And the closet has been reorganized so I can neatly stash stuff in it. It is no longer a space of a confused multitude of things. And I found out that the bottom drawer of the sideboard was ... almost empty. How that happened, I do not know. But there was a humidifier and a file box in front of the drawer... Yes, I am that lazy. I hadn't bothered to move them out of the way for a long time.

I actually have a lot of storage space where I am living. A double closet in both the bedroom and the living room, plus a coat closet and a linen cupboard. And 15 kitchen cupboards. It is also the newest built place I've lived in, having been built around 1964. I think this is an important point. Robin had asked how it was possible for an apartment to not have closets. I started to think, maybe I had misremembered. Is it possible? None at all? But no, it was true. I spent the rest of the night at work thinking about all the places I have lived.

I grew up in a 1950 era bungalow and have since lived in high-rises, low-rises, attics and basements. I've lived in one room in a house with another family, boarded and shared kitchens and bathrooms and even stayed in an intentional community. I lived in a dorm for 6 months in Holland and out of suitcase for 6 months in Australia and NZ.

All in all I add it up to 14 addresses.

In some of these, it didn't matter about the storage as I was young and didn't have much stuff. But, it does boggle the mind to look at older homes and their layout. The tiny bedroom closets. Some have no hall closet at all. So if you are living in a main floor flat of a house, chances are there may not be any closet built in. My favourite flat was in a walkup of an Edwardian building (1912). It had the smallest kitchen (you could turn on the tap, stir a pot on the stove and open the fridge door by simply turning around). It had only enough counter space for a small drying rack. The table in the corner was used for prep and eating. And holding the toaster and coffee maker with an extension cord to the only outlet in the dining room on the other side of the wall. The two bedrooms had only corner closets! Where did people put their winter coats, never mind their other clothes? I put up hooks. Another flat I lived in was the main floor of a small semi-detached 1930's house. The washroom was in the unfinished basement, which served as the only closet. That kitchen was huge (I had a rocking chair in it, plus a table that sat 6) but it had only 2 kitchen cupboards over the sink. The strangest flat I had was a room with a toilet and sink. The shared kitchen was in the hall and there was a full bathroom (also shared) on a landing to another flat. But, it was in an architecturally arresting 18thC five-story walkup in Amsterdam.

When I was growing up in the 60's I remember the excitement of the new gadgets that entered our house, most of them requiring electricity. By then, the war was long past and people were able to buy more new and 'useful' things. A lot of it was kitchen aids for the housewife to enjoy her work. This is where the new need for extra storage became a necessity. The need for more electrical outlets was also a necessity but mostly, I think that meant having one in every room. Storage containers (Tupperware, anyone?) became ubiquitous. Electric appliances proliferated (can openers, knives, frying pans, waffle irons, Osterizers, kettles) and all were much larger than their previous manual cousins. The bane of my kitchen is the crockpot. I love it, but it does take up so much space. Now there is the microwave, which requires it's own set of cookware.
Luckily, I don't bake so I don't have one of those nifty retro mixers - I would love to have one as an accent for the look alone if they weren't so expensive and useless to me.
But I'd probably have to move to find room for it.
And I've done enough of that.

How about you? What kinds of accommodation have you found yourself living in? What quirky features have you learned to live with?

Home Samples


  1. I posted about home too! How interesting.

    Our current kitchen is very small, with hardly any counter space, so we use a table for some of our food prep. There is a nice long counter out of the way, too far from the sink, stove and fridge to be useful - except as a place to pile up junk! I know what you mean about things taking up space - our coffee maker and vessels for utensils, seem to take up a third of our counter space, and we've talked about putting the coffee maker on its own little table on the other side of the kitchen to free up a tiny bit more work space.

  2. Ruth: Remember appliance garages? I would love one of those, with pull out shelves and outlets behind so it is all neatly tucked away. My experience of farm kitchens always seemed to include a long "harvest table" in the kitchen where all the work was done instead of long counters. The precurser to the "island", I guess.

  3. You certainly have been around! I have moved quite a lot - this is the 10th house.

    CJ xx

  4. ok, I have added up all my addresses - bearing in mind 1 am 32

    I have lived at 14 different addresses - 16 if you count the two boarding schools.

    I have lived in 5 Army houses, a 17th village cottage, 2 19th century town houses, a 1980s flat (apartment - this had no closets!) 2 1960s ex council houses, 1960s chalet style bungalow, 2 purpose built shared accommodation.

    The two boarding schools - the junior school was a beautiful large old house located in a cathedral close - the senior school, the actual boarding house was a 1970s build but the main school building was Victorian. It is strange but I have never been sentimental about houses/flats until I bought my first property back in 1999, then it became personal so since then I have only moved twice.

    Then I got thinking about how many schools I had been to - 5 in total
    (4 junior schools and 1 senior) and 3 of those were in one academic year.

    VioletSky I had a kitchen like yours that you could wash up, stir a pan and open the fridge, except I could do it without turning round :)


  5. This is the first house without a husband (yea for me) and it was built in 1940. It hasn't seen a lot of updates, for sure. The lack of outlets is a challenge, as are the small rooms when all of the grandkids are here. I've rarely lived in a house with adequate outlets. My kitchen is fairly unhandy but I keep in mind that it is mine alone and I can live with it. Violetsky, you don't bake? What do you do when you want fresh cookies in the middle of the night? I'll post the world's easiest cookie recipe if you want to give it a shot.

  6. I haven't lived in that many places, considering my age....! I've been in my home for 44 years...And I have lots and lots of Closet Space, though, I have run out of room....many many times.
    The only time I lived with some peculiar quirky things was the year my mother had the Kitchen gutted and completely re-done. We used one Hot Plate for about 9 months and washed our dishes in the Bathroom Sink. It is amazing what you can get used to....!

  7. Great post! Happy to hear you've made excellent progress with your decluttering.

    I did a count a few years ago, I think it was around 20 places. I moved between that (went up to the 9th floor in the same building) so it's 21 in 2 different provinces, Quebec and Ontario.

    I've been a homeowner since 1986 I believe, owning on my own since 1990. The condo I live in is my 4th place. It is the largest condo I've lived in, almost 1000 sq.ft. and although there aren't many closets they are very well organized. The previous owner believed in shelves :) Also both bathrooms have great storage space. I'm very lucky.

    My kitchen, however, is a step down from the previous one. What I gained in space throughout the unit, I lost in the kitchen. But it proved ok for when we did the peaches so I guess it's good enough.

    I don't have the best view from the windows, I overlook a courtyard. But it's quieter and really, one only spends very little time in a window :)

  8. You don’t want a list of all the places I’ve lived. We’ll be here until the next millennium. My favorite was the old farm house though – no closets, a wood-burning furnace, with squares cut out of the floors to the second storey to let the warm air up (we used to suspend the younger kids through them on belts sometimes) slopey bedroom ceilings, a giant bathroom and a giant kitchen with an old Aga cook stove that the previous owners left behind because it was too heavy to move. We only used it for extra heat and when the power went out. A big-assed pantry and a scary cellar with a root cellar and coal shute; a gorgeous sun porch and the whole thing up on a hill surrounded by orchards. Man, I loved that place. I might blog about this one day now that I’m thinking of it.

  9. MA: Wow, that is a lot of moving. At least all of mine though were my own doing/choice. I actually enjoyed moving to new surroundings though not the actual moving itself.

  10. Crystal: I am assuming they weren't all farms?!

  11. Naomi: I had an older friend who lived in the same house she grew up in for all of her 70+ years!

    ..and I remember my 6 months with a hot plate!

  12. miwise: I don't think there are ever enough outlets in any room for all the things we need now.

    ...mmm, cookies in the middle of the night (I could eat them while working)

  13. UA: oh I could spend a LOT of time looking out the window

  14. XUP: sounds like perfect rustic charm

  15. Now, it makes more sense. Living in part of a house makes it possible. I bet you've lived in some neat places.

    Living in old Chicago apartments tells you so much about what people were like when the buildings were new. Mostly, you realize how little they existed on... and I mean that in a good way.

    Closets are a good example. They had the clothes they needed, and didn't want for much more.

    High ceilings were made for hot days.

    Electric lines pale when faced with computers, air conditioners, huge t.v.s, DVD's, CD players, hair dryers, microwaves, toaster ovens, stereo's, room heaters, washers, dryers.

    Etc. Etc.

    Thanks for the explanation.

  16. Wow, you've lived in all sorts of exotic places. I once did a count of how many houses and apartments I've lived in, but it would probably take me a half hour to remember them all right now. But they were all boring regular houses and apartments. And they were either in Texas or North Carolina. I've also lived in many different cities but they were all boring regular cities.

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  18. Now that you've finished your decluttering, would you come do mine?

    I live in a building that was built in 1912. Before we did extensive renovations, there were two tiny closets that weren't even deep enough to put a clothes hanger. You had two tiny poles to hang clothes on on each side of the door - basically your clothes faced you.

    That was it.

    I guess back then, like in Europe, people had wardobes.

  19. Robin: One day I am going to make to Chicago and take one of those Arts and Crafts tours.

    geewits: I think some of the places I've lived have been boring. North Carolina sounds attractive to me.

    Jazz: Sure. I used to work as a cleaner and it was much easier to clean other people's houses than my own. But I warn you I can be ruthless if it's not mine. I like wardrobes.

  20. A 50's rancher. No master bathroom, which I miss, but a HUGE basement complete with a bomb shelter. By the way, I've lived at 23 different adresses so far. Not counting summers at my Dad's various houses.


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