Thinking about utility instead of conformity.

I was visiting websites about tiny houses and I realized we had created a bad situation simply because I was not thinking about utility and lifestyle and I was thinking about conformity to some magazine standard of living. I had put the couch in the living room and the husband in an office/work space in the back bedroom. That’s very proper. But the office space in the back bedroom does not have a nice view. That’s where the trailer goes.


There were other issues. The big futon overwhelms the tiny living room. The dogs like to be beside their master. Fred in particular hates to be stuck in the back room so he took to ignoring his bed and lying in the middle of the main room near the fridge where he can guard everything and trip anyone moving anywhere. The cat was unhappy. So after some thinking about what we actually use space for, rather than what the magazine standard is, I moved the husband to the big double window where he gets a nice view and lots of light. I changed his office space into our spare room/storage room and filled most of it up with the futon/couch. I also solved a problem of where to store my brooms and such and where to hang coats because now they go in there. What I had mentally set arise as “his” closet is now the broom closet/winter clothing storage/coat closet. I moved the table to beside the kitchen counter where I like to be anyway, and the dogs out to living area. Fred now lies near the table but not blocking traffic flow. The futon/couch is now in it’s own space and not overwhelming the living area. Since the main purpose was to be a guest bed anyway, and maybe a good place for a nap or to sit and read, it is also in a better location for that. It looks so much smaller in that room! If we decide we must have television we will put it in that room too.


When we first got the house we walked around and I was saying, we need to repaint and put in all new flooring and we need to rip out baseboards and and and ….. until Dick put his heels down and said No! We had agreed before buying the house that we would not do any major work on the house that was simply cosmetic and thereby create cosmetic debt. We are retirees on a fixed pension income and the last thing we need is debt for cosmetic reasons. We must put in one new window and the exterior paint is peeling so that simply HAS to be done this summer. The flooring in the house is old, circa 1960s and tired looking. But it is perfectly sound with no lifting to trip over and no structural issues. The painting inside is fine, not my colour choice, but good enough, especially after some elbow grease removed most of the marks (I do love that Mr. Clean eraser!) and lightened the whole thing place by about ten shades from dingy yellow to a nice bright white/cream colour. So we decided to wait on repainting the interior and putting in the new flooring.

We have concentrated our spending on needful things instead. We have very nice screen doors but they had no safety springs or pull back thingies. The wind would catch them and slam them hard. We bought that door hardware and installed it ourselves for under $75. We have replaced one door knob, the one that half the town had a key for. Again a do-it-yourself installation meant under $80 for a hefty grade two lock. (I have to wonder if we really needed it done since half the town had a key and no one came in uninvited but being city folks that change made me feel more secure.)  There hasn’t been a key to the front door in years so it can wait.

I spared no expense on two heavy duty handrails for the bathroom/shower because that is a safety issue although I will confess those are also from the Sears Clearance catalogue at a very good price ($56 total with taxes). While preparing to install the safety bars I found a nice surprise underneath the ugly painted tub surround that is all stained and disgusting, We have lovely pearl and white bathroom tiles, I mean nice enough for Martha Stewart. I unbent on the no cosmetic only spending rule by $25 to get paint stripper and grout cleaner. With more elbow grease we should have a lovely bathtub instead of the mess we have now. Whoever put those tiles in did it right. These are old fashioned properly grouted tiles solid as rocks. I couldn’t resist doing one area just to inspire myself. That rest of that job will wait until it warms up again and we can leave windows and doors open. Even though I found a “green” nontoxic paint stripper (on a relative scale I am sure) I don’t need to induce an asthma flare when I have been doing so well.

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We are buying some new furniture (the Ikea bed for example) but we picked up our new mattress at a thift store and saved ourselves about $1000. That was a lucky break. They had just put a brand-name mattress in like new condition out for sale when we were in there. I jumped fast on that deal! I do have all new appliances, but that is because of a major store closure in Canada and they were throwing out all the floor models and they had the cords cut off to discourage thievery. My frugal daughter and her about to be laid off coworkers were permitted to take any they cared to since they were on their way to the dump anyhow. The result is I got a new combination Hoover floor cleaner/vacuum, blender, food processor, microwave, toaster/cenfection oven, Keurig, toaster, tea kettle, and crock pot for the cost of nine new electric plugs, some wiring and several hours of multiple cuss work. Even that we saved a bundle on by buying extensions cords from Dollarama and using those for most of the wiring. My daughter’s friend is an electrical engineer and he made sure we did it properly so we wouldn’t electrocute ourselves or burn down the house. I have a new skill now too.


But I don’t want to live in a trash heap either so after much consideration I decided half the blinds are good enough and will do. Half are in need of replacement. and a valance covers a multitude of sins. The Sear Clearance clearance catalogue had pretty valances for $8.00 so I bought enough for all the windows. They make such a nice homey touch in line with the current paint job and at $8.00 each I won’t mind replacing them later when we do get to repainting. (More curtain rods on the shopping list.) The same clearance catalogue produced four new blinds for the blinds that are beyond help for $14 each. I can use the rejects for spare parts for the ones that are working. Window covering issue solved for $200 except for the four curtain rods I still need. I ordered two extra valances that I can drop the hem on and they will also fit our door windows which are currently bare. I have decided those need covering after one of neighbours peeked in while on perfectly legitimate business at the door. I was on the way to the bathroom in bra and panties. I’m not sure who was more startled but he ran away and went red as a beet when I ran into him at the post office. I acted like nothing had happened and he eventually stopped blushing.

The table we brought from the cabin is no longer a good fit. It is too big and blocks the door. Ikea has a solution we will pick up tomorrow when we go visit the grandkids, along with bookshelves and the new bed. I now have two empty spaces I didn’t have before. I will leave those empty until we determine what we need that should fill them. Meantime the dogs can use that space.

SAM_5552 SAM_5553And a funny bonus. In the middle of all this I dug out the cat toy that was still in the trailer and put it into the spare room. Lot’s of space there now, and easy to kick out of the way if we do need to be in there. The poor cat was overjoyed! I had no idea how much he loved that silly toy until I saw his reaction when I set it down. You can see him playing very happily with it. Here I had been attributing his sour mood to the change and all he wanted was his beloved play toy. Poor kitty. I now have a happy well adjusted cat (as cats go).


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