The KonMari Method and Me: Book lover and graduated graduate student

I’m on my technical Day 4 of the KonMari Method. Mother of three, expectant of one, this is not the sort of addiction I should be getting into. But here we are. I shutter to tell my husband of the physical toll. So if you’re pregnant, just hold onto that book till the baby’s born and you actually can’t move. Pain is your body’s way of telling you to stop. Dopamine is your brain’s way of saying, don’t ever stop.

I have seven garbage bags of clothes for the future yard sale. My husband has consented to storing them in the attic. Four are my clothes, one is boy clothes, two are girl clothes. Since I started reading the book, I waited in anticipation of Category #2: books.

Books have ever been a problem. My father cherished books. I never saw him read them for leisure, but he taught me that sense that books are precious. They made sure I had many books. I recall exploring the Bible for the first time as it had always sat my shelves. I giggled at a leather bound antique book on the human body in my father’s collection. He and I took trips to the local used bookstore. He delighted in buying me books and I delighted in the escape they provided during adolescence.

Thus I owned many books. Naturally they had to go with me. It’s cute in Rory’s room on the Gilmore Girls but not so quite when your husband has to carry them in boxes at least every two years. Here are some storage solutions over time.

IMG_1592In Virginia, using a Target bookshelf and a plastic one from home, stacked on a filing cabinet since there was too much furniture.

IMG_1597Moving to the country in California, we used my father’s double sided bookcase as a room divider to create an office for my husband. It was nearly full.

IMG_3676Before we moved again, I purged and discarded a substantial number of books.

We could not fit the double sided bookshelf in our new and current home so they books were spread all over the house. In our office remodel we created a library wall using brackets and reclaimed wood. A dream come true but some times it seemed so very full, I wondered how attractive it really was.

We created a pallet bookshelf for in-use books in the kid’s room.

IMG_6512I’ve thought about book organization much more than clothing organization, thus my excitement. Kondo directs the reader to, like everything else, only keep that which gives you a thrill. To be grateful for the books that have lived out their time in your life and send them on their way. Because I believe in the value of books, this resonates with me. She tells us to get realistic, if we haven’t read it, we won’t read it again. I keep books for reference and that has been useful, but some of them I have not referenced in years. I can let them go.

To fully follow the KonMari Method, you bring all your books to the floor. I am unwilling to do this. So I stood on a comfortable step ladder and held each book, asking if it sparks joy. I was surprised at the result. Oliver Twist, no. Great Expectations, yes (really?). A Tale of Two Cities, yes (that surprises me). I thought I’d discard all my Jane Austen books but Northanger Abbey, Mansfield Park and Persuasion tickled my joy. I accepted that if I ever teach courses in psychology, I can just find a new textbook because most Ethics textbooks for psychology are the same. I left my husband’s Lord of the Rings Trilogy and Zelda books alone because they give him joy. I still need to ask him about his Calligraphy book.

We recycled children’s books that were torn up and I put into the discard box the books I deeply disliked. So on and so on. My eldest daughter helped me. My son whined and tried to occupy himself otherwise. My youngest (a year and a half)  attached to John Stuart Mill’s Utilitarianism the rest of the day, which was pretty funny. As long as it’s bringing pleasure and not harming anyone, I guess that’s okay.

IMG_7701  One overflowing, too heavy to carry box of books filled and the shelves now have breathing room. They look neater, more beautiful to me.

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I will take the box to the used book store and see what money we can get (for birthdays and Christmas presents) and then take the rest to the library. That last step makes it very easy for me to let them go. I know exactly where I can get them if I ever have the urge to read them again!

I have a few more to go through. I haven’t managed to bring everything to one place. There are some stray books in my room. And I didn’t realize she included magazines. I usually sort through those and take clippings, so that falls to the “papers” category.

Luckily, I can conquer that sitting down. Until then!

The Office…reveal

It was some time ago when I wrote about our effort to overhaul our office. It became a dumping group for all things not baby-toddler friendly. Because of that, it looked like a dumping ground, ever tempting those three foot and below persons who live in this home. I do not have many pictures of it before. We started with me using a dining table as a desk, Ikea Expedit shelves for bookcases. Kyle had an old computer desk from my parents, flanked with two more Ikea Expedit bookcases to house all my book plus file storage boxes.

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This is not a large room. The round table was too much. Out it went and in came an antique wood desk. This was better, but we still had little floor space and many problems with the kids. Because I often use my computer standing up, not sitting down (because I’m holding a baby of course), and because my other projects usually involve a sewing machine, I realized I needed a standing desk. My husband just needed anything with more surface space, plus cubbies to stick instruments. I hated the idea having such high ceilings and not utilizing these walls for upward storage.

Now, with the exceptions of a few small things, our office is finished. Already I am experiencing the fruits of a workstation built to serve the activities I have, from sewing craft projects to uploading photos to writing for this blog. The children are able to be in here without causing any distress. Our eldest has a school desk where she can work.

Without further adieu, the guided tour. This is the view when you walk in the door.

IMG_6658Using black track and brackets, my husband mounted four tracks along the wall you see when you first walk in. We used magnets, lightly dragging them along the wall, to locate the nails which connect the drywall to the studs. The man put it well when he said the house would have to fall down before those tracks fall down.

We used 1 x 12 boards found at my father’s farm. My husband sanded them down with his new random orbit sander. We chose to keep them different lengths with a few rough edges.

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IMG_6661 He intentionally sanding the edges very lightly to keep the texture.

To prevent the books from overwhelming the space, some designers recommend grouping them by category, or making book covers. If you are being paid by the hour to do this, make book covers. I’m morally opposed to grouping them by color unless they are purely for decoration, and I don’t believe in owning books for pure decoration. I recognize the beauty of leather binding, but I firmly believe it’s the stuff inside that makes them valuable. If the stuff inside makes them valuable, that’s how they shoudl be organized. The other trick to breaking it up visually is have other objects on the shelves. Since we do not own enough bookends, other objects were a necessity.

IMG_6684IMG_6676We turned the Expedit shelves on their sides, installed drawers and a couple cabinet fronts (on mine) for closed storage.

IMG_6668Currently we’re borrowing barstools from my father’s bar, which is in his remodeled barn, which were sort of buried in things not related to bars or barstools. I actually really like how they look and may hold onto them for a while. They swivel.

IMG_6670We removed one shelf in the Expedit to accommodate my sewing machine. My husband screwed in six 6-inch Ikea Capita legs to raise my desk. We acquired a workbench top from my father for my desk top. He really does just have this stuff lying around.

IMG_6673IMG_6675I kept the shelf above my desk for my current reading (or reading list books) and to keep other things accessible to me, but out of reach of children.

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Another thanks to my family of origin for our vintage pencil sharpener. Why do it electric when you can burn calories? It’ll last longer anyway, and if the power goes out, we can still sharpen our pencils.

I finally have my diplomas on the wall, plus a bulletin board. Pinterest is a dream, but some times you need to pin things that aren’t digital (paint chips, fabric swatches). You can’t beat the real thing.

IMG_6688For storage we purchased a tall cabinet from the Habitat for Humanity Restore. We discussed finishing the side with reclaimed redwood siding but with the desk there, I’m thinking sheet metal and chalkboard paint (= chalk board and magnetic board) might be just right since this will be a school space.

IMG_6669 A filing cabinet from when my grandmother moved replaces the old cardboard file storage boxes.

IMG_6672There is a gem that came with the house, a house which had nothing but standard lighting.

IMG_6690It fits perfectly with our decor and I’m so glad the light bulbs aren’t exposed!

Let’s put the room to work.

IMG_6674    IMG_6679     This has been a wonderfully satisfying project, done on a budget but done in such a way that fits us, without taking short cuts on what we wanted out of the space. There are still little things to be done, like a desk top for my husband. But for the most part, we can sit back and consider this a job well done. What do you think?