Sunday, February 14, 2010

Part I: Creating a Place to Blog, Tablescape, & Brainstorm

Blogging is a form of creative play. But it has a downside: it can be extremely messy. Just making a tablescape can turn my kitchen into a mini-ground zero. A full time job can add troubles. Fast.
And if you take food photographs, you are totally dependent on natural light. You need a sunny place...but not too sunny.
Before I started blogging, I'd planned to turn the basement den into an airy garden-sitting room.
The living room from the movie "Something's Gotta Give" was my inspiration. I got as far as painting swatches, when I had to go back to work.
Two years later, my priorities have changed. I don't need a sitting room; I need a place to organize my blogging stuff, and a place to tablescape without driving my sweet husband crazy.
If I could get organized, I wouldn't take forever to find my dishes (which are squirreled behind draperies, tucked under beds, and other unmentionable places).
The whole process might not be streamlined, but it ought to be easier, right?
Each time I tried to start this project, I couldn't summon the energy. Everywhere I looked, I saw chaos: laundry, a weedy refrigerator, piles of stuff. What was the problem?
Resistance. Procrastination. Inertia.
Because initially, any organization/makeover creates a mess.
Everyone know this, and for some of us, it's a deal breaker. The disorder is temporary, but it feels like forever and can be demoralizing.
The key (I think) is to break a mammoth project into baby steps. So with Dr. G and Bandwidth at my side, we began to work.
I used a photograph from the February 2009 Veranda for inspiration (Carolyne Roehm).

The furniture was pushed to one side of the basement, and an old table (bought many anniversaries ago) was brought out of the basement library. Chairs were rounded up.

Cushions were found in the pillow 'ho closet.

The paint splotches were repaired.

Now Bandwidth and I have a sunny place to photograph food.

I'm trying not to get too excited because this is only phase one.
It's a start. I think. But I'll just be honest. The mess around this calm, quiet space is epic. Even though I love the space we created today, I'm having second thoughts (it's easier to be messy). Will order be restored? Really? Can I find a place for that big blue sofa? Will glue repair that pretty vase I broke while moving the desk? What about our 8 million books? Will I start a dish vs book war? And will vacumming all those dust bunnies break my central vacuum?
My mother says this is normal.
She says the idea of a task is bigger than the actual task.
She's right.
Except I would add, make sure you have Motrin.
I only have a small window of time before I start back to work. So it's now or never. Organized or pigdom.
Fingers crossed.
Stay tuned for next week's episode of Creating a Place to Blog when I make a bloggy hideout and start on the Dish Closet.
I'm linking to Susan, who has been my rock in planning this space. Visit her at Metamorphosis Monday for makeover ideas galore.


  1. Oh Michael- I am SO jealous. Oh to have the space for a dish closet! And your tablescape spot? Perfection! Lucky girl. Hope you had a great weekend
    xoxo Pattie

  2. Oh, that would be great to have a room for blogging even though I am new to this. I am just still trying to figure out all the posting part first. Been following your blog for quite some time. I love your home and your stories.

  3. got a lot done! Your Mom is so right...the thought of getting started is the worse part sometimes. You are on your way now! I can't wait to check in next week to see where you are!
    I see a fantastic dish closet where everything thing is at your fingertips! It's going to be awesome!

  4. joy can be found the the doing and the using! your happiness will expand 10 fold!

  5. My dear MIL used say that all that thinking about a job gave her inertia! Sounds better than procrastination :) This will be a great place with the window right there!

  6. Hi Michael, you sound just like me. I am the great procrastinator of all time. I can push and shove things in closets with the best of them. I am glad to see you are not denying your pleasure of creativity in blogland. I think you did the perfect task first. Even if the other things don't get done you still have the perfect setting to do tablescapes and photos of Bandwith's wonderful recipes. Good for you, Can't wait to see how this all progesses, Kathysue

  7. Hi Dear Gollum Michael Lee! Oh, you've been busy! I love your new space you've created. How nice to have the space to have a special sunlit area like this! Messy is okay! Now when you find a place for all those hidden dishes, you must share! Since Mr. Precious has retired I'm trying to restrain my tiny self not to buy any more dishes, well, for this month any way! :)
    Hope you've had a wonderful Valentine's Day!
    Be a sweetie,
    Shelia ;)

  8. What an encouragement your post was for me today! Thanks so much! I feel also that the task ideas seem so much larger than what must be done. It is chipping away at the small which gets it done! ;) Thanks for the reassurance and the lovely blog! Happy Valentine's Day! ~Jenn :)

  9. I am SO in the middle of a mess while fixing spaces for selling. I'm not even moved in yet!!!

    Thanks for the share. It's nice to know others have a mess while moving towards a goal.

  10. Gollum, I understand exactly what you're going through. I am paralyzed with this inertia that will not quit. I need to finish my study and I did try to get the mess out of it (and half way succeeded), but I have to re-paint. The color isn't working for me so the whole thing has to be repainted... just as soon as I find the right color, "right" being the operative word here.

    I like what you did. Love the table there and the fact that you used Carolyn Rhoeme (sp) as your inspiration source. I saw her speak once, and she was an absolute delight in her talk. She said that her former husband actually had the nerve to "move" the centerpiece at a dinner party after she had spent hours and hours arranging it, and everyone in the room listening to her let out a collective groan. We all "knew." It was a room of people who love to tablescape.

    I think you're off to a perfect start. All the best in getting it straight. I understand "pigsty" more than I can ever say. We won't go there, except to wish you the best.

    I put up a link in a post to your anniversary on Friday. Again, I'm sorry I will be MIA. Happy Anniversary in advance and many more wonderful FFs.


    Sheila :-)

  11. It's such a "relief" to know that even you have problems with messiness! <is that a word?!
    Just recently, I've decided that being a creative person brings on the my case, it's mostly piles of papers from my printer, notes scribbled to myself, newsletters, etc....Plus, I have an area where I make homemade greeting cards. They're just for family and friends, and nothing spectacular, because I sure make a mess there, as well. I love the comments about chipping away at the jobs that need to be done. That's what I have to do with my writing, too! Have a wonderful week!

  12. Oh what a wonderful spot for tablescapes! The bay window will be the perfect backdrop. (Sure doesn't look like a basement!) I'm sure you know that the job that is the most overwhelming is the most satisfying in the end. I can't wait to follow the progress. I will offer a little advice - make the china storage larger than you think you would ever need - I've outgrown my china closet, and I'm still finding china I want! It is a disease we share. I cannot tell you how honored I was to find my photo in your news letter. Thank you so very much. laurie

  13. I also understand where you stand... Now or never, and Hubby and I set a goal for the year... to lose 50 pounds of body fat and to lose 1000 pounds of "stuff" in our house... So far... I have lost 7 pounds, hubby 5 and we have lost at least 500 pounds when our son and his wife and their three kids and a lab moved into their own home yesterday... I am going through every room in the house and lightening our load... re-using, recycling, or giving away things... Using Craigslist as much as I can... Just things that I don't use or wear any longer to make our lives just a bit easier. (I hope) So I'm with you, on your journey...
    Lets Rock!
    ~Really Rainey~

  14. I too dream of a room all for myself and my many hobbies from scrapbooking to needle work to now also blogging!!

    Looks like you are off to a great start!

    I look forward to pictures of the next phase!

  15. It's a beautiful place, Michael! I've been thinking about this very same thing.

    I do have a dish closet, but it is not organized! I woke up thinking about it, this morning. When Miss Gabi returns home, I'm going to put away the procratination and get that project finished!

  16. This reinforces why I don't blog about tablescapes! I always take the photos for Foodie Friday on my kitchen counter, which has lots of natural light. My dining room has very little, so I have a good excuse. Dishes? I have quite a few sets (drives my sister crazy) and love "doing up" the table for guests. I leave tablescaping posts to the experts, like you, out in blogland. I might do some casual ones outdoors this summer though. Very casual though, in that laid-back beach style I so love.

  17. What a dream space to play with dishes in..I know I am constantly having to drag things out and put them away so we can use our dining room table. I dream of more cabinets and pantry shelves. I know your project will be absoulutely beautiful and a wonderful place for you to create more gorgeous tablescapes and posts!

    Can't wait to see phase II!

    Miss Bloomers/Sonia

  18. Times have changed so much, a family room was the only "extra" room in a house when I was growing up. Fast forward to we have media rooms, theatre rooms, hobby/craft rooms and when we don't know what to call it, it's a bonus room! I am SO looking forward to a tour of the "dish closet!!!"

  19. Brilliant post... your mother was right... the idea of a task is bigger than the actual task... I'll put that up on my desk as a reminder. Good for you that you found a place and using the inestimable talents of Beth Rubino who was the set decorator for "Something's Gotta Give" ( I wanted that kitchen!) would get anyone on the right track. She and Jon Hutman the designer (admission-I'm in the biz) really did it up right for that film! Good luck getting things in order and accessible!!! You inspire me to give it a try too!

  20. Oh boy, I remember the basement and the paint splotches quite well from our RMS days. I've always wondered what you wound up doing with the space. Now I know. Nothing! Heeheehee

    But this should be fun. I wonder, while you're doing all that rooting around down there, you may even find extra space to store your dishes!

    Justine :o )

  21. How blessed you are to have an ENTIRE room in which to make into a blogging area. *sighhhh
    It is going to be fantastic!!
    A great start here.
    xo bj

  22. Congratulations to you for tackling a task so important to you. Good luck and remember the old, and I'm sure to misquote saying, that goes something like "progress is man's distinctive mark." Any movement is progress and will be so rewarding to you when completed.

  23. Congratulations to you for tackling a task so important to you. Good luck and remember the old, and I'm sure to misquote saying, that goes something like "progress is man's distinctive mark." Any movement is progress and will be so rewarding to you when completed.

  24. What a lovely space to work. What a lovely space for anything really. Your Mom sounds awesome.

  25. Your post is an inspiration. I am sitting here in the midst of chaos in my new studio office. I have to make even more of a mess before I can get the room the way I want it.

    I am gathering the energy and I will start soon because it is a wonderful space.


  26. I am in the process of converting a basement bedroom that had become a storage a room for my dishes. At this point, we have moved out all of the the sweeper and moved in extra pieces of furniture that will work to "hold things". It won't be a decorative room, simply an organized storage area so that I can see what I have easily. I want to paint the room, but that may wait until summer. Mine doesn't have good natural light, or a table would be perfect. I love the lighting you have!


  27. Jealous, jealous, jealous - which I had all that space.

    It is lovely - can't wait to see more.

  28. I understand the need...I am not able to solve it for me..until the daughter moves!

    Your quiet, sunny nook looks perfect!

  29. This is great, Michael! A very good start and it looks so pretty. How nie that you will have a special place just for tablescaping. Are you going to move all your dishes down there?..Christine

  30. This is a great idea, Michael! What an inspiration!

    I have to admit, I'm filled with wonderful ideas and then get lost in the actual doing. I need to listen to your mother's advice!!!

    I am looking forward to the next step...
    Jane (artfully graced)

  31. I love it. It looks like the perfect space to take pictures and tablescape. I know what you mean about tablescapes making such a big mess in your main living area. Can't wait to see what else you have planned.

  32. Loved this post. I have been stuck for a while on so many projects because I can't get started. Thanks for sharing. It is true that projects always take less time than we envision.

  33. Fresh and new ~ wonderful to have a "tabla rasa" on which to create beauty.

    Looking forward to your progress~
    and thank you again for the free download books ~ they are just lovely.

  34. I know just exactly what you mean.
    We have started on our downstairs for the last six weeks and it's crazy. I am doing stuff in almost every room of the house. I clean and organize in one room and make a mess everywhere els. This looks so awesome so far. I have some great ideas about a dish built in closet upstairs but that's on the back burner until the downstairs is finished now. Chair railing still not finished in the dinning room and kitchen nook. I'll get there but it's crazy insane around here. Good luck I can not wait to see what you have done.

  35. I'm totally with you here, can't live without the blogging and creative stuff, but you know how having a real job can put a cramp into my fun, not to mention the kitties, and the horse, and Mr. Wonderful. I am thankful that I have LOTS of energy and seem, even in my advanced age, to go, go, go all the time and still be happy about it allo. Nothing like a good decorating project to keep the creative juices flowing.

    Love your blog.... really.

    Blessings ~ eileen @ Star's Fault

  36. About a thousand years ago, I took a psych course called "Stress Management." One of the segments had to do with time management, in which we were presented with several ways to do that. The best advice was, indeed, just what your mother told you: break a big job down into smaller increments, and you WILL get it done!

    That's a wonderful space you and the boys are creating! I am jealous of two things: your Bandwith who cooks for you, and the great extra space.

    What I do wonder, though, is do you have an elevator or dumb waiter to the main kitchen? You are going to need a lot more Motrin if not!


  37. Thats a perfect space for your blogging/food photography (look at all that lovely light) and a dishspotters dream to have them all together and handy. I am looking forward to seeing both the finished room and the amazing scapes you and Tyler will be creating. You have a great team to help you too. Kathy xo

  38. You've been busy...I love your new space...thanks for sharing..Pat H

  39. What a wonderful idea! I would love to have a space like that.

    If only I could figure out where...

    Lucky girl :)

    It will be fabulous when you're done - I just know it!

  40. Good luck with your fun task! Your new space looks like a perfect place to show off your talents. It looks beautiful and I am sure it will be fabulous when you are done!:)

    Ps I loved Mermaids in the Basment!
    Hopefully my

  41. As we speak, my dear Hubby is adding shelving to one of our guest closets for ME, so I have more room for dishes and tablescaping things!!!!!! He is such a sweetheart and can usually come up with a solution to any of my wishes:):) That is one reeason we have been married for 42 years:):):) Can't WAIT til next week to see what you have done!!!! XO, Pinky

  42. Day 2 of the project didn't make a dent. The messes have cloned. I keep telling myself: Don't scattershot. Name your goals.Prioritize. Be practial. Pace yourself. Etc. Tonight, it's a heating pad, beef brisket and the Olympics.

  43. Oh Gollum! I'm so excited to see that you're blogging daily again! YAY! It's my guilty pleasure seeing you create these amazing interior spaces in what has to be one of the most beautiful homes in the blogosphere. You probably know we're full steam in the middle of a bathroom renovation and I agree that messes tend to multiply faster than results seem to come. Practicality really is key. As much as I wanted to get done today ... I find myself sitting here waiting for the "haze" on the tiles to be ready for me to wipe off and it's 8:42. So much for a quick trip to Target! LOL! Can't wait to see phase 2 of this!

  44. Now you have us all green with envy! This is such a fabulous space with those wonderful windows of natural light. I can only dream of a spot like this. Thanks for sharing!

  45. What a great space you are making your self and all your bloogers to love to come here girl...I was thinking about you yesterday and all the fun bus trips we had 2 years ago to the antique stores and the Skinny girl that got your desk and the snake in your foundation and how us gals from RMS would get so excited when you would put up one of our spaces on your people would email me telling me Go to Gollum your kitchen is there ha ha!! Many a fun times my friend and so many great memories you have gien to me...just want you to know that...You were my angel that kept me going from the ruddies on RMS...Thanks for all the fun memories my Dear friend...Hugs and smiles Gl♥ria ps I love ya Fatirene

  46. I absolutely applaud your tenacity in getting this room situated for tablescaping, etc. and all the organizational flurry of activity! I'm pulling for ya!! Your mother is right! I know when all is said and done you will be SO PLEASED! I absolutely LOVE everything you do and can't wait this project to come to fruition! I will be celebrating with you.
    Hugs, Lana

  47. First of all, to have a space to store all of your dishes is amazing. I have a "Butler's Pantry" in my basement but it is BULDGING at the seams. But to have a beautiful sunny space to also play with tablescapes is just amazing. Frequently there isn't an empty soace in my home to eat off of, as they are a tablescape in some form or fashion.

    - The Tablescaper

  48. I'm glad I'm not the only one! One of those big tasks is staring me in the face as I type this, with barely a dent made in the progress. Thanks for the pep talk!