Thursday, February 11, 2016

Finding a Balance

I'm linking up with Jemma of At Home with Jemma and her new link party "Thoughts of Home on Thursday". Thank you Jemma for hosting this party :)

I'm still in the midst of decluttering my home. It's slow work. It's kind of boring. And I still have a long way to go. But it is working, and although I'm creating a mess in the living room as I go through piles of stuff, so much more is heading out the door each weekend.

Now that I'm whittling everything down to things that only bring me happiness and/or are useful, I'm trying to find a balance. A balance between possessions brought from my parents' home, and my own things. I want to keep some of my parents' things that will bring back the happy memories, but not so many that they become the proverbial millstone around my neck. Having just a few of their things on display will help keep my parents in my thoughts. Not all of the items I brought out of their home fit in with my style. Rather than keep these items, I've accepted that they can go to a better home now. 

In the kitchen I have a small number of things on display that I think tie together fairly well. We decorated our kitchen in 2014, and I guess you would call it "country" style. I've placed Mom's old breadbox on one end of the counter. She always kept cookies and bars in here (Mmmm ... very happy memories!), I now use it for bread. A wooden tray my dad made sits on top holding a little tea station (also hides the worn metal). The old brown & white mug was my parents' too, and reminds me of my dad with a Yorkshire saying around it: "See all, hear all, say nowt. Eat all, drink all, pay nowt. And if ever tha does out for nowt, allus do it for thisen". I also like this mug because there's a picture of a dog that reminds me of our old dog Emily, a chocolate lab, lying on the hearth rug (just like Em would do).

I also have Mom's old maple cutting board in front of my small collection of rolling pins. It's leaning against a wooden tray that Dad made for me. I like these very few things on display. A bit of mine, a bit of theirs.

A little measuring cup that sits on my microwave
and gets used for measuring pasta & rice.

In my front entrance I've also found a good balance between my things and my parents'. We have our paddles hanging from a holder my husband made. This is the kind of stuff we really like. We use all these paddles, but while we're at home, it's nice to see them on display like this.

Also in my front entrance is this bench and a piece of driftwood hung above the door that my family thought looked like a deer head, both brought from my parents' home. The bench brings back good memories of family gatherings as it used to sit in my parents' front hall where everyone was coming or going and has been used by two generations of kids to get their stuff on in winter. Do you sometimes look at a piece of furniture and you can just hear the echoes of the past emminating from it? This is how I feel about this bench. I can hear the horse's bucket of warm oats & molasses clanking onto the flagstone floor after its careful preparation in the kitchen. I can hear the bells that hung on the front door jingling as we heave on the door to give it the final push closed against a cold winter night. It was an extra wide front door with a handle in the centre, so it always needed that extra push to close it. I can hear my mom "halloooing" from the kitchen on our arrival back home as she comes out from the kitchen to greet us. So, yeah, this bench will stay. 

The driftwood deer head was also in my parents' front hall, so it all ties in together.

The biggest difficulty with bringing things home from my parents was to find a good place to put everything. My house is not large, and there aren't any little niches and spaces to set up display tables with vignettes etc. I was happy to discover that my dad's old "nail barrel" fit perfectly in this narrow corner between two doors in the basement hallway. I've put it to good use as an umbrella stand, and popped in a couple of paddles that our kids used when they were little. I think the whole thing looks kind of nice together. Dad used the barrel as a garbage pail in his workshop and it was always full of off-cuts of wood and broken bits and pieces. I think it looks much nicer as an umbrella stand (even though I only have one umbrella).

Our family room was starting to suffer as a dumping ground for items that weren't fitting elsewhere. I worked through this room a bit when purging my sewing supplies and our books. It still needs a little help, but it's looking much better. I've taken out lots of items and kept only a few of my parents' things on display in here as well. This fireplace used to be so ugly with bricks that are the same as on the exterior of our house (rough, dark brown bricks). A few years ago my husband removed those bricks and built it up from scratch, including the stone hearth and the wooden mantel shelf. Now the mantel has my grandmother's tin kettle that used to sit on her tiny "Quebec heater" (a very cute woodstove which my sister has). A Coleman lantern is another of their old things, and fits in with the rustic kind of decorating we like.

In a corner opposite I have the sign that used to hang from our bus shelter at the end of our drive. It's not the prettiest of signs, but it's what my parents called our place shortly after moving there with all the backbreaking work they did putting in two huge vegetable gardens ... "Back Acres".

Our bus shelter where we would wait for the school bus early every morning.

An old cast iron doorstop I bought for my parents years ago that just fits in this little space between the bathroom door and the linen closet. More happy memories there as he held open the door that opened onto Mom's greenhouse on the side of our house letting sunshine pour into that side hallway. I like the fact that he now holds all the old dog tags from my two childhood dogs ... so he can stay too :)

The side door opened into the greenhouse on the left.
Our old dogs ... Skipper (daschund) and Emily (lab)

It's taken longer to find a good spot for some things. This framed white fan of my grandmother's was sitting on top of my cedar chest in my bedroom, and always in the way. Last weekend, after clearing out some things from my bedroom, I saw the perfect spot for it above my nightable. The small lamp lights up this little corner and the fan quite nicely. The little "harp" chair was my paternal grandmother's from England. I had a tough time deciding whether to keep it or not. But I don't have very much from my dad's side of the family, so I decided it could stay. Both these pieces fit fairly well into this small corner of my bedroom now, and I'm happy that they work in the space.

My grandmother posing with my mother's wedding gifts.
You can see the framed white fan behind her.
I was surprised to find this photo of my grandparents' bedroom with the tiny chair shown
in the bottom right of the photo (green velvet on the seat then)

Furniture is proving to be a difficult thing for me to make a decision on. This old green chair belonged to my maternal grandmother, and I have always liked it. But it is not my husband's favourite piece, and he continuously suggests I get rid of it. But I just can't. I can't! I think it's the only furnishing from my grandmother that my dad left alone, and still looks pretty good. I have moved it to different areas of the living room, but it seems to look best in this corner between my antique buffet (also from Mom's family) and a revolving side table that holds old books from Mom's family. The seat on this chair is so low that it looks odd and quite diminutive beside our other seating. The colour fits in well with our furnishings, although you can see the tapestry fabric is wearing on the seat now.

My grandmother sitting in this same chair.
It was upholstered in different fabric then.

I'm feeling much better about having less of my parents' things filling so many spaces in my house. The decluttering continues, however, so I still have lots of decisions to make with more of my parents' possessions.

Now would you like to see the reality of what it looks like in my home while I am decluttering, sorting, and piling up for tossing? Uncensored for your viewing pleasure (or abhorrence!). I'll get there, it's just taking some time.

A nice cluttered mess!!! Thank goodness there is a method to this madness,
and anything that isn't sent away will find a home in the end :)

Be sure to hop over to Jemma's to see what other's have to share!

Thanks for stopping by!



  1. You have made great strides! I think it is wonderful than you are now keeping the things that you love and there is a reason that you have chosen them and are keeping them rather that just having them there because they were given to you and you felt you had to keep them. Keep going!!! xx p.s. the messy picture doesn't look anything like as messy as some scenes that I have seen in places that were supposedly tidy, so don't worry! xx

  2. You're doing a great job of integrating items that you love from the past into your life today. How wise to know that you don't need to keep everything. Decluttering can be an emotional thing as you sort through the memories as well as the stuff.

  3. Wendy,
    You write from the heart of your home and soul and always, always it touches me.
    You have taken on such a enormous project and through it all you have maintained such a positive outlook.
    I am loving seeing more of your charming, lovely home and all of the decorating you are doing as well as how you are melding the memories and keepsakes into your current lifestyle. That takes steady nerves and an artistic nature which have.
    This was so fun to see the photos of the past and current. I agree you cannot get rid of these keepsakes and that chair is wonderful and the fan!
    Thank you so much for joining in on the party today and for the kind shout out too, we all appreciate it so much.
    You are a very precious friend.

  4. Thanks for sharing. I am in the midst of the same thing: stuff from our other house, my son's belongings, and boxes from my parents. All at once they seem to have arrived and I am not happy with how slow it is going to but do a bit every day too.
    I loved seeing the SwansDown Flour measuring cup. My great grandmother was the SwansDown Flour "cake girl" way back in the 30's and travelled back forth by train, across Canada baking cakes and demonstrating how lovely the flour was to work with.

  5. You are doing really well Wendy and seem to have found a lovely balance I bet it's a great feeling. You have to have a messy zone in order to do the clearing from other zones so don't worry about it. All my zones are messy and are about to get a whole lot more messy very soon but in the end it will be worth it. :) xx

  6. I just loved this so much Wendy! Thanks for sharing it. I love to see the "treasures" of others and the stories behind them. I think you're dong an excellent job of finding some perfect balance.

    And when you shared about the bench and the way you can almost hear the echoes of the memories of the past when you look at, it choked me up. I know exactly what you mean. Time flies far too fast doesn't it? Sometimes all we have are our memories. ::sigh::

    I love that you showed the chaos photo too!! Lol! Awesome reality ;)
    Blessings as you finish the journey my Dear. xoxo

  7. It looks and sounds like you're making a lot of progress. I can imagine how hard it might be to try to decide what to keep and what not to keep and where to put everything. It looks like you're finding great places for the things you're keeping. I'm wondering about that great chair....since the fabric is wearing on it....I wonder if you had it reupholstered if your husband might like it better? Enjoy your refreshed space! :-D

    1. I've thought the same about the chair, and will hopefully reupholster it in the future. I think if the fabric was updated it would be a better fit.
      Nice to see you here!!

  8. You're doing great! I like having a few things from the past but they are sometimes hard to find a logical place. You've done good making room. I still have a small cedar chest in our condo that I will need to bring to Florida...some day! Hugs!

  9. It is lovely that you are able to keep some of your parents things in your house. Remembering beautiful moments when you walk past something is priceless. Decluttering is time consuming and it is important to get it right (not getting rid of something you might regret later). x

  10. Lots to go through and arrange but looks like your getting through it all ok ! I get that about the things or furniture that bring the good memories back I have a few of my mum and dads things that have good memories attached to them for me to but most of it got sold off in a garage sale the family took what they wanted first then the rest went on sale . All is looking good you have a lovely home . Thanks for sharing , have a good day !

  11. Wendy, it's hard to figure out what to keep and what to part with especially when it's something that's passed down in the family. I admire your decluttering and have been working on some of that myself.

    Thank you so much for joining Thoughts of Home on Thursday. You all have just made us so happy by linking with us today.

  12. Decluttering is always hard and messy. It looks like you've chosen some good items with good memories attached. I have very little from my Mom, a bit more from my husband's family. My husband was in the Army and we moved around so much it was hard to keep things that weren't necessary---we had a weight allowance and couldn't afford to go over it.

  13. It's a bigger job than one would think to declutter and decide which things you love get to stay and you've done an awesome job Wendy. I have a chair my parents were given for a wedding gift that we had upholstered in a new fabric and that's all. When my Dad passed away my mother was already in a nursing home and we donated all of the furniture to a young couple in need.

  14. are doing the most marvellous job of decluttering, Wendy. I love the way you have grouped objects together. The vignettes of the kitchen are lovely. Oh, the black terrier is so sweet. What an inspired idea for it to hold all your loved pets' tags; and I love the driftwood deer head. I love your grandmother's chair. Perhaps if it was upholstered it might be more pleasing to your husband. What a stylish grandmother you had; she looks lovely sitting in her chair. Having a peep at the 'clutter' left to be placed somewhere or given away, I think you have some lovely pieces. I think you are doing brilliantly. It is always one of the hardest things to sort through our parents' things and make decisions with what to do with them. You have a lovely home and I think your mum and dad would be very proud with what you have done with these pieces that are filled with so many happy memories. Well done!!

  15. Your doing it Wendy, you're getting there. You're making space for those things you love and that's great. Well done :) xxx

  16. It is a lot of work, but it seems to me you are making wonderful progress Wendy. What you choose to keep you are making work well in your home. I particularly like the framed fan and the little chair in your bedroom, looking so elegant. The old green chair has a nice shape to it - maybe your husband would like it better if recovered in quite a different type of fabric. Happy decluttering!

  17. Wendy, I loved this message of this blog post- finding balance. I am getting ready to go through my father's house (he recently passed away) and I will be doing the same thing.

    I am so honored that you joined our party Thoughts of Home on Thursday.
    Thank you!

  18. I took my time cherishing this post, very very slowly! I even shared a few of the stories with my husband. I am glad you are doing so well with the decluttering process, but at the same time I am also glad that you found a place for everything that is important for you. You are making a lovely home while finding balance :)

    -Soma xx

  19. Oh that darling measuring cup and sweet Scottie caught my eye. What treasures!

    Thank you so very much for joining Thoughts of Home on Thursday. Your presence really helped to make it very special. I hope you will return again and again.

    Have a wonderful weekend and Happy Valentine's Day!

  20. You have some lovely treasures from your family. Loved seeing the old photos and hearing the history of each piece. I have very few things of my parents, but I know what you mean when you say you can still hear their voices and see those scenes from memory. I have my Mother's desk and I have so many memories of it as a child. Loved getting some peeks of your beautiful home. It has a wonderful 'North Woods' feel. xx Karen

  21. How lovely to find someone in the same boat as me! I too am de cluttering like you. I have emptied my parents house over the last couple of months. Well Novemebr everything had to be out and I had a house full of my stuff and then all my parents stuff I couldn't part with.
    Well over the months having tripped over boxes, not been able to sit down in a seat with out moving something. I have decided to slowly and slowly it is sort stuff. I try to move stuff out at least once a week, whether just normal recycling, taking to charity shops.
    What I have found is that things I liked/ wanted at first, I really had no need for/ liked now whereas at the beginning I thought I would keep.
    And like you I have tried to rationalise what I can keep and only if extra special or USEFUL do I keep. Haha. That's not quite true. But slowly bit by bit I am moving forward. I have lots of photos and sewing items that. I need time to sort.
    My thoughts are with you entirely. I also see things which remind me of happy times and enjoy the moment.

  22. You're making progress, Wendy! I've began reading the new Marie Kondo book and so far it's all a rehash of the first book. I'll keep going, hoping there are some new ideas as well.

  23. Wendy you do such a nice job of mixing the memory keepers in with your own decorating! Wonderful stories and made even better that you have photos of so many of them. By winnowing down like this your heart will be free to really enjoy these special things you kept. Keep up the good work!

  24. Looking good, Wendy! You should be proud of the great progress that you've made in this Herculean task!

  25. Onwards and upwards Wendy, you are doing very well. I really enjoyed reading the stories behind the items you have kept, as you know, I am emotionally attached to some of my possessions so your reasons for keeping things resonated with me. It looks as if you have integrated your keepers into your home very neatly, inspirer that you are. x

  26. I love how you express where you get your balance from. I had a great read with this post, keep it up. Thank you for sharing.

  27. I use to keep things also, especially those had great memories of especial people in my life.


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