Preview: what I did on my summer holidays…

FALSE ALARMI keep having this feeling that I’d better get some major house-cleaning done.

I’ve had feelings like this plenty of times before, and I’m actually pretty good at ignoring them for long periods, having honed that particular skill over many years of being a lazy housekeeper.

But this time it’s so strong that it’s even overcoming my dislike of housework.

You see, the thing is, it feels like a warning, and it goes like this:

“You’d better start preparing now, because the day is soon going to come when you’ll have to put this house up for sale, and you know perfectly well that although it’s sturdy and basically in good condition (thanks to your Dearly Beloved’s years of care and upkeep), it’s not in any kind of salable condition visually.  After all, this is not a fixer-upper; it’s an already-fixed-up, so make it look like it.

And visual is what you need if you want buyers.  You know you’re going to have to clean it up sooner or later, so do it now.

Do it now.

Do it now.”

Oh, all right, already!  Jeez!LOVE BOOKS ADJ

As a result, I’ve laid aside the half-dozen or so books I have on the go at the moment and armed myself for battle.

The drill is:  clean, paint if necessary, remove clutter, sort, put much-loved things back, and the rest goes out. Period.

And furthermore, let’s not forget about cleaning out and painting the three rooms that DIDN’T get done four years ago when I performed drastic surgery on the rest of the house, because I had to stop and have surgery myself.  Oh, the inconvenience.  And I was on a roll, too. Since then, all such work has ground to a complete halt.

MessyRoom final


Furthermore, those three untouched rooms are now too far gone now for normal “surgery.” They’re going to require some kind of exorcism.  Since it wouldn’t be practical to set fire to them, we’re going to have to get in there and shovel out the mess, tear out carpeting, and paint before we do anything else.  Groan.

You see, Dearly Beloved and I are both getting a little long in the tooth (not to mention enfeebled) to continue to do the maintenance a place like this requires, and I’m beginning to think longingly of something a little smaller than a ten-room house as our nesting ground.

washing finalSo I’m starting by cleaning the rooms that were painted before but need a thorough cleaning, not just the surface cleaning that I’ve been relying on for far too long.

The kitchen, for instance, is badly in need of a little elbow grease, and it will actually feel good to get those cupboards clean and sparkling again, do a little touch-up painting,  and put up fresh curtains.

Then, once I’ve got the cleaning done, it will be time to declutter.

little-girl-reading-book ADJMy new book (well, of course I have a book on how to declutter; what on earth were you thinking?) says to begin with clothes, then books.

However, having already started my project with the kitchen before I got the book, I’m doing it backward, as usual.  I’m cleaning, and then I’m going to declutter.

I think I know how to clean already, having had to do it since the world was new, so I didn’t buy a book on the subject…

My rationale is perfectly sane, and rather well thought out, if I do say it myself:

It takes me forever to get things done because of all my various aches and pains, so why on earth would I take everything out of the cupboards and lay them out on every horizontal surface I can find before I’ve done the hard part, the part that takes the longest, which is cleaning?

The solution is to clean the outside (in small spurts), with rests in between (and, just possibly, a little reading…), then I empty the cupboards, wash the shelves, choose and dump (i.e., declutter), then put everything I’m keeping back in place.

And here you thought I didn’t have a plan!

Since we have an open concept kitchen, dining and living area, this will likely take several weeks, given the rate at which I’m prone to work.  But the result will be three clean, attractive areas that I can look at with pride.  I hope.

There’s also painting involved, which I enjoy doing as long as my trigger points don’t act up.  (Don’t know what trigger points are?  Neither did I.  But apparently I’ve got ’em, and boy, do they hurt!)

The most emotional part of the process will be going through the multiple shelves full of books that I’ve been collecting since I was old enough to read.

I admit it freely; I’m a book junkie, pure and simple.  Books are gold to me; they make me feel rich.  And try as I might, the books I periodically release back into the world are as a piddling stream compared to the rushing tide of new books that flow into this place.

However, there is a limit.  I mean, much as it pains me to admit it, I have books in there that I’ve never even opened but have been saving anyway, against the day when I run out of books to read.  Really.  As if.

Furthermore, there isn’t any way on earth that they could all go with me to a smaller place, so it’s time to unload the ones that are merely “clutter.”

FLYING BOOKS FINALOh, for shame, for shame!  You just defined some of your precious books as “clutter”!

Bite your tongue.  Clutter, even if it’s labelled “books,” is still clutter.  

(Sorry, I have these sorts of arguments with myself all the time.  Sometimes they seep out into my public persona.)

Still, my resolve is strong.  The new sorting criteria will be: “Do I love this book (or think I’ll love it)?” and, “Will I ever read it again (or for the first time)?”

If the answer to either question is no, then out it goes.  Goodwill Books is in for a book bonanza.

Ten fresh, clean and presentable rooms being the goal, I’m thinking this entire housecleaning and decluttering project will likely take the summer to complete, so I’ve begun flying below the radar, removing myself from the world until September, while I transform our home into something worthy of Better Homes and Gardens. (Well, in my imagination, anyway….)

So adieu, my friends, adieu.  I’ll report back in due course.

Wish me luck!




  1. I just did this — as you know. I just made sure I did at least ONE thing every day. I didn’t finish because I was working full time up to the very end and it was just me doing the work, but I did it well enough for the house to sell and the buyer to think it was pretty enough that they wanted to buy my “decorating.” I got a cleaning lady — that was smart, too, not just because she helped me but because she had lots of tricks and knew the good tools to use. From her I learned about Mr. Clean Magic Erasers and they saved me lots of work repainting. The kitchen is major and I put most of my money and work into that. Since it was a stone house there were not many changes possible, but I did new counters and wall treatments and repairs. I didn’t replace carpets for a couple of reasons — Lily was still around and going through a period of occasional incontinence (I had a carpet cleaner and used it weekly if not more) and it seems like a waste of money since I would pick something my buyers might not like. The house ended up nice looking. II think one of the most useful changes was the de-Marthafication of the house which meant I stashed artwork and stuff others wouldn’t like or understand and replaced it with stuff people like and understand. My Tibetan thangka of Palden Lamo was replaced by Monet’s sunflowers (for example). My house was on the market 6 weeks in a part of San Diego that’s not an easy sell. I got close to my asking price. That staging thing really matters, I learned, though I hated every minute of it. Oh, I got a book, too. Good luck!


    1. Thanks for the tips, Martha! Yes, staging is absolutely the thing nowadays. I’m told that sometimes the real estate dealer will even pitch in and help with that. I hate the thought of de-Susannahizing our house, since it’s chock full of Sussannahisms, but I’m pretty sure my display of fine art photography on the living room wall can stand, as well as the abstract painting that ties all the colours in the room together. The big thing is not to have personal photos lying around, I understand, so the one “rogue’s gallery” we have in the house will have to come off the wall and the wall repainted. I have some B&W fine art photos that can be displayed on that wall.

      However, we absolutely MUST get rid of the wall-to-wall carpet on the main floor of our raised ranch. It’s extremely old and will need to be replaced, no matter what else happens. And replaced with laminate flooring, which is the rage now in our part of Canada–well, let me be a bit clearer about that: HARDWOOD FLOORS are the rage, but we can’t afford that, so good laminate will have to do. It’s a big expense, but one that has to be doled out either way, since that carpet has been marked to go for four years now. When I last painted the rooms, I got slaphappy because I knew the carpet was coming out, so it’s pretty unsightly. I prefer carpeting throughout, since I have cold toes about ten months of the year, but what the market wants, the market shall get.

      I just hope that when we have to sell, we’re as lucky as you were. And get a really good real estate agent, but if our normal luck holds, the market will take a huge plunge just as we’re putting our house up for sale. Fingers crossed….

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Definitely on the laminate floors. I would have done that in my house if I hadn’t had so much work in the kitchen. It was easy for me to “de-Marthaize” once I knew I was leaving. I hit a moment emotionally and intellectually when “I” didn’t live in that house any more. After that, it all downhill. Of course, I wavered — this time last spring, I was hoping I wasn’t moving — but I knew I was just where or when I didn’t know that. I’m sorry I deleted the blogs I made for selling the house. You could have seen before and after photos. 🙂 It gets kind of fun after a while imagining how someone else would decorate your house.


      2. Yup, it would have been fun to see the before and after. I did see some of your house photos somewhere…Facebook, maybe? You had a lovely stone house! And I’m sure you have an equally lovely house now. Once an artist, always an artist, right?

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I’ll see if I have any before and afters somewhere. They might give you heart. My house now is just wonderful. It’s full of light, has French windows, original woodwork from the 20s when it was built, hardwood floors and ceramic tile in the kitchen, bath, laundry and “play room.” The only negative is that it is on the ONLY busy street in my town, but there were not many choices and this house was the best house for the money largely because of the highway (two lanes, 30 mph, but it’s still trucks and stuff). I like everything about it. The bathroom is ugly but not horrendous and it’s a jack-and-jill bathroom which means there are doors from the bedrooms but as I live alone, I don’t care and when I have company it works out OK. Though I hate to think of it, there is also a ramp from the driveway to the back door so I’d say this is a long term house for me — I hope so (unless I become a famous writer and move to Switzerland).


      4. That would be fun! I do love before-and-after shots. Sometimes the changes are truly astonishing, and they don’t need to cost an arm and a leg, either. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Love it Sue, let me know how you make and maybe it will inspire me. Have a great summer. Hugs Deany

    Sent from my iPad



    1. Deany, if you don’t HAVE to do it, don’t. Summer is best spent doing other things; trust me, I know what I’m talking about. 🙂


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