Before (The space is entirely filled with shelves, table, chairs and coats but we're happy and that's the part I wanted to keep!):
I boiled everything down (that is, let go of the least essential) and found a new home for the remaining stuff (more on that in another post- made possible by Chris making new shelves in the laundry room and in a small closet area) and freed up that space to be a toddler/ visitor/ extra work space. I took down the regular height table and took out the chairs (they were too wide for the space and made getting around the room difficult). I gave away the broken chairs, put one of the shelves into storage, moved the other shelf out to a closet, bought metal stools that stack together for the counter, metal stools that stack together for the kids, a lower wooden table that makes the space feel bigger and has space underneath for the kids coloring books, and put a wooden bench with some inside storage (Table cloths) that sort of matches the wooden table.
I want to hang some art up and put a shelf up near the ceiling for bulk herb storage. And I still need to figure out how to fix our shoe storage issues by the door. I need a huge curtain rod and curtains for the giant picture windows (the setting sun is very intense on that westerly side of the house). But the biggest part of the space problem has been solved and every time we do a 10 minute clean up of this room it's neat and tidy and easy to sit down at a clean counter or do a kitchen chore. Last year this room made me go into fits of frustrated tears and was a black hole that sucked in my whole life in terms of upkeep. Now I love this space and I feel so much freer and lighter hearted when I'm working there. With the right furniture, ten or more people can sit and move around in the room at once, so it's great for when we are entertaining, and often when a friend just stops by, there is an open seat right by the door for them to feel invited to sit down and chat, maybe stay for a cup of tea.
During (April 2015) I begin to break down the shelves, and go through the stuff:
We put a fresh coat of spackle and paint on the wall over the summer. My best friend came over late and helped me paint on her day off (only best friends use their kid free days to stay up late to help a friend paint!) I loved not just covering all the wall damage and free form, er, murals, but how going from that mint green to a warm cocoa color tied in all of the elements of my kitchen- the woods, the cool grey laminate and the warm terracotta pink tile color. Suddenly everything worked. Chris also took down the old microwave and gave me a new stove hood (no pic, will add it):
Meanwhile I searched for "the thing" that would make the space work. I settled on very simple stackable stools which I ordered online. Other than our A/C unit, they might be the biggest package I've gotten in the mail. I ordered four tall stools for the counter (which I try to keep as clear as possible- by eliminating other things in the cabinets so most stuff has an away home now) and four regular height stools for the lower table. The table I found for a song at a charitable thrift store. I was shopping with Best Friend and it was the end of the day and I was sad I hadn't found The Thing, the short, squarish. bombproof, lovely farmhouse style table of my imaginings, so I sat down and rested my elbow on a sturdy nearby thing. Wait! What is this? It's The Thing I Need! It was here all the time!
And four months after I started (August 2015) (Wooden bench not in this shot, because it hadn't occurred to me to relocate it there at the time):
And ten minutes later: