Our house was built in 1927. With 85 years of character and charm come a long list of projects. I daydream about the dramatic ones: re-tiling bathrooms, ripping up floors and refinishing wood, drywalling the basement. But time limits our ability to enter on vast DIY projects, and funds often have to go to addressing the less glamorous and more pressing: gas leak repair, air duct cleaning, and chimney sweeping have recently been checked off our list. The results are good, but not very visible.

I find a little extra satisfaction in the small projects that I can knock out occasionally, making our life here a little more pleasant and pretty and organized. For instance, our back hall closet has been a bane of my existence for years:

No matter how many times I straightened up the shoes and returned the fallen hats and gloves to their proper cubbyholes, it kept reverting to this. The kids would try to put their shoes in the correct spot, but they always fell out of the shoe holder I had rigged to hang from a coat hook. I reminded my husband to put his shoes away in his closet upstairs when he came home, but most evenings he’s mobbed at the door by little children and handed a to-do list by his wife, so the shoes collected. Eventually I would give in and just toss my shoes on the pile, too; and every week or so I would have a panic attack and clean everything up, muttering imprecations under my breath.

Then I went to IKEA.

And now the closet looks like this:

It’s not magazine-worthy, but it is working. This condition has lasted for several weeks, and every few days J comments, “Wow, the closet still looks good.” If he notices, that’s a major compliment.

The kids each have a large basket, within easy reach, for their shoes. This also means Miss E can change her shoes multiple times a day, which is less ideal. (We’re a no-shoes-in-the-house family, so now we have more battles in which she’s clamoring to wear her favorite outdoor shoes in the house.) I contemplate moving her basket higher, but she gets quite a thrill from taking out and putting away her own shoes. We lost the function of a couple of coat hooks, but it seems to be worth it. I think we may move them to more accessible spots. That’s for the next time I find time to take a small step of progress!

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