October 8, 2006

Spartan

I need to throw out all my stuff, like my books and knick-knacks. All my clutter has got to go! Minimalism is the new me.

Last night I was inspired by the stark simplicity of loft living, at a house (condo) warming party we attended.

The building was all shiny metal, new concrete and empty spaces. The one bedroom condo had spartan modern furnishings, simple abstract art and just the right accent pieces. The owner even had a dog, a black and white terrier, that perfectly matched the urban lifestyle. It could have been in modern living magazine. Yet someone, actually a couple, lived in this perfect space.

The only item of clutter was a prize stick the dog had picked up on the morning walk. When I asked how it was possible to live so simply, the host responded, “I just throw stuff out and keep throwing it out.”

I know I’ve let go of a lot of stuff in the past year but still our house feels over full. There are still items that need a home and there’s no room left. It is time to continue purging. I’m never going to be able to live in a loft space like that. Too much clutter was one of the reasons we decided not to buy a loft in the first place.

Still, wouldn’t it make daily life simple if there was less clutter? Time to fill some more donation bags.

October 6, 2006

Chimney sweep

fireplace

How do you follow a blog entry of such importance? By talking about your chimney, of course!

One of the many things I now own, as a result of this whole homeownership deal, is an original 1940s brick fireplace and chimney. The first time it rained after moving in, it rained inside our house, straight down the chimney. A look up revealed the sky. Since then we’ve been keeping a bucket in the fireplace. How attractive.

Yesterday we hired a chimney sweep to take care of our fireplace woes. To me the idea of a chimney sweep is very romantic, very Mary Poppins, singing dancing, all around good times, and especially covered in soot. Sadly, our chimney sweep could easily have been a plumber, electrician or any other handy-man type.

After inspection he told us that the inside of our chimney was in fantastic shape for its age, just beautiful and we should be really happy we don’t have squirrels or raccoons nesting inside. HOWEVER (and you knew this was coming) everything above our great new roof is crumbling to pieces. Bricks are coming loose, important items are missing, blah, blah, blah $4000.

Woah!!!! It turns out your are supposed to maintain a chimney much like a roof, with regular sealings and such. Ours had been neglected, much like the yard and crawlspace. We talked him down, scaled back the plan and then back some more. He figured out how to put on a lock-top damper system and left with a check for $400. Whew!

Now it will not rain inside our house and we can ponder what to do about re-pointing our bricks, replacing terracotta tiles and sealing the whole thing from the evils of moisture.

But what about how it looks from the living room? It is still all sooty and stained. The chimney sweep told me I could scrub all I wanted but it was not going to every look clean. He suggested we spray paint the inside. He likes black, but I’ve seen white and off-white and even purple fireplace hearths too.

I’m planning to get one of those in fireplace candelabras in black or silver. What color do you think I should paint the inside of the fireplace?

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