I have reclaimed the basement. It is mine. All mine.
Do I sound greedy? Territorial?
Look, it’s been four years since I started a business in our basement. My inventory, shipping supplies, and photography equipment competed for space with a drum kit, a weight bench, video game consoles, air soft guns, guitars, amps, a fooz-ball table, etc. I gazed upon walls covered with graffiti murals and family photos.
How I hated descending the stairs to chaos. For courage, I hung a banner on the basement door that said, “It’s Okay”. Once down there, I felt like Wall-E, the small waste-collecting robot who surrounded himself with all manner of 20th century detritus.
And speaking of waste, one day I accidentally hit one of the dropped ceiling tiles and a soda can fell on my head. One of our sons -- who shall remain nameless but he knows who he is -- hid empty soda cans in the ceiling. I extracted at least forty empties. Yes, yes, better soda than beer, but the mice don't differentiate.
Anyway, I don’t know why I delayed the necessary purge. The paralyzing combination of guilt and nostalgia. Also, let’s face it, what a job. Twenty-seven years of accumulation.
It has been a years-long process, but as of last week, the Ballesteros Museum of Boy Crap has closed.
How did I do it? It was gradual at first. I took over the toy closet. Then I painted over the mural and built shelves on which I stage photos.
And then last week, I tackled this wall (above). It used to be covered with out-of-date family photos and childhood art. I took it all down (ouch! guilt!) with the intent of creating a striking gallery wall. How ironic that we empty our homes only to fill them again. But such is the curse of the collector.
I found the centerpiece of the collage, a giant silk Fernand Leger, on Everything But the House, a site that you should know about. It is a virtual estate sale where you can both buy and sell vintage and antiques, just like at a neighborhood estate sale, only you don't have to line up in the rain and wait for your number to be called. You can bid from the comfort of your kitchen table and if you download the app (here), you can submit your bid on the go.
When I bid on the Fernand Leger piece, I made a typical rookie mistake and didn’t realize how huge it was. Framed in masonite, it weighed a ton, and shipping was over $100. But it arrived without a scratch, expertly boxed. In fact, the shipping department at EBTH taught me something. When mailing artwork, it is advisable to crisscross the glass with tape. Like people do to windows during a hurricane.
Once I had the Leger piece, I added other abstracts and illustrations. I used recycled frames and mattes. I played around on the kitchen floor until I got a combination I liked. I took measurements, snapped photos with my phone, and spent a couple of hours with a very patient husband hanging it all. The result is a gallery wall that is feminine and fun.
The rest of the room is filled with many of my vintage finds. I encourage you to try shopping second hand. First, it is affordable. Second, I like buying something from someone who is downsizing. I'm helping a buddy out. I want to tell the previous owner, “Hey, thank you for letting go of your thing. I will take care of your thing and love it on your behalf.”
The basement is now a reflection of my new life as an empty-nester who works out of my house. I descend the stairs lightly now. Maybe I’ll sell my “It’s Okay” banner on Everything But The House.
MY PICKS FROM EVERYTHING BUT THE HOUSE
If your curiosity is piqued, I've perused this week's items on Everything But The House and rounded up my faves, including a bronze figural horse, this evocative oil, these Danish tables, this sterling charm bracelet, or this pair of lamps.
Photos by Renn Kuhnen.
This post is sponsored by Everything But The House, which means I received compensation. All opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the content and the sponsors that enable me to continue writing The Bubble Joy.
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