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Opinion >  Column

Front Porch: New tile starts a cascade of home organization, improvement projects

Have you ever noticed that there’s an inevitable cascading effect from one simple action? Clean out one drawer in your house and you wind up cleaning out every drawer, not to mention closets and nearly everything else.

The more lyrical and romantic descriptions of this phenomenon refer to a pebble dropping into a pond or one leaf falling from a tree and what comes of these beautiful events in nature. In your own home, it’s not so pretty. Chaos, disorder, massive reorganizing and dumping of stuff – all upsetting in the process and, if it doesn’t lead to divorce, hopefully good order and tranquility in the end.

We’re nearing the goal line in our own unintentional upheaval endeavor. I’d like to say we’re the better for it, but I think it’s going to take a little time to be sure about that.

So here’s the story. In our house, we’ve got dark curved tiles in the kitchen, entryway and room off the kitchen that serves as an office and TV viewing space – and these tiles with little dimples in them are a bear to keep clean. And on top of even that, I’m a so-so housekeeper, so it’s always an effort to keep that floor a couple of jumps ahead of the board of health.

I have hated those tiles since we moved into the house in 1988. Bruce and I always come to consensus on big projects, and we could never agree on replacing the tiles, so they have remained. Last winter the queen of the house finally had a meltdown, unilaterally revoked the family magna carta and announced with a steely-eyed stare that a new lighter-color tile floor WILL be happening. It must have been a pretty good stare because the king did not object. I think he decided he wanted to live to see the next sunrise.

It took until late this summer to get the project underway, a more complicated one than originally planned, as the aforementioned queen decided to extend the tile down the hallway where carpeting had been in place. So up came the tile and the backing material on which it had been glued, the building-up of the floor under the previously carpeted section and the tiles above the sink counters in the kitchen.

But first, moving the furniture, stove and refrigerator off the flooring – and wrapping all cupboards (including the microwave) in plastic to keep the dust and debris out of them. Welcome to life without a functioning kitchen. One of the items moved was our big roll-top desk. We placed it temporarily in the living room and began to consider leaving it there permanently. So that meant I needed to move some items that had been in the office to go along with the desk, all of which are part of Bruce’s business.

And so I had to clean out the first drawer. I thereby discovered the inevitable truth of the domino effect that brought even more upheaval to the entire house, including bedroom closets, the bathrooms, linen closet, living room and dining room buffet. No place where items could hide was safe.

I found things I have been looking for for ages. I found things I didn’t even know were there to be found. And I found that I have a very patient, if not terribly happy at the moment, husband. This disruption in the feng shui of his life is most unsettling for him, especially since he can’t readily find things in his desk or file cabinets since I’ve cleaned out and moved everything around to accommodate the new arrangement. He has such a sad puppy dog face right now.

And naturally this all came about during a particularly busy time in my husband’s work, at a time I was preparing for the arrival of our oldest son from overseas, at a time I was and am working on a big holiday project being put on by the nonprofit on the board of which I serve and at a time that I’m committed to several trips to Seattle. I even had to step away from a couple of stories I was to do for The Spokesman-Review to try to keep up with it all.

The tile project has stretched on for some many weeks now, as one element needed to be changed midproject and the bullnose molding was delayed from the distributor. I’m loving how it’s all looking, even as the tile guys are finishing up while I type these words.

I’ve also discovered what my friends tell me is a universal truth. Home improvement leads to more home improvement. I’m now also inspired to put in a new kitchen counter (in December) and do some touch-up work on the kitchen cabinets. It’s funny how new floors make other things look old and dingy.

However, I think, for the sake of my marriage, I’ll leave discussion about new carpets for next summer.

Voices correspondent Stefanie Pettit can be reached by email at upwindsailor@ Previous columns are available at columnists.

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