PROJECT CLEAN HOUSE – Part 1 Updates (Downstairs)

My first Project Clean House update – yay! I gave myself a deadline of until today, April 21, to tackle Part 1 of Project Clean House – that’s the command center, kitchen, school station, and dining area/under the stairs/living room/entry.  I started Part 1 on April 2, but I gave myself two weeks because I had to factor in our Holy Week holiday. As you can see, I haven’t finished even half of Part 1! 

Command Center

  1. File this year’s billing statements, and take out last year’s calendar from our household binder 02 April 2017
  2. Print this year’s calendars and grocery lists, and have them photocopied 05 and 06 April 2017
  3. File away new calendars and grocery lists in their respective binders (punch holes and washi tape included). – 07 and 08 April 2017
  4. Get boxes for the china I’ll be returning to my mother. 06 April 2017
  5. Organize that overhead china cabinet (check supplies there, return the birthday dishes).08 April 2017
  6. Note down supplies needed for command center. 08 April 2017
  7. Switch back the black frames for the white ones (for the print).
  8. Print new copies of cleaning schedule, then laminate 1 copy and put 1 copy in a clipboard for the help. 11 April 2017 
  9. Discuss laundry schedule with help, and revise if needed. 11 April 2017 
  10. Orient the new help on the household binder, grocery lists, laundry and cleaning schedules.
  11. Check and re-organize keys.
  12. Find a spot for Papa’s mail.


  1. Pack away the china I’ll be returning to my mom. (Boxes, tissue/brown paper).
  2. Go over each cabinet, take everything out, sort what we use or don’t use, take note of storage needs, have help clean the insides of each cabinet and wash container, reorganize cabinets, label when necessary.
  3. Throw away shelf liners and clear and clean the open shelves.
  4. Take note of broken hinges, locks, and all other kitchen hardware.
  5. Borrow a camera, bring out our new dinnerware, take photos for help’s reference, print photos, organize photos in small albums or corkboard or laminate for ease of reference.
  6. Take note of lunch box items that are broken or have missing parts, label per kid when necessary.
  7. Go over all our leftover containers, cut down on the volume, find matching lids, store properly, and eventually upgrade to more glass, less plastic containers.
  8. Organize sink, replace containers if needed, clean dish rack and bin
  9. Clean, reorganize and improve storage system for the fridge, post instructions and reorient help about storing leftovers.
  10. Prep Lunch Box menu board and complete our meal planning board.

School Station

  1. Put Laz’s important papers in an envelope, for filing later on.
  2. Throw out all other papers in our wheeled crate.
  3. Check supplies list, compare with this year’s list for the new grade, and take note of what we need to buy.
  4. Empty out Alo’s side, label his hanging file folders.
  5. Measure cabinets for matching bins and plastic drawers.

Dining Room/Under the Stairs/Living Room/Entry 

  1. Organize the white metal shelves in dining area.
  2. Transfer emergency supplies into backpack or other container that would be easier to grab.
  3. Note emergency supplies and expiration dates.
  4. Have carseat cleaned. 10 April 2017 
  5. Change and clean the diffuser.
  6. Check umbrellas in entry.
  7. Clear the work files from entry and under the stairs, figure out catch all for items from the car, instruct the driver and help.
  8. Have that fan repaired!
  9. Put the emergency light somewhere else.
  10. Post a schedule for watering my plants.


It’s been quiet here lately.  We’ve been away for one – Holy Week break in the Philippines! – and I’ve spent the rest of my free time tackling my Project Clean House tasks.  It hasn’t been easy!!!  I tweaked the calendar and grocery templates I did last year, and cutting everything, gluing the pages together, even punching lines of holes, has been quite tedious.  It has always been tedious – I still can’t figure out how to make the work easier, or quicker.

I also attempted not to buy anything new while I clean.  I’d take note of the items we needed, and promised myself to buy everything after I finish cleaning and organizing everything, but that didn’t work out too well.  For instance, I didn’t have any other letter holder for the mail my dad still gets.  And I didn’t have any extra clipboards lying around either, so I had to get a couple, too.  I needed large white art paper for backing the print in our Command Center (Item #7 for that area – switch back the white frame).  Then I decided I wanted a black and white print for the Command Center, instead of the wood print I got from Co/op.

I still love that Co/op print, by the way, but I left the Walloh Design print that I got for the kids on that spot for a few days aaaaaand I ended up really liking how all that black and white goes with the rest of the items on that little desk.

As you can see, the print is too wide 

So I ended up asking Walloh Design to make me a similar print – with a “home” quote and portrait orientation instead of landscape.

Then I kept getting distracted about other things like wanting to clear up the Command Center even more (it sometimes feels too busy and cluttered for me), and wanting to tackle the kids’ toy cabinet and that TV wall in the lanai-playroom…. FOCUUUUUUUS.  I need to focus.

The above distractions aside, I have been making headway on Phase 1 of Project Clean House. Almost done with the Command Center (except for where to put my dad’s mail), and this afternoon I move on to the kitchen – eeeeek.

DINING ROOM: The Bare Essentials List

*I shared in this post how I realized I needed to quit changing and revising my to-do lists for the house if I ever hope to finish renovating and decorating it. 

It feels funny posting an almost identical photo of our dining room, but heck! Progress recently has been slow in this corner which, as compared to the living room, felt livable already.  I prioritized it since we use it all the time, quite obviously, and it was easy to feel like I’ve made headway here because we brought in the heavies – major pieces like the dining table and dining chairs.  Now it’s time to focus on all the other things – little details and the not-so-urgent but nevertheless important bits (like the missing pendant light, and the broken sliding doors).

I don’t know if I should get a rug there.  It seems like suicide, what with 3 boys and all (who are all such messy eaters – and by 3 I mean the 2 older boys and the H!).  I’d also like to declutter the Family Command Center even more.  And currently, the white shelves are no longer in that corner but back under the stairs at the other side of the window (because I couldn’t stand how it made the area look even busier).  Anyhoo!  Here’s the Bare Essentials List for the dining area:


Start of Living Room Project: 15 July 2016 (“Pegs for the Dining Room“)
End of Living Room Project (or “essentially finished”): 

  • Buy a 6-seater dining table (and return the one my mother loaned me)
  • Buy 4 white modern chairs
  • Complete my initial set of dinnerware
  • Repaint the base boards, beams, and window frames white
  • Replace electric switch plates and outlets, and cover unused electric sockets
  • Get a high chair (or booster seat) for Alo – and a splat mat
  • Replace the wooden curtain rods with slimmer black ones
  • Get 2 sets of sheer white curtains (1 for every day use, 1 for laundry days)
  • Get a sideboard or shelves or bar cart for the little O.C. essentials – and figure out where to put it
  • Get a high chair for Bo – and a splat mat
  • Buy a white standing fan
  • Find a stool or a step stool
  • Get new pendant lights or a chandelier, have an electrician install them, return the old lights to my folks, and have Mang Ariel patch up the ceiling after installation
  • Replace the broken sliding doors
  • Remove the overhead china cabinet
  • Mark the floor for table placement (for kasambahay’s reference)
  • Decorate: add a plant in a pot for the corner, add hanging plant or mobile, get a print, add plants to the sideboard/shelves/bar cart, get a clock
  • Storage Needs for O.C. Essentials: coasters in a dish, paper napkins in a container, container for center pieces (when I change them aorund), tray for existing centerpieces, storage for extra curtains, storage for anti-mosquito gear
  • Anti-Lamok Measures: plug-ins, have screen windows installed, get a mosquito zapping machine, anti-mosquito plants, and anti-mosquito room spray

Previous Versions of the Living Room Checklist:  List 1 – 08 July 2016 “Shifting Priorities (for Projects at Home)“; List 2 – 01 October 2016 “Re-Evaluating my Project Priorities (and Mini-Projects!“; List 3 – 15 October 2016 “Dining Area Windows and To-Do List“; List 4 -12 November 2016 “Brighter and Lighter“; List 5 – 10 January 2017 “Awkward Bits“; List 6 – 12 January 2017 “Midway Report“.

View all our Little House dining room posts and updates here.


LIVING ROOM: The Bare Essentials List

*I shared in this post how I realized I needed to quit changing and revising my to-do lists for the house if I ever hope to finish renovating and decorating it. 

Decorating and renovating our home has been much more challenging than I thought.  I’m not even talking about the costs – but when you’re not trained for this, you are bound to make a LOT of mistakes (as I’ve discovered!).  There was the mistake with the bar stool and the curtains (as seen here and here), for one – I can’t even say it was all rookie mistakes for both instances, because I should have learned better about measuring everything first!  And now, as I shared here, I think another mistake – a big one – was ditching the 3-seater sofa for the loveseat.

The loveseat did not go to waste because we moved it to the lanai-playroom and, thankfully, found that it was really better suited for that room.  But all this made me realize that I should first and always try to work with what we have before rushing out to replace something.  That’s pretty obvious I think for home renovations?  But I was young and foolish then, haha.

After we switched back the narra sofa for the loveseat, I finally feel that the living room is in a better place for moving forward (as I shared here).  Again: I keep chiding myself for dilly dallying – like with the living room curtains!  I was waiting to buy the replacement curtain rods, but in the meantime I lived with (and took photos of!) dirty curtains, argh.  I finally removed them, and had them washed.  I will live without curtains for now until I get the ones I like – and the place is suddenly much brighter:

Obviously there are so many things still so wrong with the living room, based on the photo alone!  I tried folding in the rug to see how it would look, and I know it looks ridiculous hahaha.  The emergency light is still sitting on the window ledge. The brackets from the old curtain rods are still up on the wall because Levis couldn’t figure out how to unscrew them.  Bo’s wooden play gym should be in the lanai. The front windows are filthy.   I need slipcovers obviously… BUT!  I am liking this starting point for the living room.  Yes, months after I tackled this area, I only just now feel that I’ve started, if that makes any sense.

All that being said (and yeah, I do get wordy I know hahahaha), here is my Bare Essentials List for the living room:


Start of Living Room Project: 06 October 2016 (the day the loveseat was delivered)
End of Living Room Project (or “essentially finished”): 

  • Repaint the baseboards, beams, and window frames to white
  • Replace electric switch plates and outlets, and cover unused electric sockets
  • Replace our old wooden couch with something smaller – but then I switched back the 3-seater sofa, so now I need to have new foam cut for the coach, and have slipcovers made
  • Get a small round white coffee table for the loveseat – now I am using our bench as a coffee table since we switched back to the larger couch
  • Figure out the cooling system – have our old white fan repaired, buy a new standing fan, or have a ceiling fan installed
  • Get throw pillows for the couch and chair, and buy 2 sets of pillow shams for starters (1 set for every day use, 1 set for laundry days)
  • Get slim black metal curtain rods (2 sets), take down and return the old rods to my folks, and have Mang Ariel install the new ones
  • Buy 2 sets of 6 sheer white curtain panels (1 set for every day, 1 set for laundry days); wash and return my mother’s old curtains
  • Replace the rug (and return it to my mother)
  • Get a white or wooden/rattan chair, and if the space permits, a black or another wooden/rattan chair – I got the white and wood bench for additional seating, but now I am using it as a coffee table
  • Buy an end table for the couch – and eventually replace or upgrade the Ikea table we got, and get a side table
  • Replace our large native poof with 2 or 3 floor pillows and/or a beanbag
  • Have Mang Ariel install a sturdy hook, and get a large handcrafted wall hanging
  • Find an oversized minimalist print to cover the outlet beneath the side windows
  • Return my folks’ hand-me-down Ikea floor lamp and get a new one
  • Add plants, prints and decor, especially for the coffee table
  • Storage Needs: for extra curtains and pillows shams, for Bo’s playmat and blanket, and for anti-mosquito gear
  • Little O.C. Essentials: coasters on a tray, a home diffuser, tissue in a container, and a discreet trash bin
  • Anti-Lamok Measures: plug-ins, have screen windows installed, get a mosquito zapping machine, anti-mosquito plants, and anti-mosquito room spray

Previous Versions of the Living Room Checklist:  List 1 – 23 June 2016 “Some Projects Around the House”; List 2 – 08 July 2016 “Shifting Priorities [For Projects At Home]; List 3 – 03 November 2016 “A Couch and a Coffee Table; List 4 – 21 December 2016 “Some Progress”; List 5 – 12 January 2017 “Midway Report”)

View all our living room posts and updates here.


The couch, that is. 

Since we moved into this house last year I had convinced myself that the antique narra sofa that used to be my grandmother’s was horrible. I thought it was too big for the space, too clunky and too outdated. We all hated the way the backrest cushions kept popping out of the frame, and I detested the red and beige striped foam covers. I kept promising myself I’d go to Uratex to ask about replacing the cushions, and I even sent our driver then to the palengke to look for someone to sew me new slip covers – but I just never got around to actually going to Uratex or having new slipcovers made. I think we lived with torn slip covers for at least a year in the old house. 

And then I got obsessed about Scandi interiors and just gave up on my wooden sofa. I was bent on getting a light grey upholstered couch – something smaller and more Nordic or mid-century I thought. I thought then – small room = small couch. So I chose the loveseat, and my parents very kindly got it for me for my birthday last year.

Well, I love that 2-seater but instead of making our living room look bigger, it made it look… even smaller. When I put it by the front windows, the loveseat looked tiny and oddly proportioned as to the rest of the space. Putting it in front of the side windows meant facing the front door – and why should the front door be the focal point eeeeeh. Ideally, the seating there should face the dining area. Diagonally across the corner was where I ended up putting the loveseat.

Now almost 8 months in, I finally admitted to myself that it just wasn’t working for me. The area rug helped, but the furniture arrangement just felt too small and I had to accept that I never really got around to liking the loveseat on diagonal in that corner.

So before my dad could sell it, I asked for the wooden couch back. And since I didn’t have slip covers I threw a white duvet cover over it… and it didn’t look bad. In fact, I liked it. My throw pillows look so much better on it. I never would’ve gone for a white couch, but with the rug and all, I just really ended up liking how it looked. I didn’t realize how white can really bring out the wood quality.  The boys approve, too. Plus, more seating, so everyone happy.

I also ended up using our bench as a coffee table. The loveseat and small round coffee table (which I had made to size with our loveseat in mind) went to the lanai. The loveseat replaced the wooden daybed (which I again didn’t get around to buying a mattress and cushion for) and is just so much more comfortable for the kids when they watch videos there.  I moved the Muji lounge chair to the shared boys’ room and used our round coffee table as a side table in the lanai. The daybed I returned to my folks. The lanai is not the next corner on my list right now, but these little changes have helped to improve the space, too! So two rooms with one stone, just because I got the couch back! 

Here’s a full(er) shot of that corner. I also finally took down the dirty half curtains and had our help wash them. I also removed the chunky wooden curtain rods. Obviously, from the photos alone, there are still things to do with this corner (for instance, the play gym should be in the lanai).  But I feel more optimistic now. I have felt stuck on progress with the living room for a while now – like that time with our Family Command Center, I was getting more and more frustrated because the space just wasn’t coming together. Well, I have a better idea on how to move forward, and have drawn up my Bare Essentials List for the living room – which is up next!