Welcome to Donwell: Juxtaposition

If I were to ask you where a homeschooling mother of five children spends most of her time during the day, what would you say?

Three rooms — kitchen, schoolroom, and laundry — are where I spend most of my waking hours.

So here’s the great thing about this place:  the laundry room here is RIGHT NEXT TO the schoolroom.  It actually comes off of the schoolroom.  So I can fold and keep an eye on people doing their math.  I can switch loads in between reading and science.  It’s really quite amazing.

Of course, now that it’s summer, I avoid both of these rooms like the plague.  It’s vacation, after all.

Welcome to Donwell: Other Smart Stuff

Part One of this series here.

Last time we covered smart stuff in the kitchen; today we’ll reach the rest of the house.  

This little thingy makes a door shut automatically.  It’s really nice to have on a powder room door that’s right next to the kitchen.

Here is a terrible picture of a wonderful feature in the living room:  floor outlets!  I get excited whenever I see these in a home.  We had extension cords running all around our old house, so this time it’s nice to have a smarter arrangement for our cords. 

Here’s the pergola over the back deck.  See that gray stuff on the right?  It’s black mesh fabric.  Why is it there, you ask?  It provides just enough shade for the people sitting on the deck, so that they don’t feel like they’re frying in the hot, direct sun.  I was doubtful about its effectiveness, but now that I’ve spent hours sitting under it, I can testify that it works wonderfully.  It’s such a great idea.

The former lady of the house was an avid gardener, and she saw to it that her plants got plenty of water.  On the deck, that means that we have a suspended irrigation system for hanging plants.  See the hose just to the right of the plant hanger above?  It provides drip irrigation, and there are seven more just like it strung across the deck.  SO SMART!

Here’s one we haven’t used yet, but come the winter, it will get used I’m sure.  This is a gas lighter for the wood-burning fireplace in our living room.

Lastly, there are skylights in two rooms.  Above, you see the schoolroom, which is the room over the garage.  Its location over the garage means that it has sloped ceilings and just one window.  The addition of this one skylight makes a huge difference in the brightness of the room.

And here are the two skylights in the kitchen.  The bars across them were used for hanging plants; we plan to take them down.

Welcome to Donwell: Smart Kitchen

Part One of this series here.

This house has many of those details that real estate agents love to call “better than new.”  You know, those things that we would love to have but are probably too busy or too cheap to actually do.

Here are a few of these goodies…today we’ll cover the kitchen.

Ben loved to show this one to everyone the moment they came in the house during our first month:  THE SPICE CABINET.
Spices on the front

Swinging front shelf


I had achieved something like this at our old house using stuff from IKEA, but this one is built in:

A place for cookie sheets, cooling racks, etc.

 The silverware drawer has dividers, and it has two layers (this one slides back to reveal another underneath):

Why do we own so much silverware?

And when you open the pantry door, a light shines down on you from above.

Who ate all the cereal?

 Because of this little switch on the door:

So, nothing flashy, but things that make life in the space more pleasant.  This kitchen is far smaller than my old one, but it’s MUCH smarter.  I don’t feel squeezed at all.

Welcome to Donwell: The Befores

I named our new house.  I named it in my mind, anyway.  You probably think it’s pretentious, but I find it charming when people name their homes.  
“Donwell” is a Jane Austen reference; Donwell Abbey is the home of Mr. Knightley in Emma.  If you haven’t read it, you should go back and read our love story to find out why it’s so much like Emma and Mr. Knightley.  Donwell is an obvious allusion to Knightley’s doing things well in many aspects of his life.  
Anyway, when we finally found this place and bought it, I named it Donwell because if there’s one thing we want in our home, it’s to do things well for God’s glory.  But it’s Donwell in my head.  I don’t say things like, “Do pop in for a spot of tea at Donwell this afternoon,” or “You must come walk the gardens at Donwell.”
For that matter, I don’t say, “Possums drown at Donwell, poor saps.
So I’m going to introduce you to the new place this week.  You can see some before photos of the downstairs in my moving day post.  The dark wood trim was mostly primed before we moved in, and I’ve been painting it in fits and spurts since then.  
Upstairs, we have…
“tomato soup.”  That’s what I like to call this color. It morphs from pink to brown depending on the light.  Above we have the master bathroom, with original vanity, which cries out to me for replacement or at least a coat of paint.

See?  It kinda looks brown here, doesn’t it?  This is the master bedroom.  But it’s really just the BRIGHT cranberry carpet that makes the paint look brown — it’s the same color.

This is the hall bath.  I love that the kids have two sinks.  I also don’t dislike the color in here.  It’s nice.  The bathroom also has a separate area with toilet and shower with a door.  It feels appropriate when you think that five people are sharing it.

This room is on the third floor, which is really the attic.  The previous owners finished off a portion of the attic into a craft room.  We now have an extra bed in here.  I also just unpacked all my sewing stuff into this room this past Sunday.  I can’t wait to use it.

Here’s the room above the garage.  It’s our schoolroom now.  I’m so glad they put a skylight in…it really brightens the place up.  If you can’t tell, the paint is dark blue.  It makes me a little jumpy.  I need something brighter and calmer.

Down the hall from there is Maddie’s room.  This room feels HUGE right now because Maddie is sleeping in a toddler bed again since the move.  We really need to get her a twin bed.

And here’s where we’ve been eating most of our meals lately.

David thinks looking pensive is funny.

Look for more Welcome to Donwell posts this week!