31 Days of William Morris | 2012, Review

I’ve put off writing a review post because, honestly, I thought October kind of sucked! I was hoping to just brush it under the carpet and move on. I had two issues with the month that bothered me throughout.

First, I felt like I didn’t do as much or as well as I did last year. There was a whole lot of perfectly okay projects, but nothing amazing or revolutionary. As revolutionary as home organization and decluttering can get, of course.

Second, I felt my writing wasn’t as tight as it could have been. There were a few posts I liked, but for the most part they read lackluster to me. Towards the end, I reasoned that lackluster projects can’t expect anything more than lackluster writing. I cleaned out a drawer! Let’s get philosophical.

It wasn’t until I put all these pictures together into a collage that I became slightly more impressed with my efforts. Looking at these pictures, I see I kind of tore it up in October! It wasn’t the same as last year, but I still worked really, really hard.

That’s when the obvious occurred to me. The 31 Days of William Morris wasn’t different. I was different. Somehow, during the last year of decluttering and weekly projects, I applied the William Morris quote to myself.

Last year, when I started that project, I was sad and more than a little panicked. I had no idea what I got myself into or how I would ever finish. Then, as I started in on the projects, I got more and more upset with myself. Upset with the clutter, upset with the waste of money, upset with my inability to find a damn pen when I need one. I had a crazy intensity about me that year, so when I finished at the end of the month, I really felt like I achieved something. When you don’t think you can do something and you do, the rush is unforgettable.

This year, I treated myself with a gentler hand. When I opened a drawer of sweats that never really closed, I didn’t beat myself up for buying stuff I don’t wear in a size that reflects my struggles in other areas. I didn’t become furious for avoiding a simple project for years. I sat down and purged sweats. I filled two (three?) bags and patted myself on the back for a job well done. I was calm and relaxed and accepting.

I’m human. I make mistakes. I try to do better the next time around. This year I focused not on the missteps of the past, but on my progress in the right direction. I didn’t feel I did as much because I didn’t beat myself up as much throughout. I didn’t treat each project like I was conquering a demon. Sometimes I don’t do as well I as expect from myself, and I’ve realized that for me, that’s probably a good thing. It’s good that I haven’t come up with a revolutionary way to organize socks. My expectations are usually ridiculous and often make me feel small. Nowhere in that William Morris quote does it say things have to be perfect or go exactly as planned.

I may not have finished the laundry room, but I found a glimmer of peace. That has to count for something.

Here are a few stats on the project:

  • 37 projects completed–I doubled up on some days because I was worried there would be an emergency.
  • 8 bags of clothing donated.
  • 2 bags of shoes donated.
  • 5 bags of trash tossed.
  • 9 picture frames donated.
  • 1 box of random kitchen items donated.
  • 7 cookbooks donated.
  • 460 photos taken.
  • 214 photos edited and published.
  • 158 hours worked on projects, including post writing.
  • 2 trips to Staples
  • 5 trips to Michael’s.
  • 11 trips to Target.
  • 1 trip to Cost Plus World Market.

I’m sure there’s more, but that’s all I can document. I had a budget of $1,000 for the month, which was actually part of our Rome money. I stayed well under budget, probably because I gave myself a generous budget! Again, I was afraid of emergencies and I really thought I was going to get the boys’ room done. (I did buy the beds, but that’s as far as I got.) I haven’t tallied my receipts, so I can’t give exact numbers, but you’ve seen the projects and can get a rough idea. The bulk of the money went into the laundry room. The bead board, trim, and paint cost the most at roughly $300. The beds were a $120 Craigslist find. Every other project was free or cheap.

In case you were wondering, my favorite projects are the perfume tray and the Mama’s Toolbox. I love how clean and pretty the perfume tray is, and I’ve used the Mama’s Toolbox several times already. It’s so handy.

I don’t know if I will do 31 Days of William Morris next year. I think it’s an idea that may have run its course, but it was fun while it lasted.

Jules Kendall writes about books, family, and easygoing simplicity.


  1. says

    Oh that’d be a bummer if you didn’t do it next year… I mean, for us. It would be awesome for you, because that would mean that you were super organized. I bet you had enough followers that you could let your follower/friends take it over and share the load.

    • says

      I’m so glad I did the review post! Putting all the pictures together helped me realize that I did work hard. It was just with a different attitude than what I had the year before.

  2. says

    I loved reading along at home and I sure hope you find the fortitude to do it again next year, but I’ll understand if you don’t. Congratulations on a superbly productive month.

    • says

      Thank you! My main concern is what I will have to write about. If I keep doing weekly projects during the year and maintain what I do, I don’t think I’ll have anything left to do by next year, minus the very expensive remodels we need to do, and those will cost a lot more than $700. Boo.

  3. Missie says

    Great job! I loved the perfume tray too, so pretty. I’ll miss it if you don’t do it next year but I get that it is a lot to think about now. Give it 10 months and see how you feel. :)

  4. Deb says

    Oh, I SO hope you do the project next year! I am so inspired by your projects and your attitude. You are very realistic and aren’t necessarily trying to make things look magazine-worthy, but make things function well. I love that! I also love your writing style, so was glad to get to the middle of your post where you showed yourself some grace. :) Keep up the good work.

    • says

      Magazine worthy makes me feel disingenuous for some reason. It doesn’t bother me (as much) on other blogs. My main goal is always to create a system/function that works over the long term.

  5. Shannon says

    Jules, I loved the month and what struck me is how far you had come in a year. I really appreciate that you didn’t have to start another huge month, simply because you’ve maintained your work from last year. That in and of itself speaks volumes to me. It tells me that this approach IS doable AND maintainable. Sure, we all have drawers of sweats (or something like it) that we’ll come across from time to time but no harm, no foul in that. I appreciated that you redid your pantry because we all know how quickly those become disorderly when they are used. . . but it didn’t seem overwhelming because you’ve lived by your creed. Thank you for being a wonderful inspiration.

    • says

      You know, that’s a good point and one I forgot to mention. I touched upon in briefly in my intro post this year when I said I didn’t have the same projects to tackle as I did last year. What I am most proud of this year is that I haven’t really had to redo much. That makes me think that I did a pretty good job last year (and all the weekly projects after that) ascertaining our needs and creating a workable solution versus doing something for the sake of making it pretty or blog perfect.

  6. feeties says

    I really loved the 31 Days project. I also loved it last year, & would love to see it every year. I thought there was no lack in this year’s month of projects.
    I really enjoy your blog. Thank you for all the work, effort, thought & planning you put forth so we can enjoy your lovely, peaceful, gracious life…

  7. says

    The rush of first love is always hard to sustain, isn’t it? But the rewards of a solid long-term relationship are deeper. Sounds like that’s what you’re moving into, in your relationship with both stuff and William Morris. I think we all know how to fall in love, but keeping the flame going is another story. It’s been helpful to read yours. I hope you’ll keep writing it.

  8. Lisa in Seattle says

    My expectations are usually ridiculous and often make me feel small. That may be the most important thing I read all day. Have to ponder on what it really means, and what it means to me. Have a wonderful weekend, Jules.

  9. Nora says

    I always love these posts-whether in October or your once-a-week posts…but I love your other stuff as well and would love to see what 31 day adventure you would bring us on next year if not William Morris! You did a great job and honestly reminded me that not every project has to be a big project…those little things add up and suddenly you are opening cabinet doors and easily sliding drawers closed and going to grab something and know exactly where to find it and you realize your life is becoming streamlined…that is the true reward on these kinds of projects! I loved seeing the laundry room posts and that you showed us the progress and the Mr, because after all, isn’t that how most of those projects go? They aren’t step 1, 2 3 and done like those magazines lead us to believe! I hope you are enjoying all your changes and hard work!

  10. says

    Way to go, Jules! Amazing how you can see how you’ve incorporated the William Morris lesson over the year and also how you’ve grown in gentleness with yourself. I read the perfume post which I’d missed the first time around and really enjoyed it. I have a great 12″ diameter thingy from Pier One that I keep my perfumes on. It’s beautiful and feminine – sort of a 1″ braided pewter rope trim around a greeen and blue glass bottom, all raised on little legs. I would be a perfume junkie if I could afford it but I buy a couple batches of 10-15 samples a year instead, and the occasional decant and full bottle. This year my favorites are probably Tauer L’Air du Desert Marocain, Annick Goutal Camille, and Parfumerie Generale Bois Blond (not new, just what I’ve been liking).

  11. REnea B. says

    I think you did an awesome job. I can’t believe you got that many tasks accomplished. Be very proud!! I can make a list of 5 things and not finish them in a month. We just put in new carpet and all the stuff in the boxes in the garage are coming back into the house. I can’t wait to purge and donate. Now’s the time!!

  12. Amy Bounds says

    I really enjoyed your William Morris Project this year. You actually inspired me to clean out my buffet and my secretary. Everyday I walk by these pieces and smile inside because I know they are clean and organized. Thank you for your inspiration.

  13. says

    I loooved your William Morris month! I thought you were gracious and funny and witty, even with something as mundane as cleaning out your sweats drawer. :) Congrats on a really impressive month & thank you for sharing with all of us!

  14. Rebecca S. says

    Just want to echo what others said above–I loved reading your entries (and went back to the beginning to start again with you–I’m a new follower!). Thanks for taking us along on the journey, and thanks most of all for sharing small victories rather than a clean sweep. I’m much more energized by seeing someone’s small, manageable projects than a complete and (for me) unrealistic overhaul.

  15. Susan G says

    LOVE seeing it all at once! And I think the project accomplished a great thing – aside from great improvements on your home, it clearly made you happier/better/improved in the inside. (That sounds like I think you needed improving – I’m sure you know I didn’t mean to sound like that!)

    I just posted on the Gone Girl post – thanks for picking that!

  16. says

    Pfew! I am glad that you turned a corner there. I looked forward to each morning and was never disappointed by any of your posts. Your approach to writing about everyday life is exactly why I have been reading your blog since October 2010 (it was bugging me and I just checked :) ). My favorite project was the perfume tray. It simply spoke volumes to me. Again, congratulations.

  17. says

    You know, maybe you didn’t have as many big undertakings this October because you have successfully incorporated the philosophy into your lifestyle over the past year. So things are more reined in this year, more simple and beautiful to start with.
    For me–the philosophy has transformed my thinking more than my house. So, happy having found you and the project.

  18. says

    You said that you didn’t feel like any of your projects were amazing or revolutionary, that’s because the amazing work has gone in during the past 12 months, with continuing on doing things and with maintenance. This month, to me, showed just how amazing and revolutionary your work has been over the past year.
    I love reading your William Morris posts, they encourage me to to work on my house and space. Which is great, cos so often I look at my place and wonder where on earth to start or if I’ll be able to make any sustainable changes.

  19. says

    I just started reading the blog at the beginning of October, and I just want you to know that it was SUPER inspiring. Not so much that I have actually taken the challenge on myself, but enough that I thought about it! I betcha by next October, you’ll be ready to try again, it just won’t be as overwhelming as year one.

  20. Claire says

    I’ve been quietly reading along for the past month and have loved it. Don’t forget that you didn’t even attempt the laundry room in year one. =) William Morris is an ongoing project, but your month of it has been inspiring to read.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>