Calming the Visual Chaos

March 28, 2019 § 2 Comments

The epitome of calmness. Photo: @harlimarten

It’s all around us. Chaos. From the constant stream of visual information we scroll through daily and the mountain of snail mail we sort and toss to the stuff of life — equipment, cords, mismatched socks, you get it.

On the other side of chaos, we have the wisdom and direction of Marie Kondo who delicately advises us on how to live a happy and ordered life. It’s no wonder she has sold over 10 million copies worldwide of her “The Life- Changing Magic of Tidying Up” Series.

But what if you’re somewhere between surrendering to utter dysfunction and summoning up the energy to fight the entropy bombardment to disrupt your home? What else can you do to add some calmness to your home without ordering a dumpster for the driveway?

  • Rid Yourself of Red (unless it’s your favorite color)

Whatever tends to agitate you emotionally, get rid of it. I’m talking about colors, not your family members. Whether it’s your limey yellow kitchen walls, red curtains in the master bedroom, or the dated and kind of ugly wallpaper left by the previous owner, take the time to change it. Personally, I took all the red pillows and artwork out of my living room and replaced them with blues and calm neutrals. I noticed a remarkable change in my spirit.

Choose calming colors
  • Create One Beautiful Vista Per Room

If the thought of clearing out 27 years of living from your house is overwhelming, then focus only on the view of each room from the doorway. If you can free up and make beautiful only one wall of each room, you will enter the room each time with a feeling of orderly calmness. The rest will come with time. It’s a start.

Make one wall beautiful
  • Keep the Plants Living

It may seem ridiculous to say this, but “Water your plants.” If you have them, nurture them. Otherwise, give them away or toss. There is nothing calming about a dead plant occupying a coveted corner of your living room. You might better replace that pot with a decorative one with nothing in it.

Artificial but it LOOKS real

Now that you’ve started to create a calmer environment, you might have the energy to rummage through closets and drawers — maybe on a nice day with the windows open. I’m not suggesting you throw anything out. Just put like things with other like things. It will make a big difference.

  • Invest in Containers

In the laundry area, bathroom closet, under the sink, in the kitchen drawers — everywhere there is a bunch of related stuff cluttering up an area, put that stuff in a container: basket, plastic bin, or a box even. What that does is take all that visual clutter and replace it with one thing to look at on a daily basis. Then when you need to get an item, focus and locate it in the container. But until then, you’ve managed to calm that visual chaos.

  • Combine Cluttery Stuff

Books, collections, trophies, photos of the family — everything that tends to creep all over the house and look busy. Combine them into groupings: a collage of family photos on the stairwell wall, a curio cabinet with all your collectibles, dedicated bookcases for your library of favorite books. Once your collections are contained in a dedicated area for display, you will appreciate them more for all the stories you can tell about them. Plus, you can find them. You’ve contained your chaos of stuff by highlighting and honoring the reason you’re keeping it all.

  • Keep a White Flag Handy

Okay, that’s it. I don’t want to stress you out with another to-do list. There will be days, weeks, months when you need to take care of yourself and let the house go. Acknowledge that. Wave your white flag. Order a pizza delivered, close the door to the clutter, and put your feet up. Or take a bath. It will all be there tomorrow, but you may feel better about it.

Relaxxxx

Random Clutter Collecting

January 18, 2018 § Leave a comment

DenWall2018Life — as in home life — does not always have to be clutter-free and artfully arranged. Who actually lives that way anyway…. Sometimes you just need a place to put stuff and if it’s random and eclectic, so be it. I have treasures from my childhood bedroom, purses of my mom’s, hats, glasses, books, and some things I use for staging. But all of it is stuff I like to look at and don’t want to shut away in boxes.

If I wanted to take the time to create a lovely geometric piece of artwork, I could, I suppose. But I simply loaded up the cubes with random items. The wall reminds me of things I’ve worn, places I have been, people no longer around, and  how crazy my life is. The white sofa is a restful break from the clutter, and my husband likes to read the paper and drink his coffee there. I would never have predicted that.

Unless you’re selling your home in the near future and really do have to clear the clutter, don’t stress about a few little trinkets here and there. Group them if you want to remember them a certain way or display your collections.

Random can work! Look at this wall.

Grouping by color gets you closer to artistic order — truly a pleasure to behold for the color OCD in many of us.

Then there’s this. (Whattt??)

Embrace your stuff. Celebrate  it. Display it. Love it. Happy Collecting!

Rethink Your Catch-all Space

January 9, 2017 § Leave a comment

Do you have a junk room or an area that attracts piles of stuff? As a home stager, I certainly do. But after walking by one area of chaos for long enough, I decided to rethink how to use that space in a more constructive way than simply a dumping ground. denbefore

Sometimes all you need to add new life to a space is a master plan and some creative furniture rearranging. And that’s what happened.

denafterI decided that the shelving from my office would be better suited along the den’s vertical wall space where I could then store some overflow items from the kitchen. That would clear off the kitchen counters and make me happy.

I moved the chairs around to create an actual sitting area and added a bar cart acquired as a leftover from my son’s move into a new condo. Amazing how much stuff you can pack into a house when you’re in the biz.

The end result? My pass-through, catch-all area is now a functioning space that makes me smile. Next up? A rethink of the office to accommodate extra bed linens and way too many pillows. I’m thinking another hanging rod in the closet and a floor-to-ceiling wall of cubes.

Did somebody deem January the Organization Month? Well, they got that right! Happy purging.

 

Clutter is Such an Ugly Word

April 12, 2016 § 5 Comments

Is anybody else overwhelmed by clutter but put off by all the organizingstuff gurus pointing out what a shambles our closets are in? Maybe I’m taking this too personally. After all, nobody has actually seen my closets. Isn’t that what doors are for??

Anyway… with Spring here, I feel compelled to get some order out of chaos. But at the same time, I want to avoid beating myself up that things got out of hand. Here’s how I plan to proceed:

  • Start small. I think I’ll make the beds. Although Martha Stewart says it’s a daily must-do, she does have a point. Coming into a room that has a made bed helps us feel in control. And that’s a positive first step.
  • Accept that some clutter is okay. Instead of getting rid of all the papers on my desk in one big shredding frenzy, I think I will opt for a quick sort. I’ll put the loose stuff in a plastic bin and put it next to my desk or by the kitchen table with a big note that says “Get coffee. Sort.”
  • Hug the “collector” in the family. Acknowledge that, if left to my own devices and dream home, I could be as organized as the pros. But many of us live in families with people who are, quite honestly, messy. And we are not going to change them by bullying them into picking up their socks. So I think it’s a good idea to worry about our own stuff first. My mother always told me, “Set a good example.”
  • Invest in large trash bags. Many of the clothes in my closet date back to junior high. Ya think? Time to get honest with myself and try on the clothes if that will help. If the zipper rips, trash. If I don’t like the way it makes me look, give away. If I want that concert T-shirt for nostalgia only, into a labeled bin it goes. The closet may actually heave an audible sigh of relief.
  • Bring the camera phone. Sometimes just taking a picture of an object will help set it free. Like the children’s height markers on the kitchen wall. Or the ticket stub from a 1982 Genesis concert. If the actual item is worth keeping, then throw it into a bin labeled, “Great Memories.” At least you’ll know where that kind of stuff is.
  • Create a public-friendly lobby. Establishing an area of the house that can be maintained clutter-free, like the entrance and maybe the living room, serves several functions: People can pop in without throwing us into panic mode; we can go to that space and stand there a few minutes soaking in the clutter-free atmosphere; and we can set the tone for the relaxed living space we all crave. I’ll start by picking up the sneakers I keep tripping over.
  • Throw open the windows. There’s something about fresh air that stimulates the urge to clean up. Embrace the feeling before it passes, as the urge to sit down and scroll Facebook can be just as strong.

So having procrastinated long enough, it’s time to shut the electronics off for 30 minutes and make a small dent in my clutter. If you’re struggling from stuff overwhelm, know you are not alone. Small victories will turn into big ones. Breathe and let’s get started.

*Bag (http://www.zappos.com/dogeared-too-much-stuff-tote)

 

Marital (Decorating) Mismatches

December 10, 2014 § Leave a comment

stuffAre you and your significant other on the same page when it comes to the “stuff” of life around the house? The newspapers, magazines, mail, books, TV clickers, recycling cords and the like? Are you one to snatch the Sports Page right out of his or her hands as you make your daily pilgrimage to the recycling bin? Or are you content to let paper pile up on the coffee table until you get around to reading it? If you both treat life’s eternal clutter the same way… then congratulations. At least you don’t fight about it. But what if you are mismatched? Here are some ideas:

1. Make a deal to keep the main public space (maybe the living room) clear and ready for guests who pop in. At the end of each day, spend 5 minutes picking stuff up and putting it away. If you can only manage one room of the house, then that’s okay.

2. Contain clutter with baskets and bins. Little stuff on counters and tables may drive you crazy, but your partner needs to know where to find that restaurant receipt from last weekend. Make an agreement that things left on the kitchen counter can be found in a certain basket or bin by the recharging station.

3. Which brings me to the Recharging Station. Have one. That way you can find your phone when you are ready to leave for the day and more importantly, you can contain cords and loose devices to one particular spot instead of draping them out of every outlet. Rescue the TV clickers from under the cushions and keep them in a dedicated clicker basket.

4. And speaking of baskets and bins (see #2 above), invest in them. Closets, garages, spare bedrooms, offices, and every other clutter-prone area will benefit visually from containing the loose items in baskets rather than letting loose items and papers pile up. Both partners win. One gets to keep the stuff. The other sees some semblance of organization and unity.

5. If you are the neat one of the pair, give your partner space to mess up. For people who need everything out in full view instead of behind cupboard doors, your neatnik nagging is undoubtedly really annoying. Not everybody can be as organized as you. Give your spouse a space that he or she can call home and not be under constant pressure to pick stuff up.

6. If you are the messy one, appreciate how clutter can affect your partner’s mood and even creativity. Make an occasional attempt to go through piles and purge — even if you just move piles from one area to another. Any free space will encourage marital bliss.

7. Most importantly, take a chill pill. Fighting over “stuff” is pretty silly in the grand scheme of things.

Hope this helps.

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