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

Making Sense of Color Coding

June 1, 2016 § Leave a comment

closetcolorOrganizing your clothes and accessories by color makes a lot of sense to me. You pick out your clothes by what colors you want to wear. Am I right? So going straight to the color of the day seems efficient and not only that, beautiful too. Opening the door to see a well-ordered, color-coded closet gives me joy just thinking about it.

On the other hand, I think color-coding can go a teeny bit overboard. And you’re hearing that from a home stager who lives for color and yes, making order out of chaos. But when I see a bookshelf that has been color-coded, it screams STAGED to me instead of a more sensible, and efficient, order of books by either title, subject matter, or author. How would you ever find a book if you have to remember what color it is?Library of an Interaction Designer (Juhan Sonin) / 20100423.7D.0

Having said that, I do like to group books by size on the shelves so they’re not all over the place. Bookshelves tend to look so busy in a room that some taming of the clutter helps.

If you’re organizing your bookshelves, consider breaking up the books by inserting objects you’ve collected, stacking some of the books, and even deleting a bunch of books by donating them to a book drop. If you cannot part with your books, put up floor-to-ceiling bookshelves and organize the books so you can find them again. Like a library.

Just my thought for the day. Happy Organizing!

 

 

 

 

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)

 

Does Your House Welcome You Home?

December 18, 2012 § Leave a comment

Other than your golden retriever, what says “Welcome Home” better than an open, organized, well-lit, warmly decorated entryway. Isn’t it nice to swing open the door, hang up your keys, dock your cell phone, stash your purse, and find a free hanger for your coat? … That rarely happens, you say? Still tripping over sneakers and backpacks? Gotcha.

Well, how about a New Year’s Resolution to start with the entryway — whether you come in through the garage or the front door, it doesn’t matter. There are so many organizing ideas available now to help you customize an entry to fit your family and lifestyle. And although some require talent with power tools, there are many other options including stackable cubbies and DIY shelf systems that will tame the clutter.

Light woods and white are wonderful in entryways that lack natural light. But if you have large windows, any favorite wall color will look great. Consider choosing an accent color from an adjoining room to give you the “flow” you’re looking for.

Before you tackle any other in-home projects this coming year, make sure your entryway welcomes you home.

10 Tips from a Home Stager

January 25, 2011 § 1 Comment

Whether you’re preparing your home for the market or just yearning for spring, here are some suggestions we stagers use that might give you or your home a jump-start:

1. Box up what you’re not using currently. This process is the hardest if you’ve been in your house a long time, and it may require someone to help you go through everything and decide what to keep, throw out, or give away. That person may be a family member or a professional organizer. If you’re feeling overwhelmed at Step 1, there’s help for you. Ask your Real Estate agent for a referral.

2. Be clear about the original function of each room. If your home office has taken over the dining room table, it’s time to reclaim the room. Move the computer to a spare bedroom or finished basement. At least for now!

3. Neutralize your walls. Neutral doesn’t have to be beige, but light and bright are preferable to dark and moody paint schemes. You will optimize your room size by lightening up the walls.

4. Edit your bookshelves, entertainment units, and china cabinets. Keep out only enough items to display. It’s okay to leave some shelves empty! Space sells! And see number 1 above if you’re overwhelmed.

5. Box up all your family photos and other items of great personal value. This applies to sellers only, obviously, but it’s very important to remove family, cultural, and religious identifiers so that you reach the maximum number of potential buyers. If you’re not moving and you’re just spring cleaning, use this opportunity to group your family photos and feature them where families gather, in the family room area.

6. Highlight key selling features of your house. If you have a beautiful view of the backyard, remove heavy window treatments. If you have a newly restored hardwood floor, roll up the scatter rugs to unveil it. If you have a great fireplace, make sure it’s not hiding behind the sofa.

7. In the kitchen, store all unused appliances and remove artwork and magnets from the refrigerator. Generally a nice coffee maker is fine to leave on the counter during house showings, but again space sells. This time it’s horizontal space on the counter. So toaster ovens, knife racks, dish drainers, and cutting boards go down below.

8. Clean, Clean again, and then Clean one more time. Since kitchens and bathrooms can sell houses, make sure you spend extra time cleaning them and ridding them of all odors and their sources. Squeaky clean and fresh-smelling are the goals. Buyers may overlook the dated Formica in the guest bath, but they will definitely remember the litter box tucked behind the door.

9. Maximize light and create a comfy feel. Open all window shades and turn on the lights for a house showing.  Arrange furniture in conversation groupings away from the walls. Make sure Person A sitting on the sofa does not have to shout across the room to talk with Person B in the chair by the fireplace. You’ll be amazed at how a room can be transformed by simply moving a piece of furniture a few feet forward or to the right.

10. Accessorize. Hang fresh white towels and a new shower curtain in the bathroom, place one large accessory on the coffee table (more effective than lots of little items), and fill a large bowl with fresh fruit for the dining table.

After reaching number 10 on this list of tips, you can kick back and enjoy your  clean and organized house. If you’re selling, you are now ready to throw open the doors to potential buyers. If you’re staying, congratulations. You have a fresh start!

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