A couple of weeks ago, we offered some spring cleaning tips to aid you in decluttering and organizing your home. This week, we’re suggesting you take it one step further: why not declutter your mind? That is, toss out the standard paradigms and usual conceptions of what your home is supposed to look like. As you open up, take a good look at your home furnishings. You may quickly realize that there are plenty of items that we’ve always been told were necessary, but that we can actually happily live without. Let’s take a quick tour, shall we?
In the Living Room
Furniture: Do you really need two end tables and a coffee table? Probably not. Just one surface near the couch may be enough. And sometimes, eliminating a coffee table altogether can make a living room feel more spacious. Also, in many homes, it’s considered standard to have two couches, or a couch and two chairs. But is this really necessary? You can get by with just a couch, and pull up a dining chair or just some floor pillows when someone comes to visit. The living room below has eliminated the couch completely.
Movies and Music: Get Netflix and eliminate the DVD rack and all the electronic equipment. Stream music online.
Magazines and Books: Get the digital versions of your magazines and pare down on books you never re-read. Use the library instead!
Tchotkes and Decorations: Eliminate a few throw pillows and dispense with the figurines and statuettes on every flat surface. Enjoy the sensation of open space instead.
In the Dining Room
Tableware: Ditch all the fancy sets of silver and special wine glasses. Use one serviceable set of wine glasses, silverware and water glasses.
Buffets, sideboards and china cabinets: If you ditch the fancy plates and china, chances are you can also ditch the fancy china cabinet you would have to hold all these things.
Table Linens: You can have too many. All you need is a couple of sets of place mats for everyday use, and perhaps a tablecloth or two for gatherings.
Holiday ware: You can get by in life without special Christmas plates and Halloween mugs. Make a holiday table special with flowers and holiday arrangements instead.
In the Kitchen
Rarely used small appliances: In some houses, food processors never get used. If yours is one of these, toss it. Same goes for any other kitchen gadget or appliance that rarely sees the light of day.
Highly-specialized gadgets: Many people live quite happily without pasta makers, garlic presses or bread makers.
In the Bedroom
Extra sets of blankets and sheets: You don’t need nearly as many as you think! Just one extra set is enough to do the trick per bed.
Chairs: One chair can be useful in a bedroom but more than that becomes overkill.
Exercise equipment: Has your elliptical machine become an expensive clothes hanger?
In the Home Office
Desktop Computer: You probably don’t need both a desktop computer and laptop. Eliminate one to streamline.
File cabinets: These days, you can scan all your documents and keep them on a computer. For anything that needs to be kept as a paper copy, use a simple binder instead which can fit onto a simple and accessible bookshelf.
Printer: A lot of people never use theirs. If this is your case, free up some space by donating it.
The takeaway is simple: we can do without a whole lot of stuff that used to be considered mandatory. Welcome to the modern world!
Dom Vicoso is a delightfully playful vacation villa in Minas Gerais by Brasil Arquitetura.
Very cute but curious white grillwork lets in air, while keeping out… lions, tigers and panthers?
The same white grillwork is repeated along a clerestory on the other side of the house – overlooking an almost mythical scene.
The villa employs the quirkiest combination of the magical and the wonderful – timber pillars are mounted on rocks and wood is stained hot pink.
Red is the feature color throughout the old farmhouse kitchen with traditional wood stove.
A rock keeps the dining table – from flying away?
The use of friendly red accents and the white-washed walls is contrasted by rustic timbers used as poles.
There’s the first hint of this witty use of colour from outside.
Masonry walls of lime-washed brick are used both for the larger public living space and the smaller sleeping block.
For hot nights, an outdoor hammock offers lazing in the open air.
The rugged landscape of the Serra da Mantiqueira is the remote setting for the playful farmhouse.
The house is set on the site of a 100 year old coffee farm, and has an old farmhouse oven outside so the breezes will help dissipate heat from cooking.
By contrast with the lime washed walls and red trim, a traditional stacked stone wall encloses a grassy carpet, creating a ‘room’ feeling outdoors.
It all adds up to a cosy and friendly family vacation home in an incredible setting.
Even aside from the charming and witty design, the view is almost out of this world. A magic place.
The itch begins in mid-March. As the days get longer and brighter, there is an urge to refresh, renew and toss. The goal is something clean and pared down. Restful and spacious. And in the kitchen, we want to see (and use!) the countertops again!
A dream kitchen drawer might be as convenient and organized as this:
So how do we get to this? Decluttering and organizing has become of intense interest these days, perhaps a reflection of a consumerist culture where people tend to buy and own too much. There’s a real reason why Japanese decluttering expert Marie Kondo has become world famous. After a few trips to the big box store where you can pick up things in bulk, you quickly find your closets chock full of things you never use. And for those of us who are not used to the idea of editing our possessions from time to time, the result can be suffocating, a home in which nearly every once-functional space is taken over by rarely used objects. At that point, our objects OWN us! To help you get organized this Spring, we’ve pulled together a few tips which can help you reclaim your home from chaos.
- Discard first.
According to Marie Kondi, the Japanese decluttering wizard, organizing requires that you discard unused, outworn, or broken objects first. She suggests that we begin with clothes since clothes and shoes are what we buy most frequently and they quickly run amok. Kondi suggests tossing anything that does not bring you a “spark of joy.” We agree with this, but for those who have difficulty actually knowing what they like and don’t like, we suggest tossing items that are clearly ready to go — socks with no mates, pants that don’t fit or never looked good, worn-out sneakers, that Christmas sweater your Aunt Mary gave you that you never liked. For anything not worn out, fill up a bag to donate to charity. Kondi suggests that for maximum effect, you clean out everything in one fell swoop, but in circumstances where a house is particularly large and cluttered, it makes more sense to bite off little chunks at a time — the coat closet, the shoe rack, the linen cabinet.
2. Learn how to fold clothes.
It sounds silly, but learning how to fold clothes properly can make a huge difference in how much your drawers can contain and also in the sensation of order in your closets. Kondi suggests folding clothes into neat little packets that stand up on end. This allows you to store your clothes vertically, which, in turn, allows you to see everything you own, every time you open a drawer. Knowing what you own prevents you from running out to buy a new black sweater when you somehow can’t find your seven other black sweaters. Google “KonMari Folding Method” to see a video on how it’s done. It works!
3. Focus on documents and papers.
Aside from clothes, the other problem area in most homes seems to surround the home office. Flyers, bills, important documents and store coupons, when not pruned daily, quickly turn into a tsumami of paper. There are a few simple solutions to this. First, find what is important — birth certificates, marriage certificates, wills, leases, insurance papers, warranties, tax returns. Keep them in one place — in an organized fire proof strong box. Knowing where all the important things are, frees you up to toss what’s not, which is nearly everything else. Old flyers, magazines, coupons, can be tossed immediately. Most paid invoices and credit card statements you can toss, unless you need to hang onto them for tax purposes. Store documents vertically, in labeled, divided binders where you can easily find what you need when you need it. Eliminate all piles.
4. Devise a place for everything.
Your home will continue to be and feel cluttered until you find a dedicated space to store things. Once you have that space, use it! If you followed the very first step of discarding the unnecessary, you should have no trouble finding a little extra space in cupboards, drawers and closets to store things that had once spilled out of all those things. Once you see how easy it is to find things when you need them, you will continue to use that dedicated space, and your problem with clutter will be solved.
5. Adjust your attitude.
Once you’ve begun the decluttering process, you will notice something strange. You will feel clearer, more energetic, inspired to tackle new challenges and focus on areas of your life that perhaps went neglected. You may be inspired to begin a new fitness or beauty routine, or to spend more time with a hobby. You’ll also discover that you will love your home more. You will find it more usable, and find it easier to find the things you need. You will notice that you buy less, because you can see everything that you have at once, and you realize, you have plenty. After a period of living with less clutter, you will find even more clutter you can toss, and you will embrace fully the ideally of living simply — only with as much as you need and use and nothing more. It’s a really, really great feeling!
A few more decluttering tips:
- Toss only your own stuff. If family members see the progress you make in putting your own closet in order, they are likely to get inspired to do the same!
- Don’t let junk mail collect. The day it comes in, toss it directly into the recycling bin.
- Go paperless. Most regular bills can now be delivered online. And you should sign up for automatic deductions and online bill pay too.
- Don’t get trapped by objects designed to organize. You actually need to buy very little to get organized. In most cases, objects designed to help you organize just create more clutter.
- Don’t use plastic bins. Instead, if you need extra storage for your closet, invest in plastic drawers that pull out. Plastic bins with a lid on top are hard to access and lead to more clutter in the long run when you can’t find things.
- Make things easy to put back. When deciding how to store something, make it a cinch to put it away.