When the new year rolls around, many of us take that opportunity to make changes to ourselves and our lives. We make plans to exercise more, eat healthier, stop smoking, change bad habits and start good ones. But how many of us extend those resolutions to our homes?
If you’re looking to make changes to your home that can in turn make your life better, here are some great ways to start:
Have you ever looked around your home and wondered how in the world you accumulated so much “stuff”? I do this weekly — particularly when I consider how many toys and random items my daughter has acquired in her 3 short years of life. The problem with all this extra stuff? Instead of enjoying your home, you spend entirely too much time managing it.
At least once or twice a year, it is a good idea to purge. Go through each room in your home, and take honest stock of what you have, and whether you really need it. I consider whether an item is useful, beautiful or sentimental. If it is useful or I find it to be beautiful, chances are, I will keep it. If it is sentimental, I consider whether there’s another way to preserve the sentiment — with a photo, for example — then decide whether to keep it. I sell, donate or toss anything else. And I promise you, in addition to whatever money you make, the feeling of paring down your possessions to a more manageable level is a reward in itself.
And while you’re at it, doing a deep cleaning is a good idea as well. We just must be careful to use non-toxic, eco-friendly products in our quest to keep our homes cleaner.
Most of us can think of a problem area in our home off the top of our head. For example, a few years ago, one of our biggest problem areas was shoe clutter. Because we have carpets, we take our shoes off when we walk in the front door, and we ask our guests to do the same. The result, of course, is a ton of shoes constantly sitting by the front door. It was a thorn in my side. So we tackled that specific problem. We purchased a shelf and storage baskets so we have a place to put our shoes when we take them off.
This year, our organizational issue is paper. We have too much of it and do a terrible job of keeping track of it all. So my goal is to find a way not just to sort and store paper, but a plan to get rid of any paper that is unnecessary, and do it quickly.
What is one everyday problem in your home that gets on your nerves? Does it bug you when you can’t find what you’re looking for in your closet? Do you have to scramble through all the items in your bathroom cabinets to find your favorite hair products? Start with that specific issue, and find a way to organize it. You’ll be surprised at how much easier life feels when you remove a single point of friction.
The one thing that sucks about renting is the inability to do any kind of major renovations. As much as we’d like to replace our laminate kitchen counters with a beautiful granite worktop and replace the cheap vinyl flooring with beautiful cork or bamboo, that’s just not practical when we don’t own our home. But that doesn’t mean there’s nothing we can do to make our home more beautiful and custom.
My favorite way to reinvent a space for little money and commitment is with paint. Even as renters, we are generally able to paint any room, as long as we return it to the original eggshell finish before we move out. And since we already have an accent wall in our living room thanks to a little extra effort from our landlord, we can actually repaint that without consequence. If you’re not ready to start with a wall, start with an old piece of furniture that needs a new life, or cover that ugly ceramic figurine with bright, glossy spray paint in a color that makes you happy.
Another easy way to reinvent, courtesy of my husband and his habits: Move the furniture. Seriously. If your furniture has been in the same configuration since you moved into your home, move it around. If your sofa is in the middle of the room, try moving it closer to the wall, or vice versa. Mount your TV on the wall to clear up some surface space. Move a side table from the bedroom to the foyer. Redecorate with what you already have, used in a new place.
What about you? Do you make plans for your home for the new year? Feel free to share your simple tips in the comments below.