What Doesn’t Belong
Some of my messie friends have come up with a new way of cleaning and decluttering their homes. They envision how they want their room to look and then remove everything that doesn’t fit that vision. That is the short version.
In a way, it is that simple, and in a way it is a lot more complicated. We messies aren’t always able to just start doing that… there are often too many layers of stuff in the way. It also can be hard to visualize exactly what we want… many of us have lived in clutter and dust and mess for so long that we can’t “see” how our rooms should look.
If you’re a recovered or recovering messie, you might be able to jump right in to the decorating. Look around and try to “see” your ideal room in your mind’s eye. Choose a segment of your room and remove everything that doesn’t fit into the picture in your mind. Put the objects in a laundry basket, rubbermaid bin, or box. If there’s trash, throw it away. Do this for about 15 minutes to an hour. Work around the room in one direction. At the end of your session, put away anything in the basket that actually has a home (such as toys and books.) Do the hour-long session about once or twice a week (any more, and it will start cutting into your other cleaning time.) You’ll be surprised at how quickly you can whip a room into shape.
You can also take ten minutes a day to do a quick once-over in your room. Just spend 10 minutes removing the items that are out of place and putting them back into their place. This would be a good thing to add to your morning or evening lists, depending on when you have the most energy. You could split your ten minutes among several rooms, or you could alternate rooms, spending ten minutes in a different room each day. You could even have it on your list twice a day.
If you are just beginning to work on your messiness, I think it is still a good idea to visualize how you want the room to look. It might be harder with stuff on every surface and all over the floor, but it also gives you something to aim for. As you work, keep that picture in mind to motivate you.
How do you visualize a room? There are several ways you can get an idea of what rooms you like. You can go to those “gallery” style furniture stores and look around their mini-rooms. Note the features that make you feel good. Do you like the rooms that have a modern, stark feel, or do you like the cozy rooms with a lot of knick-knacks?
Visit real estate open houses. You can see some rooms and homes that you really like and that inspire you. Note what you like about them… or just make a list of what features the rooms you like all have in common.
Think about the rooms you have liked the best… think about houses you lived in as a child, houses you have visited, your friends’ houses. Visualize the ones you have felt most comfortable and happy in, and write down the features you like the best.
Read home decorating magazines. Every so often, I’ll cut out the pictures of the rooms I like and paste them into a sketchbook. From the sketchbook, I can see exactly what I like in a room. Try this… read a home decorating magazine with a pair of scissors and a pot of paste nearby. Cut out pictures you like and paste them into the book. Immediately throw away the magazine you’ve cut the pictures from so you don’t have that litter around. Do this once or twice a month while you’re trying to visualize what you want. Then do it about once or twice a year to make sure your house still looks exactly how you want. Invite your kids to join you. They might find it fun, and you might get good ideas for decorating their rooms.
When you compare the features of the different rooms, you’ll see things they have in common. I noted that I like light-colored carpets, windows with light or no window coverings, bookcases filled with books, lots of green plants, and brass and gold accents. I like wood and I like uncluttered horizontal spaces. You can’t do much about carpet color if you’re renting or if you can’t afford to recarpet, but you can take down window treatments you don’t like. You can add or rearrange plants and books. You can move things from one room to another to get the look you like. You can even get a cheap area rug, in the color you like, to put over the carpet you don’t like (don’t forget to vacuum underneath at least once, maybe twice a month!)
Once you have a list of what you like in a room, do what you can to inch the room closer to your ideal room.
I think it’s important to know what you want your rooms to look like. I didn’t think about it much when we moved in here because we thought we would only be here for a year. A year and a half later, and no move in sight, I’m realizing it’s a lot more important than I thought to have an idea. Luckily, the room has good light and a nice carpet, so I have a good start.