arranging your home Archives


A Room Of One’s Own

“A house is a machine to live in and from which all superfluous and irritating ornaments should be banished"
– professor of oriental studies A. L. Sadler

 

As you focus in on only the best parts of the holidays, take some time to mull over what you love to do now and in general. Does your home support you in doing those things?

Want to dedicate a little more time to reading for pleasure? Do you have a comfortable place to do it? Can you arrange for a big chair with good reading light and a small bookcase right at hand?

Are you planning to get out and do some backpacking this year? How's your equipment? Buried in the basement or the back of a closet? Or scattered around the place? What about pulling it together and storing it in a more organized way so you don't have a roadblock to getting out of town?

Love to cook, but your kitchen is a disaster area? Well, maybe it's time for another sprint of ridding your kitchen of non-essentials. Would some reorganization give you a better workspace? Or do you need to start the project of getting into a place with a better kitchen?

Figure out what you can do to set the stage for the life you want to be living. Make a place for pleasures.

 

What would qualities would you like your home to have? Think back over the places you lived. What was great about each of them? What didn't you like and want to avoid in the future? Steadily write these down until you're pretty sure you have captured the most important stuff to you. Now look it over. What do you have in your current place? What could you add here? Or do you need to start thinking about a move to bring you more in line with your dreams? What's the most important thing to you of the changes you want to make? What's the first step towards that? Write that down. What's the easiest thing? Do it right now if you can or make the arrangements to do it as soon as possible. Keep your list where you'll keep coming back to it regularly. Note: the list can change, just like you. That's fine; just keep moving towards what matters to you now.

 

Go into your bedroom and see what pleases you and what doesn't. Are there things in there that don't belong? Figure out where they can move instead. If they can go nowhere else (hello, studio apartment dwellers!) could they be contained or disguised in a way to make them bother you less? Are there things missing, for example, enough dresser space or a rug by the bed to shield your morning toes from a cold floor? Make a list and, if you have something on it which matters more to you in the bedroom then where it currently is, move it in right now. Would a different layout make you more comfortable and work better? Thinking about the morning light can be helpful here. For those with larger places to live, are you even using the right room for your bedroom? If another room might be better, play with the idea on paper and make some measurements before you start moving furniture. Trust me on this one.

Take a look at what you've set up for yourself as the last thing you see before you go to sleep and the first thing you see when you wake up. Has your bedside table become a cluttered mess?  Unattractive surroundings in general? Are there nagging unfinished projects in view from your pillow? Cut the clutter and tune your bedroom to reduce stress. Is your bedside light too bright or too dim? Or are you lacking one altogether and relying on an overhead light that doesn't soothe your senses? Give yourself good diffused lighting that it's easy to turn off when you're ready to drift to sleep. Do you have all your potential and in-progress reading piled right beside the bed? Tidy it up into a better holding location – perhaps a very small bookcase? – and just keep the active titles at arms' length. Got a jumble of remotes? Could they go in a little basket or in a nightstand drawer instead? Better yet, have the TV leave the bedroom entirely and make this space more restful. Think about what you really need to have right beside the bed and contain it appropriately in something pleasing to your senses. Give your room a feeling of rightness and comfort that will soothe you to sleep and refresh you when you wake. When you're dusting, sweeping, and vacuuming start with your bedroom so that it stays the cleanest place in the house. Allergies most definitely aren't relaxing.

At the least, find one thing you can do today which will make you happier in your bedroom from now on.

 

Think about what you want to use your living room for. Now go in there and look at it with new eyes; is it serving those purposes? What doesn't belong? Where else could it go? (Not the bedroom; you already decluttered that!). Move the things that hinder you from using this space out of your way. What's missing? When I did this exercise some time ago, I realized that what I like is having friends over for meals and games. What I sorely needed was a table and enough chairs for them to sit on – the standing dinner party has never caught on for good reason. Fortunately, when I then told one of my friends that I was thinking of going shopping for a good table, he said "Oh, we have a great one in the basement and three chairs; they're yours!" Sometimes all it takes is expressing a need for an opportunity to present itself. What would give this room what it needs to function well?

Could you rearrange things to suit your favorite activities better? If you like to sit and talk with people, do you have comfortable seating arranged so that you are facing each other? My living room suffered from ‘theater seating’ which cramped conversation as everyone would have to twist sideways to see each others’ faces. What about the things you use for these activities you want to do here? Are they somewhere else in the house? Bring them in here where they belong. Once I got my table, I pulled all my board games out of a dresser drawer in my bedroom and put them out in view on a shelf in the living room. Much more inviting and, I assure you, much more frequently used since the change.

Fine tune your living room a little today and do some of those things you enjoy!

 

Be yourself, no matter where you are. It doesn't matter how small a space you live in, be true to your essentials.

Posted on December 21, 2010 at 07:59 AM in arranging your home, Perpetual Upgrade | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Tips for parents

Here's a great set of tips for those with wee ones: "Secrets of organized families: Insider strategies for getting your house in order" (Found, like so much, on Lifehacker)

Posted on May 18, 2006 at 12:01 AM in arranging your home | Permalink | Comments (0)

Last thing, first thing

Today you should take a look at what you've set up for yourself as the last thing you see before you go to sleep and the first thing you see when you wake up.

Has your bedside table become a cluttered mess?  Unattractive surroundings in general? Are there nagging unfinished projects in view from your pillow?

Cut the clutter and tune your bedroom to reduce stress.

Make a place for your change. I use my father's silver baby cup for laundry quarters and a wide-mouthed ceramic vase I bought when I was an undergraduate in Wales for all my other change.

Do you like a warm place to put your feet when you get out of bed? Treat yourself to a good small carpet if you need one.

Is your bedside light too bright or too dim? Or are you lacking one altogether and relying on an overhead light that doesn't soothe your senses? Give yourself good diffused lighting that it's easy to turn off when you're ready to drift to sleep.

Do you have all your potential and in-progress reading piled right beside the bed? Tidy it up into a better holding location - perhaps a very small bookcase? - and just keep the active titles at arms' length.

Got a jumble of remotes? Could they go in a little basket or in a nightstand drawer instead?

Think about what you really need to have right beside the bed and contain it appropriately in something pleasing to your senses. Give your room a feeling of rightness and comfort which will soothe you to sleep and refresh you when you wake.

And, just a reminder, when you're dusting, sweeping and vacuuming always start with your bedroom so that it stays the cleanest place in the house. Allergies most definitely aren't relaxing.

Posted on March 24, 2006 at 11:01 PM in arranging your home | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Master Calendar

If you share a house - and maybe even if you don't - you'll benefit from having a master calendar in the kitchen.

Get or make one with big squares to write events.

Things that should go on here include:
- dinner guests/parties
- house guests
- medical appointments
- household members out of town
- holidays when household members will be around home instead of off at work/school
- deliveries or repair appointments
- "Mail rent today"
- parent/teacher conferences
- any special event where one household member will be getting a ride from another ("Suzi's soccer game")
- household and significant other birthdays

The ideal spot for this is on or beside the fridge, especially if that's also near the kitchen phone.

Near it can be the shopping list, any shared bills that need to be reviewed (e.g. the phone bill), and the current list of who's doing which chores (or as we used to call it in my household "The Wheel of Torture").

Posted on March 21, 2006 at 11:01 PM in arranging your home | Permalink | Comments (1)

Home Patrol

Well, those of you who've been reading for a while now (or who went back through the archives!) have now got a good bit of Discardian feeling under your belt and it's time to put your new eyes to work.

Make a little quiet time today to look at every room in your house and find the things that aren't how you want them.

There are two aspects you are particularly watching for:
1) easy to change
and
2) drives you nuts.

Fix at least one of the easy ones today and put in a solid 30 minutes - and remember that writing down a plan can count as progress - on the most crazy-making thing.

Posted on March 11, 2006 at 11:01 PM in arranging your home | Permalink | Comments (0)

Make it easy, continued

Not only should you make things spatially convenient. You might want to consider temporal convenience as well.

I am not a morning person. Therefore anything I can do to make it go better is A Good Thing. The best tricks I've found so far are packing a lunch and setting out my clothes the night before, and making sure my backpack is all ready.

What could you do in advance to make your less competent moments a little better supported?

Posted on February 20, 2006 at 11:01 PM in arranging your home | Permalink | Comments (4)

Make it easy

Routines help reduce stress and if you make a place for the things you know you'll need a place for, you'll also reduce clutter.

I have a laptop backback that I use every work day and a wallet I use the rest of the time. The pack has a pocket where I put my phone and my wallet. It also has a springy plastic coil clipped inside it to which I clip my keys. It's long enough that I can lock or unlock the front door without having to unclip them. My keys are always left in the right spot instead of in the door, a jacket pocket, on the stairs, etc.

The bag has a big pocket where I put the things that need to be taken from home to work or vice versa. When I arrive and take my mobile phone out to plug it into the charger (and, yes, I've got one of those at each end, so the phone has its place too), I also check that pocket.

As for pocket accumulations, I have an attractive ceramic pot on my dresser into which I drop all my non-quarters change. The quarters go in an old family heirloom, a little silver baby cup, where they wait until laundry day.

And the mail gets sorted in the kitchen where all the junk & empty envelopes can go right into the recycling. I have a pretty tin inbox for the remaining incoming paper (and that box also has a pen, the stamps & return address stickers for outgoing mail).

When I need to remember to take something with me when I leave the house (e.g. drop this Netflix DVD in the mail on the way to the metro), I just set it at the top of the stairs where I can't miss it.

When I shared a household, we always put the rotating chore wheel (made out of cheerful construction paper to lessen the pain of cleaning duties) on the fridge to indicate who was doing what this week. As a kid, that's also where I could see the menu plan of who was cooking what each night. And, of course, that's a great place for the shopping list.

Figure out what you need and where you need, then set things up to make it all flow smoothly.

Posted on February 19, 2006 at 11:01 PM in arranging your home | Permalink | Comments (0)

Fresh Eyes: Living Room

Today think about what you want to use your living room for. Now go in there and look at it with new eyes; is it serving those purposes?

What doesn't belong? Where else could it go? (Not the bedroom; you started decluttering that last week). Move the things that hinder you from using this space out of your way.

What's missing? When I did this exercise a while ago, I realized that what I like is having friends over for meals and games. What I sorely needed was a table and enough chairs for them to sit on - the standing dinner party has never caught on for good reason. Fortunately, when I then told one of my friends that I was thinking of going shopping for a good table, he said "oh, we have a great one in the basement and 3 chairs; they're yours!". Sometimes all it takes is expressing a need for an opportunity to present itself. What  would give this room what it needs to function well?

Could you rearrange things to suit your favorite activities better? If you like to sit and talk with people, do you have comfortable sitting arranged so that you are facing each other? My living room suffered from "theater seating" which cramped conversation as everyone would twist sideways to see your face.

What about the things you use for these activities you want to do here? Are they somewhere else in the house? Bring them in here where they belong. Once I got my table, I pulled all my board games out of a dresser drawer in my bedroom and put them out in view on a shelf in the living room. Much more inviting and, I assure you, much more frequently used since the change.

Fine tune your living room a little today and do some of those things you enjoy!

Posted on January 28, 2006 at 11:01 PM in arranging your home | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Closet Trick

Okay, go into your closet and turn around all the hangers so the hooks are pointing towards you.

When you wear something, put it back with the hook the normal way.

In six months, I'll remind you to get rid of the things that are still wrong-way-round.

Posted on January 13, 2006 at 11:01 PM in arranging your home | Permalink | Comments (1)

Outbound Traffic

If you don't already have them, take a moment right now to set up places for things that are about to depart your home.

- You probably already have wastebaskets, but do you have a Recycling Area? The kitchen is a good spot. If you're lucky like me, you can put the recycling all together in one paper bag and just drop the whole bag in the big bin outside. Get in the habit of sorting your mail over this bag and spare yourself the stacks of junk mail around the house.

- If you use the library (and you should since it's FREE, after all), dedicate one spot for items ready to return to the library. A canvas bag on a shelf in the front hall is good. Save yourself having to hunt for something to carry Library Goodies away in and for bringing the new loot home.

- Set a Charity Bag (or box) up in a corner where it's handy but not in your line of sight from the spots where you sit to relax. Whenever you come across something that's not trash, but you also know you'll never really use it again, walk right over and put it where it belongs. Next time you're heading out for errands, grab that stuff and drop it off at Goodwill or wherever. (Personally, I rarely have anything making it worth waiting for a receipt, so it takes almost no time to make my home nicer and someone else's life better).

- Make a Give Back Basket and put in it all the things that need to go back to the person they were borrowed from. You can also put small gifts and your own loaned items there. When someone visits or you're heading to their place, take a quick look in the basket for anything to give them.

- Find, buy or make an aesthetically satisfying tray to act as your inbox for bills and receipts. Don't muddy it with non-financial stuff - get a separate inbox for that if you need one. The Bills Box is where you should keep the postage stamps.

Posted on January 4, 2006 at 11:01 PM in arranging your home | Permalink | Comments (1)

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