Organize your bedroom: Step 2 – say it with color

 

In a previous article, I discussed how to define the space that is your bedroom. We’ve established that the bedroom serves 3 major functions: Sleep/Romance, Storage, and Relaxing. Once you’ve decided to work on getting your bedroom to be your calm oasis, the real muscle work comes in! The 2nd step in organizing your bedroom for peace and comfort is to SAY IT WITH COLOR.

A good rule of thumb when painting any room of your house is to go neutral — and neutral comes in many shades. From whites to beiges to grays and even browns, find a shade that’s just right for you. Go to your paint or home improvement store and get color samples. Bring them home, and see what color goes best with your lighting, and with existing pieces that you plan to keep. Bedrooms will use a flat wall paint, which will not reflect light and appear shiny. Once you have picked out your color, and know that it’s the one you want, go ahead and get some friends together, and start painting. A nice, crisp white trim color will make windows and doors stand out, as well. Play up any architectural features you might have in this room, such as arches, tray ceilings, chair rails, wainscoting, or fireplaces. But remember to keep it neutral. Not only will this help you when it’s time to accessorize, it will be more appealing to a majority of buyers whenever it’s time to sell your house.

So now that you have painted your bedroom a nice soft neutral color (I’m personally fond of taupes and chocolate browns, it’s time to tie in the accessories that will compliment your wall color. You will need bedding, window treatments, and other accessories (such as baskets, pictures, etc.). If you need ideas for colors that go together, visit your home improvement store, or look online at different decorating websites. Remember that dark colors make a room look smaller, while lighter colors make it look bigger. By hanging curtains above the windows (up to the ceiling), you make the room appear taller. Some really neat shabby-chic curtains can be found made out of muslin, sailcloth, or you can even make them yourself from sheets. You don’t need expensive, custom draperies to make the room look crisp and cozy! The complimentary color(s) you’ve chosen should be used sparingly – DON’T but a boldly colored or busy-patterned bedspread on your bed. Keep the spread simple, and accessorize it with a few pillows, or a peek of color on a blanket folded at the bottom. If you have a desk or dresser, add a few baskets or trays in your color choice. This will help you keep things organized. Your bedroom is well on it’s way to becoming your oasis of calm and comfort!

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Organize your bedroom for peace and comfort: Step 1 – define the space

Is your bedroom a place of serenity and comfort? Or do you dread wading through piles of clothes and an unmade bed every night? There are some very simple steps to help you make this room a place of tranquility. This is the first in a series of articles to show you how to make your bedroom the most desirable room in your house.

The first step is DEFINING THE SPACE. Many people don’t even think about the purpose of a bedroom, beyond the obvious sleeping and romance! But you’d be surprised how often this room gets overlooked, because typically it’s the least seen room in your house. There is a tendency to pile up junk in your bedroom – clothes, shoes, books and magazines, projects you’re working on. If it’s out of the main traffic areas of the house, then no one will see it, right?

But what does that accomplish for YOU? A feeling of dread and stress when it’s time to retire for the night. You know that you didn’t make up the bed this morning, and that the laundry is piled up on the chair, and that there’s a stack of books on your nightstand that you mean to read, and the list can go on and on.

The key is to define the space. Don’t let your bedroom be a psuedo-office, or a catch-all for everything you don’t know where to put. Your bedroom should be used only for the following:

  • SLEEP/ROMANCE – this seems obvious, but is the most critical use of the bedroom. Later I’ll discuss how to bring the peace and tranquility to the bed with the use of bedding and color. The rest is up to you!
  • STORAGE – you will still have to use the bedroom for storage of things like clothes, shoes, makeup, and jewelry, but I will show you creative, simple and inexpensive ways to do so.
  • RELAXING – this is one of the most important aspects of your bedroom, and I’ll share tips on how to create that sense of calm and serenity, while maintaining the form and function of the room.

 

Nothing more! Notice that there is no eating or working listed above. Now you have a clear idea of exactly WHAT should go on in your bedroom. Once you begin to organize this space for its intended purposes, you will begin to look forward to going to bed, and to relaxing in the oasis that you have created!

 

Decluttering your Life….

So you think you have it all together. Your home is clean and organized, your desk is efficient and functional, and everything in your home or office has a place. Does this mean you have NO CLUTTER? Not necessarily.

One of the definitions of clutter is: “a disorderly heap or assemblage”. This can be interpreted as many things, but one we tend to overlook is the clutter of people, places, and events in our lives that can be disorderly and cause us confusion and stress. In order to take a good look at the clutter in your life, and find out how to get it under control, let’s start by identifying who and what makes up the clutter in your life.

Get a pad of paper, a comfy spot and maybe a cup of coffee (or glass of wine). Start by making a list of the following categories:

  • Work
  • Finances
  • Family
  • Friends
  • Stressful Events
  • Things

 

Within each of these categories, you may find things that are cluttering up your life, and making it disorderly and stressful. Do an honest evaluation of each item, and list everything you can think of – positive and negative – that might full under that heading. For example:

Work – Describe your job, what you do every day. The things you like, and the things you dislike. Things you wish you could change, and things you never will. Make a whole laundry list that covers everything you can think of relating to your job.

Friends – List the people in your life that you consider friends. Are there some people who bring you down constantly with negativity and drama? Are there some who lift you up every day with positive thoughts and support? Perhaps there are people that you wish you could be closer to, but just haven’t found a way or the time. List them all here.

Finances – Write down everything that falls under this heading – good and bad. Maybe you have a great savings plan at work, or an IRA that you’ve contributed to for 20 years. You might also have a huge student loan hanging over your head. Break down all of the financial things in your life and describe them on this part of the list.

By taking a good honest look at all of the areas of your life, you will be opening your eyes to things you haven’t thought about. Look for patterns of negativity and stress. Perhaps there are people in your family who cross over into several categories – work and finances. Maybe you have a car that’s causing you more problems that you can handle, and it’s strapping you financially, as well.

Writing things down is a great way to ‘verbalize’ what you have only kept in your head. Seeing it on paper helps make it real, and gives you a reference point to start addressing the clutter in your life. In the next article, we’re going to find out how to start eliminating the clutter from your life – by getting rid of things, and yes, people, who do not bring anything positive to your life!

Spring Cleaning – Game Plan

Nothing can make you feel more ready for Spring than the smells and sights of a clean house.  It doesn’t have to be a headache OR a lengthy project. With some careful planning and an easy Game Plan, it can be a breeze!  The key is planning – plan what supplies you need, plan what areas need to be tackled, and plan the order in which you will clean.   I have found that for THIS project, I plan it by the JOB, and not by the ROOM (kitchen and bathroom being the exceptions).  So for each job listed below, do it for the whole house – not just one room!

First, make a list of all the supplies you will possibly need. I won’t go into green vs. not-green at this time, so use whatever products work for you. You’ll need cleaners for wood, glass, metal, counters, and floors. You’ll also need wipes for those things – rags, sponges, mitts, towels – whatever you find most efficient. Don’t forget the tools, like brooms, mops, vacuums, high-reach dusters, etc. Finally, gather all the supplies you need into a caddy, basket, or bucket, and roll your sleeves up!

I suggest putting on some energizing music – whatever makes you happy, and keeps you moving. You might also open some windows if it’s warm enough; the outdoor freshness will motivate you.  Here’s MY 7-day Game Plan for spring cleaning:

  1. Day One – Start at the top of every room.  I use a long-handled magnetic-type duster and go around the ceilings, tops of windows, ceiling fans and light fixtures, bookcases, etc. Dust in a clockwise motion and work your way around the rooms. Then continue with the dusting process – all wood surfaces, glass surfaces (including mirrors, but not windows), and electronics. Clean all blinds, making sure to get between slats.  Your goal for this day is to have all the dust/dirt on the floor! (note: if it’s a LOT of dust/dirt, go ahead and do a quick vacuum to avoid tracking it through the house. Otherwise, let it wait until the day for vacuuming!)
  2. Day Two – Vacuum couches, chairs, and cushions. Wash/vacuum area rugs (shake them off outside first). Vacuum and mop all floors in the house. Shampoo any carpets that need to be done.
  3. Day Three – Laundry: wash all curtains (including shower curtains), all bedding, and any throws or other fabric items that you have around the house. Don’t forget the mattress pads and bathroom rugs. Flip the matresses, and remake the beds and rehang curtains when they’re done.
  4. Day Four – Clear kitchen counters and sanitize them. Wipe down all cabinets and organize anything in them that’s cluttered (i.e. plastic storage). Wipe off top of the fridge and microwave. Clean out the fridge and freezer. Clean out oven and inside of microwave. Sanitize sink and garbage disposal. Sanitize any other surfaces.
  5. Day Five – Empty all trash cans and sanitize them. Change filters (furnace, water filters, etc.). Replace smoke detector batteries or any burnt-out lightbulbs. Wash all windows in the house – inside and out. Don’t forget the window sills.
  6. Day Six – Clean all toilets, sinks, showers, and bathroom cabinets. Pay special attention to corners that you may have missed on Day One. Organize counters, cabinets and drawers, and purge anything expired or empty.

That’s it. I know I said it was a 7-Day Plan, but the 7th day is for you to celebrate and enjoy! Light some candles, decorate with fresh flowers, and revel in your accomplishments!

Spring Cleaning – an Office??

Yes!

Spring Cleaning isn’t just for your house anymore! Whether you have just set up your office, or it’s been gathering dust for months, this is the time of year to work on getting it “spring cleaned”. That really is just a great catch-all term for doing a thorough clean-up of things like folders, files, drawers, calendars, and even email folders.

Let’s get the physical dirt out of the way first. As with any cleaning project, you want to start at the TOP of the room, and work your way around and down in a clockwise direction.

  • Cover your computer with a sheet or towel before beginning.
  • Using a long-handled duster, dust the tops of windows, bookshelves, ceiling fans and fixtures, and work your way around and down.
  • Now clean blinds or any window coverings – including laundering curtains and drapes if you have any.
  • Wash the windows.
  • Dust the surfaces – desk, bookshelves, filing cabinets, anything that you didn’t get in the overhead sweep.
  • Time to straighten things back up. Do a quick “clutter purge” (removing anything that does NOT belong in the office) and then arrange things in a logical and efficient order.
  • Vacuum the floor and any chair cushions that you can.

Now you’ve done the “dirty work”; it’s time to do the mental part!

  • Starting with the filing cabinets – go through and purge anything that is no longer needed (i.e. manuals to appliances you no longer own, cancelled credit card paperwork, bills and receipts more than 5 years old, etc.) Be sure to shred anything with personally identifying information on it.
  • Make new files if needed, and then make a MASTER LIST of all the files in your drawer, attaching the 1-sheet guide to a bulletin board or the front of your planner. This will help you know quickly what you have.
  • Go through desk drawers and throw out dried up markers and pens, broken paperclips and rubber bands, and anything else that’s just taking up space that isn’t working for you. Use a great inexpensive drawer organizer to help you keep it straight.
  • Do a quick check of your calendar and planner – do you have everything recorded that needs to be? Are addresses and appointments up to date?
  • Finally, go through your computer files. Purge emails, contacts, projects, and documents that are obsolete or have been replaced with more current versions. Do routine maintenance (like defrag, virus scans, etc.), and then save important things on an external drive.

This project may take you a few days or a few weeks. The important thing is to tackle it NOW before you get into the busy times that may be ahead as the weather warms up, and you want to be outside enjoying nature!  Once you’ve “spring cleaned” your office, you will be more productive and feel more organized. If you need help or suggestions, feel free to contact me!

Spring Cleaning Special – 3 hours for the price of 2

Now that Spring has sprung (outdoors anyway), it’s time to think about getting the INSIDE in order!! I’ll be running a series soon with step-by-step tips on getting your house organized and cleaned for Spring.

Just wanted to pass along a special I’m running now – get 3 hours of cleaning/decluttering/organizing for the price of 2! Just email me for more information and stay tuned for great tips!

Moving…a great time to declutter…usually, but not always!

I have a friend who is getting ready to move from one beach condo (where she’s been living for the past 7 months), to another beach condo (where she will live for the next 6 months) — I know, rough life isn’t it? However, she’s also maintaining a home in another part of the state as her permanent residence. So basically – living in 3 places at once. My thought – this is a PERFECT time for her to declutter!

In looking through the ‘stuff’ that’s accumulated at the first beach condo that wasn’t there when she moved in (like assorted shells, sea glass, coffee mugs, sisal rugs, lawn chairs, etc.) it’s a conundrum for her – whether to pack it all up and move it, toss it out and start over, or begin to live a minimalist life for the next 6 months!

The hard part with stuff like that is the emotional attachment that it can bring. The shells and sea glass are memories of great visits on the beach with friends and family; the coffee mugs were purchased in special shops that they visited. I suppose accumulating things like this can occur anywhere, but seem more prevalent in typical “vacation” spots. So now that she’s got to pack up and move to yet another temporary location, how practical is it to move it all?

I’ve tried to look at it from a professional standpoint, giving the same advice I would normally — “if you haven’t used it in 6 months/if it doesn’t fit/if it’s not something you really enjoy”, etc. — but my usual arguments seem to be failing this time. Realistically, there’s not THAT much stuff. I mean, how much room can a bowl of sea shells really take up?

Finding creative ways to display treasured objects is a great practice to follow no matter where you live. We’re going to err on the side of NOT decluttering, but being okay with moving a few extra things. After all, it’s temporary, and the decision will have to made again in 6 months. I think she’ll wait and deal with it then!