It’s January 6th. How many of you are still holding strong with those New Year’s resolutions you made one week ago? No shame here… making resolutions is easy. It’s the keeping them part that is so tricky. Especially at this time of the year, there’s all kinds of pressure to make massive overhauls and huge changes, but a few decades of living have taught me that change comes slowly and simple changes are the ones that are most likely to be kept.
How many of you started 2016 with a pledge to lose 30 pounds, eat 100% organic, clean food and exercise for an hour every day? Yep, me too… Well, the old me. The new me knows that those goals are unrealistic. The new me is happy to commit to a cleaner way of eating AND allow myself a cheat day once a week. The new me knows that a 30 minute walk (even if it’s on my treadmill!) is doable. So, yes… I’ve been thinking a lot about making positive changes and how to keep them. And then, because my thoughts generally shift to all things real estate, I started wondering what would happen if our HOMES could make New Year’s resolutions, too.
What would our home’s wish for? I imagine that list of resolutions would not be much different than our own. Lose weight? Yes, please. Eat well? Obviously, houses don’t eat, but I’m pretty sure your house would love to be filled with quality materials, so yes again. Exercising? In terms of our homes, running and pumping iron might look a lot more like exterior maintenance and improvement. You get the drift. Our homes, like our bodies, could always do with a little pick me up and what better time of year to commit to those positive changes than now? So, let’s get busy and help our homes tackle that first resolution… to lose weight and feel great!
You know where I’m headed, right… in order for our homes to be lean and mean fighting machines, we need to purge and organize. This can feel like a daunting task, but if you pledge to spend this month working your way through your home, you’ll see and feel a huge difference. It’s all about planning. Understand that purging and organizing involves three very manageable steps and you can easily apply these steps to each and every room of your home. Step one: throw stuff out! Step two: Donate what can be used by others! Step three: Organize what you keep!
Step 1: TRASH IT. Here’s the deal, friends. You’re going to have be kind of brutal with this step. No wishy washy, well I might use it, I might fit into it again, I might find a space for it… Moving room by room, armed with a trusty contractor’s trash bag, ask yourself: “Have I used this item in the past six months? Does this item bring me joy? Can this item be donated?” If the answer to those three questions is a big, fat NO, then you need to trash that baby. Baskets that are musty and dusty? Trash ‘em. Faux floral arrangements that are outdated? They’re gone. Clothing and linens that are ripped, torn or soiled? See ya later, alligator. In no time at all, you’ll find that your home feels cleaner and lighter.
Step 2: DONATE IT. After you’ve worked your way through your house with those trash bags (and made multiple trips to the dump!), you should have built up a nice donation pile. Grab some handy Rubbermaid totes and start separating your items into categories. Household goods like dishes, glassware and cookbooks? Your local Goodwill will be happy to take them off your hands. Similarly, they’ll be happy to receive gently worn clothing, but if you have a little extra time, consider sending your duds to a consigner. What about electronics? Those are trickier to donate or recycle. You need to be especially careful with your home computers and be sure to destroy hard drives. Most municipalities have collection days for old televisions, computers and electronics, so check out your county website and find out where and when you can recycle those clunky machines.
Step 3: ORGANIZE IT. Aaah… this is my favorite. The dirty work is done and you should have already noticed big results. Doesn’t your home seem larger and lovelier? Now it’s time to get it organized and develop a strategy to avoid letting the stuff pile back up. Consider using closet organizers and those Rubbermaid totes to keep your closets in tip-top shape. Reorganize open shelving to display the stuff that made the cut and that you really treasure. A good rule of thumb for shelving… no more than three types of one thing on a shelf. For example, four or five hard backed books look great with a small silver bowl and a black and white framed photo. Adding more to that one shelf can make things look cluttered and visually unappealing. Organize your kitchen cabinets by putting cutlery and everyday dishes next to the appliances that are used the most… the dishwasher and stove. For bedrooms, purchase oversized vacuum bags to store out of season linens and the like.
One caveat to this home weight loss plan. Just like in real life, if you bite off too much, you’ll quickly become overwhelmed and give up. Make a plan to work on one room each day or every few days. Definitely take days off and plan fun dinners or movie dates. Realize that this resolution is a marathon, not a sprint. Pat yourself on the back when you finish the kitchen and bathrooms… those are big jobs and you – and your home! – should feel proud of what you’ve accomplished!