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Showing posts from October, 2021

Conquer Toy Clutter

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Okay – here's the truth. It's pretty much impossible to make your house look like children don't live there when, in fact, children do .  Maybe it's because you've put away your breakables, you have every outlet plugged with covers, there's a high chair in the dining room, or the family room boasts a bulletin board covered with amazingly colored scribbles – I mean (ahem) drawings by your gifted child. Of course you don't want to hide the fact that you have children, but that doesn't mean you want your house to look like some crazy clown went berserk in a toy store.  You are fine with the fact that your house looks like kids live there, but you don't want it to look like the home of hoarders-in-training. Right now is a great time to reduce toy clutter, with the holidays (and new toys) just around the corner.  Here's a process you can repeat a couple of times a year. 12 Steps to Tame the Toys 1.  Block out a couple of hours for the task, especially

Live Large in a Small Space

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Anne, a reader from England, recently sent an email saying that she was surprised by my idea of photographing outfits to post on a closet inspiration board .  "This won't apply to many people in England," she wrote.  "Our houses have become very much smaller over the years. . . because housing is so expensive over here." I was interested to hear how Anne and her husband live comfortably in their small home (53 square meters/570 square feet).  Here in the U.S. the average size of houses keeps growing , and of course bigger houses cost much more.  People seem willing to accept a huge mortgage, literally signing their lives away ("mortgage" originally meant "death pledge") in order to purchase and furnish as large a home as possible. Why do we carry such a heavy debt?  What are we looking for? Living in a smaller home forces us to think about what we own and how we use the space.  My husband and I live in about 700 square feet (65 square meters)

Less is Not a Bore

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"Less is a bore."  This was the reaction of Robert Venturi to modern architecture and design in 1966.  He was responding, of course, to Mies van der Rohe's famous dictum "Less is more," and went on to design buildings that are irregular, eclectic, and likened to pop art. And that's fine.  A minimalist mindset can accommodate many styles and tastes. But less isn't boring.  Less is peaceful.  It can reflect contentment with what you have.  And it can certainly be pretty.  Far from being soulless and cold, less can expose what you treasure and what you're really all about. Instead of letting your favorite things be buried in clutter and junk, less lets you intentionally choose what makes your heart sing, and then make it a feature. Owning less doesn't mean you have to do away with photos of your loved ones, vases of fresh flowers, or treasured books.  It doesn't mean you can't keep (and use) pretty china, inherited furniture, travel finds,

The Kitchen Makeover, Part 2

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You don't need a bigger house with a bigger kitchen.  Instead, you need to own less so that your kitchen can serve you better!  You need to own less, not to add frustration by removing a tool you really need, but so you can bypass inconvenience and easily access the items you use the most. So you've made time for a thorough kitchen declutter, starting with dishes, drinkware, flatware, serveware, and all of your tools and gadgets.  Now you're ready to deal with cookware, bakeware, small appliances, countertops, and your food storage areas. Let's continue!  (If you missed Part 1, find it here .) 7 More Steps to a Welcoming, Spacious, and Functional Kitchen 8.  Remove duplicate cookware. Do you really need all the pots and pans filling your cupboards, or might you do well with a carefully selected group?  Since cookware is often sold in sets (or we combine households with a partner), we end up with many pieces in various sizes.  Yet there are probably a few you reach for a

The Kitchen Makeover, Part 1

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Your kitchen is the heart of your home, the place where everyone lingers.  It's where you cook and eat, your kids do homework, and friends sit and drink coffee or wine and talk about their lives. But it might also hold too many dishes, glasses, gadgets, and small appliances, not to mention piles of mail, bags and backpacks, and 45 magnets on the refrigerator door. The kitchen is a busy place where clutter loves to accumulate.  We all need to streamline this heavily used area. And what are the benefits? More peaceful mornings as you prepare and eat breakfast, fix lunches to go, and get ready for the day. More clarity in creating a grocery list. More speed in the transition from grocery bag to freezer, refrigerator, or pantry. More ease in meal preparation and clean up. More confidence in entertaining. More time after dinner for family conversation and togetherness. That's a lot to promise, I know, but a clutter-free kitchen can make it possible.  So before you decide you need a

The Closet Makeover

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There are a few sure signs that you need to declutter your closet: It's full of clothes you no longer wear. You can't find what you need. Your clothes are so packed together they wrinkle. Even if you're not quite to this point, there are other times when anyone's closet can benefit from pruning and updating: The seasons are changing. Your lifestyle is changing – you're going back to work or starting a new career, retiring, having a baby, etc. You're getting ready to move. 5 Steps to a Curated Closet 1.  Gather your tools. Start with a donation box, a garbage bag, and a box for items that need to be cleaned or repaired.  A full-length mirror will let you assess items as you decide what to keep and what to toss.  You'll also need a spray bottle of all-purpose cleaner, a rag or two, a broom, and the vacuum cleaner or mop. 2.  Empty and clean your closet. This will be eye-opening, because you're going to discover exactly how many clothes you own.  You may di

End Binge and Purge

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Just a note:  Bulimia nervosa is an emotional disorder involving distortion of body image and an obsessive desire to lose weight.  Bouts of extreme overeating are followed by depression and self-induced purging or fasting.  Bulimia is a severe, potentially life-threatening condition, and nothing in this post is intended to dismiss or belittle those who suffer from it. * * * * * I used to have shopping bulimia. I'd go through a period of binge shopping, whether for clothes, home d├ęcor, books, kitchen items, or something else.  Then a few months later I'd go on a decluttering jag, have a garage sale or use classified ads, and donate what I couldn't sell.  Then with the money I'd made (and while still paying on credit card debt I'd run up during my binge phase), I'd go out and buy new stuff. The thing is, you're not truly decluttering if you go out to buy more.  You may be making some room so that your house, closets, and drawers don't become overstuffed, b

Declutter the Easy Way

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If you're new to decluttering, in the middle of decluttering (and feeling a little overwhelmed), or just wanting a bit of a tune-up, it's always a good idea to get back to basics.  Let go of your fear, let go of your guilt, and simply focus on your lovely, peaceful future with a home that holds everything you need and want and nothing you don't. 5 Steps to Declutter 1.  Remember why. There's a reason you decided that you want to live with less.  It's different for everyone – what is it for you?  Some people want more space, time, freedom, or money.  Others are looking for less stress and frustration.  Maybe you want room to entertain, to paint, to do yoga, for your kids to play, or simply to rest.  Knowing why gives your decluttering a purpose.  And if you aren't sure, this and this will help. 2.  Be clear about your goal. Remember that this isn't a mission to organize your stuff.  If organizing worked, you'd be organized by now.  Change your focus fro