It’s March, and spring is right around the corner. While you may be itching to get outside and start the spring clean-up in the yard, set aside some time to do a spring clean-up inside too!
If you live in the Northeast like I do, you may be despairing that spring will EVER arrive. If you’re still snowbound, it’s the perfect time to put your energies to indoor projects since you can’t do anything in the yard anyway. And if you’re fortunate enough to be able to enjoy the outdoors already, then you may already be in clean-up and clear-out mode, and it’ll be easy to do a little indoors as well. Why not take your spring cleaning to a new level this year?
I don’t mean that you have to go out and spend lots of money on new furnishings throughout your home, but some decluttering and freshening up can go a long way towards giving you a fresh outlook!
Do you have a room that looks like this? Did you know that there are links between clutter and the amount of stress you feel? While everyone has different tolerance levels for clutter, neuroscientists at Princeton found that physical clutter in your environment competes for your attention, resulting in decreased performance and increased feelings of stress. A study by UCLA researchers found that mothers’ stress hormones spiked when they spent time dealing with their family’s belongings. On the flip side, when people let go of items they own and have become attached to, they experience the same reaction in their brains that happens when they feel physical pain. So what are you to do?
Speed: Take the Band-aid approach to de-cluttering. Set aside time to tackle a room all at once. Once you get past the initial response to getting rid of certain possessions, you’ll also start to get the high of accomplishment and a brand-new feel to your room. You need to capitalize on that feeling rather than letting the project drag on and potentially never get finished.
Quantity: Set a goal for a certain number of items or percentage of stuff that will leave the house. As you work, create two piles — one to keep, which you should tidy up and put away immediately, and the other to dispose of right away. And if your items are good enough to donate, consider keeping track of what you donate for tax purposes and get a second reward for your hard work! It’s Deductible is a free, easy-to-use donation tracker that gives you suggestions for valuing your donated items.
Photography: To ease the pain of losing items of particular sentimental value, have your digital camera in hand and take photos of your items, or of yourself with the items. You’ll be able to remember them without being enslaved to them!
Once the clutter is gone, it’s time to turn a critical eye towards items that look dated, have become worn or just don’t function well in the room. Start with the first room you enter when coming into your home and work your way throughout. Or, if that sounds too daunting, set yourself a goal of 2-3 rooms per year. Some of us have a harder time letting go of things than others, so if you need to, employ a child, close friend, or sibling to help you identify the items that need to go. (It’s time to grow a thick skin, friends — encourage your helper to be honest and don’t be offended about the things they suggest need to go. It’s all for the best, and honesty is cleansing too!)
Here are some questions to ask yourself —
Is the fabric/pattern/color/style current or outdated?
Is it faded/overused/worn?
Is the style appropriate for its placement? For example: a window treatment that’s heavy and blocks too much light from the window or wall decor that’s too small, too large, or inappropriate for its location.
Is there too much stuff sitting around? Do the items in the room contribute to the decor or detract from it?
It’s especially hard letting go of stuff that either cost a lot or required a lot of time to create! Try to put those considerations and feelings aside and think like a stranger. Think only about what looks great in the room. If you’re feeling especially ambitious, a fresh coat of paint, an accent wall or calling in a professional for a complete overhaul will give your space a whole new dynamic.
Here’s to you and your spring-clean home!
Melanie Langford, CT Interior Designer, All About Interiors