As school resumes, and my schedule is at risk of being greatly overwhelmed, I’m reminded of the thing that I think a lot of us struggle with these days –- Keeping It Simple, Sweeties.
With our cell phones constantly beckoning, and email literally at our fingertips, I’m sure I’m not the only one to find it ironic that technology, in its attempt to make things easier for us, actually contributes to the frenzy of daily life. We’re all busy. Too busy perhaps. It seems that life is a juggling act, balancing work and family, extracurricular activities and exercise, eating well and volunteering. How do we keep it up without it all crashing down!?
Through trial and error over the years, I’ve learned a few tricks to streamlining my life. While it takes a little discipline, and I am not always good at it, it definitely helps.
1. Make a list. First thing in the morning — or better yet, the night before — make a list of everything that you want and need to accomplish that day. It only takes five minutes, and it saves oodles of time later as it gives some structure to the day. After you write the list, highlight the top two things that absolutely must get done. Then star a few other items that you would like to get done. Then be easy on yourself. If you are like me, it’s probably impossible to get everything on your list checked off! So congratulate yourself if you complete at least the two “musts” and one or two of the stars. After all, there is always tomorrow!
2. Consolidate. How tempting it is to check every email/text as it comes in! Give yourself a break. If possible, allot two to three times in the day to respond to phone calls, email, and texts. This way, nothing slips through the cracks, and you will probably end up feeling less scattered. Who knows, maybe these email and phone times will end up feeling like a break in your day!
3. Prioritize. While the first two tips will help you prioritize your day, remember to step back and prioritize your life! Figure out what is important to you – really important to you – and see if your daily life matches up. If spending time with your children is more important than baking four cakes for the charity bake sale, then feel free to say no this year to the sale – or better yet, get your children involved with the cooking! If having some alone time is more important than making it to every social function you are invited, be sure to honor yourself in that way. When you know what is important to you, saying “No” to anything that diverts you will be much easier. You – and your family – will be happier for it.
The key is to find a balance. Not an easy goal, as I know from experience! I do believe though, that in order to simplify, it’s necessary to maintain perspective. When we are caught up in the day-to-day, we could end up missing out on life. Keeping it simple helps us to slow down and savor our blessings. So give yourself a break. Turn the cell phone off if you have to, forego the juggling, and enjoy your life.
Are you looking to update a particular room, but you (like the rest of us) are short on time? Good news! You can make some major improvements in as little as an hour! Try one or all of the following tips and poof! that room that was bothering you may just become one of your favorites.
1. Accessorize: Is the top of your coffee table cluttered? Do the tops of your end tables look messy? Tired of seeing the same accessories?
Begin by clearing off the tops of furniture. You’ll get a fresh look this way, and it’s easier to add to than take away! Remove the lamps, the books, the candles, the ceramic pears, everything. Now that you have a clean surface, ask yourself: what kind of furniture is it? Is it a wooden chest with a marble top? If so, begin with a wooden lamp and go from there. Mix up the textures, materials, and styles to see what suits you best. Be a little daring! Playing with the hard and soft surfaces creates tension that works.
In this client’s home, I played with shiny and rough textures; metal, wood, and ceramic; and curves and lines to create the perfect combination. Even the stick in the corner adds dimension!
2. Create a Vignette: By definition, a vignette is a “small picture.” In decorating, it’s a part of your home — say, a nook, a window, an entry way — that, after your creative touch, will tell a story and shed some personality. Do you have a corner in your home that is empty and boring? If so, find a purpose for it, and make every inch of your home count! For instance, I took this bare hall in a client’s home and made it warm and inviting:
3. Paint: I’ve said it before, but it’s a must for instant impact. Paint! Even painting one wall can create dimension in a space. Paint also makes the space look fresh and can give a light fixture an entire new look.
4. Clean out: Sometimes we just have to get rid of it. Bookshelves that are overcrowded, china cabinets with plates that haven’t been used since 1977, bedrooms with stuffed animals that haven’t been played with since 1987 — you get the idea. Even spaces guests don’t see count! Is your make-up drawer out of control? Has the storage closet collected so much that you have forgotten what was in there? When you hold onto items you aren’t loving and using, you — and your home — are being weighed down. Say ba-bye, and feel lighter!
5. Reframe Your Art for a New Look: While you are cleaning out that storage closet, you may come across some treasures as well. If you’ve been meaning to hang some forgotten pics, do it! Whether it’s artwork that suddenly appeals to you again, or photographs that bring back fond memories, walls welcome anything that warms the heart. It’s good to change these things out from time to time too, perhaps using different frames or switching the bedroom art with the living room’s.
This is a room I designed for a client’s daughter. See how the child’s owl art is taken to a new level when mounted on black?
Customizing a room doesn’t have to be over the top. It just has to be creative and well-thought-out! With a clean slate and a few good ideas, your home can go from ho-hum to custom in no time at all.
Do you walk into your home and go, AHHHHHHH, this space just feels so…soooo…right?????
If not, what is holding you back?
Many times clients call because they cannot pull their home together and they need major help. STAT. They aren’t exactly sure what is wrong, just that something is definitely not right.
The next time you think knocking down a few walls is the answer to your home-woes, try the following tips first. If you still aren’t ahhh-ing when you come home, give me a call.
1. Get Rid of It! Yes, it is okay to part ways with a family piece you do not love. I give you permission, so get rid of the guilt, and let it go.
One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. The rocking chair from my daughter’s room was her great-great aunt’s, but because she has outgrown the need of one, it is about to go into storage as well.
Just because it is a family heirloom or your aunt gave it to you for your wedding doesn’t mean it belongs in your home. So many tastes are out there, and I bet you can find a home for it (your sister? your niece? your neighbor?). So do it. Pronto. De-clutter. Keep only what you love and use…and you will definitely see and feel a difference in your home immediately!
2. Every Thing Has A Place. Every single thing in your home should have a place. Pencils. Phone accessories. Cucumbers. Summer hats. Screwdrivers. Blush brushes. Every thing. Whether it is in a specific drawer or in a particular closet, it has a home.
This recalls the de-cluttering process mentioned above. As a designer, I can find a home for any loved piece, but if you do not love it, repurpose it or get rid of it.
I have had many clients in my career who simply cannot let go of things, for fear of perhaps needing it “one day.” Let me tell you, take your chances. Ask a friend who has a discerning eye to help you decide what should stay and what should find a better home (including the garbage can or Goodwill). If there is something you absolutely cannot part ways with, box it up and put it in storage. Chances are, after a year of having it out of your immediate experience, you’ll have an easier time saying farewell to it.
3. Assess the Function of Each Room. Yes, each room should have a function. It does not matter whether you have a 1,500 or a 15,000 sq ft home, every room should have a purpose. The goal is to utilize every square inch in your home, and love it! Is that extra bedroom a study, a guest bedroom, or a workout room? Or is it just pretending to be all of those things when it’s really just storage? Give each room an identity so you can organize and decorate accordingly.
4. How Do You Want Your Home to Feel? Do you want your home to be a retreat from the crazy world we live in…
…or do you want it to reflect your bold personality?
Whatever you decide, make sure each room flows from one to the next. A retreat space will have more muted colors and softer furnishings, while one that is more bold may have pops of color. Figure out what you need when you are at home. Perhaps you need quiet time, but your home feels loud and busy. Perhaps you need a little more energy in your life, but all your furnishings are heavy and dark-colored. All of these things make a difference!
Your home can make you feel inspired and at peace, or it could possibly be draining you. Start by applying the above tips before doing anything long term or drastic. You may be amazed how donating a few things and making a trip to the Container Store can make you fall in love with your home again.