Irwin Weiner ASID -- Each year we fantasize about tackling big projects like remodeling our kitchen or putting in a new bathroom floor. When the reality sets in that these may involve considerable expense, time, and professional help beyond a Do-It-Yourself project, we deflate after the first of the year and our home improvement resolutions fizzle out.
Don't let this happen to you! The best way to make a resolution for the New Year is to pick something manageable, follow through with it, add confidence and momentum to your home makeover desires, then tackle something else. I always urge my clients around this time of year to simply clean up and organize. Here's the system:
- Start Small. Pick one room of your house to clean up. Let's say you've chosen your master bedroom. Now, subdivide the room into zones for cleaning and choose your Priority Zone. Let's say it's the large chest of drawers along the south wall of your bedroom suite. That's where your cleaning project will start.
- Everything Out! Completely empty the zone you've chosen to clean. If it's a closet, you're going to take every single item out -- shoes, shirts, dresses, folded T shirts, and anything on shelves or hanging rods. Put all items neatly into the center of the room.
- Three Piles. Now you're going to look at each item and decide to put it into one of three piles: (1) Throw Away, (2) Sell, Donate, or Give Away, and (3) Keep. The first and third piles are obvious. You will keep items that you use a lot, need, and really love. You will throw out items that are of no use to anyone, like a broken lamp or magazines and personal papers that you will never read or need again. Be sure to recycle trash items whenever possible. The second pile should be items that have value, but not to you; you can sell them in a tag or yard sale, set up your own stand at a flea market, post items on Ebay, give them to a local consignment shop to sell for you (and pocket the proceeds, minus the store's commission), give them to friends or relatives (like passing on baby clothes and toys your family has long grown out of), or donate them to a charity or church second-hand store. I love giving away things I no longer need to other members of my family; it continues the holiday spirit of giving throughout the year.
- Purge the Zone. Throw out and recycle all trash items immediately and take all give-away, sales, and donation items and store them in boxes where they're out of the way (a garage, attic, basement, etc.).
- Clean and Refill. Run the vacuum cleaner and take out the cleaning products to give your emptied-out zone a good cleaning. Banish grime from bookshelves, suck up all the cobwebs and dustbunnies, and polish any metal or wood. Now you can put back the items you'll be keeping, and they're going back into a much cleaner, tidier space.
- Tackle Other Zones. Once you've completed one zone in one room, go to another zone and follow the steps above. Then go to each zone in the room until everything is newly organized.
- Organizational Items. Now for the finishing touch to your organizational, space-making room makeovers. Go to Bed, Bath & Beyond, Target, The Container Store, Home Goods, or other local store to purchase organizational and storage accessories that will help make better use of the space you have for the items you've decided to keep. I recently had a client with a stack of diplomas in picture frames that she never wanted to hang, so I convinced her to give the frames away to her sister and purchase flat decorative boxes that hold documents and diplomas Now she has everything within reach in a decorative storage box. I also recommend decorative boxes to store all those loose family photos, and use separate ones to sort out different subjects: the grandkids, family vacations, pictures of our house, our relatives, and so on. Boxes, decorative baskets, and magazine files are great for organizing craft supplies, home office supplies and papers, and children's artwork and supplies. I've personally gone onto Ebay and purchased small leather luggage bags and decorative hatboxes, putting them on closet shelves to store out-of-season hats, scarves, gloves and mittens, and shoes.
Miracle of miracles -- you have a lot more space now that you've weeded out all those items to toss out, give away, sell, or donate. You'll find you have more room in your closet, less furniture and accessories in your rooms, and more general storage space. And with the items you give away and donate, you have the satisfaction of seeing your unwanted possessions doing others good; and with the items you'll be selling, you'll pocket more money. More space in your home and more money -- now those are wonderful home project results!