Minimalism and Being Tidy

The summer is over and schools are back in session.  The temperature is dropping and the trees are beginning to change colors and shed their leaves.  Trees do this to conserve energy.  As we move into autumn, its time to follow the trees preservation method and conserve our own energy by shedding our own leaves.  For this blog post, I write once again on the topic of minimalism in its effects on every day life.  Specifically, how to reduce items and naturally influence the knack for being tidy, thus conserving your energy for the truly important things in life.

If you’re constantly frustrated with the mess in your house, the stress that wanting to tidy up all the time causes you, or maybe overwhelmed with needing to sort and purge, then lets figure out some ways to help you shed and conserve all of that stressful energy.  I’m by no means a trending lifestyle guru, I’m just in a routine that I find beneficial, inspired by the ideals of minimalism philosophies.  With these practices I don’t have a lot of the clutter items that often bog down many people.

Things I don’t have:
  • Piles of junk mail
  • Unused items such as clothes, shoes, kitchen tools, or linens
  • Items in storage I might need one day
  • Anything expired
  • A junk drawer (inconceivable, I know!)
  • Broken or ripped anything
  • Cluttered surfaces
  • Useless or meaningless knickknacks

I simply don’t have them. They’ve either been processed and tossed out or donated. I have six methods of staying organized and tidy that I’ve adopted over the years that I can attribute to minimalism and find to be very beneficial. Its just like learning any new skill for your job, you must retrain yourself into a new behavior.  First, its very new but then after a while its routine and simply your modus operandi. My six methods can all tie into each other and are as follows:

Do it now
    How many times do you toss something aside and say to yourself that you’ll put it away later? Do it now while you remember.  It can also relate to chores, errands, just things to do in general. Do them now, while they’re on your mind. 
Touch it once
    This one particularly works for junk mail and paperwork. Don’t just bring it in and toss it on the counter, but rather sort it, file it, rip it and recycle it immediately.  Three letters in the mail is easy, an accrued stack of 50 pieces tall is overwhelming.  Bring in the mail and sort it immediately. 
Reset the scene
    This one pertains to rooms. When you’re finished with am activity, make the room ready for the next time use. For example, never leave dirty dishes in the kitchen at the end of the night, don’t leave out toiletries on the bathroom counter in the morning, or leave work on a Friday with a messy desk. When finished with something, clear it up and leave the area ready for next time. 
Once a season
    This one is good for clothes, coats, shoes, holiday decorations, and linens.  In the transition time between seasons, sort through previous used items and prepare for the new season coming by donating and tossing items that no longer work for you. 
Be realistic
    This one is in regard to all of the unused items you have stored away in your closets, attic, garage, and basement. It’s all the extra unused stuff that you’ve been given, inherited, or simply accumulated over the years. You need to be realistic on ever using these items. Sentiment and memories still exist without the items. Can the items better serve someone else? If so, then sell or donate them.  If they’re unusable or worthless, ask yourself why you have them. 
One in, One out
    This one relates to shopping. Did you buy new shoes, toss out their replacements.   Did you buy new towels, don’t leave the old ones in the cupboard, donate them to animal shelters.  Some people keep old towels in case of an emergency water leak.  If you’ve ever had a leak, you know you move fast and won’t be thinking, “Oh, grab the old blue towels not the new ones”  You grab whatever’s first visible to stop the flood.  Simply toss out the old used up items once you buy new ones.  This stops the  accumulation of useless stuff at the source.

Lastly, many people may comment that their spouse or children wouldn’t go along with these efforts.  If that’s the case then just focus on your items for which you’re responsible.  You’ll feel better and then, hopefully seeing your success, they’ll feel inspired to join you.

Its OK, step by step, you’ll get there.  Set small goals so not to create chaos, many people burn out by overdoing the attempt. Slowly, room by room it will happen. 

Set yourself free and shed your leaves.

fallen leaves

Thanks for reading, please join me again next time.

Sarah Daricilar, NCIDQ

Studio Owner & Interior Designer

Daricilar Design Studio    –    Millis, MA

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Making room in your rooms

In the month ahead, we are about to consume a ton of both food and money.  Let’s talk about purging our stuff and needing to make more room.  Just as our stomachs only have so much space, so do our homes, businesses, and even our minds.  Let’s first be grateful for all that we have but its time to declutter…

There’s a simple reason we need more space, we have too much stuff.  Our rooms are not too small, there are simply too full with too many things in them.  Try shifting the paradigm, instead of being persuaded to get rid of something, try having to defend why you should keep it.  In my August’s post about Evolving rooms and flexible spaces. I mentioned that I would discuss storage in general at a later date.  Below is an excerpt from that post:

Purge all unused items out of your space, it’s too expensive to fill with stuff you don’t use. Sell, donate, pass along, throw out, just make it leave.  Clothes that don’t fit, rusty baking pans, old books, uncomfortable shoes, anything that doesn’t bring you joy or used daily is taking up expensive real estate in your home.  Let it continue its journey and set yourself free!  I recommend every season to get the stuff under control and from then on once a year to maintain the balance.

HOMES

  • Bedroom- Use closet organizers for clothes by type.  Establish hanging vs. folded, stacked on shelves or in drawers.  Buy a double bed for kids instead of twins for sleeping options flexibility.  If you don’t have a linen closet, store bedding in each bedroom in the closet or in totes under the bed.  To reduce furniture in small bedrooms, use wall mounted shelves, sconces, and place dressers in closets if needed.
  • Clothes- Only keep clothes that are either sentimental or actively worn.  Definitely keep hand me down clothes for your children in the future but not for yourself.  If you no longer fit in an item, it has holes, stains, irritates, or is out of style then donate or toss it.  When styles repeat as they always do, they are never the same.  Your 80’s & 90’s clothes are just that, not the new 80’s and 90’s.  Keep the classics, toss the trends.
  • Kitchen- Raid the pantry cupboard and fridge for expired or forgotten food, then toss and donate.  Keep your kitchen counter clear apart from appliances used daily.  If possible, buy a table with self storing leaves or extensions.  If there’s no basement, stash extra kitchen chairs in bedroom corners or use as desk chairs.  Donate the collection of generic glass vases, warped baking pans, and old dish towels.  Purge the Tupperware, mismatched mugs, and the fridge magnets.
  • Bathroom- Toss out old toiletries,  donate old towels, install hooks and wall shelves.
  • Living/Family Room-  Furniture should be scaled for the size of the room, first identify travel patterns and then arrange the furniture around those.  Sort through old books and magazines, CD’s and DVD’s, then donate or sell.

BUSINESS

  • Paper- start a “touch the paper once” rule: pick it up, use it and file/recycle it.  Shuffling papers around your desk wastes time and doesn’t help.  Take photos of documents, use cloud software or external/jump drives for storage.
  • Electronics- Organize cables and chargers, establish a home or station for them.  Simplify the gadgets: multiple phones, tablets, laptop and a desktop is too much.  Unless your job requires separate devices, scale it back.
  • Furniture- Old office furniture is not a comforting look for your clients.  Once you’ve depreciated the value on your taxes, no longer need it, and its way out of style, donate or trade it in to resale or refurbish.  If you advertise your business as being current or cutting edge, but your conference room screams 1990, that’s a confusing message.  Your physical office counts just as much for your branding image as your logo, webpage, and slogan. You wouldn’t wear a suit 25 years old so don’t make your office wear one either.  If you can’t afford to replace all the furniture, be strategic in where the new furniture should go.  Your staff’s daily comfort and  the first impression of clients are paramount.  Focus on ergonomic desk chairs and pleasant reception areas first then move on to replacing conference rooms and cubicles.  I’ll address office furniture in more detail in a later post.

MIND

  • Social media and email- Set a stopping time for the evening.  Move to a relaxing activity such as listening to calming music or taking a shower.  Sip a warm drink and start dimming the lights to induce a sleepy environment.
  • Running errands- When going to and from errands, incorporate short walks to the end of the street, pause and stretch, then continue on your journey.
  • Eating- Put the electronics down and really taste your food.  Be aware of the speed you are eating, and look around you.  Talk to the people you’re eating with and come out of the trough mentality.

In general, retain only sentimental and very useful items then either donate, toss or sell the rest. Resist the thoughts of “what if one day…” or “what if I might…”.  Live in the now and make space for tomorrow.  Not everything is sentimental, useful, or necessary.

Also, don’t feel like you have to do it all at once or that you don’t have time.  If you watched tv last night, then you have time for one item, one cabinet, one room.  I think you’ll find that once you start you won’t want to stop.  Free yourself from the heavy emotional burden of all this clutter in your life and let the real you breathe.  Just as roots need space to grow, people need it too.

Sincerely,

Sarah Daricilar, NCIDQ

Studio Owner & Interior Designer

Daricilar Design Studio    –    Medway, MA

 

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Evolving rooms and flexible spaces.

restored homes, home remodel, home renovation

According to recent data, the average American home has grown to over 2,000 square feet, costs over $200,000, has 3-4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, living room, dining room and eat-in kitchen.  In our minds we have our dream house.  It has all the rooms we need and in the layout and style we want.  The open floor plan or closed, two story, ranch walkout or contemporary split, we want it and dream that one day we’ll have it.  The house will have a finished basement, media room, study, play room, craft corner, upstairs laundry, master suite, four season porch, finished attic, teen getaway, in-law apartment, mud room, man cave, wine room, heated garage, yoga room, greenhouse and so on.  The list goes on and the dreams get bigger.  Heck, after all of that, a simple separate guest room doesn’t sound so hard. 

Taking these points and adding all of the rooms mentioned above, the dream house grows quickly to +5,000 square feet and costs $800,000 and upwards.  That is a lofty ambition!  If you live in a highly sought after metro area, double that $800,000.  I’m here to discuss all of these enjoyable rooms and figure out how to get those functions into a manageable sized house and mortgage. 

First, before anything, de-junk your house.  Purge all unused items out of your space, it’s too expensive to fill with stuff you don’t use.  Sell, donate, pass along, throw out, just make it leave.  Clothes that don’t fit, rusty baking pans, old books, uncomfortable shoes, anything that doesn’t bring you joy or used daily is taking up expensive real estate in your home.  Let it continue its journey and set yourself free!  I recommend every season to get the stuff under control and from then on once a year to maintain the balance.  (I will address storage in general in another month’s blog).  

Now you’ve carved out some empty corners in your house, let’s figure out how to better utilize them.  If you analyze the list of dream rooms, they can usually fall into three categories: noisy activity, quiet hobby, or functional service.  Ignore the names of your house’s rooms and label them with one of the three categories instead.  Next, make the room multi task.  Take your dining room for example.  With a kitchen table and a counter top with bar stools, do you really need a third place to eat occasionally or seasonally?  “Oh but it’s pretty and elegant to have a formal dining room for holiday family dinners” you say.   Meanwhile your lack of home office is taking over your bedroom, living room, and kitchen counter.  Your papers are everywhere, you’ve lost your phone charger for the nth time and you can’t find your child’s permission slip for tomorrow’s field trip.

 It’s not the formality that makes the meal, it’s the food you share with the company you keep and the conversation you have.  

Turn your dining room into a work room.  Throw a good padded tablecloth over your table, slide some pretty file boxes into your china hutch, slip you laptop into a drawer.  Do whatever you need to do to make this unused space into working for you.  Better yet, don’t create a formal dining room from the start, think daily functional needs.  This room can be your office, homework station, craft corner, and library, then all tuck away at the holidays if you still “need” your fine china fix. 

mid century modern chairs, minimalist livinghome office, blue walls, shaker style cabinets, small spaces, white decor, home remodel

Some rooms do require a remodel such as adding a bathroom or moving the laundry upstairs. Those are a separate issue for another day.  Let’s keep adding functions to existing rooms.  Want a mud room? Add hooks, shelves, and a bench to a back hallway or in the garage.  Make your family room the noisy, teen, game, media, man cave, home theater, music room.  Your living room becomes the quiet, sewing, study, den.  For upstairs, can your children share a room? Why not, you and your spouse do. BAM! Now you have a vacant room to become a guest, gym, and rec room.  Don’t have a linen closet? Store towels in baskets hung on the wall and bedding in each bedroom’s closet.  No basement? Go vertical in the garage.  Use double beds instead of twins to increase room occupancy and tuck storage bins under all the them.  Get rid of all the books, DVDs, and CDs . Wait- what did I say?  These things take up tremendous space, most get used just a few times, waste resources and spend your money.  Use the library, develop a swap meet with friends/family, buy an e-reader, download songs, use Netflix or Roku, keep your old worn favorites, just don’t accumulate any more new ones. 

You have purged the clutter, reassigned rooms, and have started multi tasking some spaces.  Niches and alcoves are carved out and hooks have been hung.  Now let’s tackle the big dreams.   We don’t need man caves, master suites, teen dens, and in-law apartments if we figure out why we’re trying to escape.  

You didn’t start a family so you will all spend time in different rooms, doing your own activities.  Bring back the ideas of sharing and family togetherness.  

Alternate what’s playing on the tv, work together at the dining table, and bathe the kids while dad is shaving.  The point is to share space and enjoy your home.  

screened in porch, blue living room, sun room, house remodel

If and only if you have uncluttered your house, used every corner and are still bursting at the seams and tripping over one another should you consider construction.  Its expensive, time consuming and most of the time a little flexibility can be used instead.  However, there are always exceptions.  For example, if screening in your porch is a life long dream then do it, but let it also blossom to a summer sleeping porch, play room, hobby space and garden shed. The point is to multi task spaces. Let the rooms evolve to multiple functions.  Flexibility is simplicity.  Formal decorated, one function rooms are for glossy magazines, yours are to live in and love. 

Sincerely,

Sarah Daricilar, NCIDQ

Studio Owner & Interior Designer

Daricilar Design Studio    –    Medway, MA

 

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Preparing your house to show

real estate in Massachusetts homes for sale in Medway, interior designers in Medway, MA,

As spring moves into summer another season starts to bloom, house selling season!  In some parts of the country this season seems to come at the end drop of the last icicle melting.  So here you are, getting your house ready for the realtor to take the photos for their website, plant that powerful “For Sale” sign in your front yard, then commence the feverish constant upkeep for showings with an hour’s notice.  For the sake of this article let’s assume you’ve already raided the internet for tips on “staging” your house.  Now, let’s move beyond that.  This is what to do in that “power hour” before buyers come for a showing.  Let’s get extreme…

As an interior designer, I can help provide additional tricks after you’ve exhausted the typical tips on curb appeal, white slip covers, and removing knickknacks.  For example, have you rearranged your closets? I thought not.  Take a look at your closet, if it were a store would you shop there? If no, then get cracking.  Start by arranging your shirts by sleeve length and then by color.  Separate your bottoms into pants and skirt groups, fold your sweaters like they do in boutiques (sleeves inside), arrange purses along the top shelf, hang belts and scarves, and for the biggest visual impact face everything in the same direction, including the coat hangers.  Move on to the linen closet and repeat.  Fold towels into thirds with the ends facing the back, grouping colors together.  Turn all toiletry labels facing front (called “facing” in retail), and place all remaining miscellaneous items in a basket on a high shelf.  The same facing idea pertains to the cereal boxes and eye level goods in your pantry.  Your goal is to portray to the potential buyer that storage is not only not a problem but a joy in this house, its house eye candy.

Another trick, (this one’s more for you to live in this now immaculate house) is how to reign in your mail, bills, cell phone cords and miscellaneous life stuff that floats around the kitchen counter.  If you have space above your fridge, place a large high sided basket atop. This will become your hide away spot to throw all that stuff when its 30 minutes to show time. Lift it down, fill it up, and then raise it up out of touring eyes.  Awesome, right?

Bathroom remodel, interior designers in Medway,

Let’s go to the bathroom now.  At the half hour call to show time, tidy the bathroom.  Check your toilet is clean, wipe your faucets of water drip marks, pull your blinds open, straighten your towels (into thirds if possible), place your toothbrush/toothpaste under the sink and wet wipe down the counter and sink.  Toothpaste smears will not sell your home.  Straighten your shower bottles, fluff up your shower curtain, and tuck your trash back by your toilet.  For bonus effort, make a clean tidy tear on your toilet roll.

living room, colonial home in Medway, Interior Designers in medway, MA

Move to the the living room, you want to portray life energy can be possible, but not currently occurring.  Imagine your house like a snapshot of the potential of living there, that’s what you’re selling.  Straighten your pillows, refold your blankets (tuck your ends in), tidy up your magazines, fluff your curtains out allowing the windows to show.  Remove all shoes from the front entry.  Somewhere in this room hide a vanilla air freshener, make absolutely sure its not visible.  You are creating an atmosphere, not giving away the magician’s secrets.

white modern kitchen, kitchen remodel, interior designer in Medway, MA

For the kitchen, if you have a double sink, place the dish drying rack in there.  Better yet, take your dish scrubby brushes, rack and tuck them under your sink.  Your dishes do themselves, remember, create magic!  Place your basket o’stuff above your fridge, straighten your chairs and stools, wipe the faucet like you did in the bathroom, open any blinds, and take out the trash.

By this time in your preparation, you should be approaching an hour.  Spend the last 10 minutes scanning the major rooms and tweak minor adjustments (like focusing your photo frames to all face the same direction).  Your beds are already made (start adopting that morning habit and you won’t need to do it during your power hour.)   Now, take a fresh look at your home like the buyers will be doing. It looks pretty sharp!  Straightened, shiny, tidy, focused, and organized items all help convey the message that this home has been cared for, its a joy to live in, and its ready for them.

You CAN do it!  I believe in you.  Let your house shine, its been good to you.

 Sincerely,

Sarah Daricilar, NCIDQ

Studio Owner & Interior Designer, DDS

Medway, MA

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