Spring-Cleaning Your Way To A “No Clutter Zone”

A few months ago I wrote a post, Clutter In Your Space Clutters Your Mind.  My intention was to alert you to the importance of having what I call a “No Clutter Zone” in your homespace.  It is intriguing to psychoanalyze why we have clutter in our homes, particularly when it appears in very specific areas.

And as I wrote in my recent spring post, Spring: A Season Of New Beginnings, spring is a wonderful time of year for new beginnings both in the structural home you live in and in the personal HOME that is uniquely you.  The tradition of spring-cleaning is one great way to refresh and renew your space while also decluttering it of all the things keeping your space from being truly beautiful.  So with that in mind, I am reprinting parts of my original post on clutter.

Reasons for clutter

I think the reasons people have clutter in their homes are usually for one of the following:

  • Lack of proper storage space
  • Life changes such as a move, a new baby or anything that throws life out of whack
  • Poor time/life management skills
  • Psychological issues such as depression, family dysfunction, low self-esteem, poor personal boundaries and even attention deficit disorder

I call the first three of these reasons “temporary clutter”.  In other words, all three are easy to fix with a little effort and determination.  Still, clutter is clutter, which can be unsettling to your mind.  My recommendation to you if your homespace is cluttered for any of these reasons is to find simple solutions for them.  Your stress will decrease, your feel good vibes will increase and your space will become truly beautiful!  I guarantee it.

Now, the fourth reason – that’s a tough one.  It takes a lot of work to rid your homespace of clutter if there are psychological components to it.  Mind you, I’m not talking about the extreme of hoarding here.  That’s a whole other ball of wax.  I’m talking about routine clutter that detracts and distracts from your sanctuary – the place you call HOME.

The psychology of clutter

Here’s a list of some of the spaces in your home where clutter accumulates and what the clutter there might symbolize:

Kitchen – Difficulty with emotional nourishment for yourself or others

Main Living Space – Feelings of isolation

Hallways – Obstacles in your life

Bedroom – Distancing from partner and/or intimacy with others

Bathroom – Low self-esteem

Closets – Hidden Issues

Basement – Ignored Issues

Garage – Confusion about direction in your life

Exterior and yard – Low self-worth and a sense of giving up

Anyone find the symbolism of clutter in these spaces thought provoking?  I certainly do.

After the first printing of my post on clutter, it was fun to hear from readers and friends about the state of their own homes and what they planned to do about it.  One dear friend, Jolie even decided to tackle her office and do some necessary decluttering there after reading my post.  She told me that it felt wonderful to remove over seven boxes of files and paperwork and send it all to the shredder.  Imagine- she discarded seven boxes of paperwork just cluttering up her space!  As all things go, it propelled her to continue the decluttering in other areas of her space as well.  That domino thing you know…

Every homespace should reflect the best of those that dwell within it.  So, if spaces within your home suffer from constant clutter, look inside (both your inner self and your home) and get to work.  Honor yourself this spring with actively participating in decluttering your space.  It will put you on the road to a whole new you.

To a no clutter zone…

Finding HOME On The Yellow Brick Road

There’s a quote I am reminded of whenever I think of my daughter, Sammi.  I can’t remember where I heard it but it goes like this, “God doesn’t make mistakes”.  For sure he made no mistake in honoring me with only one daughter – no way could I have handled more than one of her!  Girls in general are way too much work if you ask me and yet, after all these years I know I simply got the best of the best.

This daughter of mine turns 30 today.  In honor of such an auspicious occasion, I want to tell you a little about her.  As I wrote in my post, A House Becomes A Home When…, Sammi began a life-long love for the movie, The Wizard of Oz at the wee age of two.  Every single morning the first thing she would ask to do was to go to the basement and watch “Ya Ha Ha” as that’s what she called the movie.  Thumb in her mouth and snuggled with her silk night-night blanket around her that my mother made her; she would sit mesmerized through the entire movie.  Honestly, I felt guilty allowing her to watch this every single morning sure it was a sign of being a bad mother or something, but it was as much a part of her as anything I’ve ever seen in someone.  Looking back on those precious times I marvel at the synchronicity of this movie coming into her life at such a young age.  It’s as if Sammi intuitively knew as a wee little one that there were life lessons to learn from this movie that would carry her along her own yellow brick road.  And, indeed it’s true.

I won’t bore you with too many details, but suffice it to say that Sammi has faced many challenges in her thirty years.  From an early age she had health issues.  I should’ve know from the start she would be this way- right after arriving into the world she stubbornly refused to breathe on her own and so she was swept away to an incubator that did the work for her even before I could hold her.  Each time the nurses would try to take her out of the incubator she would make it clear she just flat wasn’t ready!  Her growing up years were full of constant trips to doctors with unexplained aches and pains, fevers and other symptoms that quite frankly worried me that the doctors saw signs of Munchausen by Proxy.  Yearly visits to specialists at Chapel Hill in NC put her through painful testing and as she got older much of it was truly embarrassing for a young girl.  I cannot emphasize enough the heartache I felt for my daughter to endure this endless testing, poking and prodding year after year only to be followed with other issues that further complicated her life.  Then, on top of it all Sammi was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome at the ripe old age of nineteen.   Though a blessing to finally connect the dots of some of her ailments she had experienced through the years, the diagnosis brought with it tremendous life changes for her.

Dorothy, The Scarecrow, The Tin Man and The Cowardly Lion

Sammi, loving her red shoes

Sammi, loving her red shoes

Part of Sammi’s diagnosis with Fibromyalgia included an eight-week hospital program for learning to live with chronic pain.  And part of that program included counseling for the families to learn more about this condition I could hardly pronounce.  I’m so glad I attended these sessions as I learned firsthand from the experts all about the complexities a condition like this presents for not just the patient but for the family as well.  For example, I learned that because Fibromyalgia involves tremendous pain on a daily basis, depression is a real problem.  Knowing there is no cure for it or why it occurs adds to the depressiveness of it all, too.  Even worse, there are no visible signs of the condition so people tend to discount it unfairly.  Her team of doctors told me that Sammi was by far the worst case they had ever had in the program.  Wonder of wonders, at the end of the eight-week program, she was rated the highest in improvement.  Absolutely, positively I know why she did so well – The Wizard of Oz.  Faced with all these medical challenges, Sammi brought forth from her stored long-term memory the lessons she learned from Dorothy, The Scarecrow, The Lion and The Tin Man.   Like Dorothy, Sammi traveled The Yellow Brick Road to find her way home.  Like The Scarecrow, Sammi realized she had the ability to use her brain to think through and make personal choices of what she would do with the rest of her life in spite of her medical issues.  Like The Tin Man, she realized she had a beautiful heart to love herself enough to handle not just these medical issues, but also the other challenges of life that would come further down the road.  And finally, like The Cowardly Lion, Sammi realized that she had the courage and unwavering faith in herself to persevere through it all.

There’s no place like HOME

Sammi

Photo Credit: Kristin Vining Photography

The Wizard of Oz is a story of finding home and is a story we can all learn from.  I am deeply grateful that my darling daughter was enamored with this movie as a child to the extent that she was able to pull from it all that she needed when she took her own walk down The Yellow Brick Road during her troubling time.  Through the movie’s life lessons so well portrayed by the characters, she learned a valuable truth – HOME is within us so we need not look any further.  All we have to do is realize it and open our hearts, minds and souls to the wonder.

Sammi, like all of us continues to have challenges.  She has had numerous surgeries and twice has been in life-threatening health situations.  Even when giving birth to “God’s Littlest Angel” she became gravely ill.  Months later Sammi told me that through that first night she consciously willed herself to stay alive for her precious baby.  I have no doubt that the lessons she learned from The Wizard of Oz echoed through her sub-conscious that night and gave her the skills she needed to make it.  Yep, with each new challenge she pulls from within and in doing so she broadcasts to the world that there’s no place like HOME.  Happy birthday dear daughter and please know, God sure was right to send you to me.  I marvel at your wisdom, your heart and your courage.

To knowing all roads lead HOME…

Spring: A Season For New Beginnings

There’s a feeling that comes over me when I see the first hints of spring – the daffodils popping up out of the ground, buds on the trees and birds chirping their joyful noise all start something deep within me that feels good.  In fact, I start to feel the giddiness deep within me that I can only say is “a feeling of spring”.  This feeling always reminds me of Friend Owl and Thumper’s conversation in the Walt Disney movie, Bambi as Friend Owl tries to explain the changes that come over everyone in the springtime.  Friend Owl explains to Thumper why everyone is acting differently.  He says, “Nearly everybody gets twitterpated in the springtime.”   I love the word “twitterpated”.  It’s one of those words that really expresses the feeling well – you can feel the good vibes just saying the word.  Yep, I agree with Friend Owl and I know absolutely, positively that I become twitterpated myself – twitterpated with life.  That’s what spring does for me!

Spring-cleaning my house

At the same time I’m feeling twitterpated I turn to my nest and do some spring-cleaning to say goodbye to ole man winter and hello to a new beginning.  Psychologists say that spring-cleaning is good for the psyche.   When we declutter our houses of anything we needed around us to feel warm and cozy through the winter, we give our space a fresh new look that carries with it a fresh new energy.  (To learn more about how clutter affects you read my post, Clutter In Your Space Clutters Your Mind)  I remember well the rituals of spring-cleaning when I was growing up.  Things like changing the bedspreads on the beds to lighter weight coverlets and removing the heavy winter blankets from the beds were springtime chores.  These items would be cleaned and stored in cedar closets until the next winter.  We kids also had to clean out our bedroom closets because back then in the days of covered wagons (or so my own kids say) part of every season was changing our clothes out for the new season.  Away would go all the winter sweaters and coats and out would come the short sleeve shirts and cooler clothing items.  It was fun to make these changes because it gave me a feeling of newness and freshness.  To this day I actively participate in some of these same rituals.

As a decorator that focuses totally on details, I cannot tell you how often I go into homes and realize that they’re what I call “surface cleaned”.  By that I mean that on the surface things look OK, but on a closer inspection it’s another story altogether.  Now, the reason this is a problem is that these unclean spaces and places impact your health in ways you might not be aware of.   You see, accumulated dust and dirt affects the air we breathe as every breath we take contains particles of dust and pollutants around us.  I read recently that researchers believe that indoor air can be as much as ten times more polluted than outdoor air.  Much of this is due to how well sealed our homes and buildings are today as it’s only been in the last one hundred years or so that we have had air-conditioning, central heat, thermal pane windows, weather-stripping and other forms of insulation that keep everything air-tight.  Routine cleaning of these hidden spaces and places becomes necessary for good health.  So, this year while doing your spring-cleaning make sure you add some of these areas to your list to clean as they are culprits for overlooked accumulations of dust and dirt:

  • The top of the fridge
  • Behind the fridge
  • Behind furniture
  • The tops of frames on your walls
  • The tops of doorframes
  • On light bulbs
  • On electrical cords behind furniture
  • Under sofa and chair cushions
  • On closet shelves
  • On air return vents

Spring-cleaning my HOME

Springtime is also a time I do some cleaning of my interior space, my HOME.  For me it’s a time to look inward and reflect on ways to change and grow emotionally and spiritually.  All of us have dust and dirt accumulating in ourselves.  Just as we have dust accumulating in hidden spaces and places of our structural home and on boxes sitting in our attics and basements that we haven’t peeked into for years, we have the same accumulating in our hearts, minds and souls.  So, feeling twitterpated in spring gives me the added push and courage for new beginnings within.  Through the years, particularly since I began rehabbing my HOME after a chance encounter on a plane (read my post, Construction Zone: Rehabbing My HOME for more on this experience) I have found some real specific ways to declutter my HOME that have absolutely, positively worked.  Here are some of them:

  • Spending time in Nature
  • Bringing elements of Nature into my structural home
  • Meditating
  • Exercising regularly
  • Practicing my Faith
  • Surrounding myself with things that lift me up such as aromatic essential oils and candles
  • Listening to soothing/inspirational music
  • Bringing fresh air into my structural home and my personal HOME
  • Choosing to live in peace and harmony
  • Actively paying it forward each day

Review~Refresh~Renew

For me Spring-cleaning can best be summed up as a process of what I call “The Three R’s” – review, refresh and renew.  What a wonderful time of year to review the state of your space, refresh the areas that need refreshing and in doing so allow yourself to be renewed.  That truly makes for a new beginning!

As I’m writing this I have my office windows open and I feel a gentle breeze coming in.  I hear the birds chirping and have even spied two hawks harmoniously soaring in the sky nearby.  Yep, I’m twitterpated for sure and in the next few minutes the wondrous outdoors will entice me to come out and feel the splendor it has to offer me.

To new beginnings…

IF You … Then You Know You Made A Decorating Blunder

In my recent post, Five Common Blunders In Home Decor, I listed my all-time top five that I have encountered through the years.  I do admit that I have an eye for unusual details. Couple that with a good memory and I tell you, I can remember decorating blunders from years past even as a child.

For any of you that haven’t read my post on blunders, let me educate you as to what a blunder is.

Blunder: To make a mistake through stupidity, ignorance or carelessness.

So clearly, to make a blunder is an innocent mistake which means if it’s pointed out to you well then heck, you can fix it and voila, the blunder is gone.  At least that’s what should happen!

Now, I’m not much for comedy.  I’m pretty simple so most of it goes over my head.  Give me a good episode of Persons of Interest or Alcatraz and I’m a happy camper.  There is one comedian however that I totally get – Jeff Foxworthy.  Maybe it’s because I’m a southerner and so I understand his redneck jokes.  Or maybe his unique style of posing each joke as a hypothesis makes it clearer for it.  Or maybe its because I am a redneck!  Whatever the case may be, his style of one-liners has spilled over into my own personal life and for years I have obsessively used this same “If…Then” one-liner game to describe personality types and characteristics I encounter myself.  For example, I once wanted to list the qualities of a Narcissist so I played the Jeff Foxworthy game in my head saying things like, “If your husband thinks he’s the only good guy in the universe, then you know he’s a Narcissist”.  Or here’s another one.  “If your boss thinks God has given him a unique gift no one else understands, then you know he’s a Narcissist”.  See what I mean?  Or in trying to define a Drama Queen I’d say, “If she constantly overreacts to the itsy-bitsiest little thing, then you know she’s a Drama Queen”.  I’m telling you, this “If…Then” game can become a habit.  I play it in my head All.The.Time.  It’s quite entertaining.

So back to decorating and blunders.  As I wrote in Five Common Blunders In Home Décor, I’ve seen it all.  Most of the blunders I’ve encountered are easy ones to correct but some are real doozies.  Doozies put you on the road to Tackyville and if you make too many of these blunders, your home registers on my “Tacky Interiors Registry”.  OK, I’m kidding here.  I don’t have a Registry – yet.   But, just like my head game of “If…Then”, I also over and over again in my head design and decorate what I call “Tacky Interiors”.  I even have on my Bucket List of things to do before I expire teaching a Decorating 101 Course.  The first project I will assign the class will be to design a “Tacky Interiors Home” – fabrics, furniture, accessories, storyboard and all.  Talk about fun!  Oh and just so you know – Tacky for me means decorating blunders that create such an unpleasant distraction that the overall look becomes a real eyesore.  (Remember the Griswolds?  Yep, their house would be on my Registry!)

In no particular order, here’s my list of “If…Then” one-liners that define doozie-decorating blunders.  I hope you enjoy them and let me just say, nobody reading this post needs to worry about ever being on my “Tacky Interiors Registry” so don’t start guessing to whom I’m referring…

  • If you look at the calendar and notice it’s March and the Christmas Decorations are still up, then you know you made a decorating blunder.
  • If your foyer chandelier still has the plastic wrap on the individual shades after a year, then you know you made a decorating blunder.
  • If you have plastic runners overtop of your carpeting, then you know you made a decorating blunder.
  • If it’s the middle of winter and you have last summer’s dead plants still on your front porch, then you know you made a decorating blunder.
  • If you have the garden tags still hanging on your potted plants inside your home or out, then you know you made a decorating blunder.
  • If you have street facing garage windows with no window coverings or blinds on them and you can see the stuff in your garage, then you know you made a decorating blunder.
  • If electrical cords for your lamps or other electronics go from one room to the next for an outlet to plug into, then you know you made a decorating blunder.
  • If the blinds on your windows still have the manufacturer’s tags dangling from each one and you plan to keep the blinds, then you know you made a decorating blunder.
  • If you decorate your gutter downspouts with greenery and lights for Christmas and you aren’t the Griswolds, then you know you made a decorating blunder.
  • If your microwave or toaster oven sits on top of a pile of other household items, then you know you made a decorating blunder.
  • If you have Cannabis Plants decorating your home, then you know you made a decorating blunder.  (And it might get you in trouble!)
  • If your solid wood dining room table is always covered in a table pad, then you know you made a decorating blunder.
  • If the bedskirt on your bed is inches off the floor, then you know you made a decorating blunder.
  • If you have TMI of personal hygiene in public areas of your home, then you know you made a decorating blunder.
  • If you have plastic flowers and ferns planted in your flowerbeds, then you know you made a decorating blunder.

And finally,

  • If you have a pit in your stomach while reading this post, then you made a decorating blunder… somewhere, somehow… and you’re worried!

Enjoy checking out your homespace.  Let me know what you find!

To loving life…

Construction Zone: Rehabbing My HOME

Imagine building a new house.  The foundation, the frame and exterior structure give stability to the interior rooms of the house.  They support what’s on the inside of the house.  But, step inside the house and see the real beauty.  The interior of the house is what the home is really about.  The same goes for us.  The exterior of our bodies is what we physically present to the world.  The real substance though is on the inside.  Each of us has a custom interior.  Who you are on the inside, down to every single detail of your character and personality becomes the HOME you present to others on a daily basis.  Your HOME, much like the physical home you live in should be beautiful through and through.

Many of us get used to living in our HOMES much like we get used to living in our houses, often ignoring things that are in disrepair.  I learned this for myself after a chance encounter on an airplane in 2006.  Well, actually my David experienced the chance encounter.  But, it had to do with my past and of course, he shared the details of the encounter with me.  This chance encounter that could only be described as “God’s Synchronistic Work” forced me to look at myself and see the pieces inside me that needed repairing.  Pieces of me like fear, hurt and anger that had real potential to ruin any beauty in my HOME.

That’s when I started work on rehabbing my HOME with a new custom interior devoid of these pieces that quite frankly, had become junk cluttering me up.  And as you know if you have ever undertaken a construction project, the work takes time, energy and funds.

Time takes time if you know what I mean.  My construction zone has been an ongoing process since 2006.  Though it has indeed taken a lot of time, like any beautiful new space, I absolutely, positively love the emerging custom new me!

Energy expended in doing the work in my construction zone has been incredible.  There have been moments when I thought the work was way too hard.   I have felt exhaustion on every level- physically, emotionally and spiritually.  But somehow, someway I have found the necessary energy for each new stage of construction.

Funds are essential to every custom home project.  I have to tell you – I have had an abundance of funds!  Mind you, I’m not talking cash here.  I’m talking “Love Funds”.  The love to fund my project has been over and above what I could ever have imagined and by now you may have guessed it – the funds came from David.

David, loving life

David, loving life

Speaking of David, today marks ten years since I first met him.  I remember it well and even remember telling him I had no desire to start a relationship with anyone including him.  I also remember well leaving the restaurant after that first meeting and when we walked outside, oddly enough we realized we had parked side-by-side.  Here we are ten years later still side-by-side loving the journey of the rest of our lives together.

Happy Anniversary David and thank you for the unconditional abundance of love you have so freely given me to rehab my HOME.  I will forever be giddy over you!  And I have to say, although you don’t complete me, you darn sure compliment my HOME well!

To love and life…

Five Common Blunders In Home Décor

Over the years in my career I’ve seen it all in home decor – the good, the bad and the tacky.  (Were you thinking I’d say ugly?)  You name it and I’ve seen it.  Truth be told, I’ve never really seen anything just plain ole ugly.  Instead I’ve seen blunders, which in my book can lead to tacky decor.

As I mentioned in my post, Love In Your HOME, I recently experienced several occasions whereby Webster’s Dictionary was pulled out for the “audience” and meanings of simple words were read aloud.  That experience got me on the bandwagon of providing definitions for words I use just so there’s no misunderstanding of what I mean by the words I choose.  So for that reason here’s Webster’s Dictionary’s meaning of the word “blunder”:

Blunder: “To make a mistake through stupidity, ignorance or carelessness.”

I’m guessing now that I have piqued your curiosity.  Just what you wonder do I consider a decorating blunder?  Or worse yet a blunder sooooo bad that it can lead you to the “Road of Tacky”?  (Look for my upcoming post, If You … Then You Know You’ve Made A Decorating Blunder for some comic relief on the worst of the worst I’ve seen, or the best of the best as beauty after all is in the eyes of the beholder you know!)

Yep, I’ve seen it all.  But without a doubt, most of the homes I have entered are as lovely as those that dwell in them and so the blunders that I find are subtle.  By that I mean that the blunders I see create distraction on a sub-conscious level rather than a conscious level and quite frankly, this is the level that’s most important.  You see it’s on the sub-conscious level that we walk away from something not feeling the love so to speak and yet, we just can’t put our finger on why we don’t.

Over the years I have come up with a top five list of the blunders I see over and over again in homes that I have either worked in or visited on a social basis.  So, without further adieu, here are the top five blunders I find people make in their homes:

  1. Overkill of Collectibles
  2. Improper Lighting
  3. Improperly hung Artwork
  4. Dirty Walls and Doors
  5. Taking a Décor Theme into overdrive

Overkill of Collectibles

Most of us love collecting knick-knacks.  I know I do.  I love Herend Porcelain Figurines, Vintage Dinnerware and Antique Hand-carved Ducks.  What becomes a blunder is when you go too far with your collections.  When displaying collections remember my decorating motto, “Less is more”.  Don’t have your collection of crystal paperweights or your collection of antique dolls in every cabinet, on every dresser and on every table in every room.  Instead, choose specific places to accentuate your home with these collectibles.  I suggest displaying collectibles in odd numbers such as 3 or 5. Displaying your collectibles as onesies all over your home or in large groups everywhere you turn takes away from the charm, character and uniqueness of your collectibles.

Improper Lighting

Improper lighting can truly ruin the ambience of your homespace.  No-nos include lampshades that don’t fit the lamps, using bulbs with the incorrect wattage, dusty shades, dusty bulbs, dead insects sitting in overhead lighting and most importantly, forgetting to have lighting at different levels of your homespace.  For example, don’t rely only on overhead lighting for each room.  Be sure to have low-level lighting on tables, task lighting for areas such as in your kitchen and use dimmers wherever you can.  The key is to give yourself flexibility in your lighting.  Oh – and don’t forget to take the plastic off your new lampshades!

Improperly hung Artwork

Nothing can ruin a look more than improperly hung pictures and artwork.  Just as an educational tip to remember – pictures and artwork should be hung at eye level.  This doesn’t necessarily mean at your eye level.  For instance, I’m 5’2”.  My main go-to professional picture hanger is about 6’7”.  But, we hang all my clients’ pictures and artwork at the eye level that the art industry recommends:

When looking at the center of your piece, hang it approximately 60”-65” from the floor.

Obviously there is more to consider about your picture if it is being placed in a grouping or is being placed over a piece of furniture such as a sofa.  I recommend the Internet to further educate yourself on the art of picture hanging –it’s full of sites you can visit that give great step-by-step instructions for every picture-hanging project you can imagine.

Dirty Walls and Doors

This might sound like a cleanliness issue but oh it’s so much more than that.  It doesn’t matter how beautifully decorated your space is, if walls have dirt and grime on them – ugh!  If there are handprints, footprints, peeling paint, grit and grime on your doors- ugh again!  You can bet others sub-consciously notice it.  This goes for light switches, too as they are often the culprits for dirt and grime.  Get out the Clorox wipes routinely and walk throughout your homespace with a keen eye for spotting places you need to wipe away mess.  This takes very little time if you stay on top of it and will absolutely, positively make a difference in your homspace feel.  I guarantee it.

Taking a Décor Theme into overdrive

Here goes my decorating motto again – “Less is more”.  Just look around your homespace.  Love one specific color?  Let it flow throughout your space, but in bits and pieces.  Love animal print?  Again, use it sparingly.  A little goes a long way to send a message of beauty in your homespace.

So there you have it, my top five blunders people make in their home décor.  Why not take the time today to peruse your homespace room by room and see if and where you could fix some mistakes?  You might find some surprises.

To a fabulous homespace…