Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Getting My House In Order

Technically, spring is upon us. However, Minnesota does not believe in spring, and thus, we still have snow on the ground. It snowed Easter Sunday.


In the spirit of my sister's visit, I have attempted to clean and declutter an area of my house every so often. The idea is to have my house as minimized and welcoming as possible. I wasn't raised this way - my mother and grandparents were savers, and so the idea of clear surfaces, while tantalizing and attractive, was at best, theoretical for me.

I am finding that this housecleaning business is not only healthy for my eyes - coming home to a clean house is so much better than coming home to a house which requires work - but also healthy for my mental well-being. Not only do I want to be home when it's clean, but I feel proud of my home, I can have people over any time I want (which, lately, has been more spontaneous due to study groups, etc.) and I don't have the rush to "get ready" when company comes.

Naturally, I have done my research. This is my house organization Bible:

I had 0/9 areas clean when she came. I now have 4/9 decluttered, organized, and they are kept clean and ready on a regular basis. It's funny - I've never been that great a housekeeper, but once the "stuff" quotient is gone, it's so easy to just look into my living room and go "oh, it's clean!" I have a great piece of mind when I go to bed, knowing the kitchen is looked after.

I have nine main areas in my house (ten if you count the porch, eleven if you count the basement) and I'm going room-by-room, decluttering and minimizing our "stuff" - redefining the space and determining what goes, what stays, and what's what. I'm making very deliberate choices in terms of how I'm doing this - nothing is going in the basement, no decision is temporary. I am giving myself to the end of the summer to have the whole house completely done. In order of priority, then, my House List:

1. Guest Room:
DONE. I have a study space, rearranged furniture, and nothing has gone in without it having a purpose.

2. Living Room:
DONE. The girl has a nook for her toys and they are all put away at the end of each night. The mantle and fireplace are clear or decorated with photos, and the gaming/TV unit is organized. I need to buy a toybox for the nook, just to make it a bit nicer, but for now, it's all good.

3. Kitchen:
DONE. I pitched a LOT of stuff when we moved - and right now it's a matter of making a nightly clean-up a priority. I'm also sticking to a grocery budget, so it is easy to keep the pantry organized, as we only have things we actually use and eat in there. Amazing how well that works.

4. Foyer/Stairs/Hallway:
DONE. The shoes went up, the laundry was cleared, and the hall table was cleaned off. I need to send the winter coats for cleaning and they will be stored soon, once we are done with them. Around Father's Day.

5. Dining Room: A MAJOR traffic area, and my general office space. Now that I have a study space, I need to USE IT. I have boxes of papers in here, and a lot of old mail and bills that need shredding. Note to self: find public shred service.

6. Bathroom: Not as big a challenge as originally thought, but I do need to get the extraneous care items used up and find a good place for everything. Not bad, considering.

7. The Girl's Room: In desperate need of a periodic childhood excavation. I need to pull out her clothes, thin out her bookshelves, get rid of random plastic pieces, remake the bed and really look at what she still plays with. Also - we have too many shoes right now - some of them are too small, so they will have to go and be replaced with new ones.

8. Our Room: 90% of our problem will be solved with the purchase of our new armoire from IKEA, and the Purple Heart donation drive next week - they want clothing this time round, and clothing they shall get! I plan to wade through ALL of our clothes and get rid of anything ill-fitting. Tim Gunn guide me!

And here comes the second book I'm using:

For two people who are not fashion forward, and constantly complain about having nothing to wear, we have a LOT of clothes!

First order of business is to catch up on the laundry, which is almost done. I'm also using this time to go through the sweaters and winter clothes, and weed out. I don't want to store anything that won't be fit for use next summer. We moved with three tubs of winter clothes and sweaters, and I want to get it down to two: one for me and one for him. As the sweaters are washed or sent to the cleaners, they are stored or put in the giveaway box.

Next, the closet - which is pretty darn scary:

I hope the "After" pictures are significantly better. And that there's only one. And that I have a bedroom floor.

I am also going to have to go through my t-shirt collection and pick out the ones I don't wear - the ones I'm saving for my t-shirt quilt. If I have enough, I have the money put away for it, and I shall actually get it done!

9. Rec Room:This is the last room to be attacked, mostly because we need a new desk for the boy (it is his computer domain) and it's been our catch-all room. Boxes leftover from the move must be gone through, shelves to organize, books to store.

Update in May - hopefully we'll be up to our room and the rec room by then. I like the idea of doing this a room at a time - right now it's second nature to keep the 1/3 of the house that's "done" clean. If I add a room at a time, it will be easy enough to adjust to the additional 3 minutes it will take (hopefully) to keep the rooms clean.

Oh, I have hopes! I have such high hopes!!

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