Saturday, January 19, 2013

It's Always a Good Time to Declutter

Sorry that it's been so long since my last post, but my time off allowed me plenty of opportunity to take mental notes. Among them, I noted that lots of people (including myself) seem strangely guided by editorial schedules. By that, I mean we tend to do things based on what media suggest we do. We deep clean in April. We plan tailgating menus in August. And when January rolls around, you can bet we'll get to organizing.

The thing is, people shouldn't necessarily let media dictate when it is time to tackle projects. Sure "Spring Cleaning" is a must-do, but why wait for spring to clean and declutter? Our latest styling project illustrates the point that any time is a great time to declutter your home.

In this project, the family we worked with had partially moved from their 5000 sq ft home in Tennessee to a smaller home in another state. Nearly all of the furniture had been sent to the new home while the owners remained in Tennessee living pretty much in just two rooms.

Our task was to "stage" the home for the real estate market using only the accessories and furniture remaining in the home. Essentially we found ourselves again working with a very small hodgepodge of mismatched furniture and accessories that the owners were not even interested in keeping for themselves. In most rooms we had no furniture to work with. Just look at that table below. . . it has no chairs. That's what we had to work with.

Interestingly, the biggest improvement was made not by cleverly pairing the meager offering of art and accessories around the home, but by simply decluttering. Take a look:


As you can see, simply removing all the "stuff" that accumulates daily can add instant value to your home's image. And the rule doesn't only apply to kitchens. Take a look a the difference that decluttering and adding simple, chunky accessories makes to other spaces. In the case of small or choppy bath areas, decluttering can add to the feel of space and spa-like calmness. Take a look:



There are a few things to note regarding the master bath changes that are not obvious in the photos. In the "before" photos, you can see that hanging under the counter is a small curtain hiding the under-counter storage. We removed that, cut it, and upholstered a 2nd garden chair to match the skirted one already in the bath. Then, we tacked up a matching valance over the window to tie the look together.
Another big difference was made by simply removing used towels from the racks and counters. Please -- never show your home with used towels hanging in the bathroom. Of course our clients were not showing their home in this manner, but I have been on home showings where recently used towels were hanging in the bath. Don't do this if you're trying to sell your home. If you cannot have fresh matching towels hanging in a bath, it's better to go with nothing on the racks. The same is true for bath mats. If you can't have clean, new ones, then just toss the old ones and go without mats.
Lastly, you may not realize it, but something as simple as a trashcan can have a big impact on the look of a bath. In the BEFORE photo, you can see that the owners had a very functional but big plastic can as well as toilet brushes and plungers in the area. It was easily accessible for them, but not good for showing a home. So we stored the toilet brushes & plungers and then replaced the plastic can with a rattan & metal basket to finish off the room's new sleeker look.

One of the unique amenities in the home is an upstairs sitting area where the teenagers can hang out, watch television, play games, etc. It is a great space, but it lacked an identity. We cleared the clutter and selected some chunky accessories to complement the design. But the best thing we did was rescue three items from the trash pile. In the corner you can see a wooden oar and a pair of antique children's skis. Those were headed for the trash and Goodwill when we arrived. We saw them and saved them from their early demise by incorporating them in the teen's hangout area. Take a look:

 So while we're in the middle of the cold, stuck-in-the-house-all-day time of year, why not do a little decluttering of your own. It can dramatically change your environment; and maybe your attitude too!


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