Here we are! After many wonderful and wild weeks of celebrating, gifting and general merriment, it is a new year! And with that excitement always comes a twinge of worry about how best to start the new year off right. Never fear fellow worriers – I have just the solution! January is the perfect time to view your home with a fresh set of eyes and give your space a major (or not so major) once over.
1. Embrace the chaos! My home is always out of sorts after the holidays and in a strange way, it’s freeing. We all get so stuck in our ways and when things are chaotic, it’s easier to see through the same old habits. Sit down and think about how you want your space to work. Kitchen table become a dumping ground for daily life while your actual desk sits spotless? Shoes piled in the hallway because your entry closet is crammed with cleaning supplies and other odds and ends?
Once you can put a name to the issues and think about the changes you want to make, it’s much easier to come up with a plan.
2. Don’t get overwhelmed…start (and finish) one thing at a time. This time of year we all tend to swing from one extreme to the next and set what some might view as (ahem) unrealistic goals. Take the list you just created and pick one item to tackle from top to bottom. It can even be something small…dum dum dum…the dreaded junk drawer for instance. It’s less important what you pick and more crucial that you stick with it. I find that most of my clients get sidetracked when they are smack dab in the middle of a big project. Stumbling upon an old photograph in the depths of a pantry clean out stops all pantry momentum and instead leads them down a garden path of full-on photo reorganization. Resist this urge! Put down the shiny object and stay focused on the task at hand. Once you have forward movement and the gratification of a job completed you are much more likely to successfully tackle the next spot on your list!
3. Always start with a clean out. No matter how lean you think a space might be, the best way to start any refresh and reorganization is to give all your stuff a hard look. Do you love it? Do your kids actually still play with it? Do you feel good when you wear it? How often does one really make homemade ice cream?! I digress…but you get the idea. As you go create donate/trash/sell piles. And remember most things can be donated or recycled (very little is actually trash) and only sell something if it is actually worth your time and effort. Let go of the guilt and purge those things that you don’t love or don’t have a purpose in your life. Do a big clean out once and for all and I promise you will be more conscious about what you bring into your space moving forward. Then once you have gone through everything, move said piles into your car and haul them away the same day! Nothing sadder than a languishing donation pile clogging up the entry of your home.
4. Fill in the gaps (and don’t forget to measure!!). Now that you have rethought and cleaned out those trouble spots think about what new items are needed to really make things work. Maybe you have always wanted a kids only drawer that could hold snacks, lunch items and water bottles but your best efforts have always lead to a messy pile. Find the right items to force categories. Whether it’s expandable dividers or snugly fitting clear bins, these items will create division and order and make things on you much easier. Another bonus to bringing in this structure – you can easily see when you have exceeded your limit. Once you have created specific homes and bins for items you have also created limits on how much space you’re going to allow for those categories.
One less thing to think about. Check.
5. Finishing touches. This is different for everyone but I think about what can you do to make your space happy. For me, it’s matching hangers all facing in the same direction and for others, it is a color-coordinated underwear drawer. Whatever the trick, don’t forget how important those last small tweaks can be. The correct matching labels or a shiny new acrylic inbox on your desk can be the cherry on the sundae of a job well done. Find a few small things that will make all the difference and treat yourself by crossing them off the list. There are few things more gratifying than finally getting to enjoy the special photographs or kids art you have been holding aside. Take a trip to your local framer (or Michaels or IKEA) and hang those sweet items up on the wall so they can be enjoyed throughout the new year that lay ahead.
About the Author
Margaret Williams is an organizer based in Austin + mom to Caroline (5) and Ford (3). She believes our homes, no matter the size, should be intentional reflections of our best self, not just an afterthought. After having two children and moving back to Austin in 2014, Margaret has loved helping her clients with every imaginable issue – adapting spaces for family life, wrangling an out of control closet or kitchen and assisting with a move to a new home. You can find out more about Margaret on her website and her Instagram account.