Spring is here, and many of you may have already taken on the task of the annual “spring cleaning.” Usually this means a good scrubbing of doors, windows, and floors. However, for me, a big part of this yearly ritual involves getting my home organized in addition to sparkling clean. In this post I’ll share some of my favorite tips for a spring clean that goes beyond the bucket, mop, and rubber gloves.
Everything In Its Place
Everyone’s got something in their house that just always seems to end up in the way. For me, it’s my purse: when I get home in the evenings, I tend to plop it on the kitchen table. When it’s time for dinner, it either ends up on the floor, on top of the microwave, or… just pushed to the other end of the table. (I’m not proud.)
image from Scattered Thoughts of a Crafty Mom
As part of your spring cleaning, make a point to identify the things that don’t have a place to call home. If you can’t find a permanent place to store them—every day—consider creating one. The photo above from Scattered Thoughts of a Crafty Mom shows a great idea for creating a space for the bags, keys, hats, etc. that often end up in the way. Although Jamie had the bottom bench in her photo custom-made, you can find simple and inexpensive storage solutions like hers in a variety of stores. A few hooks and a cubby or two won’t take up very much room, and can fit neatly into an unused corner near the door you use most.
Also, keep in mind that kids need storage, too. As they grow and acquire new toys, books, clothing, and accessories, the amount of storage space they need will grow, too. Consider adding in fun boxes or bins to store toys, like our KidsLAB storage solutions, or cool on-the-wall storage for small items, like our Wall Pockets wall decals or Cloud Shelf. The goal is to create a designated place for everything, so at the end of the day, every room is in harmony rather than chaos.
Fix Up the “Little Things”
Whether you’re working on a full home spring cleaning session or a room renovation, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. When I’m doing even routine cleaning, I start noticing things that bother me about a particular room or area. Usually they’re little things – like the new knobs my antique writing desk has needed for the last five years, or the worn out pillows on my couch. But doesn’t it sometimes feel like you’ll never get around to taking care of the little things that bug you, because there’s so much else to do?
Well, it’s time to put your foot down. Grab a notebook and a pen and go from room to room, taking note of those “little things” you’ve wanted to address, but never got around to doing. Try to set a budget for each item that you can live with—for example, $30 for new drawer pulls, $50 for new pillows, and so on—and then rank them in order of priority. Then put together a battle plan for slowly tackling each of these items – say, one every two weeks, or twice a month. Don’t pressure yourself to fix everything at once, because you might run over budget or out of time and then become discouraged. But once you triumph over something small, you might find yourself feeling much more motivated to tackle a bigger project, like painting a room or re-upholstering an old chair.
image from Rae Gun Ramblings
Something to remember for every project, regardless of size, is that you can probably find a way to do things faster and cheaper than your original budget estimation. For example, the pillows on my couch, while sort of ugly and worn, are still mostly structurally sound. It’d be easy and extremely inexpensive to make removable pillowcases for them following this tutorial from Rae Gun Ramblings. This would allow me to pick my own fabric without getting tied down to a particular style for too long, since I could just pull off the covers when I want to do something different. (And you know how much we like removable stuff here at RoomMates, right?!) Look around on sites like Pinterest for ideas on how you can accomplish even hefty projects without spending a fortune.
Make the Most of Every Space
image from Martha Stewart
Since I live in a rental with limited space, each and every drawer, cabinet, and shelf has to be utilized to the fullest. Space is precious, and when I find myself straining to get a drawer or closet door closed, I know it’s time to shed some dead weight. Here are some of my favorite tips for a really quick de-clutter that you can do at any time (not just in spring!):
- Go through your fridge, freezer, and pantry, and look for anything that may be expired or otherwise unusable, then pitch, pitch, pitch! Since I’m part of a family of two, I find that condiments like mustard and mayo expire long before we can go through them. Make a note to buy a smaller size next time: you might pay more for the little bottle, but you probably won’t throw it away long before it’s empty.
- If you find food that is still good, but likely to sit uneaten until it expires, box it up and donate it to a local shelter or food bank.
- Consolidate tax returns, bills, pay stubs, and other important documents into space-saving accordion-type file folders. Throw away anything that is too old; consult this Yahoo Voices article on how long to keep your documents. You could also convert your records to digital by scanning them and uploading them to a secure online storage service like Dropbox.
- If you have a desk that you use regularly, evaluate the contents of your drawers. If you spot anything you haven’t used in the last year, consider moving it to storage and freeing up that precious space.
- If you’re running out of hangers in your closet, downsize your wardrobe. When you hang up freshly washed clothing, place it toward the front of your closet. Over time, clothing you’re not wearing will gravitate to the back. After a few months (I usually do this twice a year), pull down the unworn items and evaluate what can be donated, or what you’d like to keep (in storage) just in case you shed those extra few pounds. Check out this Small Notebook post for info on using common sense while downsizing your wardrobe.
What do you think of these spring cleaning ideas? Are you inspired to get organized, or to clean out that closet stuffed full of old clothes? Hopefully you’ve found something here that has inspired you. If you have any tips of your own, feel free to leave them in the comments – we’d love to hear what you have to say.