April 9, 2014

Let’s Fall in Love with Our Homes this Spring. ~ Linda V. Lewis

Springtime Home

Now that we’re into April, spring seems to be just arriving in Nova Scotia.

There is a high of two degrees Celsius, even though snow still blankets the ground.

With springtime comes the notion of “Spring Cleaning,” but before someone like me can clean, I need to de-clutter! If you are at all like me, this article may be for you.

There are many eco-friendly articles on elephant journal intended to help one clean, but before we can deep clean, we have to remove accumulated, disorganized clutter. To do so, I suggest doing one room at a time.

Start with the bathroom, usually the smallest room, so that you can most easily experience success. Examine your various products, discard expired medications and products that have not been used in a while. Have bags for trash, recycled products and items that can be donated.

Be ruthless, and keep only items you really want and will use. If you have a shelf on which you can put a small tray, perhaps place a plant there that likes moisture from bath/shower steam, and some hand cream for guests to use. This makes a bathroom look more user-friendly and pretty.

Every room in the home should have a defined purpose. Tackle the kitchen next, again discarding, recycling or donating what is not needed. Covered boxes, vintage containers from yard sales, bins, mason jars and baskets provide great storage inside cupboards. If there are shelves or space for display, we can also use them outside.

Personally I love mason jars, because you can see what is inside without the need to label anything.

Once you have accomplished sorting and clearing these two rooms of clutter, look around the rest of your home or apartment. In the bedroom, keep the dresser and closet clear. This means organizing the dresser drawers and the inner closet. Trungpa Rinpoche used to suggest putting hats on the top shelf of a closet, and shirts above pants. Shoes were neatly paired on the floor of the closet. Socks were likewise put in the bottom drawer of the dresser, underwear in the drawer above the socks, etc. Whatever your system, do get in the habit of putting laundry away upon folding.

If you like to read in bed, consider having a tray on the bedside table to hold not only the book you are currently reading, but your glasses, perhaps a glass of water, a photo of a loved one, and (treat yourself) a vase with flowers. Tulips say spring!

The living room and dining room are challenging because we must find places for our projects, without using the dining room table as an all purpose landing strip.

Perhaps start with newspapers, finding a proper place to recycle those once read. Donate piles of magazines to doctor and dentist offices, or to hospitals. In order to distinguish where to put received junk mail versus important papers, systems can be developed. Important papers can be filed, rather than become lost in the clutter anew! At least find a covered box for those important papers, even if a filing system is beyond what you’re willing to create.  A metal fireproof box is ideal, but don’t wait for the ideal. The point is to have a separate place so that these papers do not become lost in the shuffle.

Overflowing bookshelves can be a problem we are proud of. Still, we should think about whether we need an extra shelf, or whether we should sell some of the books we know we’ll never read again to a second hand bookstore.

Are there too many toys? Are all the toys still age appropriate for our child or children? Can we give some away? Can they be better organized and stored in a big trunk? Or perhaps by using some of those covered boxes, bins and baskets?

Now that we’ve cleared and organized much of our home and made it more spacious, we’re ready for some re-loving it!

A fresh coat of paint in a light shade on the walls of a dark hallway or small room can really perk up the environment. Benjamin Moore has a multitude of environmentally friendly, toxic free paints, especially in light colors. Perhaps add a pop of color on one wall of a larger room in a bright hue. Perhaps add some pillows, a few accessories or artwork to match the color of that bright wall.

New hardware and eco-friendly lighting in the kitchen or bathroom also can lift these rooms. If you are renting an apartment, even just a crisp, new white shower curtain can make a dated bathroom seem less dated.

For home owners, this might be the time to price a solar hot water system. Using the sun to heat domestic water, or even utilizing radiant and in-floor heating, is cost-efficient in the long run. There are also wind turbines from 200 watts, enough to power a cottage! 1000-5000 watts for farmhouses.

Obviously living rooms can be brightened by simply taking down the dark, heavy drapes that may have insulated us from the prolonged winter. (Not to mention washing those windows!) A mirror placed so that it reflects light also brightens a room.

Look at the living room with fresh eyes. Don’t overfill it with furniture. Can some pieces be removed to other parts of the home or apartment to allow more space in which to live?

Perhaps there is a painting that is dear to us, that we’d like to appreciate more. Putting a tray atop a small table with an ikebana (flower) arrangement, and then placing this below the painting can highlight it, making it more of a focus. Traditionally such a painting, perhaps a scroll, and an ikebana arrangement would greet guests in the entrance hallway.

Finally, if spring has really arrived in your region and there is no longer danger of frost on your garden, deck, or porch, consider planting a variety of species native to your region. The birds and bees in your neighborhood will appreciate this contribution to the local biodiversity. Installing a natural landscape, vegetable garden, herb plot or even just maintaining a variety of potted flowering plants, bushes and small trees is very rewarding!

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Apprentice Editor: Chrissy Tustison/ Editor: Travis May

Photo: via Flickr

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