Today is my first installment in a 6 Part Series I’ve designed to help you completely and finally have a totally organized home! Tell me, how many times have you looked longingly at pictures of perfectly arranged pantries, color coded closets and the ever present “always clean” homes on Instagram and with a sigh wished that was you? If you follow my guide and stay dedicated to the minimal amount of upkeep required once you complete the series, I can guarantee that it will be YOUR pictures others will be envying.
No matter where you start from it is achievable. I know from experience. My mother ( I have her permission to share this) is a hoarder. Not quite the people you see on that television show with rooms full of trash, and pathways cleared to the potty. But, the kind that saves mail for years, has clothes she has saved from the 80’s and so many mismatched knick-knacks and doodley-dads all over the place that it makes you feel like your at a (bad) swap meet. For years the disorganization was stressful for her and overwhelming. It often manifested itself through irritability and at times depression. Having the constant stress of disorder and the nagging cloud of to-dos takes a toll on your mind and soul unwittingly. It covertly steals your free time while you are searching for misplaced items and robs your wallet when repurchasing the lost one. All the while draining you of the one thing your home should be filled with when you are inside it. JOY.
One day while visiting my mothers home, I walked in on her tearing apart the house looking for some random envelope that she wrote some “important” phone number on. It was a sea of opened and rifled through drawers, my distraught helpless father trying to assist and the dogs hiding under the bed, it was chaos. When I entered she had completely given up, defeated in a ball of tears on her bedroom floor. I didn’t say a word but in that moment I had finally had enough. Mind you this had probably happened in a similar fashion I’d say a hundred times for various reasons before, but something about this scene being replayed once again was the last straw. This house was getting organized wether she liked it or not.
Now I wasn’t personally experienced with organizing or cleaning to perfection. But I was going to learn and it was going to start that following day bright and early. My plan that evening began with nothing other than a positive mindset, common sense and determination. What I needed to learn I would figure out as I went. If I was stuck or overwhelmed I would take a break and I had briefly skimmed some books that night that I had bought in college during my Martha Stewart obsession so I had a basic idea.
That following day I started in her bedroom, the Grand Central Station of Chaos. Let me set the scene for you. To start my mother is an academic, a college professor of Statistics and a giant book nerd. The stacks built up everywhere and anywhere. She also has a weekend ritual of scouring consignment shops with my father and amassing an obscene amount of clothing, less for the wearing and more for getting a “good deal” and something fun to do every weekend with my Dad. Along with these trips to the consignment store she had also collected a wide array of furniture and decor. All lovely on their own, but mismatched without abiding to a central theme or even genre. A brass bed, white washed oak nightstand, a chest of drawers with a golf scene painted on it, various small antiquities, bunny figurines… ok— Im getting upset just thinking about it, you get the idea. There was a lot going on.
So I just began.
I worked on a common sense order of operation along with some tips from my girl Martha. I started by taking the sheets, pillow cases and blankets off the bed and threw them into the washing machine. I took the gold tasseled 80’s curtains down and washed them as well. I laid a clean flat sheet and spread it out over the bed. This was going to now be my work station for folding and organizing clothing. I brought a bucket filled with a washcloth, paper towels, a big bottle of Vinegar, homemade wood polish, trash bags, a small container of the room paint with a brush and a vacuum, all set by my station. I turned some music on. If I was going to do this I was going to make it enjoyable as possible. I went in with a positive mindset and the mantra in my head of how much joy this will bring to my mother in the short term and all the unforeseen benefits it will bring us all in the long run.
I went around the room and cleared all the immediate trash I could see. I took any coffee cups or the like and placed them in the kitchen sink. I picked up any towels or dirty clothing and put them into the laundry with the sheets and curtains from earlier. I then started the washer. Next, I took everything off the dressers and night stands. Everything movable. Lamp chests , bunnies, books, piles of term papers. All of it. I made organized piles in the hallway. I know in the short term it seems like I am making a bigger mess. You’re just going to have to trust me here. I emptied all the drawers and trashed the obvious junk as I went. Tax returns from 1988? Nobody likes you, get out of here. All the miscellaneous ( and there was a lot) was sorted and grouped with like items in their respective piles in the hallway. Dads clothes were in a lot of the drawers so they were all sorted by category; shirts, pants, socks etc. and neatly placed on the bed. Moms closet was actually a separate room so that would be tackled tomorrow. I maintained my focus on the work at hand and today, just this room was it.
The room was finally clear and I was immensely motivated just by this sight. Hello second wind I was wondering where you’d been hiding. I filled the bucket up with 4 cups of HOT water and a 1 cup of vinegar. I washed down all surfaces including the window sill, the bed frame, door handles, light switches, baseboards and drawer fronts. I washed the walls where hands would sometimes touch and the spot where our English Bulldog Bubba would lay against. I stood on a chair and cleaned the fan blades. I then washed all the glass with straight vinegar and lastly touched up some spots with the paint.
A blank clean canvas was before me. I had begun at about 9 am and it was about 1 now. I had a snack, turned the laundry over and grabbed a coffee. I was feeling good, things were looking good & I was pumped for part 2. I next had to decide with the help of my mother which items will be kept, which items she should give away or reconsign and lastly what would be trashed. We worked from left right down my hallway piles and made 3 new piles on the opposite wall of the hall for Keep, Consign, Donate. We moved along swiftly and had a simple rule. If she picked it up and LOVED it, it stayed. If it was just LIKED- it was consigned, as someone else will LOVE it and thats where it belongs. If it was not even at the like level but could be used by someone in need, DONATE. If its garbage like old magazines, thats usually apparent and in the trash it goes. If you have to make an excuse to keep it, then you don’t love it and therefore its gotta go. Very simple. Paperwork was filed in the office where the computer was. Books, laptops and text books also. Work needs to be with its own energy. Anything work or education related should all be kept together in a designated room if possible. Clothes were next to be neatly returned back to the drawers, as we went we separated them into the keep, consign, donate, piles as well. Mom was so happy she was flitting around like a school girl with all the renewed energy in her now cleared room. I was on a roll and feeling great too. The bed now clear, I flipped the mattress and boxspring against the wall and vacuumed underneath, rotating and flipping it over upon returning it. I took the linen that was on my work station and dropped it off in the laundry. I grabbed the sheets from the dryer and placed them back on, the curtains went into donation pile and then I finished vacuuming the floor.
There were few remaining kept items lingering in the hall that we dusted off and placed lovingly in their respective spots. Wedding photos in my great grandmothers wedding frame, an old Tiffany lamp, an antique hope chest, a vintage quilt and the brass bed were all that remained. I told my mother as the sun was setting outside, do you see all this stuff? This is what you love. THIS is your style. Antiques and vintage. The other things were a passing fancy, deemed pretty, but they didnt speak to you and they lost their luster to just became a burden. In the future stay true to your style when buying. Just ask yourself, “Do I LOVE this?” Before you approach the register and you won’t end up here again.
And thats exactly what she did.
Long story short, if I could tackle that room then you most certainly can too. I followed a rough plan, let my heart lead the way and I was successful. That in turn encouraged my mother to maintain it, granted with a few slip ups here and there. But as a whole it changed a lot of things things that day, her stress level, confidence in her ability, overall productivity, our family dynamic improved as well as her realization of whats necessary and whats not . She also defined her style which led her in the future. A style that was there all along she just couldn’t see it through the clutter.
I hope this has inspired you to make the first step toward a Fresh Start. If you would like to continue I have included a checklist for you to print and guide you into finding your JOY in your Bedroom. As always I am here if you need help or any questions.
THE MOUNTAIN HOMESTEADER
Fresh Start Series – DAY 1 Organizing Your Bedroom
☐ Gather your supplies :
Bottle of Vinegar
Homemade Wood Polish – 2 Tbsp Olive Oil, 1/4 cup distilled white vinegar, 1/4 tsp lemon oil
A small container of the room paint with brush
Vacuum or broom
☐ Take a trash bag and clear out any obvious trash, magazines, papers etc.
☐ Take any coffee cups or plates to the kitchen and put them the sink.
☐ Pick up all dirty laundry on the floor or laying about
☐ Take the sheets, pillow cases and blankets off the bed as well as any fabric curtains and throw them into the washing machine with the laundry. Begin a load.
☐ Grab a flat sheet out of your linen closet and spread it out over the bed.
☐ Go around the room and take everything off of your dressers and nightstands.
☐ Make 3 piles as you remove the items from the room. Label them KEEP,CONSIGN,DONATE,
☐ Place all trash that is collected as you progress into trash bags
☐ Open and clean out all dresser drawers one at a time, placing clean clothing on the bed and any miscellaneous items in the designated piles outside the room
☐ File away paperwork, books, computer equipment and personal documents in a designated area for work.
☐ Take a break and turn over the laundry. Start another if needed.
☐ Mix 4 cups HOT WATER and 1 cup Vinegar in the bucket. Wash down all surfaces including the window sill, the bed frame, baseboards, door handles, light switches, drawer fronts, walls and ceiling fan.
☐ Clean all wood with polish
☐ Wash the windows and any other glass surface with straight vinegar.
☐ Paint any scuff marks or scratches on the walls
☐ Lift the mattress and boxspring and vacuum underneath it. Flipping and rotate the mattress before returning it.
☐ Wipe out the drawers before returning the kept items, and if necessary vacuum the drawers with the hose. Vacuum the floor.
☐ Take out Trash, Put donation items in the trunk of your car, and set aside a space in the garage for consignment, as we progress around the home there will be more to add.
☐ Return the dusted Kept items to their designated place.
☐ Replace sheets and linens.