How I Transformed My Home Without Spending (almost any) Money
Some years ago, I decided to declutter my basement by getting rid of the baby items that my son had outgrown. This should only take a few hours, I had thought. Ha! Was I wrong! The project gained momentum.
You see, as I got rid of “junk”, I began to rediscover forgotten items – imperfect treasures with patina, character, and personal stories. Suddenly, I wanted to display these things that I had once abandoned in basement storage.
A New Mind–Set
Up until that point, I hadn’t focused on the full potential a home “set-up” has to nourish our experiences and personalities. I started to see that my set-up didn’t make certain activities that I valued – like drawing or painting- very convenient. Also, I wanted my space to be more authentic; to be an expression of who I was. In my diary, I wrote:
“Rethink the living room. Transform it into a room where the living includes creativity.”
“Add new things, get rid of some things, make it organic, open, welcoming and comfortable.”
And so it began: I put pictures up in old frames and displayed them in groupings. I put cool keepsakes on my shelves, and brought up old lamps that I had relegated to our basement storage.
I got rid of things that I didn’t really enjoy, or that didn’t serve a purpose, and I completely shifted my furniture around.
I painted my porch and furnished it with a couch, coffee table, and shelf that were no longer needed inside the house.
Most importantly, I created a small work station, right in my living room, where I could paint, draw and write, while spending time with my family. It was basically a desk with good lighting, tucked into a corner. We mounted a funky cork bulletin board on the wall beside it, where I pinned pictures, drawings and quotes. It became what I affectionately referred to as the “evolving (because I was open to continually adjusting the space to better suit our needs) creative centre of our home”. It inspired my son to join me in creative activities, and added life to our space.
It took some hard work, but when I was done the whole process, I couldn’t believe how our home had changed. It was so satisfying, and it enhanced our quality of life as well.
7 Tips That Helped Me Set Up My Home.
These are the ideas that helped us set up a space we really enjoy. Maybe some of them can be useful to you:
1) When organizing a space, first ask yourself: What do I love to do? How do I want to spend my time, on a regular basis, in this space? What activities do I want to do easily in this space? Make a list. Let your interests (and those of your family) guide your decisions, and then make room for those activities: make them a priority. That can be challenging, especially in a smaller space, I know. It might mean that you have to make some unconventional choices, and get a bit creative with your use of space. Why not try it, though? It is your life! You can make your space what you need it to be!
2) As a general guideline, surround yourself with things that you enjoy, that hold positive associations or special meaning . This helps you feel good in the space. (See the next point.)
3) When decluttering, look at each item, and ask yourself the following two questions:
– Does it serve a purpose?
– Does it have special meaning? (For example: maybe it’s a collectable, it’s beautiful, it’s a keepsake from a trip, or a special gift…)
If it doesn’t serve a purpose, and it doesn’t have any special meaning, is there another reason to keep it? Would someone else benefit more from having it? Use your judgment. It’s your choice to make.
This tip gets easier and easier with practice, so do it regularly!
Keep a box handy, and put “maybe” items in there for a while, and see if you miss them. When you are ready, drive down to a thrift store and drop them off.
4) Don’t get overwhelmed. I got a bit carried away when I rearranged my house, but it was a lot of hard work – both physical, and mental (I was making so many decisions about what to keep, and what to throw, where things should go, how to arrange things…). Usually, it is a good idea to reorganize one area at a time. For example, change your bedroom around this season. If you enjoyed the way that worked out, focus on the dining room next summer. It doesn’t all have to be done at once.
5) Same thing goes for decluttering! It’s a good idea to do a small section at a time: a drawer one weekend, a closet next month. Be patient, and recognize when you are feeling tired. Get rest, and start fresh again later.
6) Be aware of what you bring into the house. For me, it’s not just about getting rid of things. I try to avoid buying things that will soon become unwanted clutter. The added bonus: this tip can save you a lot of money. Give yourself time before purchasing items: if in doubt, just go home and think about it. I’ve been doing this most of my adult life, and it has probably saved me a fortune.
7) Above all, have fun with it, experiment with different ideas, and arrange things in a way that works for you and your family. Only you can decide what is the “right” set-up for your home!
Editor’s Note: We have since moved to a new home, and I have used those 7 ideas to help me set up and keep a space where we love to live!
Photograph by Tungphoto, courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net.
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