“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful” – William Morris
The state of your home reflects the state of your mind, and when it is clean and full of wonderful fragrance, art, your favorite colors, magical details and reminders of the people you love, you will feel so much better when you are there.
If you feel amazing in your home, you have so much more mental space to worry about making your dreams a reality, finding time for deep and fulfilling rest, and you will show up in the world a better version of yourself, with more to give to others. This is a win- win-win.
If you don’t have the motivation this very moment, you can commit to a thorough Spring Cleaning by creating small future tasks in your Calender/ planner/to-do list now. If you don’t have a calender, planner or to-do list, get on that. Make your life easy. Two-item to-do lists are so much more appealing than 15 item to-do lists, and also much more likely to get done.
I have not always been a neat person, and am quite messy by nature, so please don’t be discouraged if this is you, too. You can reform! You can trick yourself into being tidy, I swear! As a teenager, I was the kid who had to “clear a path” when her grandma spent the night and stayed in my bedroom, because there was literally that much crap on the floor. I am messy by nature, leaving little folded up post-it notes, dried flowers, lip balms, empty cans of sparkling water, and scrunchies in my wake. But I have learned to be tidy despite my messy nature, and reign in that creative messiness to create a home where I can be inspired, productive, and relaxed.
It’s true what they say about clean home equating to a clean mind. Having physical clutter translates into having mental clutter, because it’s taking up storage in your brain, on your to-do list, and nagging at you, “Cleaaannn me,” and preventing you from doing what you really want to do, preventing you from having fun, relaxing, or chipping away at your other projects. Who needs that?
Besides the importance of cleanliness and staying on top of your chores, it is vital to your happiness that you are surrounded by things you find beautiful, and as Marie Kondo says, bring you joy. If there’s anything you take from this, know that you don’t have to spend a dime to turn your place into your heaven, but you will have to brainstorm, look for solutions, and get creative. You can, of course, spend as many dimes as you like on your home, and if it’s in your budget, I think it’s a worthy investment to support your joy on a daily basis. For those of you on a tighter budget, however, know that you can get creative and beautify your space without a dollar to your name, and here’s how.
Declutter and Downsize
When I moved across the country, I thought I had gotten rid of most of my things. It wasn’t until that U-Haul Pod arrived, though, that I realized how much of a hoarder I was. As an avid crafter and recovering Halloween obsessive, I am completely guilty of saving a hat I’ve never worn in hopes of a potential costume idea in the next decade. Dont. Do. It. That shit is just taking up space, overcrowding your closets, and taking up storage in your brain.
When I moved to the coast to rent a furnished room with one closet and a corner of a garage for storage space, I was forced to get rid of a majority of my stuff, and it felt so good to unpack and actually have space to fit my clothes, to have a bedside drawer I didn’t have to manipulate shut, and to actually look at my wardrobe and see nothing but wearable options (I’m looking at you, Sophomore Year Homecoming dress…. donate that shit!)
- Go through your wardrobe- If you haven’t worn it in the last year, donate it. If it has holes, stains, smells funny, toss. Enlist a friend or two, get a bottle of wine, and turn it into a party if you’d like.
- Get rid of or sell everything your ex gave you. If you have a wonderful relationship with your ex, I admit I’m skeptical, but deeply consider if having it around is really in your best interest.
- Create sections. Every weekend, tackle a different section. This can be as small as “end table drawer” or as big as “attic.” Be ruthless. Personally, I’ve never regretted giving away or donating something. You’ll be amazed how quickly you forget about what you leave behind.
- Follow the William Morris quote, “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” Again, be ruthless. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, letting go is the hardest part. You won’t miss the items you donate or toss. If you do, you’ll get over it.
- Do small tasks often. Make it a priority to visit the mail drawer once a month, and clear out what you don’t need. If you feel inspired to clear something out, jump on that motivation in the moment! You will feel better afterwards.
- Remember how good it feels to be in a clean hotel, or to move in to a new place, or to come home to your house after a deep cleaning. You can have that feeling in your own home with consistent effort.
Wait to Spend
I’m anti- impulse buy. That’s not to say I never do it, but I try my hardest, especially with larger purchases, to wait for items that I absolutely love, and even when I find them, I know it’s better to wait a week, a month, or even several months to see what it’s like living without it. Often when I re-visit the thing I wanted so badly, I find I don’t really care as much, and the things I still want after waiting end up being things I treasure for years. Your wallet will thank you, too.
If you’re starting fresh or replacing something, it’s far better to go-without than to just buy something you feel so-so about just to fill a space quickly. There is something really freeing about empty spaces, and realizing that we don’t truly “need” so many of the things we think we do. Your toothbrush can sit in a coffee mug, you can leave a towel on the floor until you find your perfect bath mat. Buy or make things you love, it is worth the wait to surround yourself with beauty over mediocrity.
Put of pictures of people you love. Save a pinecone or a beautiful stone from a vacation, or a bottle of sand.
Dry flowers that were a gift from someone special, and make your own potpourri.
Seeing people you love will lift your spirits, and seeing these small reminders of happy memories will fill your heart and make your home cozy and yours.
Pick a Theme
One element of design is limiting your palette. As someone who loves color, and has a rainbow colored rug in her living room, I recommend you take this advice with a grain of salt, but there is something to be said for exercising a bit of restraint, whether that be in using mostly neutral colors, with a couple of pops of color, or choosing something like “rustic” or “bohemian” to help guide your decor. As much as I have eclectic tastes, I enjoy design more when a little bit of restraint is exercised.
Right now my place could be described as metaphysical-rainbow-cottage-by-the-beach. It works for me.
Plants are your Friend
Whether it’s houseplants, fresh cut flowers, or a full-blown garden (If you can have all three, do it! Do it! Do it!) plants clean the air, and who doesn’t experience joy looking at a flower?
Not a green thumb? Do a little research. Find out what kind of care your plant needs, or seek the advice from a friend who gardens, or even your local nursery. There is so much information out there and after over a decade in the horticulture industry, I’m going to let you in on a secret: even experts kill plants. It happens. Plants die sometimes. Don’t beat yourself up over it. If you’re determined to have plants, you’ll find a way, and it’s really easy once you learn to select low-maintenance options, and get into a rhythm.
Tips to Green Up Your Space:
- Choose low- maintenance house plants. Some of my favorites are philodendrons, monstera, and snake plant. Find out what kind of light you have, and shop accordingly. Light matters! Water matters! Don’t buy orchids if you hate watering, don’t buy cactus if you don’t have enough light. Buy plants that will happily adapt to the environment you can give them. Always buy pots with a drain hole.
- Buy Fresh Flowers! I used to see this as such a fluffy extra, but spending $5-10 on some carnations or roses that light me up inside every time I see them makes this worth every penny and I do it often.
- Make cuttings. Ask a friend or even your local nursery if you can have a cutting of some of their philodendron, Monstera, or Pothos, and stick the roots in a mason jar or a bud vase. As long as they are near some light, they will live for months, and will eventually grow roots and can be planted. You can put some decorative stones in there, too. If you’re not a green thumb, they give the illusion or having plants around, and look quite beautiful. If you are a green thumb, it’s a beautiful, fun, and affordable way to add to your collection.
- Garden. If you’re renting or have limited outdoor space, most plants can live in pots. I highly recommend cultivating some seasonal containers for outside your front door, or around any outdoor seating area you have. Find out what plants can live in pots and stay green year round. Again, consult with your local nursery.
- Twinkle Lights- I am a year round string light person, with my personal favorite being warm white, although hot pink is super fun in the bedroom. They really add an element of magic and create soft lighting
- Candles! Again, magic. Fragrance. Fire. Lighting. I love candles made with essential oils, or simple honey candles, as too much fragrance can give me a headache
- Float fresh flowers in a bowl of water
- Create corners of magic. I love symbols, crystals, shells, pine cones, dried flowers, and am often making little vignettes that inspire me and remind I am surrounded by magic.
- Use suncatchers. These are easy to make or find online, and if you hang them in a sunny window, they shoot beams of rainbow light around the room.
- Art! Choose art you love, sometimes less is more, but maybe for you more is more. It’s not permanent, play around and figure out what you like.
- Keep a sense of humor. I’ll put up kids coloring pages from a dinner out for a while, art my 6 year old niece made, or a “cake” of dried flowers on a beautiful plate on the kitchen table, and love any excuse to use a furry pillow or incorporate a rainbow color scheme.
Get into a Cleaning Rhythm
Put it on your planner if you must. Make it a priority, and get into a rhythm.
I do a big clean every Friday before the weekend, and typically another tidy up on Sunday night. During the week, I try to stay on top of chores, and tidy up before bed. It’s amazing the difference it makes putting shoes, coats, hoodies, books, and mail where it belongs, as well as wiping off counters, or sweeping the floor. These small tasks will keep you sane and prevent you from a looming, larger job during the week.
Bonus Budget Round
Keeping your house tidy and getting into a cleaning schedule is the first step to beautifying your home.
Regularly visit the Craigslist “Free” section for everything from furniture, art, to garden goods.
Cuttings! Again, a friend with a houseplant can help you either grow your own houseplant or have a living arrangement that lasts months.
Save your jars! Pasta sauce, jelly, peanut butter, wine bottles– these can make really beautiful vases, candle holders, etc.
Look to nature- again, beautiful stones, shells, pine cones, and dried flowers can all add those little elements of magic
Look at thrift stores! They can really be a gold mine.
So there you have it. Those are some of my favorite ways to beautify the home. I truly believe the space you live in effects your mental state and well-being, and can look at specific examples from my own life. Be kind to yourself, and know that your day-to-day well being affects your ability to accomplish your goals, and the home is a really crucial place to start.