Resolution Restyle: Start the New Year by Refreshing & Decluttering Your Décor
By Cindy Brown
The new year signals a fresh start. It’s a time of optimism, when new things can be achieved, when we can “reinvent” ourselves in some way. That’s why so many of us make New Year resolutions. But this year why not take a different approach and do a resolution “restyle” instead? This year focus on easy and simple changes you can make around your home that will help you declutter and refresh your decor. And the best part? No dieting or exercise are involved!
The new year is a great time to get rid of some of the accumulated “stuff” taking up space in your home. Not only will it free up storage space, but decluttering can actually be good for you. Studies have shown that clutter can affect your ability to focus and increase your stress level, particularly in women. Lorraine Brock, founder and owner of Get Organized!, a professional organizing company, recommends that you schedule one day a month to organize some area of your life.
“Although it may seem overwhelming, it is best to schedule time to organize a complete room versus just a drawer here and there,” says Brock. “Organizing a full room instead of just a drawer is a bigger commitment in the short-term but a wise use of time in the long-run.”
Here are five areas that you can get on the schedule now.
Do you have threadbare towels, faded bath mats or mismatched sheets? January white sales make this an ideal month to dig through your linen closet and get rid of what’s not working, replacing them with new items.
“I tell my clients to get rid of sheets that do not fit on any bed in the house and definitely those that are worn or torn,” says Brock. “Keep two sets of sheets per bed, and make sure every set is complete.”
Next tackle the bathroom drawers and cabinets. Pull out all the unused samples of toothpaste, mouthwash and toothbrushes from the dentist for donation. If you’ve got half-used bottles of lotion or hair products that haven’t been used in over a year, it’s time to trash them.
Start in the kitchen by checking the expiration dates of items in your refrigerator, pantry and spice cabinet. You may be surprised to find how much of it is past its prime. According to Brock, the kitchen is an area that needs constant attention.
“Bringing food into the home is a regular occurrence, and without a space plan in the fridge and pantry, it can become a health hazard or money drain. Once you know the foods you have, decide what you will use and throw out the food that has expired. Keep a list of the items you want to replace on your next shopping trip.”
Has your garage become a dumping ground for old paint and garden and pest control items? Brock recommends using the same organizing process as the kitchen pantry. (See sidebar on disposal of hazardous materials.)
“First, sort and purge expired and unusable items, then inventory what remains,” say Brock. “Identify the category or purpose for each item and label as needed. Write the name of the rooms on each paint can where the paint was used, and take a photo to store online with other house records. This will allow you to always have an easy on-the-go way to look up what paint and colors you have used before.”
The new year is also a great time to go through your closets, especially if you have growing children at home. Now is the time to see what fits and what needs to be replaced for the warmer months ahead. Clothes that are still in good shape can be donated, but those that are tattered need to be tossed.
“Create an incentive to go through clothing,” says Brock, about getting your kids involved. “I suggest to my college kids that they must purge their unwanted clothing before any shopping takes place.”
For adults, it’s also time to take a serious look at what’s hanging in your closet. If you haven’t worn something in over a year — whether it no longer fits or is out of style — it’s probably time to let it go.
Do old phones and tangled charging cords stuck in random drawers sound familiar? Our professional organizer recommends that you make one of your scheduled organizing days a day to just tackle electronics. Old cell phones, in particular, can be recycled or donated for second lives.
“Wipe old, outdated devices after transferring important documents and photos to a cloud service or an external hard drive,” advises Brock, before recycling. “If you have cords in a box that cannot be matched to a device, part with them. Use a label maker to tag the cord with the device it matches.”
Refresh Your Style
After the holiday decorations come down, our rooms often feel bare. So now is a great time to add a pop of color or a little flair to our living spaces. Interior designer Karen Hirst of Hirst Designs, agrees.
“Freshening up a home after the glow of Christmas has dimmed and all the ornaments are back in the attic can be done with simple, easy changes. New throw pillows or a fresh, trendy wall color are both good and inexpensive ways of giving your home a fresh, new look,” says Hirst.
Pick an accent color already in your décor and pull it out with new throw pillows. Or mix and match pillows with bright colors and patterns for an entirely new look. Carrying over one of the colors to an accent wall will complete the transformation. And, it’s easier than ever to see how the room will look before you paint, too! Simply go to www.mycolortopia.com, upload a photo of your room and “virtually paint” the room to see which color works best.
Hirst offers other easy additions, “A new rug for your space will brighten a room, but do not discount an indoor/outdoor rug especially if you have kids or pets. With just a little detergent and a water hose, you can make a soiled rug look new. Another easy change is to add a new lamp shade to an existing lamp.”
Reconfiguring the layout of furniture and wall hangings doesn’t cost anything but makes a big impact. “Decorating does not have to be expensive. These simple changes make the space feel like a whole new room,” says Hirst.
Interior designer Kathy Leland, owner of Lelands Wallpaper in Arlington, likes to use wallpaper in her work. “Wallpaper is back and is one of the hottest decorating trends that makes the biggest impression in your home. I recommend starting small, like doing one wall behind the bed or putting wallpaper in a bookcase, hutch or cabinet. You literally can use a touch of wallpaper in small areas to make a huge decorating impact, like adding a bit of wallpaper on a table or desk and placing glass on top, covering an old lamp shade or changing out the background of a framed piece of art. Applications are endless.”
Remember, you don’t have to do everything at once. Just pick a few of these ideas to get started, and bask in the feeling of accomplishment!
Trash to Treasure.So now that you’ve decluttered, it’s time to turn your “trash” into someone else’s “treasure.” Recycling your no-longer-needed items not only keeps unnecessary items out of the landfill, but it helps others at the same time.
l The Wesley Mission Center (www.wesleymissioncenter.org)
A mainstay in Mansfield, the Wesley Mission Center Thrift Store and Boutique accepts gently used clothes and household goods for resale. Proceeds from the store are then used to meet the immediate food and financial needs of those in need in the Mansfield ISD, as well funding programs like Jobs for Life that assists the unemployed and underemployed in the community. You can also donate those toothpaste and toothbrush samples from the dentist and hotel toiletries like bath soap and shampoo to their food pantry.
“When the food pantry clients receive food, we also make sure that their hygiene needs are being met as well,” says Lindsey Trook, director of community engagement. “We put together bags of hygiene items that we include in their food bag if they have the need.”
l Life Shelter (www.arlingtonlifeshelter.org)
Toiletries and hygiene items are also critical needs for the homeless men, women and children served at the Arlington Life Shelter. Gently used twin bedding, bath towels, adult business attire and infant and children’s clothing are also gladly accepted.
l Arlington Animal Services (www.arlingtontx.gov/animals)
Animal lovers can donate old towels, sheets, blankets, bath mats and even toilet seat covers to the animal shelter. They are used for lining cages and as bedding. It’s an easy way to offer a little extra comfort to those waiting to find their fur-ever homes.
l Safe Haven (www.safehaventc.org)
Safe Haven offers emergency care and shelter for women and children fleeing domestic violence at two shelters in Fort Worth and Arlington. Donations of gently used clothing (including women’s business suits for interviews) and household items help those who often leave with just the clothes on their backs.
l Cellphones for Soldiers (www.cellphonesforsoldiers.com)
Donate old smartphones and tablets to this nonprofit for recycling and help provide free phone cards for active duty military to use to call home.
l Mansfield Environmental Collection Center (www.mansfieldtexas.gov/facility/environmental-collection-center-ecc)
Located at 616 S. Wisteria and open the second Saturday of the month from 10am-3pm. Mansfield residents (driver's license required for proof of residency) may drop off electronics, hazardous chemicals such as paint and cleaning products. Do you have extra paint or cleaners in like new condition that you no longer need? There is a Reuse Store on site where these items are made available free of charge.
l Environmental Collection Center in Fort Worth (www.fortworthtexas.gov/env/ecc/)Arlington residents need only bring proof of residency to drop off household hazardous waste such as paint, motor oil and pesticides free of charge. The center also offers a "Help Yourself Shelf" for chemicals, cleaners and paint in good condition that are still usable. This is a great spot to donate leftover paint from craft or small DIY projects.
For other donation options, check out www.givinggoodsdfw.com.
About the Author:
Cindy Brown has lived and worked in the Arlington/Mansfield area for the last 27 years as the area has experienced tremendous growth. She is married with one grown daughter and currently works part-time at an Arlington nonprofit.