Ten post-holiday pathways to a beautiful, efficient home.
By Theresa Rolen Long
“And now we welcome the new year, full of things that have never been.”
—Rainer Maria Rilke
A new year means new beginnings and ubiquitous promises, some of which seem built to be broken. Hit the gym, drink less wine, and delete four-letter vocabulary words…these are daunting pledges not for the faint of heart.
Sprucing up the home, however, is a most doable resolution with rewarding results. Get a leg up on 2016 by committing to 10 vows for keeping home, hearth, and life fresh as time marches on.
1. Travel more. How fun is this resolution? You might think it has nothing to do with decorating, but visiting exotic, foreign places invigorates the eye and the mind. However near or far your budget can take you, design inspiration is right around the corner. Unfamiliar architecture, fashion, art, and culture engage your senses and imagination, giving birth to new perspectives and prompting new ideas for your home.
2. Clean out your closets. Call it “Phase One” for your home overhaul. Closet cleansing is contagious! Once you start, you can’t stop, and you’ll soon be purging your whole home. Emptying your closets and cabinets of everything you haven’t worn or used in the last few years will dramatically improve your look and your lifestyle. It will also free up more space in your home, allowing you to rotate and store items you aren’t ready to part with. Which brings us to No. 3…
3. Declutter your accessories. Honestly analyze your stuff. Is everything lovely to behold, emotionally fortifying, useful, or integral to the room’s purpose or design? If not, can you part with it? A clean-lined, clutter-free room is inviting to the mind, and leaves space for the future and possibility.
4. Add color. Each room in your home deserves a visual hook. A shot of color is like b12 for your dwelling. Paint a whole room (or just an accent wall) for the biggest impact. Add color through rugs, artwork, pillows, and window treatments. If your home is a study in the achromatic, graphic punches of black and/or bright white will revive your brown and grey tones, while keeping you safely in your neutral zone.
5. Oust the old. Let go of hand-me-down, old, and worn out furnishings. Just because your mother gave it to you doesn’t mean you must keep it. (Sorry, Mom!) If you don’t love it…give it away. Don’t fear a sparse room. A blank slate allows you to add new items that achieve your vision of the perfect home, one you really want to live in that reflects who you are. A fundamental decorating motto is “buy less, but buy better.” Save up for the quality new piece, or purchase an antique, but don’t think you have to buy a whole new room all at once.
6. Replace worn rugs and carpeting. As you delete furniture you’re not in love with, assess the condition of your floors. New carpeting, rugs, tile, or refinished hardwoods go far in updating a room. End the Mexican standoff with that carpet stain. Roll it up and move on.
7. Purchase new art. Even if you only invest in one piece in the upcoming year, bring home a new art baby for the family. It will embellish your room and be a new conversation focal point when entertaining. Remember—it’s an investment in something you love.
8. Edit your bookcases. Reorganize shelving by adding novel accessories and paring down family photos. Toss books that aren’t meaningful, referenced, or pretty. It really is okay to part with some of your collection. Play around with new book arrangements by organizing them by spine color or horizontally. Enlist help from a decorator or friend if you have a hard time letting go or envisioning a unique way to display.
9. Replace old lampshades and bedroom pillows. These are subtle changes that will nonetheless be noticed by others, not just yourself. Adding new lampshades in modern styles and colors revives your favorite lamps. Enter January with some fresh, quality “fluffies” for your bed. You deserve it.
10. Embrace trends. Trends in decorating, like fashion, are fun but fleeting. Adding a few trendy pieces will usher you stylishly into 2016. There’s no need to spend a lot of money to update a room’s look. But some of today’s trends will morph into tomorrow’s classics. Cool, modern lighting, unique accessories, patterned rugs, and throw pillows are exciting ways to keep a room relevant.
Tackle your whole home at once, in phases, or one room at a time. Grab a calendar and mark a few goals and deadlines, and have fun making a better place to live a better life in 2016. You can always kick your bad habits some other year.