Happy new year! Now that we are slowly emerging from holiday festivities, it's time to think about starting fresh in 2018, a nice round number. As much as I love the lead up to Christmas and shamelessly sneak in decorating in November, when the clock strikes midnight and the ball drops, I start itching to put away all the tinsel and holly.
With these frigid temps, staying in was the only option on New Year's Day. That meant my husband got roped into helping me tidy up. The tree was quickly dismantled and the garlands were put away. I bid adieu to my sweet Grinch stocking. This year, I had enough energy to actually sort through my seemingly endless collection of Christmas decorations and threw out some things and bagged other items headed to the charity stores for donation.
Our dear friends in Scotland have a tradition of cleaning the house from top to bottom on the first day of the year. Seems like a great idea ‐ starting anew, decluttered and clean. Some of you may start by cleaning out the rooms recently vacated by visitors and the remains of the big party. Also invest in some pleasing storage options such as baskets and boxes and decorative hooks.
But if you're like me and really dislike dusty surfaces, open storage may not be your destiny. Opt for closed containers on shelves, in closets, properly labelled with words or pictures. But try to contain yourselves! Too many such items can themselves look very cluttered.
This is also a good time to re‐evaluate the mainstays of our homes. Editing has become a hot word in our society, which is more and more obsessed with being organized. I think that this mindset comes from our desire to strip away the layers and opt for a more natural way of living, with natural materials. Visual clutter means a cloudy mind. Everyone is so busy these days, we need to stay uber organized to stay afloat. Efficiency is the key. An ounce of organization is a pound of peace....okay I am taking some major liberties in paraphrasing! But you get the idea!
Take a good look at your closets ‐ that include your clothes, your shoes, your linens and pantry. Will you really wear that old sweater again? How about that small appliance wedding gift, which has been gathering dust for years? Decluttering also means using the things we have, instead of keeping them just for company.
Last year, my sort of resolution catch phrase was 'just go ahead, use the guest towels'. A funny comedian named Henry Cho speaks of this in his stand up. He wonders why his wife won't let him use the guest room and guest linens. Why are the people who come stay once a year, the only ones who get to enjoy the nice things? Shouldn't the family be more important? So last year, I brought out the nice Ralph Lauren towels I had put away for guests only. And this Christmas Eve, we used our silver cutlery set for the first time. After more than 20 years of marriage, I finally got them out of their gilded cage! Our everyday set has been missing spoons for years. But for some reason, I was loathe to use the good set. It was liberating to set them out for all to enjoy. Now I see the value of enjoying our everyday, not just the special occasions. Each day is a celebration of life in the best way. Let's make it so!
When you're satisfied with the tidying and clean up, you can turn towards the fun task of sprucing up your spaces. I am generally a magazine fanatic! As a child, I even loved pouring through the pages of catalogues and sale flyers. Nowadays, I get excited when the latest issues of home decor magazines land in my mailbox. As an Interior Designer, it's good to keep abreast of new trends coming in, and tired ideas on their way out and how to achieve this on a reasonable budget of time and money.
If I was asked to give one piece of advice on home decorating and design, I would definitely say to avoid the urge for instant gratification. Rome wasn't built in a day, all good things come to those who wait, etc., etc. Seriously, this is the best advice I can give anyone. We have become a society of instant gratification. We want the best and we want it now. No longer is patience a virtue. We want that beautifully staged interior in the magazines to leap out and be our own. But strangely, "...the biggest residential shift has been the noticeable disdain for generic looks, increased interest in spaces that reflect the personal tastes and experiences of their owners, with a rise in customized furniture, unique finishes, original art and quirky accessories." (Vicky Sanderson, Toronto Star)
We are a society full of contradictions. Our homes have become more about communal living, but more rigidly adhering to a minimalist mindset. We want controlled environments which appear to look breezy and in the moment. It's a purposeful life in purposeful spaces with a strong emergence of personality in decorating. We buy mass produced products, which look artisanal. We have discarded the traditional for honest materials such as natural woods in low sheen finishes, produced to look new and trendy. We silently seek the generic, but abhor being labelled as such.
At the end of the day, buy what you like and be true to yourself. If you like trendy, be trendy, but stick to smaller accessories to update a room. Work slowly and enjoy the process, not just the finished product. After all, are we ever really finished? And what's the fun in seeing it all done and dusted?
Please stayed tuned to my next blog, when I will start to chronicle our latest home renovation project. I will update you in every other posting on all the step by step processes and experiences ‐ the good, the bad and the ugly!
May the new year bring you much joy, good health and prosperity.