Tag Archives: declutter

The Minimalism Journey

 

This would be the appropriate time to say, “all good things must come to an end.” However, the end of this monthly column does not signify the end of my journey with minimalism, and it doesn’t have to mean the end of yours.

The basics of minimalism are simple. You don’t need a book to tell you that having less stuff means less clutter. We all know the feeling of metaphorical and physical weight being lifted from our shoulders when we drop off a bag of clothes at a thrift store. Living with less means that you can focus on things that really matter. It gives you more time for family and pursuing your passions. No matter where you are financially, it gives you permission to live your best life.

This column is ending, but I hope the following things stick with you:

Decreasing the items in your wardrobe will give you more time to get ready, workout, or prepare a healthy breakfast every morning. Ultimately, it will give you more time with your family and eliminate mountains of dirty clothes in your closet and throughout your home.

Keep surfaces bare and sinks empty. Deal with clutter as it happens. This includes washing and putting dishes away after each meal, filing or recycling mail as it enters your home, and finding a place for purchases the moment they enter your door. Giving these items a home on your coffee table, counter, or dining room table may be the most short term convenient option, but you will regret it in the long run.

And, speaking of purchases, decluttering your home is only the first step. As we celebrate the holiday season, remember that in order to stick to your new minimalist goals, everything that enters your home must replace something that already exists. By making this rule, you become a more conscious consumer. You will also likely become even more appreciative of the gifts you receive because they will always have a purpose instead of finding a home at the back of your closet.

Minimalism is also about taking back your schedule and making time for things that matter. It makes you aware of the amount of time you spend on social media, watching television, and clocking in to work. When you stop spending so much on decorations and sale items that will be meaningless by January, your finances will thank you—and you may be able to adjust your work habits accordingly.

Finally, make minimalism a family goal. Instead of forcing it, however, lead the way with your own habits. Show your family that, by decluttering and being a conscious consumer, you are happier. You have more money to put towards experiences instead of electronics or toys. Show them your awareness of how detrimental consumer distractions can be has increased your potential for joy because you can appreciate what you already own.

We spend so much of this life in pursuit of happiness. The question I want to leave you with is, what if it has been right under our noses all along?

Making Small Spaces Spacious

If you’re struggling with feeling claustrophobic when you go home because you have too much stuff, or you live in a smaller house and you’re dying for more space but there’s no chance of moving any time soon, hang in there because we’re here to help! Sometimes we don’t realize how many unnecessary items we have collected over time until suddenly one day we look around and feel overwhelmed! Other times we just haven’t utilized the space that we do have in the right way. Here are some ideas on how to make those small spaces feel spacious!
Work with white!- First off, if you live in a small house and you’re thinking about painting your walls a dark color, put the paintbrush down! Work with lighter colors, these kinds of colors will open up your small areas more than you might think. Instead of slate black or navy, stick to bright whites, light grays, sand colors, or even a fun seafoam green!
Accent colors!- If you’re really set on a darker color in a room, use it as an accent instead. For instance, you could use a dark color for your lampshades, couch pillows, or throw blankets. These pops of color will add character and are a fun way to show off your style without making you and your guests feel like you’re living in a shoebox. Or, if you are just dying for a dark color on the wall, you can use that color on a single wall to create an accent wall! Doing this will help make the room seem deeper and will create a focal point. An accent wall is an opportunity to show off your style and personality because the options are limitless! You can use one solid color, horizontal stripes, or even polka dots! Horizontal stripes are a great idea because they will create the illusion that the room is wider than it actually is. Or, if that’s not quite your style, you can create an accent wall by placing multiple works of art on the same wall. This is neat because you can use photos, canvases, or paintings that are meaningful to you as a focal point of a room and a conversation starter!
living-room-421842_1920Embrace the light!- Another common problem in rooms that feel small is a lack of light. For goodness sake, open those curtains! If simply opening the curtains doesn’t give you enough light and the room still feels like it’s underground, grab a lamp! Another way to maximize light in a room is to add mirrors. A great place to add a mirror is the wall right across from the window. Doing so will directly reflect all of that wonderful sunshine that is coming in through that window and will make the room seem brighter. You can also add a fun or unique mirror to your accent wall to show off your style and brighten up the room at the same time! You might not even realize how dark your home is until you start adding light in order to create a more desirable atmosphere for you and your family.
Declutter!- We hope that these decorating ideas help your home to feel comfortable and inviting again, but none of these will help you if you continue to hold onto those items that you don’t use or need anymore. In order to decorate you have to declutter! No, you really don’t need six remotes and four blankets in every room. For the things you do need, look into fun and functional storage units to prevent your house from feeling cluttered and messy. For the things you don’t need or don’t use often, downsize, throw it away, or donate it!  (Check out our monthly minimalism column in Bella for decluttering ideas!)

Written by Kathleen Duffy

Spring Cleaning Tips

It’s time to open the windows, take in a breath of fresh air, and bust out those buckets, mops, brooms, and rags because spring is here! We all know that with spring comes spring-cleaning, which some of us dread and some of us anticipate, but those pesky dark corners of our homes that get neglected every winter aren’t going anywhere. To help you out, we’ve compiled a list of spring-cleaning tips that will ensure your home is left spotless!
It always feels good to declutter and deep clean after the painfully long winter and an easy place to start is your closet! Whether you’ve kept your weight loss resolutions and you can’t wear a lot of your clothes anymore, or you’ve changed up your look, we all have clothes that we bought and hate or just don’t wear anymore. When cleaning out your closet try to be as objective as possible. Don’t say “what if” or “but”… if you haven’t worn it in the past sixth months, put it in the donate bin! If you’re honest with yourself, when you’re done there will be a huge difference! The great thing is, after you’re done you’ll have an excuse to go shopping and get a new spring outfit to celebrate!
Another great way to get a jump start on your spring cleaning is to tackle those baseboards that have collected a startling amount of dust and grime over the cold months! We all hate grabbing that bucket of soapy water and a rag only to get down on our knees for the thankless task of scrubbing the baseboards, but you’ll notice a huge difference when you’re done! Even your floors will look cleaner after scrubbing your baseboards until they’re squeaky clean. If crouching down on your knees for what seems like forever is just too much, check out Pinterest for all kinds of creative ideas on how to avoid squatting!
Next on our list is ceiling fans… out of sight out of mind, right? We always seem to forget these guys until one day, after we’ve opened up those windows and it’s a little warm, we turn them on full blast only to receive in return a prompt rain of dust on the entire room. Don’t let this happen to you! Just grab a small step stool and a warm damp rag and wipe off the tops of the blades. Depending on how long you’ve neglected them, you might have to go over them a few times, but it’s worth it knowing that you’re keeping dust out of the air and off of your clean floors!
One of the more creative ideas that we’ve come up with is to, while your scrubbing those baseboards and ceiling fans, take your AC vent covers, place them in the dishwasher without soap, and hit “start” to get them squeaky clean*. You don’t even need soap, the hot water will be enough to wash away the grime from the winter! Then, by the time you’re done with your other projects, all you’ll have to do is take them out of the dishwasher and put them back in place!
slice-of-lemon-953987_1920Lastly, don’t make spring cleaning harder than it needs to be! To cut grease and grime in those extra tough places, use a lemon wedge! After you go over the area with the lemon, wipe with a damp rag to clean up any extra. We love this for areas like stovetops and microwaves. It’s especially nice to know that you are using something totally natural and free of harsh chemicals to clean the areas where you prepare food for your family!
As you start to dive into your cleaning don’t forget those tough spots, be objective, and keep in mind that it is SO worth it when you’re done! There’s no better way to kick off spring than with a clean and refreshed space for you to spend time with your family. The Bella girls would love to hear what your favorite spring cleaning tip is, so share with us on Facebook!

*Only do this if your AC vents are metal.

Written by Kathleen Duffy

Removing the Clutter from Your Life

A few small changes to your surroundings and your routine may be all you need to reduce stress and improve efficiency during your work day. Check out some of the recent changes I’ve made and leave your suggestions in the comments below!

Decluttering:
Every room in my house needed help. Marie Kondo’s “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” was very inspirational to this process. I’ve cut my entire wardrobe (summer and winter clothes included) in half. There will be no more storing clothes in their off seasons. Getting dressed in the morning is easier— and in two weeks, I have yet to wake up and say, “I have nothing to wear!”

Deleting unnecessary smart phone apps:
I once used three screens on my iPhone to house all of my apps. Now I’m down to one. There are quite a few that you can’t delete, but you can push them out of the way by making a folder for all your extra stuff. And, speaking of unnecessary apps…

Limiting time on social media:
I used to “relax” and “unwind” before bed by surfing through Facebook.
As it turns out, after deleting the app from my phone, I’m sleeping better— for a couple of reasons:
Watching people exchanging harsh words on Facebook over any issue is stressful. I often wonder if the same people would approach someone in a crowded restaurant and have a heated argument with them if they were wearing a shirt broadcasting their opinion instead? Sometimes a keyboard shields us from the fact that there are actual humans on the other side— and becoming emotional about an issue that a Facebook debate will not solve is detrimental to a good night’s sleep.
Reports from the pages of various news outlets on various catastrophes do not bode well for shut eye. I’m not saying I don’t want to be informed— but I am saying that stirring up my fight or flight mechanism before bed probably wasn’t the best idea.

Exercising:
Staying active on a regular basis is just better for your health. With less distractions in the form of physical and social clutter, I spend more time getting my nervous energy out on the trails or the track— which helps get my brain ready for focusing at work.

Eating a better breakfast:
I’ve eliminated coffee and bread from my morning— only because it is better for ME. Ask yourself what would be better for you—maybe even talk to your doctor about healthy foods that could meet your needs. I start my mornings by drinking an entire bottle of water and eating a couple of hard boiled eggs and an apple. I have more energy and I don’t have to worry about the dreaded caffeine crash mid-morning.

 

How do you get relax and stay organized during the week? Let us know!

Declutter and Get Organized

hbx-closet-tips-charity-getty-deSpring is right around the corner! This weekend is the perfect time to reinvigorate your life. We really like the idea of becoming a minimalist, living simply with fewer possessions. You can enjoy your life more if you don’t have to deal with so many things in your life. Making changes in your life can be scary but also very good for your well-being. A good way to ease into becoming a minimalist is to begin the process of decluttering and spring cleaning.

A great tip for de-cluttering your wardrobe is to put your hangers on your rack backwards. Whenever you wear something and put it back on the hanger, turn it around the right way. Do this at the beginning of every season, and at the end of the season donate the clothes that are still turned around backwards.

When spring cleaning, we are often faced with the dilemma of what to get rid of and what to keep. Here are a few tips on getting rid of useless clutter:

Ask yourself if you are holding on to something just because there is a memory attached, like those ticket stubs to that one play you saw with your significant other. If so, get rid of it. If you have a strong emotional connection to it, take a picture of the object so you can always go back and look at it. You may have the urge to keep something because you “might put it in a scrapbook someday.” To save space, try to be content with just taking a picture of the object and putting the photograph in the scrapbook instead of the actual object.

If you really want to keep something, ask yourself if it is something that you can display in your house. Frame pictures or put them in photobooks. Dust off your shelves and place mementos on them.

Ask yourself if you’re holding on to something broken because you might fix it one day. If this is something that can easily be replaced, go ahead and trash it and get a new one. Unless you have serious plans about fixing something, don’t let broken junk take up space in your house.

Remember that the changes you make to declutter and become minimalist can be hard. That’s why you should take it slow at first. Don’t get in over your head. Minimalism has many benefits for improving your life. So, begin by doing your spring cleaning.

 

Written by Krista Knauer