This summer went by so quickly I think if I blinked, I might’ve missed it!
While we are embarking on my favorite series of seasons and the beloved (or dreaded depending on your perspective) “Hallowthankmas” series of holidays, September and the months to follow certainly tend to derail any of my summer-accumulated simple living ethos. I have the luxury of being able to be home during the summer with my kids and so that gives me a once a year opportunity to really de-clutter and organize my home.
This summer — again, that one that went by sooooo fast — I did not get that chance to declutter and purge all my closets, cabinets and storage spaces so when the calendar reached late August, I suddenly had a bit of panic about how to stay organized during my busy season (aka September through June) when I hadn’t had time to reorganize the chaos during my non-hectic season! In essence, no matter how organized or decluttered you are, a key to simple living is to keep the things you need and use the most at close hand — and either eliminate (or if needed, put in storage) those things that you don’t.
Don’t have the time for a major Marie Kondo? That’s OK. All you need is half a Saturday and some dedicated time to streamlining your house! Ready?
Kitchen Aid: I used to keep every single appliance that I owned on my counter. I displayed almost every cookbook in a neat nook in the corner and I had storage crocks and cookie jars galore. Seriously.
I never noticed how cluttered that made my already tiny kitchen look until I visited friends who quite literally, kept nothing on their counters. I loved how it looked so I tried it in my kitchen — and found that while I loved how clean and sparse everything looked, the practical utility of having nothing that I needed when I was preparing a meal was lacking!
My compromise that works very well for my kitchen is this: I keep my top five kitchen supplies within an arm’s reach from my main cooking area — and everything else has its own dedicated storage space. For me, that means just a few of my regular pots and pans in the lazy Susan next to the stove, a small crock with my favorite spatula, wooden spoon and other cooking utensils on the counter next to my prep area, a large cutting board, my spice rack and a knife block. Is that all the kitchen utensils I own? Not a chance but since I don’t need all those things on a daily basis, they have a nice home in a neatly organized storage space and the everyday items are kept close by — and are much more organized and easy to access when I am not trying to store them with every other kitchen utensil that I own! To do this in your own kitchen, start with your pots and pans — pick two or three that you use frequently and store those in a spot that is easy to access and put the others away. Now, move on to your kitchen utensils. I used to fight with my potato masher daily as it would fall out of my storage crock every time I needed a spatula. I use my potato masher once a month at most so it doesn’t need a spot on the counter! So. Much. Easier. If you have all of your small appliances on your counter, do a week long inventory of how often you use them. Maybe the coffee pot stays but the blender is only for your Saturday morning smoothie? Move that blender into a storage space and enjoy the extra space on your counter!
Live Well in Your Living Room: I will never forget the day our realtor came to stage our last home for a showing. She took pretty much every throw pillow, blanket and trinkets off the couches, chairs and coffee tables and put them in a storage box. I was stunned at how lovely my house looked — and it actually looked more inviting without a bunch of stuff to move out of the way! I still have a throw pillow or two but have long since ditched the knick knacks and other dust gatherers for a cleaner and more simple look.
I’m not trying to stage my house but it certainly does make cleaning easier and I save the serious decorating for seasonal holidays. If you are reading this and thinking, “there is no way I can part with all my knick knacks or decorations,” — here’s an idea. Pick fun containers, baskets or other decorative storage units and stuff a bookcase or table with those containers.
The items you want to keep close at hand will still be there — and displayed in style — without all the extra clutter. Use decorative containers to streamline clutter on bookshelves, let magazine holders mask catalogs, while woven bins or fabric bins can house (and hide) household supplies you like to keep on hand.
Rest Rooms: Whenever I am feeling stressed or anxious — or feeling a little overwhelmed at how messy my house has gotten in the daily course of living — I always start with my bathroom. For some reason, if that room is clean and tidy, I get my second wind to tackle the more challenging and larger living areas of my house! The same concept that you applied in the kitchen goes here as well — you don’t need every hairbrush, hairdryer, waterpik and other toiletry on your counter. Buy some fun baskets to keep everything in and again, choose those things you use every day and keep those on the counter or in a basket just nearby. I always tell folks to think about when you stay at a hotel — they usually have a basket of the things you need on the counter. Aside from the shower caps, most of those items fall into that daily use category and certainly have earned a spot on your counter. If they don’t — find a home that is hidden away yet still close and enjoy a far more relaxing vibe in your rest room! If you are like me, that room may be the only time you get any peace and quiet in the course of the day!
(Editor’s Note: Kristine George is a freelance journalist who resides in Easton.)