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Dont Just Clean, Organize
Instead of cleaning, decorate
Trying to maintain both a beautiful interior, and a neat and organized home, can be a daunting endeavor. One of the worst mistakes that you can make when planning the design of your residence is to arrange it in such a way that your decoration actually gets in the way of maintaining tidiness. Some set ups may lead to the accumulation of messes, actually working against the home maker. It is, however, possible to arrange your home in such a way that it will naturally lend itself to organization, and will make the job of home maintenance a little easier.
There are two kinds of messes that can mar your home; dirt, and clutter. Dirt, along with dust, grime, and mold are the sickly substances that attach to walls, collect under furniture, and stain windows. Dirt is something you want to completely eliminate. For this, you should always plan your home's design around expediting the cleaning process; making the elimination of these unhealthy substances as easy as possible.
Clutter, on the other hand, is made up of items that you own, and is simply a result of them not being put in their proper place, or worse yet not having one. For this, your plan should be to develop a home with a flow in which objects will almost naturally end up in their proper places.
Maintaining organization is the key to a clutter free home. Some clutter is simply trash, and should be eliminated as swiftly as possible. This often includes old mail and outdated magazines. The easiest way to deter the build up of expired clutter is to integrate a trash can into the room's décor. If it is a room that doesn't lend itself to a trash bin, you can be creative with your receptacles. Almost anything from bright plastic containers, to elegant carved wooden chests can be used, especially if it will only be used for dry items. A good place to find fancy antique bins at a great price is a yard sale. Containers can be used as primary garbage cans, or can be used as a staging area where trash is deposited initially, and is then later transferred into a larger container.
Most clutter is made up of possessions that you want to keep. Generally your strategy should be to find a way to funnel these objects easily into a proper place. To do this you will first need to assess what your problem clutter is. These are the objects that constantly turn up in the wrong spots, creating that messy look. The type of clutter you have is usually determined by the room you in and what its purpose generally is.
Once you have assessed the problem objects, you need to develop a system of categories for the different kinds of clutter in the room. An easy way to do this is to divide the items based on the container where they will go. For instance, all paper goods go in drawer A, all plastic goods go on shelf B. Categorizing these objects in this way will greatly expedite the cleaning process, whenever clutter builds up. Try to avoid being too specific; create broad categories that will be easy to remember and find. You can even try placing tasteful labels on the containers, in places where they can't be seen such as inside of a drawer or on the back of a shelf.
The kind of container you use to store your items will be a major part of your decorative set up. Shelves are great for display items. They use the height of the room so they don't take away from traffic flow, they allow the items on them to be displayed in a highly visible manner, they allow you to categorize items based on the different shelves, and their height protects the higher-up objects from children. Drawers are perfect places for useful items with little decorative value. Cabinets work for temporarily displaying items. Opening the door will reveal your beautiful collections, creating an almost instant transformation in your room.
The neat and tidy look of your possessions, lined up in their proper places, and displayed in tasteful receptacles, is a kind of decoration in and of itself. A setting in which everything is in its proper place will speak more to the quality of your home than almost any piece of décor that you can buy. Even the plainest white room will take on style when filled with shelves of decorative items, curio cabinets, and elegant furniture drawers.
If toy clutter from your children is a problem, get them involved. Place a brightly colored container in any room where toys messes occur, and explain to the child that this is where any of their toys go. Get them to help you clean up a few times, and eventually they will start to understand the concept. You can even turn this into a game, timing how fast they can get all of their toys picked up and into the bucket.
Dirt is more difficult to organize around than clutter. The grime that builds up in your home will accumulate more based on the occupants of the space and their actions, than on any design you implement. However, by planning your interior accordingly, you can create a setting that will expedite the removal of the dirt in your home, and make cleaning less of a chore.
The first step in this job is the removal of clutter described in the first half of this piece. Once you have removed the clutter from an area you will notice an almost imperceptible increase in "flow" in the room. Flow is simply the ability for people and objects to move through a space. By increasing the flow in a room, you will make it easier to get to and remove dirt.
You should make sure that none of your furniture is blocking any other furniture from the rest of the room. Tables are often the problem here, being centerpieces in many areas, and may have to be repositioned in lieu of convenience. Windows too should be left with as little in front of them as possible; you don't want to have to lean over a statue or plant every time you want to wipe one down. A possible exception is windows that are higher up, and may benefit from having a piece of furniture beneath them which you can climb on when cleaning. However, you should always use caution when climbing on any object that was not intended for this use.
Placing your furniture on rollers, or positioning them so they can easily be placed on furniture coasters, will make it less trouble to clean underneath. Do not store boxes beneath your furniture. This may be the only way to eliminate clutter however it also becomes a difficult place to clean, as you will have to bend over, move the boxes, clean, and then replace them. Rarely seen closets are a much better place for box storage.
Interior design is not a static art; it is a form in motion. Your home should be constantly evolving towards a perfect version of itself. You should always be searching for the right balance between decoration and ease. If you consider the properties of dirt and clutter in a room, before repositioning objects and items within it, you will save yourself a lot of annoyance and effort in the future.
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Joey Lewitin is an author, artist, and designer of home décor accessories made from imported stone. His line of unique wall clocks in stone can be seen at http://Pebblez.com/clockbeautiful.html
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