Keeping it fresh!

Most of us can relate to the exhilarating feeling following a recently completed home project.  An energetic shift takes place making us feel crisp, clean, and organized.  Most likely, great effort went into emptying the space of furnishings and clearing away its contents.  Purging of unnecessary items before refilling the space was likely a challenge in itself.  How do you maintain that organization and keep a space from losing its fresh appeal?

Begin by planning de-cluttering time into your schedule.  Make separate piles of items to put away, give away, and throw away or recycle. With the items organized you can now create a list of what needs to be repaired, replaced, re-touched, or introduced. Keep the list handy for a week or so, for items that come to mind as you use the space.

Prioritize tasks beginning with the simplest or least expensive fixes.  Assess what you can do yourself and when you require a contractor for repairs.  Decide on a timeframe to complete each item.  Create a schedule and if necessary, a budget.  Take care of the easiest items as soon as possible.  

For do-it-yourself items and new accessories, make a shopping list and keep it in an envelope that includes space dimensions and items like paint chips and fabric samples.  Keep the list in your car or handbag and you can pick items up when you happen to be in the appropriate store.  

If routine housekeeping becomes hard to do because the space is backsliding into disorganization, it’s time to act. Don’t wait until it becomes overwhelming. If it’s a large area, like an entire room, a monthly evaluation may work best.

With regular discipline and planning, any space can be stay fresh and functional for years with no angst and without becoming a major undertaking!

Second-hand decorating: a very green choice

Incorporating green or sustainable techniques and materials is a growing trend in residential design.  Home centers now offer many environmentally friendly product choices like low VOC paints and flooring that utilizes recycled material.  But recycling doesn’t always involve shredding and reforming items into something new and different.  There are countless useful, recyclable objects to be found that require little or no modification.  Flea markets, garage sales, secondhand stores, and Craigslist are great resources for very green, very interesting choices.  

Aside from being a worthy ecological option, incorporating previously-owned objects into your project prevents a rubber-stamped, matchy-matchy look.  By combining mismatched elements, a space develops unique character that reflects the creativity of its owner.  By its idiosyncratic nature it becomes a true one-of-a-kind design.  And an imperfect collection of objects also presents the impression of having evolved over time. 

A room filled with pristine new items can bring anxiety over keeping things in there perfect condition.  Surroundings that incorporate previously-used objects have a more relaxed, comfortable feel.  They make it easy to achieve a space that is casual but stylish.  This may be especially appealing to people with young children, pets, and even teenagers.  Second-hand decorating is also easier on the budget than buying everything new, so it’s great for new home makers, or people who like to refresh their spaces frequently.  In fact, it’s a great option for anyone on a fixed decorating budget.  It doesn’t take much to get a fresh look by mixing a few eclectic pieces with existing furnishings.  

A few tips:  
    *some objects may need repairs for safety, like rewiring a lamp 
    *use neutral colors on sofas and chairs; slipcovers are a great solution
    *use accessories and paint to pull everything together
    *if you develop a collection of similar objects, display them as a group for best effect
    *when you see a great, inexpensive object, buy it, even without a specific idea of 
      how to use it…you may repurpose it later and you may never see one like it!

Decorating with recycled items is a great idea for anyone who wants to create a unique, inexpensive, relaxed space on a small budget.  And when you’re ready for a change, sell or donate your items so repeat the process.