Monday, July 28, 2008
The First Step of Good Décor
If you don’t clean regularly and thoroughly (or have someone else do so), décor won’t make your place look a whole lot better. No matter how high the quality or expense of your stuff may be, if your place is dirty, it loses a lot of panache.
It’s obvious that you never really see something until you have to clean it. Most people just keep buying things and stuffing them into available spaces, or, at best, putting some thought into placement and then just leaving them there for years. Every so often they’ll wipe said object off, and perhaps dust it once a month, but it’s important that the area around it not be forgotten-and not just as a matter of clearing out dust bunnies and other allergens. Believe it or not, the vibrancy of every item of décor, as well as walls, draperies, blinds and carpeting diminishes when left unattended for too long. Cleaning is an excellent time to take stock of the condition of your possessions, the practicality of their placement, and the way they interact with their surrounding space.
This week, I did my every-nine-month wall, door and molding cleaning-and as usual, was surprised that it actually gleams (it’s all white). I probably should do it more frequently, but the idea of it is always more overwhelming than the actual work. What’s funny is that if this type of cleaning is separated into 3 or 4 activity periods of about an hour each, it’s not difficult at all, and a quick wipe with a simple wet cloth dampened with diluted liquid soap can extinguish almost every mark except paint scratches or splashed hair coloring. At the same time, you’ll get an overview of just what repair work may need done, and chances are, you’ll also have a few brainstorms along the way regarding décor changes.
Small rugs can be washed outside and rinsed with the hose, then left to dry in the shade while hanging over a chair; you would be wise to vacuum first to remove pet hairs and ground-in dirt. If your drapes can be machine washed, try to do so at least annually-you will be able to notice a distinct difference, and will feel good knowing that you’re no longer breathing in the trapped dust. Blinds should be wiped fairly often, but, if you’re like most people, this chore falls way down on a priority list, if it’s even there at all. But try to give them a decent cleaning to get off the top layer of grime, especially if you’ve gone to the trouble to wash the other window treatments.
Now how do you retain that level of almost-perfection? Keeping on a cleaning maintenance will also keep the attention on your lovely items and décor choices instead of your guests being distracted by clutter or dirt. That means making a schedule and sticking to it-or forcing your kids and spouse to abide by some parameters. Try to get your weekly cleaning routine down to a science in a way that works for you. For example, clean each room at a time or, even one floor per day…whatever you can manage. See if there’s a convenient socket so that you don’t have to keep moving your vacuum connection; it’s much easier to do an entire level in one swoop. Keep a supply of cleaning products and utensils in each powder or bathroom so you don’t have to keep toting them around.
Who wants to come home to a dirty house and be more stressed? Your abode should welcome you with organization, beauty, with favorite items out arranged to your satisfaction. When people (especially kids) clean their own mess, they will hopefully realize humility and understand accountability. When one aspect of your life is under control, you may feel empowered to take even more control in other areas; feeling like the house has the upper hand is not the best feeling to experience. Finally, think about it-when’s the last time you saw a messy, dirty room advertised in a décor magazine or showroom? No one wants to live in a museum, but the most harmonious surroundings are clean and neat as well.