Family & Education

Little Ways to Love Your Home in the New Year

TIMEDecember 31, 2021

Instead of feeling blue after the holidays, consider this your opportunity for a clean slate. Tackle one (or a few!) of these small ways to declutter and restyle your home for a brighter, happier, and cleaner new year.

Adorn a Bare Mantel

Resist the urge to shop to fill that empty ledge. Instead, strategically use a few objects you already have, suggests design entrepreneur Kate Arends. She recommends using one of two strategies:

Follow the “rule of three.” Pull together any three objects of different shapes and sizes (such as a tall tchotchke, a short dish, and a sculptural vase) and arrange them with some breathing room around them.

Group by color. Gather items in one hue—such as a bunch of blue vases, bowls, and books—for a monochromatic display.

“It makes a space feel more colorful and more organized,” Arends said.

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Organize clutter in containers, which can be both functional and decorative. (Kostikova Natalia/Shutterstock)

Embrace the Bin

The pros agree: Containers are key to organizing just about every space.

“You can toss stuff into them, and they make for quick cleanup!” said Beth Penn, author of “The Little Book of Tidying.”

Here are expert picks for clutter hot spots:

Reduce the shoe pileup. In your home’s entryway, store footwear in a big, handled basket that can get tucked into a closet when company comes. Choose a decorative one, since it will be out most of the time.

Organize clothing closets. Select a bin with rigid sides and an open weave so small items, such as scarves, clutches, and belts, can breathe.

Store craft supplies. Buy small clear bins with lids so you can stack them on a shelf and still see what’s inside.

Conceal toys. In the living room, opt for structured fabric bins that match your decor.

Sort your junk drawer. Shallow, squared-off bins in various sizes will help you make use of every inch of space.

Make Room for Resolutions

If you want to exercise more, push the guest bed against the wall and lay out a yoga mat or weights. If you’re hoping to start scrapbooking, keep a desk clear and have materials at the ready. If you want to spend quality time with your kids, leave the coffee table or countertop empty to make doing things together easier, said Whitney Leigh Morris, author of “Small Space Style.”

“You’re less likely to create art or bake with your child if you have to move stuff out of the way first,” Morris said.

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While you were cleaning the house for company over the holidays, your bedroom probably got neglected. Take the time to refresh this space. (sabthai/Shutterstock)

Spruce-up Your Bedroom

While you were cleaning the house for company over the holidays, your bedroom probably got neglected, said Toni Hammersley, author of “The Complete Book of Clean.” Take time to refresh this space with her tips for a better night’s rest:

After stripping the bed, vacuum the mattress with the upholstery and crevice attachments. Then sprinkle an entire box of baking soda all over the mattress surface; let it sit for an hour or two, then vacuum it up.

Wash your pillows in the machine two at a time, using warm water. Run an extra spin cycle to remove as much moisture as you can. Put the pillows in the dryer on low heat with a few dryer balls and tumble until very dry.

Vacuum under the bed and along any upholstered pieces (like a headboard). Use a damp cloth to wipe the baseboards, bed frame, and bedside tables.

Create Calm With Lighting

Dimmers are a great way to wind down at night.

“We consider the after-dinner hour our ‘relax and unwind time,’ when we dim the lights to get into bedtime mode,” said Arends, who bought dimmers at the hardware store and installed them herself. If you’re not up for DIY rewiring, connect lamps to plug-in dimmers or fit them with lower-wattage bulbs.

“We don’t go above the equivalent of 40 watts in rooms like the living room or 60 watts anywhere else,” Arends said. “While LED and daylight bulbs are great for some kinds of work, they’re too antiseptic for living spaces.”

Score Some Privacy

“Window film is brilliant because you can prevent people from seeing into your house without sacrificing natural light,” Morris said.

It can also make a room feel decluttered and refreshed because you don’t need curtains or blinds. Great spots to add coverage are on a glass-paneled front door, in a bathroom window, on the interior of a French door, or inside glass kitchen cabinets. Basic window film costs about $20 a roll at hardware stores.

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