On one of our nearly annual trips to Colorado to visit my brothers, we had fun stopping by a beautiful winery and doing a tasting. Later, one of my brothers gave us a bottle of wine from that winery as a gift. We savored it on a date night, and because of the sentimental value and a pretty label, we kept the empty bottle. We’ve always kept our wine in a decorative rack in the corner of our kitchen next to the toaster, along with a pretty bottle of limoncello from a trip to Italy, so the empty bottle went there too.
One day, I realized a sentimental empty wine bottle was cluttering an area that we use every morning when we are trying to make breakfast and lunches before the rush out the door. It’s been this way for some time, but I only recently thought about it. Now the bottle has been relocated and toasting our bread is less awkward. The outsider may say, “Of course, why wouldn’t you clear the area by the toaster?” But as the resident of my home, I’d gotten so used to it, I just didn’t think to change it.
Personal growth experts often encourage people to examine their lives and identify if changes need to be made. Sometimes we get so accustomed to things being a certain way, we no longer question if it’s valid for them to remain as they are. For example, a job change may be needed, or a return to school, a relationship may need to be severed, or new friends made.
We need to do the same analysis for our homes. For me, some items become so part of the landscape that I don’t realize a small change can make a big difference for the better. Changes in our family (like having a little one that loves to crawl around and explore now), also dictate adjustments that need to be made.
Recently I’ve been taking a look around our house and asking myself what I can change to ease stress and make things easier. It didn’t take long before I identified several quick projects (and I will continue to have many more!):
- Weston kept crawling into Ellianna’s craft table area downstairs. I rearranged the furniture so that he has a segregated play area, away from tempting craft supplies that may be unsafe for him.
- Weston LOVES to play in the cat food and water bowls. He will crawl as fast as he can to the cat food and grab a big handful and put it in his mouth. Ellianna did the same thing when she was his age. (We do feed our children, so I’m not sure where this comes from). Our days at home were filled with either my husband, our 5 year old daughter or me chasing after Weston to keep him away from the cat food.
We have a very open floor plan and there are very few good places for the kitty bowls, but we got creative and moved the bowls to a clean bathtub that is never used. We all can relax now a lot more downstairs when Weston is on the loose!
- I moved one of my treasured artisan benches out of our great room downstairs and up to our master bedroom at the foot of our bed. I was always concerned about scratches on this bench, because it’s just too easy to pile things on it downstairs. (In fact it did suffer a significant gouge that I’m hoping to repair). This freed up space downstairs and gave us a nice sitting spot in our bedroom.
- We took an unused (beyond piling things on top of it) table downstairs and created an area for my inbox and for items needed for pending projects (e.g., a gift that needs to be wrapped, a card that needs to be signed, a book that needs to be returned to the library). Previously, these items may have gotten buried in a pile, but now I have visibility to the things that need attention.
- We buy a lot of produce, and typically have several items that don’t need refrigeration on our kitchen counter. (Bananas, potatoes, onions, etc.). These were either scattered and taking up counter space, or in a bowl, which wasn’t ideal because we couldn’t use the bowl for other purposes, and the food in the bowl wasn’t overly visible, so some items would go bad before we used them. I found a wire rack on sale at Costco for $15 to place our fruits and veggies now, and it keeps food out of the way, yet visible.
- I love books and have piles of them everywhere! I never thought to place them in our main living area for display, but decided to stack some on top of a storage chest. I loved the result – not only are the books decorative, the room reflects something that I value.
All these changes have helped our home and our possessions to better serve us in this stage of life. And I didn’t spend more than $15 in the process. Fancy organization systems and other costly items are simply not necessary to make great home improvements. I’m continuing to look for stress points or small areas of improvement and asking myself if a change is needed. If so, a little project is in order.
Have you tried looking at your home and your things and asking yourself if they are serving you and your family well? Try it, I’ll bet you‘ll find some little changes that will make a big, positive difference.