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Small Spaces: Household Tasks for a Frigid Day

Christine Brun on

Freezing and forbidding winter weather has descended with a thud across the nation. Staying indoors in a tiny home can be the very definition of cabin fever, so how about rolling up your sleeves and tackling a few essential organizational chores? You will feel so accomplished and satisfied after you are finished.

Clutter is a negative in any size of home, but in a smaller one it can ruin any possibility of enjoying what space you do own. There's no better task for a rainy day or snow day than decluttering a closet, the garage, a basement or an attic closet. If you live in a studio or a micro-unit, the entire space is ripe for a purge. I began my own ambitious tasks last week, so I am sharing in the pain and aggravation.

One of my goals is to clean out files and then put everything in one place. In my situation, that means they will fill a two-drawer lateral file cabinet in my upstairs office. At the moment, I have a disorganized collage with files in three separate two-drawer desks. There's more in a closet file and still more in the garage. It's not only embarrassing; it is not intuitive for anyone trying to locate a critical document.

I dragged three unused computer monitors out of my attic closet and smashed Christmas decorations and three huge bags of dried pine cones. Who needs that, you ask? "No one" is the correct answer. You might also have stacks of ski clothes that the kids have outgrown, or your own collection of useless items.

It can help if you force yourself to shut your eyes and then open them to review the scene as if you were seeing it for the first time. Do you have clothes or books stacked on your old piano? Is the piano itself ready to go to a new home? A few days ago, I consulted for a woman who was torn about whether or not to give away her childhood piano. It was damaged, and she desperately needed the space it was occupying for a functional desk. This choice became entirely an emotional battle that has little to do with need. In fact, most of the conflict that we encounter regarding cleaning out "stuff" has to do with emotions. While she was debating this, she was working at an old drop-leaf desk from the 1940s that barely accommodates her computer monitor -- and this woman runs a department of 40 people. It's ridiculous what we do to ourselves!

Bite the bullet during this ugly weather, and take the opportunity to nest in a big way by getting rid of junk mail, old magazines, last year's Christmas cards and duplicate household items. Weed through underwear drawers, sock drawers and cold-weather gear. Review sweaters, nightclothes and pants. Donate anything that you have not worn in a year. You do not need it.

 

Get online and visit vendors that specialize in efficiency items, such as The Container Store, ClosetMaid, Target, Ikea, or Bed, Bath & Beyond. You will get ideas for better ways to store what is left after you clean out. Remember that you can buy efficient storage boxes for under your bed and simple risers that will lift your mattress up enough for clearance. Remember that over-the-door racks are nifty ways to organize jewelry, ties, socks, accessories and underwear. Shoes can also be stored in this easy manner. Consider stacking cubbies by the front or back door that can hold snow hats, gloves and scarves. Once spring comes, you can re-appropriate the storage for other things or hide the containers away under the stairs or in the garage.

Photo Credit: Celia Spenard-Ko

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Christine Brun, ASID, is a San Diego based interior designer and author of "Small Space Living." Send questions and comments to her by email at christinebrun@sbcglobal.net. To find out more about Christine Brun and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

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