Working, schooling and living with my family under one roof has changed things. Here’s how I made our house more serene.
In the time before a global public health emergency changed everything, my house was fine. It was decorated around the principle that this was where we came home to, where we ate, relaxed, slept and did homework.
But being here the majority of the time — and working, schooling, exercising and living here — altered our house. All the papers, books and gear that used to reside in other places came home, taking up residence. Things that used to happen in designed spaces elsewhere began happening at home. It probably changed things for you and your house too.
With that in mind, I made our house more functional with some small changes. Doing this has also made the house more serene, creating a better environment for our current needs.
Here’s what I’ve done.
Reorganizing my kitchen
Truth: our kitchen is the most used room of the house (yours too?) and with that use comes inevitable mess. A couple of months into the pandemic, as three meals a day were made in there — sometimes at different times — the mess got a little out of control.
We couldn’t keep up with the dishes. The counters were overrun. It exhausted me to see the mess, let alone try to do something about it.
But we got the dishes under control (thanks to a new chore sheet that reminds my kids when and how dishes are to be done and a changed process for post-cooking for all of us) and took control of our storage. I added a new storage rack, which holds pots on two shelves and drinks like seltzer and juice on one.
Then, over the course of several months, we reorganized every drawer and cabinet in the kitchen and our pantry space.
The result? A much more useful and organized space. The things used more often are closest to the front of the cabinets. Lesser used items take up less valuable kitchen real estate. So it’s easy to get everything you need to cook or whip up a snack and we always know what foodstuffs we have.
Who knew organizing could have such a positive impact on the psyche (and make a house more serene in the process).
Interested in doing this in your kitchen? Do it! And once you’re done, keep up with it. When you bring groceries home, put them away thoughtfully and deliberately. Don’t buy new pots and pans unless you need them and have space for them. And make (and follow!) a schedule for cleaning your used items. Keeping up with the organization and processes will make it far less necessary to do an overhaul in the future.
Went minimal in the living room
The living room is prone to clutter. Its proximity to the front door tends to make it a catchall, if we aren’t careful. But it doesn’t have to be like that.
As Christmas approached, the cluttered living room begged for some cleaning and revamping. Once that was done, we put up decorations and enjoyed the festive space. Since then, we haven’t let clutter return.
Better yet, after removing the holiday decor, we’ve left the space more minimal. And that, in turn, has made it feel more inviting. I love using the living room now and we’ve all started to enjoy sitting in the wing chair that resides near a window.
I’m considering replacing the old chair with a cushy one and a tiny table with a slightly larger one. Both changes would be done with the idea of making the room even more usable — and making the house more serene.
This is an easy change for anyone to make. It’s simply a matter of decluttering and keeping a space clear from debris.
Made more thoughtful purchases
There was a time when I was tempted by trinkets and sale items, thinking we might need them sometime — or could use them somehow. That resulted in a pile-up of stuff over time.
These days though, helped greatly by my avoidance of going into stores, I’ve curbed this habit. Instead, we buy only things we need and will use. And we’re making more use of things we already have. It’s been a win-win for dealing with (and curtailing) home clutter.
This has, undoubtedly, been made easier by my reliance on pick-up orders at the grocery store and Target, which has meant lowered temptation when making purchases. But, regardless, this is something I intend to continue long after the pandemic subsides because it has made my house more serene.
Even if you’re still shopping in person, this change is an easy one to make. Don’t pause at the cheap racks. Say no to buying things you don’t have immediate plans for. Write and stick to a list when shopping. Your wallet (and your home) will feel better for it.
Created a space to be alone
Early on in the pandemic, I knew we needed something — a space to encourage creativity and movement. My son’s track season was postponed. My daughter’s dance classes and rehearsals were canceled. And my gym was closed. Although our house is spacious, we’re often near each other — the bedrooms are next to each other. The open concept living room and dining room are steps from the kitchen. Where could we pursue some of our passions without being in full public view?
That’s when I realized the answer was upstairs. Our attic space is actually three rooms on the third floor, which were probably used for bedrooms or servants’ quarters at some point (the house was built in the 1880s!).
So I chose one of the rooms — the space hasn’t been updated in decades — to transform. The process was simple: remove the storage items and reorganize them into the other two rooms; clean the floor and repaint a section; and decorate.
Now, that room is my yoga studio, my daughter’s dance studio and the place where my kids can go to play Just Dance and other video games on an old TV. It’s also a place for exercise and quiet mediation. And when I need it to be, it can be a workspace too.
Even if you don’t have separate rooms in your attic, you can carve out a space like this too. Consider using your storage boxes or racks to square off a section. Make sure it’s well-lit. Clean it up a little. And decorate for whatever you need the space to be.
Making a house more serene isn’t just about making it more usable now. It’s about creating a space where you can live, work and play without unnecessary stress factors. And that is so, so worth it.