This post was written by my good friend Abrahim Nadimi. Thanks Abrahim.
As you are reading this there are probably 14 emails, 2 magazines, 5 booklets filled with less-than-thrilling “save now!” offers, and 13 text messages being typed with your name on them. Yet it’s not just the marketers that are competing for your immediate attention – your tire is probably going flat and the food you ate two hours ago is about to make you run to the store for some medicine. Not particularly surprising in the world where “complexity” is the name of the game and multitasking is the only acceptable modus operandi.
I will not reveal any secrets when I say that with success comes resistance. Like a rock flying through air experiences more resistance the faster it moves, you too will find new and more challenging obstacles each step you move. I’ve experienced this time and time again. I’ve also figured out that I’m excellent at inviting new obstacles into my life. More stress is a good thing because it means I’m accomplishing things. Right?
While you might be accustomed to existing in perpetual chaos, it might be working against you. Just like an army going into battle, you have to have a well-organized base camp if you want to stand a chance to succeed. I’m talking about your castle and safe haven from the craziness of the outside word – your home. Like most of us, you probably spend the majority of your time at work and home. While painting the walls of your cubicle might be frowned upon, you have total control over the environment of your dwelling.
My friends can attest to the persistent “in progress” status of my house. I usually know the areas of the house I can’t stand and immediately start to tear them apart only to find that I have no clear idea of “what’s next”. Sometimes I figure out what I want to do and then decide I do not want to dedicate the funds to that project. Whatever the reason might be, I somehow ended up living in a half-finished house for years.
It wasn’t until I got new tile installed on the 1st floor over the summer (ending years of sexy unfinished concrete floors), that I realized how important the condition of my castle is to my mental well-being. Even though I’m still not nearly done with all my self-imposed “honey-do projects,” I enjoy my nest so much more. It makes me feel good to walk in and see the way the house looks now. I didn’t realize what a drag the mess was on my mood until the flooring project was complete. Now that my house is much easier on the eyes it has become a relaxing and welcoming place that I love to come home to. The mess, clutter and the general non-cohesiveness of different elements within my house were contributing to my general unhappiness.
Your first step should be clean-up: literal and figurative. Enlisting an interior decorator would be ideal, but who can afford them, amiright? So what to do? Give up? Of course not! Roll up your sleeves!
Forget complexity. Go for simple and uncluttered. Like a funny motivational poster says, “Aim Low. Achieve your goals. And avoid disappointment”.
DO NOT attempt to pull off a complicated design style like Baroque, Tuscan, or Old World. Leave fanciness to the professionals and embrace clean lines and fewer colors.
DO part with random objects that have no room in your new safe haven. That cool
talking Bass wall plaque is just as tacky as those fake flowers with four-year-old dust on them.
Declutter! This is the first must do if you are hoping to make HUGE difference.
- Get rid of ALL stacks of reading material. If you’re *actually* going to read it, put it in a book shelf. If not, then donate, sell or recycle.
- Do not invite another piece of paper into your house unless it has a purpose. Organize the bills and paper trails you need to keep in a file, or better yet – scan and save on your laptop/hard drive/cloud.
- Throw or give away all the useless mementos you bought at roadside stand or received from some cousin’s trip to Cancun. Unless it holds a special, dear memory, its better off in a trash can.
- Everything placed around your house on shelves, counters, and coffee tables must have a purpose. Collecting dust is not a purpose.
- Take down all wall decor that’s not unique, personal, or functional.
- Put away everything from your counters.
- Clean out your pantry. Throw away all the expired food and donate what you can to food banks.
- It’s better to not have pillows on the couch than worn out or dirty ones.
After a thorough decluttering and some thorough cleaning you’ll have a simplified, clean, and peaceful home that is now ready to decorate.
Instead of typical art work you might see in Wal-Mart, buy or create a work of art that people will talk about. Enlist your artistic friends or scout antique shops. Unusual pieces of art or furniture make great conversation starters. It’s amazing how often I hear about my club door turn coffee table, which cost me less than most commercially produced pieces.
Involve friends with style. I was lucky to have been able to enlist my creative girlfriend as an awesome (free) resource, but I would have used another friend if she too was clueless. (Be careful who you ask for help because NOT all girls are good at decorating and NOT all guys are handymen.)
For ideas, check out contemporary home design magazines like Dwell or Google image terms like “Contemporary living rooms.”
Before you get started learn from my mistakes and make sure you:
- DO NOT start a project you can’t finish
- DO bite off only as much as you can chew at one time
- DO research costs and set aside a specific budget for a project
Before you go away thinking I’m being unrealistic or unreasonable, I want to make sure I unequivocally state that I know giving away stuff isn’t easy and that you’ve probably developed a personal attachment to the things in your home. I’m actually very sentimental so I hear you loud and clear, but it’s so important that we know our limitations and don’t get in our own way. Remember that you own things – don’t let the things own you. Do something different and remember that Albert Einstein defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” It’s your life…remove the obstacles that are preventing you from kicking ass.