Summer cleaning sounds like an ordeal when your house is crammed full of memories. If you want to lighten the load and make space for some new life to enter, it can be hard to know where to start.
Why not pick an approach that feels like a way you’d like to be, and see where it takes you. Three possibilities are: be a designer, a nester or a philosopher.
Serious painters, writers and designers often copy the work of people they admire, to figure out new skills. Once they’ve understood how the piece was made or the effect achieved, they can use what they’ve learned to create something new.
So flick through a few interiors magazines or websites and collect pictures of your ideal rooms. Then, work out what you can copy and start making those changes.
Unless you have unlimited funds and are willing to move house, you won’t be able to recreate things exactly, but by trying different arrangements of your own furniture or copying a colour-scheme or one or two feature pieces, you’ll start to see your home in a new way.
You’ll also notice that all the rooms in the magazines have been well edited, which is a fancy word for tidy. The stuff that doesn’t work with the scheme – and most of our old DVDs and knick-knacks don’t work with any well-design scheme – have been concealed or ditched. If that’s a worry, you can proceed one cushion cover at a time.
An ideal nest, for humans at least, should be clean, cosy and waterproof. If your house is choking with dust, mouldy in corners or full of draughts, putting those things right is your best way to spring clean.
In order to seal that draughty skirting board, de-fungus the black speckled window frame and chase the dust bunnies out from under the bed, you will find yourself forced to clean and tidy as you go. You might need to do a deal of sorting and organising just to find your tools in the first place.
Set yourself one task per weekend and by the end of the summer, when the leaky tap is sporting a new washer, the dead light bulb has been replaced and your wardrobe has been thoroughly moth-proofed, you’ll feel both smug and secure.
Remember in the nineties when everyone had a go at Feng shui? The ancient Chinese art is about harmonising humans with their natural surroundings. In today’s popular culture it has been replaced with de-cluttering techniques but dig out your old Feng shui books and you’ll see they have a lot in common.
The principle is to improve energy flow through your house but it also regards areas of your home as representing different aspects of life. On this symbolic level, how you treat areas of your house and what you place in them, are thought to influence the correlating aspect of your life. For example, a clear crystal might be hung in an area of the house representing an area of life that needs more energy. A well looked after money plant should be placed in the part of the home representing money or the part of your home/life that could use some extra cash.
Start thinking about the ideas and you’ll notice where there are unlit corners, symbolising neglect, or where sharp edges cut into and weaken your flow. Simply thinking about what area of life you’d like to improve might make you step out of your house an go do something about it.
All these approaches share the same common sense notion that our homes are a reflection of our inner selves. They also demonstrate that if you want to feel better, taking action will create the feeling, rather than waiting for the feeling to inspire the action.
However you do it, let this year’s putting away of winter coats and digging out the deck chair, be a way of moving forward into the life you want to live.
Image by iStock.com / gregory_lee
First published in Issue 14 of Widows and Widowers magazine