When you move across state lines and have your second baby the next day, not surprisingly your home does not wind up the most organized. God love my husband for unpacking while I recovered from having the baby, but his ideas of what deserves key real estate in our limited kitchen cabinet space (water bottles? Hello!), do not match mine.
So when we decided to renew our lease for another year, and at max a second, I realized I had to finally get my home organized. I was inspired around the new year when I saw friends posting about a 40 days 40 bags challenge and decided to do my own version of it.
I committed to organizing a drawer or a cabinet a day for the month of January. I stuck with it for the most part and donated items I was no longer using, sparing no mercy for the pair of shoes I still liked but hadn’t worn in years, coffee table books that were gathering dust and the baby gear my daughter grew out of like her bassinet and baby bath tub. I still have two major areas to tackle: our linen closet and our “attic”, a lovely light-filled space in a loft off of our bedroom.
There were two clean ups that had a major impact on my life:
1. My husband’s bookshelves. My husband laid claim to two bookshelves near his workspace, which also happen to be in my direct eye sight from our dining room table. For months, I would stew during dinner wondering when he was ever going to straighten it up.
Finally, emboldened by my challenge, I decided to clean it up myself. What did I find? Well, my husband is a literal paper hoarder, so no surprise, there was a fair amount of actual trash. I shudder now looking at the photo below of some of the items I cleared out: an old grocery list, receipts, empty envelopes with no return addresses, a cut up expired credit card. I can literally feel my blood pressure rising as I type out that list, so imagine how I felt looking at that every night over dinner.
I wish I had the forethought to take a before picture. But here’s the after. I organized a “New York-themed” shelf, framed outtakes from our holiday photo shoots from the past few years and seriously lightened our load.
2. I moved this hulking piece of furniture. Or to be more exact, I paid three strapping contract workers to do it for me. I originally bought the TV cabinet off of Craigslist for our last apartment. If magically fit perfectly where we used to live, it is good for storage and it is made of beautiful wood (cherry, maybe?). We had some discussion as to whether we should even move it to our new place, but in the end, my husband decided he wanted to keep it.
Our movers were a disaster and our moving day was hellish (I was having contractions for a good part of it), so it wound up in our foyer. We didn’t like it there, but Leo couldn’t move it on his own. It was too big for the space and we ended up piling items on top, so all the mail, my purses, my husband’s coats were right at eye level when you walked in.
For a year we tried to remember to ask our strong, male guests if they could help Leo move it (we often serve wine to our guests and furniture moving and booze don’t mix).
I finally remembered one day in December to ask my friend’s husband if he could help move it and it was finally decided on that it was too heavy for two people to move up a half flight of stairs.
I resigned myself to the TV cabinet staying there. Then my mom told me she paid a few workmen to move a heavy sofa downstairs at her house and inspiration struck. There is a friendly contractor who is often in our complex, surely he must have a few guys who could help for 15 minutes and earn a few extra bucks?
From there, I enlisted the help of our neighbor/friend, Warren, to help make it happen. (My one-year old daughter is at home with me, which can make it challenging to track down workmen, especially in winter.) I decided I would surprise Leo.
The morning of the scheduled move, I sent Warren this text:
You know what? It truly was life-changing to move that black hole of energy in our entryway. (Our new and improved entry way is shown at the top.) Even on that day, I got contacted about a handful of promising new freelance projects, Leo made some serious headway with signing new clients and my daughter took her first steps, one week after her first birthday.
Clearly, I’m not a feng shui expert and our entryway still leaves a lot to be desired according to feng shui rules (that giant wall mirror for one, but it’s not going anywhere), but for now, it’s enough.
Now, onto the linen closet….