In my attempt to generate more side income to pay for upcoming expenses, I’ve been babysitting a lot. By the end of the month I will have spent nearly 60 hours in other people’s homes. I find it fascinating how people choose to live and use spaces, what things they choose to own, etc. (I love the blogosphere for allowing me peaks into the homes and decision-making processes of others!) Don’t worry, I’m not a creeper– I’m not opening drawers that shouldn’t be opened or exploring beyond what is in plain sight! What I have been doing, though, is taking mental notes on aspects I like–and those I don’t like–of how people use their homes. More specifically, how I would like living in their spaces or trying similar set-ups in my own home. (Important: I’m not passing judgment on how they live, I’m simply paying attention to how I feel in certain spaces, taking notes for when I’m assembling my next living space.) Here’s what I’ve got so far:
- No candles that aren’t used regularly. I love having unscented, natural candles burning–for during dinner, to prepare the mind and body for sleeping, to purify the air, etc. I don’t particularly love colored or scented candles, candles with wicks that have never met a match, or candles sitting in places you wouldn’t likely use them (within inches of heavy drapes, for instance). Plus wax is a magnet for dust, so candles aren’t ideal tchotchkes anyway.
- Consider where you use things, don’t just put like with like. Coffee filters, for instance, might work best near the coffee maker, rather than in the cabinet across the room with other paper products.
- Label as few things as possible, as discreetly as possible, and as attractively as possible. Purchasing another cassette of label maker label tape (what would you call one of those? a spool? roll? ream?) had me itching to label things. But as nice as it is to know where things go, I don’t find it that peaceful to be in places where everything is labeled. Unless, of course, it’s in my file cabinet. 🙂 And sure, the “attractively as possible” is subjective (as is this whole list), but in some cases it might be in clean, black lettering on a white background with a utilitarian feel or it could be something more natural and organic-looking. What I really mean by this bullet point is “MEG, DON’T GET LABEL MAKER-HAPPY AND STICK WORDS ON EVERYTHING.” I’d rather make spaces that can be navigated intuitively.
- Decant often. Just as the labels I put on things count as visual clutter, so do the words that come with things on their original packaging. I much prefer containers that are glass, pottery, or some other, less-busy option. One key caveat, though, is to put expiration dates on a sticker on the bottom of the container so that you’re not stuck guessing.
- Don’t frame collections in only one color of frame (like all white frames or all dark wood frames). It makes the collection look dated more quickly. I prefer a more eclectic, acquired-over-time look.
- No coffee table books that I haven’t read cover to cover. I’m not even sure that I’m into coffee table books in general, but I certainly don’t want books that I’m not particularly interested in just for the sake of having a stack of coffee table books.
- Let all art in the home have a story. I like art that has been picked up during travels, or has been made by a friend, or purchased at a local art festival, etc. I don’t love art that’s sold en masse at HomeGoods or Bed, Bath, and Beyond. I like inexpensive and expensive art, and I’m fine with bare walls if there isn’t something I would love to have hanging.
- Put rug pads under rugs if they’re prone to slipping and sliding.
- Don’t hang on to cookbooks I don’t use. Maybe the people who own every copy of Southern Living’s Annual Cookbook really use them all?
- No complicated TV/sound/DVD/DVR system.
That’s where my list stops for now!
In other news, I recently found Jill Foley’s blog, Daily Bread, and I am feeling very motivated to declutter–and to post more pictures of the process because I had so much fun looking at hers!