“A house is a machine to live in and from which all superfluous and irritating ornaments should be banished"
– professor of oriental studies A. L. Sadler
As you focus in on only the best parts of the holidays, take some time to mull over what you love to do now and in general. Does your home support you in doing those things?
Want to dedicate a little more time to reading for pleasure? Do you have a comfortable place to do it? Can you arrange for a big chair with good reading light and a small bookcase right at hand?
Are you planning to get out and do some backpacking this year? How's your equipment? Buried in the basement or the back of a closet? Or scattered around the place? What about pulling it together and storing it in a more organized way so you don't have a roadblock to getting out of town?
Love to cook, but your kitchen is a disaster area? Well, maybe it's time for another sprint of ridding your kitchen of non-essentials. Would some reorganization give you a better workspace? Or do you need to start the project of getting into a place with a better kitchen?
Figure out what you can do to set the stage for the life you want to be living. Make a place for pleasures.
What would qualities would you like your home to have? Think back over the places you lived. What was great about each of them? What didn't you like and want to avoid in the future? Steadily write these down until you're pretty sure you have captured the most important stuff to you. Now look it over. What do you have in your current place? What could you add here? Or do you need to start thinking about a move to bring you more in line with your dreams? What's the most important thing to you of the changes you want to make? What's the first step towards that? Write that down. What's the easiest thing? Do it right now if you can or make the arrangements to do it as soon as possible. Keep your list where you'll keep coming back to it regularly. Note: the list can change, just like you. That's fine; just keep moving towards what matters to you now.
Go into your bedroom and see what pleases you and what doesn't. Are there things in there that don't belong? Figure out where they can move instead. If they can go nowhere else (hello, studio apartment dwellers!) could they be contained or disguised in a way to make them bother you less? Are there things missing, for example, enough dresser space or a rug by the bed to shield your morning toes from a cold floor? Make a list and, if you have something on it which matters more to you in the bedroom then where it currently is, move it in right now. Would a different layout make you more comfortable and work better? Thinking about the morning light can be helpful here. For those with larger places to live, are you even using the right room for your bedroom? If another room might be better, play with the idea on paper and make some measurements before you start moving furniture. Trust me on this one.
Take a look at what you've set up for yourself as the last thing you see before you go to sleep and the first thing you see when you wake up. Has your bedside table become a cluttered mess? Unattractive surroundings in general? Are there nagging unfinished projects in view from your pillow? Cut the clutter and tune your bedroom to reduce stress. Is your bedside light too bright or too dim? Or are you lacking one altogether and relying on an overhead light that doesn't soothe your senses? Give yourself good diffused lighting that it's easy to turn off when you're ready to drift to sleep. Do you have all your potential and in-progress reading piled right beside the bed? Tidy it up into a better holding location – perhaps a very small bookcase? – and just keep the active titles at arms' length. Got a jumble of remotes? Could they go in a little basket or in a nightstand drawer instead? Better yet, have the TV leave the bedroom entirely and make this space more restful. Think about what you really need to have right beside the bed and contain it appropriately in something pleasing to your senses. Give your room a feeling of rightness and comfort that will soothe you to sleep and refresh you when you wake. When you're dusting, sweeping, and vacuuming start with your bedroom so that it stays the cleanest place in the house. Allergies most definitely aren't relaxing.
At the least, find one thing you can do today which will make you happier in your bedroom from now on.
Think about what you want to use your living room for. Now go in there and look at it with new eyes; is it serving those purposes? What doesn't belong? Where else could it go? (Not the bedroom; you already decluttered that!). Move the things that hinder you from using this space out of your way. What's missing? When I did this exercise some time ago, I realized that what I like is having friends over for meals and games. What I sorely needed was a table and enough chairs for them to sit on – the standing dinner party has never caught on for good reason. Fortunately, when I then told one of my friends that I was thinking of going shopping for a good table, he said "Oh, we have a great one in the basement and three chairs; they're yours!" Sometimes all it takes is expressing a need for an opportunity to present itself. What would give this room what it needs to function well?
Could you rearrange things to suit your favorite activities better? If you like to sit and talk with people, do you have comfortable seating arranged so that you are facing each other? My living room suffered from ‘theater seating’ which cramped conversation as everyone would have to twist sideways to see each others’ faces. What about the things you use for these activities you want to do here? Are they somewhere else in the house? Bring them in here where they belong. Once I got my table, I pulled all my board games out of a dresser drawer in my bedroom and put them out in view on a shelf in the living room. Much more inviting and, I assure you, much more frequently used since the change.
Fine tune your living room a little today and do some of those things you enjoy!
Be yourself, no matter where you are. It doesn't matter how small a space you live in, be true to your essentials.