January is, traditionally, a time for great renewal and transformation. It’s easy to see why: once our Christmas trees have come down, the final few slivers of turkey have been reluctantly scoffed, and our New Year hangovers have finally faded away, most of us feel so guilty at all that sloth and indulgence that thrift and hard work seem like the perfect way to make amends.
Consequently, gym memberships across the land are renewed, ambitious resolutions are pledged and homesteads are cleared out. Getting a home fresh and clean is a demanding task, but it’s also a rewarding one. In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the ways in which you can get things in order. Let’s begin, shall we?
Over the course of the year, we’re all guilty of hoarding more than we ideally should. In some households, all of those old letters, bills and bank statements find their way into specially marked drawers. In others, however, they end up strewn liberally around an area loosely termed an office. The same might be true of clothes, cutlery, consumer electronics and ornaments – some people just have a problem throwing those unwanted possessions away.
It’s not often that we get the opportunity to take a look through all of our possessions and honestly reflect on which of them we’d like to keep, and which we’d be happy to dispense with. There are few better times to do this than just after Christmas – your home will be full of unwanted clutter, from the wrapping paper to the tinsel to the presents themselves, and if you’re going to have to sort through that stuff, then it follows that you should do the same for the rest of your property while you’re at it.
Go through your wardrobe
If you’re going to have a major clear-out, then your clothes are as good a place to start as any. Go through your wardrobe and pick out the items that you like the look of; dispense with the items that you don’t. If you’re thinking of going shopping in the January sales, then this makes all the more sense – you’ll have a strong idea of what you’ll need to buy once you’ve dispensed with those items that you no longer require.
Go through each of the items of clothing in your wardrobe and ask yourself whether you’ve worn them in the last year. If the answer is no, then they’re serious contenders for the charity shop. At this stage, it’s important to be brutally frank with yourself, and ruthless. If you can’t honestly say that you’re going to wear something again, then get rid of it. This might be a painful experience, but it’ll almost certainly be a rewarding one in the end.
Decide what furniture you need
Similarly, you’ll need to evaluate the furniture you’ve got arranged in your house. Do any rooms feel overly crowded? Are there any items in need of replacement? Are there any that just seem superfluous? If so, then get rid of them.
It might be that you feel like you’d like some extra room, but you’d still like to be able to accommodate any extra guests. If so, then you might consider investing in some specialised pieces of furniture, which can be easily stowed, and which can serve more than one purpose.
For example, the classic bean bag is an item that has allowed many living rooms to dispense with a chair or two. The beanbag is portable, and can be easily stowed in a small space. When you’ve guests over, you can easily bring it out and seat them. The beanbag can also double as a handy footrest if you feel like unwinding a little further. In addition, they’re also far more easily cleaned than a traditional chair or table – simply remove the cover and put it in the laundry as you would a duvet cover. This allows you to keep multiple beanbag covers, and thereby alter the appearance of your beanbag to suit your mood!
Bean-bags come in a wide range of different shapes and sizes. There are small, armchair-shaped ones designed for children, there are cube-shaped versions and, of course, there are the traditional amorphous bags. Buy according to your personal taste, and the setup inside your home.
Another handy piece of flexible furniture is the futon. The futon can trace its roots back to ancient Japan, where floors were made from breathable bamboo, and had to be kept uncovered during the daytime to prevent them from rotting. The Japanese therefore devised the futon – a thin mattress which could be easily rolled up and stored when not in use.
The modern futon is a slightly different animal. It comes rolled up within a wooden frame, and serves as a sofa when it’s not unrolled. This allows you to comfortably seat your guests, and then provide them with a handy bed when the evening’s entertainment finally comes to an end.
Repainting your walls might seem like a fairly straightforward task. You’ll first need to decide on a colour – you’ll be able to view a detailed chart at your local DIY store, but it’s important to see how your colour of choice looks when it’s applied in situation.
Paint comes in several different finishes. There is matt, which is flat and non-reflective, and there is gloss, which is highly shiny. In between the two is eggshell, which strikes a happy balance. For interior walls, matt and eggshell finishes are more popular. The latter is more easily washable, which makes it suitable for kitchens and children’s bedrooms, where stains are a fact of life.
You’ll need to buy enough paint to cover all of the intended walls with multiple thin coats. After all, there’s nothing worse than starting a job and then having to make another trip to the shop midway through.
Before you commence painting, you’ll need to prepare your walls. This means cleaning them, dusting them and ensuring that they’re utterly smooth and dry. Gloss finishes will reveal any irregularities in the surface, so it’s worth rubbing them with 40 grit sandpaper before starting. After you’re done, the wall will be covered with fine dust, and you should be sure to give them a wash and allow them to fully dry before commencing. Depending on the sort of paint you’re using, you’ll need apply a coat of primer, and then as many coats of paint as necessary.
Be sure to cover the floor with a protective layer of newspaper or old blankets before you get started – after all, you’re here to improve the look of the room, and covering the carpet in spatters of paint is hardly likely to do that.
If you should finish tidying your homestead, and feel that you’d like hang up some wallpaper, then you’ll be pleased to learn that the task is a relatively straightforward one. This is especially so if the wallpaper you’ve already got up is strippable. In order to find out which sort of wallpaper you’ve got, take a moment to peel away the corner of your wallpaper; if it comes away easily, you’ve got strippable wallpaper. If you don’t, then the task will be a little more difficult – but not impossible.
Strippable wallpaper can be washed off with soap and water. Otherwise, you’ll need to loosen the underlying adhesive holding the wallpaper to the walls by soaking them. You’ll need to do this for ten minutes, and perhaps use a stripping knife to lift off the wallpaper.
Once you’ve gotten rid of the old wallpaper, you’re not quite ready to apply the new. Keep soaking and stripping any stubborn patches, and then wash the entire wall with soapy water before you start applying the new stuff.
Those final touches
Thus far we’ve mainly looked at the broad, sweeping changes we can make to our homes. But as well as this, it’s worth thinking about those little items you might want to change. Perhaps there’s a tablecloth that you’re not entirely sure about, or maybe you think that a new set of curtains might make the difference in your homestead.
Your January clean-up is the perfect time to ponder these considerations, whatever your conclusions might be. So be sure to set the time aside to have that clear-out, and you’ll find that the answers to your interior-arrangement problems present themselves to you.