By LESLIE LINSLEY Citizen Columnist
All the holidays are over. We now have a month to luxuriate in the knowledge that we're home free, literally, until Valentine's Day. And we all know that day is easy. The gifts are defined, flowers and candy for the most part. The color scheme is all too familiar and we really are not expected to entertain. In fact, going out and being feted is more this holiday's style. So let's look inward and assess our homes. Whatever you put off doing all summer is still waiting for your attention. It was easy to procrastinate with Thanksgiving looming and suddenly it was into the Christmas season. But now New Year's is over and that to-do list is still looming. In fact it's growing. It's time to get real, which means no more excuses.
The other day I was talking to my friend Gretchen. We were lamenting about how we'd like to change our interior spaces but we both feel we have too much furniture to add one more thing. I can't get rid of anything in order to add something new. While I live in fear of my home looking too settled there is something that appeals to my basic lazy nature and that is simply moving around what I already have to make my rooms look different. Change is good on many levels: in the way we dress, our hair styles, our body types as we get older, our environment, perhaps an attitude about something we are stuck on - and on and on.
When we make resolutions they often involve change. Mostly we resolve to change behavior like giving up smoking or eating sweets or we resolve to exercise more, get more involved with community affairs, take up a new sport, etc. We can do something to affect personal change a lot easier than almost anything else. Personal change can involve large commitments or can be more on the level of mini. I like baby steps when I resolve to do something new. Slow change is easier to accept than anything dramatic so changing the way we live or our interior design choices is minimal and a lot easier than affecting change that involves epic decisions on the order of moving or changing a job.
I live in the world of making decisions that are doable and in this regard I go to my fail safe choice when it comes to changing the look of my home - paint. A fresh coat of paint is an easy solution. I finally painted the baseboard in my tiny guest bathroom. I feel enormously satisfied and might even paint the walls a new color. I have an idea for new pillows and I just exchanged the lamps from my living room and office. I didn't know the placement of the two lamps was even bothering me before I did it, but now I like the look of both rooms a lot better. Try this and other exchanges with what you already have to see how things look in other places. I'm seriously thinking about organizing my work area for more efficiency. I'm great at procrastination before the actual act begins.
Because it represents the start of a new year, January is a good month to lighten up. Clear our your closets and kitchen drawers by getting rid of everything you no longer use. It's hard, especially when I reach into my hall closet for the red coat I was sure I still had but got rid of in last January's purge. We seem to remember the things we threw away with unwarranted fondness and think of them in better condition than they were when we decided to rid ourselves of them. In the baby steps department I recommend one drawer or one closet at a time. If, for example you decide to tackle the entire kitchen, at some point half way through you will surely doubt your sanity and wonder why you gave up an entire Sunday for this insanely unsatisfying project. On the other hand, an hour or two for two or three weeks turns un-fun into extremely satisfying so long as you don't mess up the one drawer you perfected before moving on to another. The point is to end up with a perfectly organized kitchen and a list of what needs to be replaced. That's the fun part, buying brand new replacements.
January has traditionally been known as the month when bed linens go on sale. This is a great time to redesign your bedroom with a new comforter and sheets. I find it hard to veer away from pure white but have allowed taupes and creams to creep into my color scheme. New pillows might not add to the look but will add to your comfort.
January is a month to let go. Getting rid of excess leads to selectively surrounding ourselves with the things that really count and make us feel good. When I get rid of excess "stuff" I actually feel lighter in weight. Ah, if only! The best part of getting rid of excess is that we make room to buy anew. Ross For Less here I come!
Leslie Linsley has written more than 50 books on crafts, decorating and home style. She resides on Nantucket with her husband, photographer Jon Aron, and has a store on the island that specializes in her one-of-a-kind creations. Her latest book is "Key West, a Tropical Lifestyle" (Monacelli Press), with photos by Terry Pommett.