I think the worst thing to see when you come home from a long day of work is a mess.
Actually, the worst thing to see might be your cat, breaking open a (full) garbage bag, which is another story for another time.
But if you have a home with an open concept floor plan, then you are stuck looking at every single thing you own all the time, no matter where you are. This particularly is true my apartment -- particularly the "living room" area, which houses far too much than its square footage allows. If I sit on the couch, I can see everything from my boyfriend's collection of KISS boardgames to packed bookcases to my yoga stuff. In terms of stressors, it doesn't rank as high as "the economy, in general" or "John Boehner," but seeing this mess leads to a certain anxiety. Mainly, it reminds us that, at best, we have two hours of daily downtime, which is clearly not spent cleaning and organizing.
So I did what anyone else would do: I complained about it to my mom.
I should point out that my mom is probably the expert on all things home. For her, decor is a way of life rather than a hobby. This is a person who rearranges furniture on a weekly basis, never accepts the manufacturers preferred color of any furnishing (she is usually painting, or rather making my dad paint something, when I call) and actually reads the credits in decor mags. And when you combine those qualities with an impressive ability to talk anyone into doing anything, you can see why I'd turn to her in this situation.
Her recommendation? Forget cleaning, more or less. "You will never fight the tide of constant stuff unless you make it a second job," she said. Instead, she recommends hiding what you can so that, at the very least, you don't have to look at the disarray when you should be focusing on a much-anticipated episode of "Workaholics."
Of course, there was much more. Here are her best tips for de-stressing your living room, which I think we can all use.
- Put your bookshelves in order. Group books by size, donating or recycling anything you haven't picked up in years. (Though if it's really hard to cull your collection, hide the clutter by creating a "curtain." Just attach pretty fabric over the shelves using Velcro or tacks, like the blogger behind Creative Blossoming.)
- Never let your coffee table get cluttered. And, while we're at it, never bring bills into your living room. Pay them somewhere else. On your table, only keep one or two pretty magazines, if you have to put anything on there.
- Hide "miscellaneous" clutter in baskets. Extra power cords, random "collectibles," or anything that just doesn't have a logical place in your home.
- Hide excess DVDs and games in an underbed storage box, under the couch. Many of these boxes are slim enough to fit under a sofa.
- Slipcover your sofa. You won't have to worry about spills or stains, so it's perfectly fine to pick a lovely neutral color.
- Put your overhead lights on dimmers. Harsh overhead light hurts the eyes and only shines a spotlight on your clutter.
- Use storage ottomans or vintage chests to hide extra blankets, pillows. Plus, the storage ottomans can be used as extra seating in a pinch.
- Use scented candles. Mostly, because they'll get rid of that "stale apartment" smell. Just make sure the candle is made from a soy-based wax. They tend to "hold" scent better and don't produce as much soot as a paraffin wax candle.
- If you can, paint the room a relaxing blue color. It really is the most soothing hue.
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