Big Style, Small Space: Spring is in the Air
by Lisa Rogers
And that means it’s time to wash away the winter doldrums
The arrival of spring means longer warmer days and an urge to head outdoors. But when the sun starts to pour in your house, it also shows how much housekeeping we let slide over the winter as we cocooned against the cold. There’s a reason it’s called spring cleaning, and for me that’s not only the time to deep clean but also the time to shed any excess. This is especially true if you’re getting ready to sell your home in preparation to downsize.
I love spring cleaning and approach it in a very organized way with three foolproof steps – purging, fixing and deep clean. When it’s all done, I invite friends over for dinner on the deck with good wine and music wafting out of open windows.
FIRST THE PURGE
We’ve talked on Cityline about the best ways to clean out your closets, and I’ve found it helps to enlist a friend, someone you will be totally honest about what still works for you — and what doesn’t — whether clothing or furniture. Another way is bartering with yourself; each thing you keep means getting rid of something else, which forces you to weigh the intrinsic value of each item. Purging is best done all at once, but if time is limited, do it in stages, room by room. I’ve found it works to remove everything from a room, except essentials (e.g. bed, dresser, night tables) then reintroduce items. It’s much harder when downsizing from the family home because the accumulation of family items comes with so many memories. That’s where digital photography comes in. Take a picture of most of the items, keep a few things and get rid of the rest. Give your children the pick of whatever they want, just don’t expect them to take it all.
Get rid of old tools, duplicate pots and pans, projects you’ve been meaning to get to but never will, and the paint cans stacked in the furnace room. Some of the big box stores, like Rona, recycle leftover paint. For the rest, box it up and either donate to the thrift store or leave it at the curb with a free sign on it.
When it comes to larger items like furniture it depends on whether you’ve already purchased a new home. If so, use the floorplan to decide which existing pieces will fit. Most will be too big and heavy but to make sure, hire a design consultant who can help visualize how things will look in the new space. Better furniture stores have designers on staff who can help but obviously they’re there to sell furniture and I don’t recommend buying anything new before you move or at least have a floorplan.
Sometimes you can get so caught up in purging – or worn out by the process — you’ll be tempted to call the consignment shop to come and take it all away. That’s when you need to step away because some things are worth keeping — like that French armoire, which is a timeless bridge between traditional and contemporary.
NOW THE DEFICIENCY LIST
Walk around the house and create a deficiency list of all the small stuff you’ve ignored, such as broken drawers, leaky faucets and loose drawer pulls. Note where paint needs to be touched up on walls and cabinets, where you need to re-caulk around sinks, fixtures and mouldings, or re-grout between floor or wall tiles. Do hardwood floors need touching up, refinishing or replacing?
Check outdoors; cracks in the cement foundation or loose mortar between bricks will require hiring a professional. Determine if the trim needs painting or if there are missing roof shingles. Does the deck need re-staining or planks replaced? Are the stair rails secured?
FINALLY, A DEEP CLEAN
Start at the top of the house and work down, focusing on one room at a time. Get a basketful of great-smelling cleaning supplies (like Mrs. Meyers), slip on the earbuds and crank up the playlist.
Stow the winter stuff — clothes, bedding, throws. I use plastic bins that slide under the bed for most items, including bedlinens, but wool goes in a cedar-lined closet (which is easier and less expensive to create than you’d think).
Clean baseboards, picture frames, windowsills, blinds, cabinet pulls (Vim degreaser really works on these) and cabinets. Wash shower curtains, replace plastic liners and remove clutter from tables, counters, nightstands, coffee tables and dressers.
An area that really takes a beating during winter is the entryway, front and back. Dirt and salt is embedded in the floor, doorframe, screen door and walls. Don’t forget to vacuum and wash the rubber mat.
Odours, from pets, especially, are probably embedded in the carpets. Sprinkle baking soda, then vacuum. Adding a few drops of essential oil to the baking soda will give you an even fresher smell.
Furnace filters need to be replaced or washed.
Pick up baskets of flowers or potted plants for the porch or deck and also for inside. Freshen up the pillar candles, splurge on fresh flowers, stow front hall clutter in cloth baskets tucked under the bench or table.
Switch up your accessories – tablecloths and napkins, rugs, pillows, bedding, throws – storing the darker winter items for more colourful summertime ones.
DON’T FORGET THE OUTDOORS
Rake up dead leaves and branches – exposing the soil helps warm it up – and mulch the garden beds with a good quality black double ground. Mow the lawn, pull weeds and edge the flowerbeds.
Add compost that has been “cooking” over the winter; if you have none, check your municipality for compost giveaway days.
Clean the eaves to allow rainwater to flow freely out. Pressure wash bricks, windows, trim, doors, concrete, vinyl siding, driveway and deck floor. Clean the barbecue and check the gas tank. Polish the brass — mailbox, knocker, lamps. Clean out window boxes and urns, replenish the soil and plant with a pretty mix of bulbs and greenery and add baskets of potted spring flowers to the front porch.
|Lisa Rogers is the exclusive interior designer for Dunpar Homes (DunparHomes.com).|
Lisa has shared her style and design expertise on popular television programs, such as Canadian Living TV, House & Home TV and The Shopping Channel.
Lisa is one of the most familiar faces on CityTV’s Cityline as a regular guest expert for fashion and image, health and wellness and interior design.