January Cure, I've been thrilled at the prospect of devoting some time to freshen up my space. My home is in dire need of deep cleaning, clutter-clearing, and rearranging, especially after the chaos of the holidays. After the first week, I'm already starting to see some progress, and I'm getting even more excited about the challenges ahead. To give you an idea of what types of issues I'll be facing in the coming weeks, it may be helpful to give you a few background details about myself. I moved into a condo a few months ago with my boyfriend Ed and our chinchilla, Chibi. The building was built in the 1920s, and the unit was renovated in 2006, so it's got some really wonderful features: lots of windows, an open kitchen/living space, exposed brick walls, and spacious bathrooms. Luckily, all the bones are in good condition, so most of what I'll be tackling in the cure will be cosmetic issues. That said, those cosmetic issues are manifold. Since I moved from a studio and Ed moved from a larger suburban home, a lot of our furniture doesn't fit, and we lack several other crucial pieces of furniture. There are still some clutter and storage problems that haven't been resolved since we moved, and while our list of ideas and projects is extensive, we need to save a bit more before making them a reality. Eventually we'll paint more and invest some money into furnishings that fit our home, but for now, I'm aiming to get rid of the furniture that doesn't work, organize using materials that I already have, and figure out how to make my home flow better. • January 2: Make a list of projects This step was surprisingly easy, although by the time I was done, the three pages of items to address made Ed's eyes pop (until I explained that they weren't all projects for this month). The items ranged from small things like repotting some plants and cleaning under the bed to big things like getting rid of a credenza and mounting the TV. Cord management, magazine storage, and deep cleaning are also key items on the list. The kitchen and bathrooms are functioning pretty well, so most of my attention this month will be on the living room, hallway, and closets. I resisted the urge to tidy before taking these photos, because really, what's the point of a before picture if it's been altered? So yes, there are dirty dishes, cords and computer chargers, various other items that have been tossed asunder (including a blanket basket raised so as to be safe from Chibi's gnawing attention). The bric-a-brac that you see lining the left-hand wall of the living room is the items that were once in the credenza. You can also see the delightful piece of paper that we've got hanging on the wall to represent the TV when it goes up. Currently, we're using two pieces of our coffee table as side tables, so I'd like to repurpose some items or find an inexpensive solution to that as well. We definitely need a better storage solution for Chibi's hay and food pellets. (The tub is so dusty because he had just had his dust bath, and I hadn't yet cleaned it up before taking the photo. Part of the cure is deep cleaning though, right? And total honesty about our homes?) Then there's the issue of a pesky entry wall that I've already covered with magnetic primer but that has long been waiting for a coat of blackboard paint.
• January 3: Set up your outbox The outbox is already a regular feature in our home, but we emptied it before we left for the holidays, and it's definitely time to start anew. The box lives in a corner of the kitchen near the pantry, and the first item in it today was a pair of old gloves that I no longer need thanks to a new pair acquired at Christmas. I've already tossed in several other items, and I also listed our credenza on Craigslist.
• January 4, 5, & 6: Flowers, floors, green cleaners, and outbox A Friday trip to Trader Joe's left me with a cactus that seems like it's almost ready to bloom and some new cleaning supplies to add to my stock of vinegar, baking soda, and Method dish soap. I also tossed some more knick-knacks, some unused throw pillows, and a couple of DVDs into the outbox. Without even beginning to clean, my place was feeling better already. On Saturday, my floors got a much-needed scrubbing. Our bed frame is pretty low, making it really hard to sweep all the way under it, and I don't even want to tell you what kinds of dusty fuzzies I found under there. Saturday is always the day I clean Chibi's cage, and I made sure to give it an extra scrub today as well. Here's the little guy tuckered out from all that cleaning (read: running around the living room while I cleaned).
The outbox gained a mirror and a few video game systems that I no longer play regularly. Yes, I still have my Sega Saturn, Sega Game Gear, and Nintendo Game Cube. These have been hard for me to part with, but I think it's now or never. And at least the concept of the outbox means I can rescue them if I decide I just can't bear to see them go. Sunday was mostly a non-cure day, but I did tidy up a bit more around the house and started making rough organizational piles out of some papers and media that need to be put in place later this month. • Visit The January Cure page (Images: Carolyn Purnell)