Kim's January Cure: My First Week

January Cure diaries

My husband likes to tease me that I'm always working on a project. If I'm not sewing, I'm hammering or baking or gardening. With the new year, instead of bouncing from project to project, I want to try a different way of thinking about gettin' things done. The January Cure is already making my running mental tally of to-do's feel clearer and, with time, actually achievable.

My husband and I have lived in our century-old Baltimore row home for a year and a half, and it was renovated before we moved in. I'd still like to see lots of projects completed, which is why I have yet to do my own house tour. (Thus far I've posted before and afters from my TV room and guest bedroom.) I'm hoping January's work will get me closer to virtually showing you around.

Day 1: Make a list of projects.
First off, this day made me think of Bill Murray's character in "What About Bob?" who keeps repeating his therapist's mantra, "baby steps."

For my 1,600-square-foot house, I broke my list down to 10 areas. The biggest, most time-consuming project on the list involves painting any flat antique white walls with egshell "ultra deluxe white." (The flat paint is too yellow, scuffs, and is hard to clean, and I'm pretty sure the renovation painters didn't prime.) That project will have me painting in every room and hallway in my house, save the two bathrooms. I've decided for safety and sanity's sake to hire a painter to do the job on two tall stairways. Altogether this painting is definitely more of a year, not month-long, project, and it feels much more manageable done one room at a time.

The project I've procrastinated the most over is the installation of the hardware on our kitchen cabinets. The doors aren't perfectly aligned on the bottoms, and I've been paralyzed by the fear of drilling holes in the wrong place. I'm ashamed to admit that a bag of drawer pulls has been sitting in the coat closet for a year.

The task I'll have to really keep up with is keeping my coffee table clean (see below). It quickly gathers my tea mugs, craft projects, etc etc. etc. We moved the old dog bed out from under it, so I am toying with putting a puppy-resistant basket under there.

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Day 2: Set up an outbox.
I'm not good at letting go of stuff, but I feel good when I do it. My outbox is a reusable bag I picked up on my last Ikea trip, and it lives in a corner of a room I pass through often. So far it contains some freebies — a "white elephant" gift, another joke gift, and a tie from a clothes swap — plus some long johns and a pair of shoes that my dog chewed but I had hoped to repair. Next to the outbox is a bag of belated duplicate wedding presents that need to be returned.

On this day I crossed one item off my to-do list by installing new hardware in the bathroom (see above). The new towel rack and toilet paper holder are a huge improvement over the builder-grade originals, and thanks to new metal screw anchors they're much sturdier too.

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Day 3: Buy flowers, clean floors and buy green cleaners.
This weekend my extended family had a marathon new year's gathering at an aunt's house nearby, and relatives stayed at my house on Friday and Saturday. I did anticipatory tidying and some after-visit cleaning but didn't have a full day to deep clean. On Friday night I went over the bathroom countertops with a Method cleaner I already had, took a handheld vacuum to the bathroom floors, washed the guest bedroom sheets, and remade that bed. The carpeting is still crying out for vacuuming.

On my way home on Sunday, I stopped at Home Depot and bought two more gallons of "ultra deluxe white" paint, light bulbs to cross another thing off my to-do list, and a fuchsia cyclamen. Adding the flowering plant to my kitchen windowsill, I noticed the white tile floors (bad choice!) were dirty and got to sweeping and wet swiffer-ing. At this point I decided to buy reusable Swiffer pads rather than new cleaners. Then, with my last holiday event behind me, I finally kicked my Christmas tree to the curb for recycling and put all of my holiday decorations in a box in the basement.

How is the January Cure going for you? What projects have you been putting off that you think you'll tackle? Which ones will require long term regular attention?

(Images: Kim Rinehimer)

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Kim has been sharing creative projects and ideas as a Contributor to Apartment Therapy since 2010. Her writing highlights stylish, budget-friendly solutions to common household problems. Kim is a fluent French speaker and a houseplant enthusiast.