Rethinking Your Space: How To Declutter and Edit a Room

During the holidays I grew increasingly cranky with my living room. I wasn't sure if it was the color of the carpet or the artwork on the mantel. Maybe it was the way the two interacted? Or perhaps it was the holiday décor. Whatever it was didn't matter—I was ready to donate it all and start fresh. Thankfully I didn't act as it then dawned on me...

...it was the clutter that was making me nervous. Yes, the additional holiday décor and gifts were taking their toll on my nerves but I realized I had not edited the space in some time.

Valuable items can become clutter when they are not properly placed in a room. A space's objects, furniture and lighting must relate to one another in order to create a welcoming environment and to maintain their value. To edit a room, consider the following:

Recyclables: Recycle back issues of magazines and outdated newspapers. Do you have too many books in your home? Consider donating them to your local library or to the Vietnam Veterans of America.

Knickknacks: Temporarily place picture frames, candles, small wall art and other knickknacks in a cardboard box. Place the box out of sight or in storage to better understand how your furnishings interact, the natural traffic flow through the room and the effectiveness of your lighting scheme.

Once you've removed the clutter from your space, continue editing:

Lighting: Are your lamps properly placed in your space? Do they provide adequate light? The answers are no if your lighting can not illuminate the entire room to accommodate large gatherings and also offer dwellers cozy areas for reading and relaxing. Rearrange your lighting to better understand if you need to purchase a new lamp or if the placement was just incorrect. Also consider these wise words from AT writer Leah Moss: "When thinking about how to achieve a good (lighting) balance, start by following Maxwell's advice of having at least three diverse sources of light of varying degrees spread around the room. In most cases, this will mean a general illuminator (such as a floor lamp with a shade that allows a lot of light output or an overhead light), task and accent lighting (like track lighting, work lamps, pharmacy style lamps with a concentrated focus), and ambiance lighting (such as candles, wall sconces, or small lamps). Depending on what you use a room for, your lighting needs will likely change from room to room, but every space should have some sort of lighting variety."

Artwork: We've all mistakenly purchased artwork that's not a perfect fit for our space. Or perhaps that painting was ideal for your last apartment, but it's not quite right for this one. Begin by assessing its worth: if you can't live without it and you know the art is not right for the space, hang it elsewhere in your home. Otherwise, if it has potential, redefine its stature: properly hang it on a prominent wall (see related posts below for instructions) and remove all other dominating art from the room. By doing this, you'll quickly understand the source of your discontent: either the piece negatively interacted with other objects to throw off your room's balance or the art is just not meant to be.

Once you've edited your space, revisit that box of picture frames and candles to determine which ones you love enough to display in your home. Pick them out, leave the rest behind, and place them where you can adore them. Editing your home is an ongoing adventure. Winter brings storage challenges while summer presents fresh flowers. There's no reason why your space must be static. Let it evolve with the seasons and all they bring.

(Image: Landis Carey)

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