Preparing for a House Swap: Part 1, Cleaning Mania

Preparing for a House Swap: Part 1, Cleaning Mania

Abby Stone
Aug 10, 2011

Last Friday began like any other. I got up, I blogged, I answered emails and then I got a call from a friend, "Do you still want to house swap?" And that is how I've found myself three weeks away from a temporary change of residence and an incentive to clean that has me turning a harsh and critical eye on my home.

With the house swap date galloping quickly towards me, I've begun a greatly accelerated version of that process of pre-trip mania that overtakes me whenever I'll be away for more than a few nights. Of course, it also comes with the knowledge that someone will be staying and living amongst my things.

What I don't want them to know about me:

That I'm a procrastinating DIYer. Five years of Martha Stewart Living from the beginning of the 2000s have been recycled. As much as I would like to imagine myself as a person who makes velvet leaves from templates, when I pinch myself I know that it will never happen. Two shelves of closet space found.

Or a magazine junkie. I've also popped the last year of magazines I've never quite gotten around to reading in the recycling bin, as well as a box full of recipe clippings. Those stickered outfits in Lucky? Long since sold out and I can find all the recipes I need on The Kitchn. Another shelf in the kitchen found.

Or someone who's planning to open an orphanage. Oh, that's right, I'm not Angelina Jolie. So what do I need with three dozen crazy straws? Half the space in the junk drawer, now an oasis of things one might actually need in a pinch.

I must know about the impending soy sauce shortage. That must be why I have an entire drawer devoted to packages of the stuff. Another drawer in the kitchen found.

There are also things that must be put aside for another time:
• I will not be able to paint my living room, the last stage in this summer's living room decor overhaul, before I leave.

• Nor will there be time to paint my kitchen cabinets or change out their handles.

The priorities are clear:

• Streamline the knickknacks and put away anything that, if it broke or got damaged, would be irreplaceable or render me inconsolable.

• Make enough space in the closets and the dresser so that my house guest will not have to live out of her suitcase.

• Reorganize things so that they are easy to find and won't necessitate a million phone calls.

• since I don't have regular maid service, make it so that my house is easy to clean.

Suddenly, my house is a lot less cluttered and dusty and seems a lot more livable than it did a few days ago.

Image: Leela Cyd Ross from Samantha & Lindsey's Bright Beach Cottage

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