The Fall Cure: Clearing the Path

The Fall Cure: Clearing the Path

Susie Nadler
Oct 21, 2009
Cure participant postmodernmodernist has been doing a great job since moving into a new apartment a few months ago... a little paint and some clutter-clearing works wonders!

• Cure Clock: 6.5 weeks to go
• Assignment: Read Week Two: Clearing the Path
• Members: 1,631...

Wow, here we are at Week Two! It's been so fun to watch the submissions pouring in, and especially to hear about the plans all of you have for the upcoming weeks. I think of Week Two of the Cure as a kind of "easing in." The assignments, for the most part, are not major projects, but preliminary preparations designed to ease you into the work that lies ahead…

DCKittyKate is putting together the canopy bed from the top left, that gorgeous orange bedding and those sleek yellow lamps. During the Cure, she wants to bring in some new accessories for an eclectic style. Suggestions? Feel free to comment below!

During Week Two, you are asked to repair one thing in your home yourself, which is a great way to start physically interacting with the space. Running your hands along the walls in order to get to know the physical structure is also enlightening, providing a unique perspective that will help you with questions of layout, climate control, and flow. And of course, there is the Outbox, a concept designed to ease you into the challenge of getting rid of excess stuff.

Piles of stuff in hollyobrian's apartment, just waiting to head for the Outbox...

The Outbox

Preparing the Outbox always makes me think of how easy it is to accumulate stuff. We bring so many things into our homes on a daily basis: well-meaning gifts from family and friends; magazines and other reading material; trinkets picked up on our travels; and so on. But over time, much of this stuff can lose either its meaning or its functionality or both. And yet it can still be difficult to part with things, whether because they were given to us by loved ones or acquired for a specific and timely purpose.

Here are some guidelines to consider as you begin thinking about what might go into your Outbox:

Just because something was a gift doesn't mean you have to keep it. I don't mean to sound callous, but the truth is that some things received as well-intentioned gifts just may not fit your lifestyle or your taste, in which case it is perfectly acceptable to pass them on as donations. I usually end up hanging onto gifts that aren't my style just because I was touched by having received them. Eventually, though, these items end up in the Outbox, where they can be properly sorted out.

• As you sort through your things, ask yourself, is this item relevant to the life I have right now? Our lives change so rapidly and so frequently that the items we acquire can quickly become outdated. We accumulate things to accommodate activities, habits, and routines that evolve out of our lives, leaving only the things themselves behind. It's tempting to hold onto items that are no longer useful, out of nostalgia or good intentions, but the fact is that our homes only have so much space to accommodate things we can no longer use.

Remember to start small. This week the assignment is to clear only a single surface and put as much as you can from that surface into your Outbox. Don't get too ambitious too soon; this will only make you feel frustrated. Try something like the top of your dresser or the kitchen counter. Since it's time to clean the kitchen, the counter is a great choice; you'll be amazed by how much space you suddenly have when you cook your new recipe at the end of the week!

Flickr member kay© has collected an inspiration Style Tray for an eclectic bedroom.

Defining Your Style

This week you'll also be working to determine your style. This should be fun, as it allows you to take stock of all the inspirational images you've collected in your Style Tray. Pages 80-82 in the Cure handbook offer a good outline of some basic styles to choose from. Try these posts too for further help in defining your style:

Elements of Contemporary Rustic Style
Decor Style Quiz at Sproost
Tools: Dream Books and Style Trays
Determine Your Home Decor Style

Isn't thesoybean's Style Tray fun? I love the idea of pulling inspiration from unexpected sources, like the Orangina ad.

Making a Floor Plan

If you're curing a single room, you're going to be working this week with that room's layout and playing with a floor plan. It's helpful to think of it this way—as playing—because this part of the process can be really fun, as long as you let yourself explore all the possibilities. Probably there are some obstacles in your mind—the placement of a permanent fixture like a window or fireplace, or a semi-permanent one like a media center—but if you can allow yourself to push past these obstacles, you'll enjoy the whole process more.

Kathleen is reconsidering the layout of her living room, pictured above. Cable TV and a set of gigantic bookshelves seem to her unmovable, limiting her options, but the truth is that the cable company can easily re-wire a room for not much money, and with help from a few friends, the bookshelves can really go anywhere... especially as they're going to be emptied out during the clutter-clearing process of the Cure! If Kathleen is able to envision the room without these limitations, chances are she might come up with a more creative layout that will open up the room.

Consider these guidelines:

• At this point, don't worry about how difficult certain things are to move. In your office, if you want to change the position of your desk, you may have to invest in longer cables and figure out a new system for hiding wires, but all of these are practical concerns that can be dealt with once your layout is in place. Try not to let these concerns take control of this creative part of the process. You can deal with them later, once you're getting down to the nitty-gritty details.

• Remember to think about how it will feel to sit in each seat in the room. Consider the "view" from each seat; how will the light hit each seat at different times of day? Are any seats too close to a heat source or a drafty spot? Are seats close enough together for their occupants to converse, even with background noise like music?

Flickr member lorigami's kitchen is pretty, but not so practical... she intends to add cabinets and counter space during the Cure.

Cleaning the Kitchen

Tackling the kitchen might seem like the least exciting task on your docket this week, but hopefully it will also be the most rewarding. Kitchens that are well-used benefit from this kind of deep cleaning once a month, but let's face it: Most of us just don't get to it that often.

Mindy's pantry, before (left) and after (right). She felt great after giving her pantry a good deep cleaning!

Personally, I find it difficult to clean out the pantry, throwing away old food, because it feels so wasteful. But the truth is that once these foods are cleaned out and tossed, it will be easier to shop for groceries, especially pantry staples, because you'll know exactly what you have. And of course, better shopping means less waste.

Try these posts for some inspiration and tips as you clean your kitchen:

Five Things We Never Think to Clean in the Kitchen
How To: Clean Your Oven With Ammonia
Keeping the House Clean: Start With the Kitchen Sink
Look! A Clean Kitchen
Cleaning as Meditation

An easy little fall arrangement with maple leaves, a single banksia bloom, asparagus fern, and some persimmons. Fall fruits and vegetables can be great additions to a bouquet!

Finally, don't forget to bring home some fresh flowers this week! This doesn't have to be an expensive indulgence; if you've got a garden or a deck, try cutting a few stems from your own plants (even houseplants will do!) to supplement some colorful blooms from the corner store. This time of year, autumnal branches are also a beautiful choice; check out your local farmers' market this weekend. Here are a few posts to inspire your floral adventures:

Frugal Flowers: How to Choose Flowers at the Supermarket
Flower Arranging: Three Great How-Tos
Inspiration: Adding Flowers and Plants to the Kitchen and Bath


What do you hope your friends will say about your home when they attend your housewarming party at the end of the Cure?


Week 2 - Introduction
Week 1 - Show and Tell
Week 1 - Tips and Tricks
Week Week 1 - Introduction


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