The Spring Cure: Creating Your Vision

The Spring Cure: Creating Your Vision

Cambria Bold
Mar 19, 2010

This bedroom feels so warm and cozy. (Via AT:SF)

• Cure Clock: 8 weeks to go!
• Assignment: Read Week One: Creating Your Own Vision

I hope wherever you are the weather is as glorious as it is here in New York today. After weeks of grey, gloomy weather and repeated rain storms, the sun is out and it's a fantastic 67 degrees—the perfect way to step into the weekend and begin de-winterizing my apartment. So what is this whole "weekend prep" thing, you ask? Well, since we figured most people are doing the bulk of the week's assignments on Saturday and Sunday, we're going to use Friday as a time to give you tips, tricks, and encouragement to get you through the weekend successfully and one step closer to a cured home!

Love how bright and neat this kitchen is. (Via Katrin's Soul Warming Home)

Call me crazy, but I'm actually looking forward to the deep cleaning ahead of me. (I know, I know. Who likes cleaning, right? Erma Bombeck famously said it was her favorite household chore... second only to hitting her head on the top bunk bed until she faints.) But after everything is scrubbed, aired, washed, purged, and rearranged, imagine how amazing that is going to feel? You'll be glad you did it.

But first the fun part: creating a vision of what you want your home to be.

You're just getting your feet wet this week, and perhaps your commitment hasn't been firmly established yet. As an idealist, I've been known to start out a project with the biggest of intentions and the grandest of plans, only to fizzle out half-way through or, even worse, never really get off the ground in the first place. So this week is really important. Answer this question: "In an ideal situation, I would love my home to be/have ______." Do you need a good storage solution for your clothes or books? Do you want your home to be better suited for entertaining? Do you need better lighting? More color? Less color? This is where you get to dream, to collect ideas and inspiration for the type of home that you love to look at and would love to live in. Organize these images: clip them together by room, color, or style in a tray, or on a bulletin board, or bookmark them on your computer. Develop a system so that you can find them again easily. Believe me — when you're in week five and you're not feeling so gung-ho anymore, these images will remind you why you started the Cure in the first place, and they'll help lift your spirits and pull you through the final weeks.

Wondering where to look for inspirational images? Start with the Apartment Therapy House Tour archives and the Re-Nest Green Tour archives. We also like the online photo galleries of Metropolitan Home, the Living Etc, and House Beautiful.

I definitely have a thing for vintage desk lamps and cool industrial chairs. (Via AT:NY)

And now, the nitty-gritty tasks:

1 Vacuum and mop the floors.

Weekends are a great time to clean, and you should kick off the physical labor part of this Cure will a little vacuuming and mopping. Last fall Sarah Rae gave us a great list to help make cleaning less of a chore, which is totally worth repeating here. No one wants to spend their whole weekend cleaning, especially in weather like this, so here are a few tips to stay on target and tackle what you can in the time your schedule allows:

  • Set A Timer: Only have 10 minutes to tackle a project? You'd be surprised what you can clean in a small amount of time. Set a timer to help you keep track. When it goes off, switch to something else, or head out the door if you have plans. 3-10 minute breaks during a day is a solid half hour's worth of time!
  • Music Music Music: Its far easier to get lost in your work when you're singing along to your favorite record. If you're short on time, only clean for a few songs or one side of a record!
  • Clean One Surface At A Time: Often we feel like we aren't making any progress when we clean. Tackle one surface at a time. That way, even if you take a break and sit back, you can feel victorious that you at least uncovered the coffee table.
  • Work Clockwise: Don't get distracted or bogged down by the unshelved books in the corner, or the pile of clean laundry waiting to be put away. Pick one spot in your room and work clockwise from there. It will make it easy to pick back up if you have to stop to answer the phone or take the dog for a walk.
  • Make "Other Room" Piles: Economy of motion can cut back on the amount of time you spend cleaning. Chances are that the clutter plaguing your spaces comes from many of the same places. Make small piles of things to go other places. Don't leave the space your working on until it's 100% done—then visit other places to put away goods where they belong. Don't leave them in piles inside the doorways either, having to touch things twice only makes double work.

And speaking of cleaning...

2 Consider switching to environmentally-friendly cleaners.

Over the last few years we've made the change to using all-natural and/or non-toxic cleaners. There were a few reasons why we thought this was necessary: 1) the impact on our health, 2) the impact on the environment. The Environmental Protection Agency states that air quality within homes can be more polluted than the outdoor air by as much as 100 times, even in the largest and most industrialized cities. This is due largely to volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that evaporate, or "offgas," from conventional cleaning products. (You know what we're talking about: that "cleaning" smell, probably from bleach or any one of a host of other chemicals). These VOCs also linger in the hour long after you're done cleaning, especially without proper ventilation, i.e. no window in your bathroom.

Most of the cleaning products we used to use also didn't have their ingredients listed on the label, so we really had no idea what we were bringing into our home. (And while we don't currently have pets or kids, that fact would have been even more sobering if we did.) In 2000, cleaning products were responsible for nearly 10 percent of all toxic exposures reported to U.S. poison control centers, accounting for more than 206,000 calls, over half of which concerned children under the age of six.

Another reason we switched to environmentally-friendly products was because of, well, the environment. Most of the conventional cleaning products we all grew up with are petroleum-based (a non-renewable resource) and have dubious health and environmental implications. Think about it: you're using and then flushing a chemical down the toilet or the sink that's designed to basically annihilate everything that comes into its path. Where does it go? It doesn't just disappear.

Additionally, we thought our use of these ultra-strong chemical cleaners probably wasn't even necessary. This is our home, not a hospital. Does everything need to be 100% germ-free? Unless you live in a bubble, germs are everywhere. The best you can do is keep your home clean to the best of your ability, and that probably doesn't require obliterating everything with bleach.

Our Favorite Eco-Friendly Cleaners:

Here are a few brands of cleaners we've tried and love:

Even better, make your own cleaners! They're cheap, easy, and still effective. Check out these posts for more on the subject:

How To Make Your Own Bathroom Cleaners
How To Make Your Own Kitchen Cleaners
Best Green Cleaning Products 2009
Roundup: The Best Green Cleaning Tips & How-Tos
Roundup: Best Green Cleaning Tools

And when you're done with your cleaning, reward yourself with a bright bouquet of flowers. Put them on your kitchen or dining room table, or on a side table in your living room. Then tweet to let us know that you're still with us on Monday!

Don't forget! Tomorrow is the first day of Spring!
How are you getting your home ready?

Post Index:

Week One - Sarah Rae's Show & Tell

Week One - Maxwell's Intro

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