Girlfriend, we know. It's been a year of ups and downs for you and your home. It was love at first sight, all charm and potential and good intentions. You were going to treat him right, he was going to keep you warm, and together you were going to create a love for the ages. You had activities planned, like painting, decluttering, an afternoon spent regrouting the bathroom (romance indeed). You had plans to live smarter by buying less, reusing more. You had hopes of weekly dinner parties and reduced energy bills. Then, things just started to fall apart…
...literally, as in the molding on your bedroom door fell off. Suddenly it was all sleepless nights spent listening to the clanking radiator. Your once "cozy" kitchen turned into an unbearable tiny hole. You scratched up your home's walls with your bike storage hanger, and in turn he threatened to make you sick with the chemicals coming from the particleboard kitchen cupboards.
Yeah, it's been a rough year.
But hey, it's 2011! Time to make up or break up. (And since your lease isn't over for another two years, you know you only have one option here.) You've both done some things you regret. Here's how you can make it work, for now and forever:
1. Accept Your Home For What He Is. Admit it: your eye wanders every once in a while to that flashy, high-tech green condo in last month's Dwell and its greener grass (helped in no small part by the green roof). And you start to feel a little resentful: your home doesn't have an energy monitoring system; your home doesn't have current ENERGY STAR appliances; your home doesn't have bamboo floors. Nothing is easy in your home! You have to work for your green cred! Well, so be it. Nothing's perfect, not even flashy green condos. You do the best you can with the space you've got. Try to discover the secrets that'll make him great. And remember, your home does look pretty cute in those curtains you just hung up.
2. Don't Neglect Him. It's hard to find the love when you're under a pile of dirty clothes. Commit to forming healthy home habits this year that'll reduce your stress level and let you actually enjoy your home! Create a cleaning schedule. Learn how to clean your home in 20 minutes a day for 30 days. Keep your bedroom clean once and for all! Give your home the full treatment with an all out, room by room green clean makeover. If something is broken (as long as it's not your heart), paint it, fix it, or repair it.
3. Don't Be Sick About It. Don't let him pull the (chemically treated) wool over your eyes. They say love hurts, but it really shouldn't in this case. Get and stay informed on household chemicals and their effect on indoor air quality. Learn how you can reduce your exposure. Get a few of the right types of plants to further improve your indoor air. Buy an air purifier.
4. Consider What You Bring to the Relationship. Before you bring something into your home this year, consider this: will you use it? Do you love it? Does your home need it? Prioritize and condense your shopping list. It's tempting to buy inexpensive, lower quality versions of all the things you want so you can cross off your home-to-do list. But in the long run, you might be disappointed that you spent much-needed money on items that didn't last. Save up for something that is exactly what you want. Establish a landing strip to filter things coming into your home. When considering items you already own, set up an outbox or an upcycle box. Look for objects that are useful, beautiful, and durable. Try to reduce the amount of packaging you use. Take a stand against throwawayism.
5. Bring Back the Romance. There was a reason you and your home got together in the first place, and it's time to rekindle the flame. Time to take your home on a date. Buy fresh flowers. Cook a nice meal. Light some all-natural candles. Create some privacy. Indulge in some new organic bedding. Take some time to listen to your life.
As Pat Benatar so aptly sang:
Don't want to leave you really
I've invested too much time
To give you up that easy
To the doubts that complicate your mind
Whatever we deny or embrace
For worse or for better
We belong, we belong
We belong together