Our Home

Happy 1st Anniversary to Our Home + A Brand New Workspace

Today, it's been one glorious year that we've been living in our home. I know that for most of you, a year is underwhelming. That's only one lease! But as an urban nomad of sorts, this is only the second home where I've gotten to celebrate one year, so just let me have this moment, okay?

One year plus about two weeks ago, we were sitting in a coffee shop in Lincoln Square with our friend Laura. At the time, she was our far-flung friend, so charming and witty that you'll ride the train for a seemingly interminable hour or so from your loft on the opposite side of the city. But that snowy day, sitting in that coffee shop, we all thought, wouldn't it be great if we didn't have to ride the train for a seemingly interminable hour or so to see Laura? Plus, this neighborhood's kinda cute. Maybe we could afford an apartment with more than one room. Colin whipped out his iPad and and about 10 minutes later we had found this really cool apartment that showed lots of promise, right under a train stop and just steps from that very coffee shop. We applied for a lease likerightaway because you can't let something like that slip through your fingers, you know what I mean?

For myriad reasons, it's been a really fantastic year. We're regulars at the aforementioned coffee shop, and our apartment is just right, with just about everything we need. But even after 365 whole days (I still can't believe we've stayed put for a year, can you tell?), our apartment was missing one thing: I didn't have a workspace.

I haven't had a workspace in about three years, since our last two apartments (which we lived in for 11 months and 13 months) comprised a single room. Living in a studio is basically a dream when you're newly engaged or married and starry eyed and you always want to be together because you're in love, that's why. After so long in a studio, I used to worry that wanting more space was a bad thing; why would we want to be apart? But with time, we were annoyed when our parents had to stay in hotels when they visited, and Colin needed our single desk more than I did. I was usually happy to hunker down with my laptop in bed or on the couch, but sometimes I missed having a space of my own. Besides, I wanted to have a bedroom that didn't have a dishwasher and sink in it.

As soon as we moved in, I saw that our apartment has a perfect little space by the back door with lots of light and just enough room for a desk to write and make things and a shelf of craft supplies (read: egg cartons I've been saving for about three months). Instead we thought, this is a good place to store stuff we don't know what to do with. A workspace can come later.

I didn't think it would take me a whole year! This weekend, I hauled out several bags of trash and many boxes of things to donate or sell once the snow subsides. I cleaned and de-cluttered the room's two closets—our linen closet and another full of cleaning supplies and spare toiletries. I painted a desk built by my great grandfather, and cut my finger badly lining the drawers with pretty paper. It was so worth it.

The lesson is, don't wait. Sometimes you don't even get a year.

These pictures are just a peek; I'll have more pictures of our apartment to share later. I hope your week is off to a great start!

5 Things To Do With Clutter

1. Donate it to a good cause.
For new or gently used items, find a local charity accepting items like yours.

2. Sell it.
List your items on eBay or Craigslist, or have a yard sale. Save the money for a future, meaningful purchase, put it in your savings or donate it to a charity you care about.

3. Use it up.
Gather consumable clutter (food, cleaning supplies, beauty products) in one place so you can see what all you have. Use and enjoy as much as you can before recycling or throwing away the containers.

4. Give it to a friend.
Just because something doesn't add value to your life doesn't make it worthless (remember: value is subjective). If you have a friend who you know would enjoy something you don't need, make a gift of it. Do be sure to be honest about the item's origins: "I've been holding onto these dessert plates painted with Parisian storefronts but I never use them. I know you collect French-themed dishes, so I thought you might enjoy them!"

5. Throw it away (or recycle it).
Sometimes the process of identifying clutter is hard enough. If the thought of dealing with your clutter is debilitating, don't be ashamed to use a silver bullet. Sure, it's not ideal environmentally-speaking, but it sure is cathartic. Just get rid of it so you can move on!

What I'm Pinning

What I'm Pinning: Undone Hair

I can't stop applying minimal concepts to every little aspect of my life. It's liberating to think of the possibilities, that little by little in so many small ways I'm reducing physical and mental clutter. It's also a bit overwhelming to constantly be analyzing every banal scenarioCue hairstyle scrutiny.

My hair is fine but plentiful, neither curly nor straight, not really blonde nor brunette. It's been cut rather ambiguously, somewhere between a bob and a shag, since my last stylist moved to San Franciscoand every few months I find a couple new silvery strands near the crown. In other words, my hair is rather difficult.

The thing is, while I am actively working on about 17 tubes of lip balm right now (one of each type in every purse; that's not crazy, right?) I can't handle having more than one or two hair products in the bathroom without completely losing my mind.

I feel inspired by these unfussy 'dos to embrace my flyaway-prone locks. I love how long hair that's slightly undone looks equally good with a relaxed and chunky sweater as it does with a more elegant look

You can see all of my hair pins (!) over here. Happy Tuesday!

The Result Is The Reward

Cleaning is, quite unfortunately, an important part of decluttering. I've committed this month to deep cleaning one room of our apartment each weekend, and last weekend was dedicated to our kitchen. Boy oh boy did it need a little dedication.

I spent all day–all day!–Saturday cleaning it, which is a big, I mean really big departure from the way I normally clean, if you can call it cleaning at all. I don't–I call it "blitzing" and it works like this: First, pick up and put away as many objects as you possibly, possibly, possibly can in a short amount of time, no stopping or resting. Next, when the room looks halfway decent, collapse in exhaustion.

It's very effective for picking up things that are out of place, but I usually use up all my energy making a room tidy and never get around to actually cleaning.

When I finally get around to doing a deeper clean, I often create a little reward system. Maybe I'll work for an hour, then take a break for a 30-minute TV show, then work for another hour, etc.

The problem with ploying myself with rewards is that I feel so satisfied when I achieve the reward that I don't always finish the task. Giving myself a reward to look forward to actually diminishes the intrinsic reward of cleaning, which is a clean room. One where everything is in its place, dust-free and smelling fresh.

I embraces a slow, focused approach to cleaning on Saturday and found I actually worked much harder than if I were just whiling away the time until my next reward. I emptied shelves, scoured our oven, and even explored the dark place under the stove, where oh my goodness you wouldn't believe the disgusting mix of crumbs, vegetable bits and dust. The result is so gratifying that I can't wait to do it again next month (and get some of those corners I missed).

Do you work best when you clean in short bursts or long, dedicated sessions? I think either can work depending on your personality. Do you ever reward yourself? Share your approach in the comments!

What I'm Pinning

What I'm Pinning: White For Days

In case you've been living under a rock (It's okay! Welcome back to civilization!), white is having a serious moment lately. Have you noticed? Rooms with white walls (and even white floors!) are dominating my Pinterest feed, and I absolutely love it!

White rooms draw the eye right to the stuff that fills them.. In the interest of increasing awareness of my belongings, what better backdrop than white? (After all, if I can't stand looking at an object against a white wall, why do I have it?)

I love the way every object pops in these white rooms. In a white space, every object must be treasured, worthy of display. Plus, the light! Oh, the light.

You can see more white interiors (and more colorful ones, too) over on Pinterest.