Monday, January 2, 2017

Organizing the Living Room

NOTE:  Today I'm talking about the living room.  The living room that is more like a company living room.  I'll talk about other areas of the home on another day.  Now I do realize that not everyone has both a living room and a family room.  Also, I'm prefacing today's entry with this little precursor..........These ideas are things I've found to be helpful in my ancientness and old age for my home.  They are only being suggested as helpful tips, I do understand that they may not work in your world.  

The living room is like a window that looks into your personal world.  It offers a peek inside your life.  We don't live in the living room.  It's where company comes to visit.  The living room speaks volumes to the stranger at your door.  Is it clean and inviting?  Is it a cluttered mess?  It's the public place.  It represents and speaks so much about your family and your lives.  It's a great place for you to "speak" you.  Family photos, musical instruments, books, and decor are all things that are telling of you and your family. 

The living room should be, in my opinion, the one room in the home that is always clean, vacuumed and dusted.  I realize that not all homes offer the option of not having a TV in the living room, but if at all possible, I recommend it.  When company comes, you want to spend time visiting with them, not competing with the volume of the TV.  It's also not an eating room, unless it's a party.  Not eating in the living room protects the carpet and the best furniture in the house, plus is a major part of keeping it company clean most of the time.  In our home, it's the room where we have Family Home Evening and family prayer.  So, this room, in our home, is the calm and peaceful room.  Just that fact alone, helps keep down the rough-housing that takes place in other parts of the home.  It's also not a room for homework or projects, but it's great for reading and napping in the sunshine.  Designating your living room for specific purposes is essential in keeping it organized and clean.  

This is my living room now.  With the exception of the tall lamp on the far left just behind the black chair.  The lamp has been moved to another location...well most of the lamp anyway.  I took the lamp shade off and put it on a table lamp.  The table lamp now sits on that little table next to the couch and I love it there.  See my old window on the wall next to my doors?  Eventually photos of my children will be in each pane.  I can't wait!!!   BUT.....I should tell you, my living room hasn't always looks like this.  It took some doing.  Take a look below as I explain.

Now, let me show you what my living room use to look like just a couple of days ago....Scary, right??!!!  

Can you believe that?!  It's was a complete mess!  Let me break it down for you....

On the couch we have the tote on the right full of our Outdoor Christmas lights.  I left them there pretty much most of December in the hopes that they would eventually get put up on the house.  They never did.  In the middle are a couple of bags that I brought home from the hospital full of Kevin's things.  There is also a couple empty bags from presents we received and the bags just got left there.  You will also see another small tote.  That is my personal tote full of things I use to make my shakes and my herbal tea.  I know...what is it doing in the living room of all places?  I needed to grab things out of the tote frequently when I was sick so I kept it close.  The tea was great to drink when I wasn't feeling well.  On the left of the couch you will see clothing.  This is where the Pioneer clothing collected as things were found before Lexi left on the Trek.

This lovely little side table was my space when I was sick.  You will see I had my humidifier.  It was a huge help in keeping me from getting worse.  Then there are a few bags and boxes full of cough drops and medications.  I did put all of this away and I also wiped down the table with a couple anti-bacterial wipes.  It's much better now.  

The floor!  Oh my!  As you can see there is the Home Depot bucket.  That's the bucket Lexi had to put all of her personal items in for the Pioneer Trek.  Then there is the tote full of Christmas ornaments..the place they go after they are on the tree.  The pile of paper and used rolls of Christmas wrapping paper was what happened while we were away and the dogs decided to have a little "party" of their own.  I could have killed them!  BUT, their lives were spared because they decided to have their little party while Kevin was still in the hospital and I was to busy dealing with that to care.  I did want to cry when I walked into the house though.  They had paper shredded all over that living room.  Silly dogs!  It's like having two foreign exchange toddlers in the house.  They just look at you when you try to scold them and they can't understand a word you are saying.  Arg!  Tell me again why I agreed to let my children get pets and then turn me into a foster parent to two dogs?  
Here are a few tips on keeping the living room organized and to maintain the feeling of peace and calm in the living room.

This suggestion is for the brave soul.  Completely empty the living room of all decor, books, magazines, pillows, throws, plants (live or other) and other "stuff".  Clean the room and then put things back.  Think carefully before you return every single item to the room.  Is it something outdated that could be replaced by something better?  Is it something that could be put away in a scrapbook instead of hanging on the wall because it's so old?  Does it need a new frame?  Does whatever you're about to bring back in need polishing?  Scrubbing?  Soaking?  Tossing? Is it time to start fresh completely?  Of all the rooms in the house that you dare attempt this, the living room is the one, trust me!  

Go through the room and dejunk it of all clutter and useless items.  My philosophy is that if it doesn't enhance or have a purpose in the room (whatever room we're talking about?, it doesn't belong there.  Junk does not enhance any room.  

Newspapers can be read and then stacked in a basket or container or even another room.  Piles of magazines and catalogs can also be stored and stacked elsewhere (if they must be kept).  Baskets are great and inexpensive containers for magazines, catalogs, and newspapers.  But, even better, stack them in the garage until you're ready to make a trip to the recycling bin.

If you have musical instruments, they are likely kept in the living room, which means that there's usually sheet music and books to go along with them.  Make sure that you have a container of some sort for music.  you don't need to store every piece of music ever purchased near the piano, just the ones that are played frequently and that are current.  We have a large square basket in the corner of our living room.  It's worked for twenty years.  We call it the scripture basket.  This basket stores scriptures, the hymn book, the children's songbook, and current pieces of music being played.  It contains things well and enhances the room.  Give it a try.  

Nick-nacks, as I call them, are perfectly stored and displayed in the living room.  BUT.  Don't over-accessorize the room with nick-nacks on shelves, tables, or walls.  Remember, that the more you have, the more you have to dust.  If you have a collection of some kind, a wise investment is a hutch of some sort to keep your items safely displayed and it cuts down on the dusting immensely.  Now, I would LOVE something like this.

Right now I don't have a cabinet for my nick-nacks and I've had to throw away a couple of my favorite things because they have ended up broken or have fallen off of things.  I now have the perfect spot for a short cabinet just underneath the old window on my wall.  Time for me to start looking around.  Anyway.....back to what I was talking about.  Where nick-nacks are concerned, less is better.  Trust me.  Less dusting, less worry of things being broken.  This is one of the only issues I have with having so much Christmas is so cluttery!!  (Is that even a word?....cluttery.)

Keep the living room in tip top shape.  Don't have broken furniture and decor in the room.  It doesn't mean that you have to purchase new everything.  Just display your best in the living room.  I love the old HGTV show, what was it called, where they'd do a three minute segment rearranging furniture in a room.  Those ladies would go around the home and pull odds and ends from other parts of the home to make the room look fabulous without spending a dime!  

Keep updated photos in your living room.  With technology today, even old faded photos can be enhanced and reprinted for close to nothing and can be made to look brand new!  And dust your frames!  

Even more important than the bedroom, laundry does not belong in the living room!  Fold your laundry in the laundry room or in another room other than the living room.  I personally cannot handle the heat in our laundry room during our hot Arizona summers.  I would literally die in that room if I tried to fold clothes there.  It just gets to darn hot there!  So, I fold clothes on the kitchen table.  I will also admit, I am guilty of leaving clothes on the backs of chairs in the living room too.  Since our bedroom has pretty much become the "Kevin zone" since his injury, I am a little displaced and really don't have my own space anymore.  I've moved all of my things out of that room so I don't have to disturb him when I need to get ready for work and things.  All of my clothing has been placed on a rolling rack like this. 

Stereos and electronics are commonly found in the living room.  Electronics are dust collectors, for certain, so keep them dusted frequently.  Keep cords and cables behind and hidden as much as possible.  Right now, we don't have a stereo system in our home.  We have iTunes on our laptops or cell phones and use a really nice speaker attachment when we want to play music.  It works great, it's portable, and I don't have a dust collector anymore!  If you do have electronics have a place for the remotes.  If your stereo is in the living room, have an organized system for containing CD's.  If a disc comes out of the stereo, make sure it goes back into the case, then make sure the case goes back into it's place. Piles of CD cases are cluttery.  Contain them.  Here is a tip:  if you do not need the CD cases, invest in one of those CD/DVD book organizers.  Trust me, it is well worth the investment.  I love that it keeps all of our CD's in one place and it cuts down on the clutter.  A friend of mine recently got rid of all of the cases to their CD/DVD's and put them in these book organizers.  She said she had ten large black garbage bags full of just the old cases.  Can you believe that?  Talk about liberating when she got rid of them!  This is one of the CD/DVD book organizer I was talking about.

Arrange the furniture to make it as comfortable as possible for visiting.  Have the seating arranged to allow guests to be facing each other comfortably.  Do not crowd the room with too much furniture.  This can be hard today because furniture is large and most older homes have smaller rooms, mine included.  My room use to be super cluttered.  At least before Kevin had his injury.  I absolutely loved my over-sized coffee table and had big plans to do this awesome stenciled design on the top of it too.  Well, since Kevin is getting around in a wheelchair now I had to do something to make it easier for him to get around and give him space to come into our living room and feel a part of things.  So, the over-sized coffee table had to go.  I miss being able to do my stencil thing, but I don't miss the space it use to take up.  Less is better for sure!  Get rid of broken pieces of furniture, even if it can't be replaced quite yet.  

Make sure that lighting is at it's prime for reading and visiting.  I recently added those two lantern like lamps above my couch and I couldn't be more pleased with the added light in our living room now.  It's been great!  Make sure that plugs and cords are safely out of the way.  Most of the plugs in our living room are tucked nicely behind those four big doors behind my couch.  Love it!  

If shoes come off at the front door for your family, have a receptacle for them, rather than huge piles of shoes tossed everywhere to welcome your guests when they visit.  A large basket near the door will work. (I will admit, our large basket is in the hallway.  Keeping my boys stinky shoes in the living room is never a good idea!  Even the hallway is a bad place when they were playing sports.  AND, I don't keep my own shoes in the same basket their shoes are in.  Mine have their own basket in my bedroom....well, now on my clothing rack.  I've lost too many pairs of shoes by simply putting them in the same basket with the boys shoes.  Trust me, they really need their own.  Just sayin') Also, if coats come off at the door, a coat tree or hooks on the wall would be a wise investment. And last but not least, Just say NO! to backpacks being dropped off at the front door!  This one is a hard one for our home right now.  Especially since the one leaving all of these things at the door comes home in the middle of the night, most of the time, when I'm not up to make them put their things away.  

If you enter more often through your front door, a hall table or secretary would be a wise investment for depositing mail and keys as you walk in the door.  Never place your keys anyplace but in that container, so that you don't waste precious time looking for them.  I would also suggest not keeping the table and container right near the door where someone standing at your door can see them or grab them.  Make sure they are in a large enough container that you cannot see the contents from the door, and keep them out of arms length from the door as well.  It's for your own safety.  You wouldn't want a stranger standing at your door to grab your car and house keys.  Then they would have access to your vehicles and even your home.  Trust me.  After your home has been broken into twice like ours has, you start to think about things like this.  Protect yourself!

Again, clear away magazine and books, frequently.  If you have a bookshelf in the living room, dust it regularly and make sure that it doesn't become a collection spot for other "stuff".

If you have books in the living room (which it's a great place to read, so why wouldn't you?), then have a contained and designated spot for them.  Whether it's a book basket or a bookshelf, keep them together.  The book basket is a great idea for families who frequent the library.  Store all library borrowed books in the basket and when it's time to go, you won't be searching the house for them.  The library basket has saved us a ton on overdue fees just by having a central location to keep library books.  I can't tell you how many times we ended up paying the overdue fees when we didn't have one.  Right now, we have most of the books we read in the hallway because there are built in book cases there.  I love them!  

Keep batteries in clocks!  A lot of us are clock collectors these days.  I love clocks and have clocks everywhere as decor.  If you have clocks, keep them running.  

If you have a mantel, use it as the focal point in the room, not a gathering place for junk.  Don't overload it with a ton of decor.  Don't store keys, batteries, mail, or little tools on it.  It's not a catch-all.  Keep it simple and easy to dust.  
Can I be frank?  I did a complete overhaul of my mantel and my sofa table.  I changed up the wall hanging above the mantel and added this dark barn door thing and then put my large clock and attached it to the barn door thing.  I have to say I love it there.  Eventually I'd like to get rid of these two lamps and maybe add a couple sconces, one for either side of the clock, but for now this works.  I still think there is a bit to much clutter on the table and even the mantel, but we are working on it. 

So, here is my mantel and sofa table before I dejunked everything.  This was the catch all in our home.  My family, myself included, likes to drop things here and this is where they stay, you can obviously tell.  That picture frame is going to be hung in my dining room with a large tray in the middle.  I can't wait to show you my plans for the tray.  I found this cute little quote that I thought was perfect.   More to come on that later.
Dust your blinds or shutters.  We have shutters in this home right now, and I think I would prefer blinds.  Shutters are just a pain. I love the large shutters and they look really cool from the outside of a house, but I'm not to keen on the ones we have. Just saying. Vacuum behind your curtains.  It's amazing to me how the spiders just know this is a safe place for their webs!  Wash living room curtains, if they're fingerprinted and need it.  I try to wash mine every few months as a general rule.  Wash your window sills.  Clean the windows.  Of all the windows in the house, this one should be the cleanest.  

Clean under the seat cushions of your furniture.  After you celebrate all the things that you find, vacuum the inside of chairs and couches before replacing the cushions.

Dust and clean lampshades, ceiling fan blades and clean all light switches.  This is the lampshade I had on that tall lamp I mentioned before.  It looks cute on my table lamp, doesn't it?!  I love it!  

As you can tell, my home is NOT the Taj Mahal by any means.  In fact, it's very simple and a mix of a lot of different things.  BUT, it's what we have and what I like.  AND.  I'm not a perfect house cleaner.  It gets cluttered as you have seen.  It is a constant battle for us and with the two dogs, it can be down right frustrating at times.  It seems the one dog is always looking for and finding something to tear apart.  It drives me nuts.  Again.  These organizing and cleaning tips are just some of the successes we have experienced in our living room.  I hope that they can benefit you as well!  Life is most certainly good!  

Today was P-day for our missionary.  He did something a bit different today and sent videos instead of a letter or email.  There are two of them.  The first one is of Elder Schmidt.  The second one....well, it's will explain itself.   Enjoy.

This is Paul.....

Kevin is still pretty weak and a little more loopy than I care for.  In fact, he just came out and went to the bathroom in our guest bathroom and when he was done he came out to talk to me for a minute.  About half way through what he was saying he fell asleep and his head tilted back and he was out.  This is how things start with him.  When he can't stay awake and has trouble speaking or concentrating, that's my queue to get him into the hospital.  I woke him up immediately and he didn't have any trouble waking up.  So, I will be watching him through the night very closely.  If anything funky happens he will be going back to the hospital.  I'm hoping he will be okay and nothing happens.  We need our husband and Dad to be healthy and well.  We love him and don't want him sick.  Well, I should get going.  Take care my friends and we will talk again soon.

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