Life at home is anything but normal these days. Most of us have been cooped up at home, feeling more distracted than ever. Some days it feels like a blessing, as if God hit the reset button just for us and we finally have time to breathe and regroup.
Other days we just wander around the house aimlessly, distracted by the news and conflicting reports on how to stay safe. Between homeschooling and work-from-home the day is gone before we know it. Focusing on anything is hard.
Now that we’re spending so much time at home, suddenly we see our spaces with new eyes, and we’re definitely focusing on it. After weeks of staring at the same walls, sitting on the same sofa, and prepping meals on the same island that became your home office and home school, we long to make some changes.
Clients are telling me they’re finally ready to update their bathroom, change wall colors, or buy new furniture. Here in our house, we’re working on all the projects that we’ve been putting off. For years I felt the porch was too dark. It was all I thought about when I sat out there. So the project of the week was painting the porch! It’s funny how such a simple change like paint color can bring peace of mind.
Keeping life simple so we can enjoy it more is a lifestyle choice that’s becoming more accepted. Do you ever wish you had more room for fun and joy in your life? I know I do! After all the tension, uncertainty, and distractions simplicity at home is a good place to start.
After thinking about what I really want, (and the list was long) I narrowed it down to these 5 Important Action Steps to Simplify Your Life at Home…
Action Step #1: Re-evaluate Your Stuff
Too many possessions will complicate your life and lead to clutter. Living in a cluttered space drains our energy, our attention, even our bank accounts. And who wants that? Have you ever spent time organizing the clutter and all of your stuff, only to find that after a week, it’s a mess again and you can’t find anything?
Do you have a closet filled with clothes from 10 years ago? A pantry filled with expired food? Five sets of dishes? Instead, think about what you really value in life and start to live a life based that.
Right now, I value being active outside. I no longer want a lot of stuff that I need to dust or maintain. And that includes house plants, books, and nic-nacs. Slowly these things are going to new homes.
Action Step #2: Look at Your Time Commitments
Review your list of values and set priorities. Then use your Best YES (and your Best NO) to help you decide what is good for you and your family. You can start bringing joy into your life by doing the activities you actually love doing (gardening, being creative, relationships with family and friends, etc.). The things that no longer serve you can be off your plate!
Action Step #3: Focus on Your Goals
As women, we love to be people-pleasers and over achievers. Can you relate? We set all these goals for different areas of our lives and think we need to work on all of them at the same time. This is crazy, and a recipe for a mental explosion! You want to be homeschooling Mom of the Year, lose weight, decorate your house by yourself so everyone has their own “work space”, plant the garden…The list goes on.
Take a deep breath and know that there’s a better way. And that is called FOCUS. I like to make a brain dump of all the things I want/need to accomplish. Then I’ve learned to choose one important goal for each area of my my life: personal, home, and work. Once a goal is completed, I can move on to the next one.
Mentally release the rest of the list for now. And don’t beat yourself up with negative thoughts if you fall off the wagon and binge eat or stop a project for a day or two. Just focus on your ONE THING again until it’s done.
Action Step #4: Eliminate artificial and toxic ingredients
Eating clean, intermittent fasting, plant based are all the internet talks about these days. We work so hard at it. Somehow we forget that just as we watch what goes into our bodies, it’s equally important to watch the ingredients in our cleaning products, our skin care products, and our makeup.
My journey began with the simple need to find a product for my clients that would clean granite counters and stainless appliances without leaving a “greasy” residue. Chemical cleaning sprays began bothering my breathing, so I switched to “clean”. And now unexplained skin issues have made me start looking at the chemicals in skin care products and makeup.
Do yourself a favor and start checking ALL labels. Not just on food.
If you want to learn more about clean beauty, visit my website: www.beautycounter.com/randidestefano
Action Step #5: Stop Multi-tasking
Have you ever caught yourself checking emails, watching TV and trying to carry on a conversation with your kids? Chaos, right? And nobody likes feeling stressed from doing too many things at one time. Just like focusing on one goal at a time leads to success, working on one task at a time has the same effect. Being focused on one thing at a time allows you to do your best work, and no one feels like you’re not paying attention to them.
“Simplifying your life will bring balance, freedom, and joy. When we begin to live simply and experience these benefits, we begin to ask the next question, Where else in my life can I remove distraction and simplify life to focus on the essentials?” – Joshua Becker-
To learn more ways to Simplify Life at home, follow my Instagram page: www.instagram.com/simplifylife.randi
And my Facebook group: Simplify Life
I have to admit that Fall is my favorite time of year. Why do I love it? Because, finally the temperatures begin to cool down and the leaves change to vibrant gold, orange, and red. I love spending time on the porch having a glass of wine with my husband in the evening, enjoying our tree house view that changes daily with different colors. But most of all, I love entertaining and creating Fall table settings that set the mood for the evening.
The moods you create can be endless…completely your choice! One mood might be warm and cozy like the table setting above. I loved it the minute I discovered it on One Kings Lane. The swag draped down the center with glowing candles and fresh flowers make me want to pull up a chair and sit there all evening!
Have you ever gone to a dinner party at a friend’s home and they’ve really taken the time to create a beautiful table setting? How does it make you feel? I hope that it makes you feel as if you’ve entered a special place that welcomes you, because they want you to feel special.
Remember that you don’t have to hire a professional floral designer to create it for you when it’s so easy and so much fun. But there are a few things you need to keep in mind if you want to learn how to do it yourself.
MOOD: Do you want your dinner party to be formal or casual, rustic or festive, simple or elaborate? The food that you plan to serve for the evening may be the deciding factor. Don’t you love how the rustic setting above uses food in fall colors as part of the setting? Even the use of fresh herbs in a vase adds to its farm-to-table appeal. But I especially love how this table setting makes me want to sit down with friends, share a delicious meal, and have great conversations.
The table setting below, shared from BHG, takes the opposite approach from the traditional settings above. I call this “opposites attract” with its use of the sky blue tablecloth pared with a simple arrangement of autumn leaves. Doesn’t it make you feel a little more festive and ready to party?
FOCAL POINT: It’s important to have a focal point to your table. And it’s a lot more fun to ditch the traditional floral arrangement to be a little more creative. That’s right! It’s time to think outside the box. Take a walk in the woods. Shop your pantry and cabinets. Stretch your imagination!!!
Keep placement in mind when you create your focal point. Remember that guests like to see your face when they’re talking with you. Arrangements that are too high or too wide are beautiful to look at when you enter the space, but not so practical during dinner.
INDOORS OR OUT: When the weather is beautiful and the air is crisp, it’s nice to have the option of setting your table outdoors. My friend, Donna, has a lovely front porch that’s perfect for a long table to fill with friends. Tom and I love serving cocktails and appetizers on our porch since the table there is too small for a large dinner crowd. But that doesn’t stop me from creating a Fall table setting that sets the mood for the evening!
Each time I see this Southern Living outdoor dining space, my heart sings! I love the lights, the pots filled with mums and grasses, and the rustic setting. What a fun way to spend an evening with friends!
In the end, when all is said and done, the table you set and the food you serve is never as important as the people who share the table with you. Remember that life is about the moments spent with people you love, the laughter shared around the table, and the memories you create when you’re together. Happy Decorating!!!!
I want you imagine, just for a moment…that your kitchen is not just a place where meals are made and dishes are washed. It’s a place where memories are made.
What would it be like…if instead of running to close the door to your kitchen when friends stopped by, you couldn’t wait to show them the best room in your house? A room that’s the heart of your home, where people WANT to congregate. A room where everyone is always laughing and happy. A room where you’re proud to entertain family and friends. Does this sound like the kitchen you have right now?
Everyone who’s ever hosted a gathering in their home can tell you, that no matter the size or shape, your kitchen is ALWAYS going to be the place to hang out. And in some kitchens it can become pretty crowded…and warm! So what allows one kitchen to pull off the perfect gathering while others just don’t work as well? Here are a few ideas to get you thinking about creating a kitchen that is truly the heart of the home, the “center of everything”.
A Heart of the Home Kitchen might have:
1.An open flow into the family room or dining room
2. Island for prepping and serving food, especially during a party
3. Stools at the island
4. Enough walk space between cabinets and/or island (36”-48”)
5. Homework space for the kids
6. A place to sit and have a conversation
7. Uncluttered spaces: a place for everything
8. A message center for charging devices and message taking
9. A place to feed pets
10. Medicine storage
11. Table space for eating, talking, or playing games
12. A prep sink so others can help with meals
13. A desk for paying bills, searching for recipes, collecting purses and keys
Your Design Homework:
- Using the list above, check off the items that you already have in place in your kitchen.
- Of the items you don’t have, ask yourself if they’re really important to you.
- If they are, make a plan to include them in your next home makeover project. Remember that some items on the list can serve more than one purpose…a table can serve you for eating meals, doing homework, having coffee with friends, etc.
Though some items on the list might require a higher budget than others, remember that you can start from where you are with the little things. When you’re happy and excited to entertain family and friends, and your home reflects your personality, your enthusiasm will carry over and memories will be made.
Have you noticed that kitchens are not just for cooking meals or washing dishes these days? They’ve become the heart of the home, command central, and the place where everyone wants to hang out.
For those of us in the Sandwich Generation, with grandchildren, adult children and elderly parents visiting on a regular basis, a one-size-fits-all type of kitchen doesn’t always serve everyone. When that happens, it’s time to take a look at the details that can make life a little easier for everyone.
Whether you’re planning a kitchen remodel or a simple kitchen make over, the details make all the difference in how comfortable you and your guests will be while you’re cooking, playing, or working.
- Room to easily move around. In the kitchen above, the space between the sink cabinet and the island is 42”. The National Kitchen and Bath Association has set 36”-48” as the standard distance to use when planning your kitchen. I like to think of a 36” space as a “one butt” kitchen…only one person can pass at a time. At 42”, two people can work comfortably, but 45” would be better. Now think about your family. Is someone using a walker or a wheelchair? Even if it’s temporary, they’ll need a little extra space to maneuver.
- Rugs. I love to soften the look in my kitchen by adding accent rugs at the sink and cooktop. But, unfortunately, they can become an accident waiting to happen. Be sure to use a rug pad to keep them from sliding…or don’t use them at all.
- Think of the little ones. If your grandchildren are like mine, they love to help out in the kitchen. A little detail that I’ve discovered to make everyone happy is a step stool. They can easily do it themselves (which is a HUGE thing to a 2 year old), and they now feel like they’re part of the cooking crew. Another little detail with big safety features are cabinet locks to keep the toddlers away from cleaning supplies and things that can hurt them.
- Lots of good lighting. This includes all the natural light you can get from windows. After that, I like to make sure that there is at least one recessed can at every work station for direct task lighting. Next, is the ambient lighting provided by island pendants. And last is the light provided by under cabinet lighting. Be sure to either put them on dimmers or have separate switches for different areas.
- Use levers instead of knobs. Levers aren’t just for our arthritic hands. Think mom-holding-a-toddler or yourself trying to open the pantry with an arm full of groceries. What would make life easier? A door lever that we can operate with our elbows.
- Bye-Bye stationary shelves. Adding roll-out shelves to your base cabinets and tall pantry cabinets will make your life SO MUCH EASIER!!!
- Faucets. Single handle faucets with pull-down sprays have been around for a while. But the latest faucet technology includes motion sensors so you can work hands-free.
- Heights matter. When making plans for your dream kitchen remodel or make over take the time to consider the heights of your major appliances, especially the microwave. When it’s too high, remember that for some people, it could be a problem. Have you ever tried to pull a bowl out of the microwave and forgotten that the bowl might be hot? You drop it, or even worse, spill the contents…and you get burned. Think about this happening to a child or your elderly mother. My least favorite location for a microwave is over the cooktop. I realize that many of you may have this configuration in your own home (we had it in our townhouse). But when you finally get to plan your dream kitchen, try to avoid this. Maybe select a microwave drawer.
- Other important dimensions to make life easier.
- Your Design Homework for this week:Compare these dimensions with your own kitchen.
- From the list above, make a list of the little details you can add to your own kitchen that will make life a little easier for everyone you love.
Well, it finally happened! The need for me to put into practice what I’ve been helping my clients to do for the last few years. Unfortunately, it’s too late. Are you wondering what I’m talking about? Let me tell you my story………..
Once upon a time a young, healthy Boomer couple purchased a three-story townhouse. They loved their spacious new home. But knowing they wouldn’t live in it forever, they chose not to modify it. After all, they were relatively active. The stairs were no problem. They were good exercise!
Then one day the husband could no longer tolerate the pain in his knee. Walking had become unbearable, which meant no sight seeing on vacations. Once he decided to have his knee replaced, the questions began. Where would he sleep and bathe and live during his rehab? “Of course,” they said,”the lower level is perfect! It has a bedroom, a bathroom, a family room, and the ever important TV and recliner.”
But when he returned home from the hospital reality set in for everyone. The walker he required could only fit sideways through the bathroom door. The bath tub had a sliding glass door, no grab bar, and no hand-held shower. The floors were high gloss ceramic tile, and the toilet was too low for the knee that couldn’t bend.
This made the wife worry that he would fall. His world shrank, and he became dependent on others to bring him everything he needed. While the wife was being “nurse”she began noticing other areas of the house that should be changed to make life easier for her husband. Wider doorways into every room, roll out trays in all the cabinets, smooth flooring to move the walker easily. So many changes needed for one unexpected surgery. If they had only thought ahead when they bought the house, or made the changes when they moved in, they wouldn’t be facing these challenges today. Oh how they wished they had been proactive!
The moral to the story: Life is full of changes, and our environment affects our life. Think of areas in your home that could be changed to make life easier for someone else. Universal design doesn’t only apply to the elderly or physically challenged. When you lower a vanity cabinet so your small daughter can wash her own hands, brush her own teeth, and learn independence, that’s universal design at work. And when you add more lights to your kitchen because your eyes aren’t as sharp as they once were, that’s universal design.
Basically, Universal Design is changing lives, one room at a time, and allowing us all to age gracefully in this place we call home.