Lifestyle

At Home: Lessons learned in another year of renovation | Lifestyle

We covered a lot in 2022. We delved into the worlds of professional organizing, living solo, robots, crafting and flatware. And that was in the first six months. Today, as I do every year, I’m circling back and pulling my favorite takeaways to recap our home-life journey. Here are highlights from the first half of the year:

In January, I got more organized. After interviewing organizing professionals and their clients, I kept thinking: I want an organizer to come to my house! But I was too embarrassed to ask. After all, aren’t I supposed to be an expert? Then one organizer whispered, “Here’s the dirty little secret: Professional organizers hire professional organizers.” Of course! Doctors need doctors, right? Lawyers need lawyers. So why wouldn’t I hire a professional organizer?

Lesson: Even if you don’t have too much stuff, you can still have it in the wrong place. A trained organizer can make your space work better, help you get rid of stuff you’ve secretly been wanting to get rid of but needed a push, and help you see what you’ve stopped seeing.

In February, I spoke out on behalf of the 36 million singles out there who make up households of one. Many thanked me for sharing this message: “Don’t feel sorry for us. We’re happy living on our own.” Today 28% of U.S. households are made of one person.

“The rise of people who want to live alone is one of the most significant demographic trends of recent decades. The rest of society needs to catch up,” said social scientist Bella DePaulo, who is single by choice and lives alone.

Lesson: Cancel the pity party. On behalf of the single at heart, DePaulo busted the following myths: People who live alone must be lonely … wish they didn’t … are somehow incomplete … are looking for that special someone. “We’re fine,” she said. “We’re happy at home!”

In March, we brought crafts out of the closet. Studies showed that the pandemic gave many closet artists and crafters license to pursue their inner Marthas. As a society, we went from wringing our hands to wringing tie-dye T-shirts and from knitting our eyebrows to knitting afghans. Crafting helped us pass time in isolation, took our minds off our worries, made our homes look better and, for the truly enterprising, brought in some dough.

Lesson: Whether you pursue art full time or just dabble on the weekends, make room for it in your home. If your only creative workspace is the top of the washing machine, your art won’t flourish. The ideal workspace should have a big flat table, ample storage, good light, a vision board, everything you need at hand and, ideally, a door.

In April, we added a new family member — Rosie, the robot. To tackle a “fur-strating” issue, we got a Roomba. The robot vacuum roams the house like a motorized frisbee on wheels. Twice a week, Rosie cleans up after our large shedding dog. Yes, I know some worry about having this artificial intelligence that is tapped into your Wi-Fi, has a camera, has mapped your house, is owned by Amazon and has intimate knowledge of your domestic dirt. But, for me, living with less fur is worth giving up a little privacy.

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Lesson: Today, 53% of U.S. households have a dog and 36% have a cat. That’s a lot of fur. Seven months later, I can say that getting a Roomba was one of the best home-related tech investments I made all year.

In May, I used Mother’s Day as an excuse to dish out even more unsolicited advice than usual. As the mom of two, stepmom of three, “glamma” to five and a lifestyle columnist, handing out unwanted opinions is my job, so I exploited this holiday to do just that.

Lesson: As I doled out motherly advice regarding life, love, work and what to wear, I realized how much of it also applied to home design. Here are two examples:

• They can’t win if you don’t play. The comparison game is a cancer. Compete where it counts, in school or sports, but not where it doesn’t. Make your home beautiful for you and those you live with, not to impress anyone else.

• You can wear short, you can wear low and you can wear tight. But you can’t wear it all at the same time. Pick one. In home design, when everything in a room says look at me, the room loses its allure.

In June, I discovered I had half as many forks and spoons as knives. What happened? “Forks and spoons get lost to trash cans, lunch sacks, picnics and camping trips,” said Greg Owens, co-owner of Sherrill Manufacturing, the last remaining maker of flatware in the U.S. “Apart from what you may have filched from the college cafeteria, flatware is one of those purchases you typically only make twice in your life.”

Choosing well is important. Most of us put this common household utensil into our mouths 40 times a day. Now that I was about to buy flatware a second and final time, I wanted to get this right so I dug in to find out what makes the cutlery cut.

Lesson: Try it before you buy it. My husband and I ordered samples of four different place settings and began a fork-to-fork competition. We wanted flatware that was pleasant to hold with good weight and contours, that was strong enough so spoons wouldn’t bend in hard ice cream, that looked good next to our dishes, and, most challenging, that we both agreed on. Now we’re trying not to lose any.

Marni Jameson is the author of six home and lifestyle books, including “What to Do With Everything You Own to Leave the Legacy You Want,” “Downsizing the Family Home – What to Save, What to Let Go” and “Downsizing the Blended Home – When Two Households Become One.” Reach her at marnijameson.com.


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