As seen in a recent Houzz survey, our homes really do make us happy — especially when they are inviting. And with spring here, this feels like a natural time to refresh and renew our surroundings. Of course, if you’re anything like me, wanting a cleaner, clearer home does not necessarily mean you want to actually put in the effort (ripping yourself away from Game of Thrones, say) to make it happen.
A room-by-room effort can make it easier to commit to the task. In each ideabook of this series, we will cover one seven-day plan to clean and declutter a single, different room. If you follow along, your entire house will be clean and clutter free by the end.
We’ll begin in the living room.
Make a plan of attack. Days one and two require the most time, so plan to start on a weekend. The rest of the tasks can be done during the week if you can spare a half hour in the evenings, although you may need to spread them out over several days, depending on the size of your space and how much decluttering you have to do.
Day 1: Deal with dust.
Cleaning tasks: If you have a good vacuum with attachments, that’s the fastest and easiest way to banish dust in the living room. There’s no denying this is a lot of work, so consider this your official excuse to skip the gym today!
Vacuum the room from top to bottom, starting with cobwebs on the ceiling and working your way down to the floor.
Window treatments like blinds and shades can be vacuumed using an attachment.
If your curtains are washable, take them down and toss them in the wash on the gentlest cycle.
Vacuum or dust light fixtures, the tops of bookcases, picture frames and the mantel.
Decluttering tasks: Remove anything that does not belong in the room — other people’s stuff, dishes from the kitchen, stray socks etc. — and return them to their rightful places.
Day 2: Clear the floors.
Cleaning tasks: Fresh rugs and clean, open floors make a huge difference in the way a room looks and feels. Drop off area rugs to be cleaned, schedule a steam cleaner for carpeting if needed, and mop or polish hardwood floors.
Decluttering tasks: Pick up everything off the floor, including in sneaky places like beneath the couch, coffee table and radiator covers.
Day 3: Bust bookcase clutter.
Decluttering tasks: The big task for today is to organize and edit the bookcase and media cabinet. Your goal, should you choose to accept it, is to pare back the contents of your shelving to the point where everything fits with room to spare. Having extra wiggle room on each shelf means your space won’t be overstuffed again the moment you bring home a new book or movie.
A note for parents: Giving a few baskets or bins of toys a permanent home in the living room makes for easier cleanup. Rotate the toys with a new selection from your child’s room every few weeks to keep it interesting.
Day 4: Make it sparkle and shine.
Cleaning tasks: Clean mirrors and windows. If your living room is on the ground floor and the windows are easy to access, go outside and clean the exterior of your living room windows, too. If you have a glass coffee table or glass shelving, today is the day to get it gleaming.
Day 5: Spruce up furniture.
Cleaning tasks: Spot clean and vacuum upholstered furniture; launder soft furnishings, such as removable cushion covers and throw blankets; and treat wood furniture as needed.
Decluttering tasks: Remove any toss pillows and blankets that are past their prime.
Day 6: Use some styling tricks.
With the major cleaning done and the clutter gone, it’s time to give your room polish.
Pull seating a bit closer together.
Revive potted plants by trimming off dead leaves and pulling them out from dark corners where they may not be getting enough light.
Refresh your mantel by removing decor you are tired of and rearranging what’s left.
Place a stack of books and a few small objects on your coffee table.
Stack some books on your bookcase horizontally.
Day 7 and beyond: Do daily maintenance.
Keep your living room looking great by committing to a few simple daily maintenance tasks.
Do “go backs” at the end of each evening, returning things that belong in other rooms to their rightful homes.
Practice a one-in, one-out policy. If you get a new book, movie or throw pillow, choose an old one to let go of.