month of cleaning: bedroom

February 02, 2022






"Your home should serve you well, you shouldn't be serving your home." I'm paraphrasing it, but I think I've got the gist of it. When I read that a few years ago, it really resonated with me. I'm a dedicated homebody, but I don't want to be a slave to my home even though I don't mind hard work.  As you most likely know, I've already decluttered, and now I'm going room to room deep cleaning. I am mindful that Pinterest and Instagram has raised our expectations for what our pantries, closets and cupboards should look like, but to me, those pantries not only look unreal and unattainable, but must be impossible to maintain and super expensive to create. I use free organizers such as shoe boxes and also some purchased items, but nothing is Pinterest worthy because my end goal is to have a functional home; a home that we love to be in, that only has things that we use and love, and where every one of these things has a place to go at the end of the day. Lastly, everything must be easily accessible. Does this seem doable to you? Yes? Me too! I've already started and I'm so happy with my progress. My first rooms to clean were the master bedroom, our closets and bathroom. That took several weeks to complete because I got sidetracked, had a few mishaps, and found a world of spiders. 


Master Bedroom Day One: I took down the drapes and pictures and moved all the furniture to the center of the room to dust down the walls (I used a dry microfiber cloth attached to a long handled mop), wipe baseboards, etc. I then took everything out of the drawer cabinets including the drawers and washed down the insides, outsides and underside of the drawers with a microfiber cloth and hot soapy water. I then practically crawled inside the cabinet shell and wiped down every surface. I've never done that before and it was dirty in there. Next I turned it upside down and shrieked. Maybe you heard me? Friends, there were spiders; live spiders, spider carcasses, dusty webs, and spider cocoons. It was terrifying, but what else can one do but vacuum them up and wipe it down and go on the the next piece of furniture.  Sadly, same spider story. That was enough for my first day but that horrifying experience made me resolve to disembowel every piece of furniture in my house. Spiders be gone is my mantra. FYI, the cleaning solution I use for almost everything is hot water, a splash of Mr. Clean and several drops of Dawn. It's very diluted but with a microfiber cloth it will really get the grime off.



First mishap: I accidentally retired the silk Pottery Barn drapes. I normally have them dry cleaned every few years and they were due, but the cost has always annoyed me, so I took a chance and washed them in the machine and hung them to dry. They shrunk and I didn't care. (They are now in my sewing room waiting to be dyed lime green or hot pink and turned into tablecloths and napkins. Won't that be fun for summer?) I found inexpensive cotton buffalo check drapes online at Macy's for a good price and I'm happy, but it also prompted me to buy new pillow covers too. Everything else in the room is a leftover from another room in the house. It's never really been "decorated" but the room is pretty enough and we like the way it functions. We also love that it's roomy and that it has large picture windows that face our back garden. As a side note, I line the drawers in my entire house with white craft paper. I dislike sticky contact paper or any textured liner and find that kraft paper stays put and is easily replaced when needed. One roll will last for years.



Now for something nice: During the pandemic I became obsessed with nail polish.  Some people made sourdough, I perfected my manicure skills. My daughter introduced me to Static Nail Lacquer and I'm hooked. I love the colors and the application brush and love that my manicure will last for minimum one week. It outlasts every polish I've tried so I invested in my favorite nudes. I keep the nail polish in a drawer in my bedside table. I paint my nails in bed, right before bedtime. On manicure night, I fall asleep with my fingers interlaced across my chest and by the time I'm asleep (and probably tossing and turning) my nails are dry and I wake up with no smudges. Until recently I kept my collection in a shoebox but couldn't easily find what I wanted. I treated myself to this lucite nail polish organizer. Love it and don't know why I waited so long to have it in my life!


The manicure above is five days old, still looking good, and I'm hard on my nails! One last thing I want to share is that I take collagen every day. I started two years ago and my nails and hair have become so much stronger. My hair stylist cannot believe the change in my hair saying she has never seen it so healthy. My nails used to split and peel, but now they are flexible, strong and don't peel. I can only attribute it to collagen. I use Vital Proteins and recommend it to all my friends. It is odorless and tasteless and I put one heaping spoon in my morning coffee.


Now let's go on to the drawers in the bedroom. After lining with white kraft paper it was time to prune a bit before replacing the items. I'd love to always follow the rule, if you have to buy stuff to organize your stuff then you have too much stuff, but this is my real life, and I have stuff so I still treated myself to these organizers meant just for lingerie. Left to right, 16 cell organizerbra organizer, 24 cell organizer. Love them and would have bought them sooner but never knew they existed.

Bathroom: In the bathroom I have a little trick to help me from overbuying. I store shampoo, lotion, contact solution, etc., in plastic bins in drawers--no backups hidden elsewhere. I cannot purchase another item until there is room to store it in its designated place. This helps to keep me from loading up at Costco or getting excited over a sale at the drugstore. If it won't fit into the bin then I can't bring it home. As for make-up, I've finally realized that I don't enjoy experimenting. By looking at my nail polish collection you'd think I have a lot of makeup too, but no, I have one lipstick, one powder, one blush, one brow color, one eye shadow and one mascara and I love them. My makeup routine is pretty simple and when I have introduced something new to my routine I end up tossing it and regretting the money spent. Makeup and facial lotions spoil with bacteria growth in a matter of months after opening, and keeping that nugget of information in the back of my mind is another deterrent to having too much product in the bathroom. At first this kind of thing takes will power, but as with every good habit, it gets easier with time. 

My closets were next. They were in fairly good shape as I keep them up by following the one-in, one-out rule. I snapped this picture to prove that my closets aren't even close to be insta beautiful, but they are easy to maintain because everything has a place. I have room for these shoes and no more. Having a defined space for like items, and not allowing items to creep into other spaces, keeps me from thinking I need more. To keep boots upright I bought shelf dividers. I initially bought them for sweaters but think the solid lucite dividers would best for that application. 


To maximize space and keep my tees together in one spot, I use a hanging closet rod.



I'm up for any suggestions on how to keep a massive sweater collection tidy and accessible. This is my latest configuration and so far is working out best. I stood plastic boxes on their bottoms and stacked my sweaters inside by style. My summer sweaters are in my mother's cedar hope chest that sits at the foot of our bed. I'll rotate them when the warm weather comes back.

What was keeping my closets from being their best were the things in the closet that didn't belong. I only wanted to have clothes and shoes in my closets. Still, I had plenty of things in there that belonged elsewhere, like two file cabinets filled with unnecessary papers I was too lazy to go through, paintings we no longer hang because we don't like them, a box of photos I was dreading organizing, and more. And this is exactly how I got sidetracked. I vowed to find new homes for these things before I could go on, and this opened up a new can of worms.

Getting rid of excess paper was moved to the top of my must-do list. Paper is an expensive and time consuming way to save information. We had 7 messy drawers of paper that we never accessed; could it be we didn't need 90% of it? And how exactly does one sift through a mountain of paper? Well, just like you'd eat an elephant, one bite at a time. There was no easy way out. My husband wheeled the file cabinets into the living room and I spent an hour unloading them, file by file, placing piles all over the living room. What you don't see in the picture below is that behind me are piles on the bar, the dining room table and more piles on the round table. After emptying I donated both cabinets to get them out of the house. My goal was to turn seven file drawers of papers into two. I'm not ready to go paperless yet, but if that is your end goal, there is a lot of information online about that subject.  For the last two weeks, once or twice a day, I set a timer, sometimes for an hour but often 15 minutes was all I could handle. I put a pile on my lap and one by one looked at each paper and decided to either save, recycle, or shred




I recycled every user manual, schedule, and menu; you can access all that information online.

I recycled anything that was outdated such as warranties and phone lists.

I kept tax records for the recent 7 years and shredded the rest.

I kept one year of receipts, bank statements, utility and credit card statements and shredded the rest.

I shredded outdated wills and estate planning information and kept the most current. 

I filled manilla envelopes with sentimental papers, giving each family member their own envelope(s). My own sentimental papers were pruned at this time, but I'm going to hand over the other envelopes to each recipient and let them decide what they want to keep. 

I kept diplomas, deeds, birth, death, marriage and divorce records. Medical information was tricky. I made a file for my husband and a file for me. I'm in the process of getting all that in order, shredding any duplicates and unnecessary information, and organizing the rest and figuring out what to save as so much current information is online, including medical.

The files are still a work in progress but I've made great headway and I will have no problem keeping our papers to the two file drawers in our desk. Moving forward, I'm going to think twice before I save a piece of paper and vow to maintain my files monthly. Also, most of my monthly bills these days are sent to me electronically avoiding the paper in the first place.

As an aside, I fell in love with this Police ID Roller. I've given it as gifts and finally gave one to myself. To avoid future shredding, I roll over the sensitive information and then place in the recycling. I hate owning a shredder and it's expensive to take a stack of papers to a professional for shredding. No more shredding in my future!

I hope this post encourages you to take on those big and little jobs that will make your home better serve you. I'd love to hear about what you're tackling at the moment. Any triumphs you'd like to share? As for me, I've done quite a bit more and feel I'm about half done. If this post gets a good response I'll write another post to share what's going on in the rest of the house.

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37 Comments

  1. Very helpful! I am going to try the nail polish, the collagen and the homemade liquid cleanup solution. Thank you!

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    Replies
    1. Thank you. I love cleaning tips too and am up for learning anything that will make cleaning more efficient. I have more tips coming up!

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  2. What are your favorite shades of the nail lacquer?

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    Replies
    1. Oh my. You asked for it. I have so many
      If you like white, Coco is beautiful. It's a pale Ivory.
      If you like gray, Ever so Mod is gorgeous. A medium grey is Bohemian Blue. It has a hint of blue.
      I'm wearing Irene in the picture and is the one I probably wear most.
      I usually wear neutrals and I love Toasted Sugar, as close to brown as I'll wear.
      Fetish is a pale neutral pink.
      Creme Brulee is a paler version of Irene.
      You Make Me Blush is a neutral with pink.
      Another white that has a hint of lavender is Earl Grey.
      I went crazy and bought a rose gold and a silver and I wear them too! You can see I'm totally fickle but it's been a lot of fun for me. I bought the sampler colors so I had a lot to try out. They have beautiful sheers too. Hope I didn't scramble your brain!

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  3. There were >3 tips that I plan to implement at my home. I like the idea of pacing myself & will set a timer. I had never heard of a Police ID and plan to persuade my husband that we need one! :)

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    1. Well, I took my last batch of paper to the shredding place we have in town and from now forward I'm using the ID Roller. I've really been liking it but didn't see myself going through a huge bad of stuff. If I maintain it monthly it will be a since.

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  4. Police ID roller. Check!
    Oh Kristen... you have re-motivated me! We are in the process of moving back to the US after five years in Saudi Arabia where I managed to collect a LOT of ...stuff. The hubby is bringing dogs and four giant cases of contents of drawers and closets to me this weekend. I am absolutely dreading receiving those cases. I traveled ahead of him and am overwhelmed with all the clothes and shoes we have accumulated back here at the house. This may well be the longest ongoing purge of all times!
    We have a smallish home (1485 sq ft) but it’s comfortable since it’s only the two of us (and four small dogs) I think starting in the master is definitely how I will tackle this project. Thanks for all the great advice Keep it coming!

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    Replies
    1. What an adventure you've had! I envy you that, but not the job ahead of you. Set a timer and take your time. Pretend it's not there when you're not working on it. It will be done before you know it! (I hope!)

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  5. Fabulous, are your cleaning tips!
    Wish I had your energy! Really enjoy your posts!
    Margie

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  6. I have been reading for years and years And an finally commenting as I’d hate to not hear to end of the story!!! I love hearing how you are organizing.

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  7. I love the buffalo check drapes and can't wait to see the tablecloths and napkins you make out of the old drapes. Your bedroom looks terrific, as do the drawer dividers and the stacked sweaters. What do you eat that gives you so much energy? Carole

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    Replies
    1. LOL! Yes, next time you come over you have a free ticket to open any drawer and poke around, I just hope you don't come across any spiders!

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  8. Oops, forgot to tell you I ordered the Police ID roller. Thanks for the tip.
    Carole

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    Replies
    1. Yeah, you need it, we all need it, and you'll use it. So easy to remember.

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  9. I'm exhausted just reading this. Good for you! I might do one tiny room
    in your honor. LOL
    I love the height and look of the dressers next to your bed. Any idea
    where I might look for something similar? I want to replace my Bombay
    chests... that height works so nicely next to the bed. Thanks, Christie

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    Replies
    1. LOL. Those dressers are old pine pieces we bought many years ago. I'm looking for a bar cart right now so searching all the familiar places: Overstock.com, Wayfair, Ikea, Target, Crate and Barrel. I'd look at Anthropoligie too if I was willing to pay the price. Good luck.

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  10. Very motivational, thank you, and I will order the roller too. For the record though, I'd say your pictures are definitely insta/Pinterest worthy! I am desperate to de-clutter. I think my stumbling blocks are valid. How do you and others deal with the other person in the house? I would be throwing things out/donating left right and centre but it's not just my choice. Also, I don't know where/how to donate. I wonder if there's a resource for different donation options state by state out there? Finally, and most importantly, after working all week, weekends are for knitting :-)

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    Replies
    1. Oh my gosh, those pesky family members!! I have only my husband here and he begrudges throwing out anything. He was terrible about going through his closet and never saw anything wrong about keeping clothes he would never wear again. I think what finally got him on board is him seeing me work so hard the last few years. He was full of compliments and loved how everything looked and felt, even though his closet was still a horror show. I begged him to donate clothes so others could be blessed with what he did not need. It took us several rounds over the year but he did it. I was there every step of the way. He loves to shop online and I remind him that every one thing he brings in, he has to remove one thing, like for like, and has he already picked out what he wants to get rid of? He actually is on board now, but it was a process. Arggh, good luck.

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  11. Kristen,
    I love your posts and have been following you for a long time. I am also a gardener and avid knitter. I was wondering how you keep your sweaters mothproofed? Do you seal up the bins on the summer? I find it hard to put all mine away and then retrieve them again in the fall. What do you do?
    Best,
    Ann

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    1. Thank you! As for moths, it's a huge subject, but mainly I keep my knits scrupulously clean. I store my winter sweaters in my mother's old cedar hope chest and wash them beforehand. I have many sweaters obviously and it takes me about two weeks to get through them. I'm able to dry 6 at a time on the tables on my shaded patio, so as soon as they are dry, I fold them and store them in the cedar chest then I wash another 6. The moths like dirty sweaters and for the most part leave the clean ones alone. Also, cedar is supposed to deter moths but that may be an old wives' tale, but I've never had a problem with moths in the cedar chest. I did have a bad moth attack in my armoire a few years ago. I used mothballs for about 6 months. I know they are horrible, but moths terrify me. I don't know what I hated more, moths flying out of the armoire, or the stink of moth balls. That worked and I haven't had a problem since. To get rid of the mothball smell, I took the sweater outside for about 10 minutes and the smell went away. It doesn't stay on forever like you would think. Lavender sachets and herbal gizmos don't work for me. I know there are pheromone traps you can buy and apparently they are really effective. If, God forbid, I should have another infestation, I'm going to use them. If you ever hear of something that will work, please share! Kristen

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  12. Hi Kristen,

    Thank you so much for your latest Knitionary post about deep cleaning. I feel inspired by your work (spiders and all!), since I've recently begun a similar effort, especially with all the paper here in the house. (My husband is fond of saying, “There are small businesses with less paper than you have!). It's an enormous decluttering effort, after more than 40 years of living here—40 years of a rich life and innumerable bad habits.

    I especially appreciate your image of eating the elephant one bite at a time. It reminds me of a favorite author, Anne Lamont, whose book, Bird by Bird, uses a similar image. Alas, I have more of an elephant size problem, especially since, as you can well imagine, I would rather be knitting!

    Please do continue to post about your progress. I am eager to hear how you are handling the rest of the house.

    How old is Carter now? Such a big boy! and a great knitwear model!

    Love,
    Carol

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    1. I love that Annie Lamont book and I remember her father giving her that bit of advice when she waited to the last minute to write her Birds of the World term paper. LOL. Thank heavens we don't have a time limit to go though our papers. What is it about saving all those papers???? You sound like you are in the same place I was. Honestly, if you have a space to spread it out, one little pile at a time, then set a timer for 15 minutes, you will be surprised when one day, it is done! Too bad it's not as fun as knitting.

      Carter is now 4 1/2 and he has lost all his baby fat and is tall and thin. Unreal!

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  13. Kristen, thank you for this post, I ordered the collagen and organizing is on the top of my list this year too. Best, Cheryl

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    1. Oh great! I should have said in my post that I took half the daily dose they recommend. It took me about 6 months to fully realize stronger nails and more than a year to see the results in my hair. It's not overnight, but once discovered, I will always have it be part of my morning.

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    2. Another great tip-Thank you!

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  14. I meant to comment on your last post but forgot. Add me to the list of those who are enjoying your organizing posts!

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