Living With Intention

Happy New Year, everyone! I hope you enjoyed a wonderful holiday season and found some time to relax, entertain, and bond with friends and family.

I am always filled with great anticipation in January. I look forward to thinking through all that I hope to accomplish in the coming 12 months. This year, I am taking this process VERY seriously and centering all of my aspirations around the following theme: living with intention.

I am looking at everything with greater questioning and intentionality. I’m asking important and sometimes hard questions in many areas – including our home, finances, possessions, physical health and even travel plans. I think many of us are often on auto-pilot or worse, functioning in the reactive mode instead of living with forethought and planning. I’m guilty of it in some areas as well, so I’m definitely not pointing fingers.  Instead, I’m hoping to bring awareness to the table and approach each month with greater planning and intention.

I’m hoping you’ll join me on this journey. Each month my goal is to challenge myself and inspire all of you to tackle a project that will help us achieve greater productivity, peace and joy at home. I’m going through all the rooms in our house with fresh eyes and asking:

  • How can we increase the functionality of this room?
  • Do we want/need everything that takes up space in this room?
  • How can we feel more inspired in this space?
  • What can we add/take away to increase our enjoyment of this room?

A Year of Intentional Living at Home

Here’s what you can look forward to in the next 12 months:

  • January ~ Home Office Challenge: How to Create a Space that Supports Productivity and Creativity
  • February ~ Bedroom: Your Place to Recharge, Relax and Sleep
  • March ~ Bathroom: Order, Storage and Function
  • April ~ What’s in Your Closet? Wardrobe Organization and How to Maintain Long-Term Order
  • May ~ Kitchen & Pantry: Where Zones are Key
  • June ~ The Great Outdoors : Porches, Patios, Decks and Balconies
  • July ~ Bon Voyage: Summer Travel Organization
  • August ~ Kids’ Spaces: How to Keep Them Clean, Organized and Functional 
  • September ~ Foyers, Entry Areas & Mudrooms: Where Function and Form Work Together
  • October ~ Living Room: Sit and Stay for a While 
  • November ~ Dining Room: Gather Around the Table (Also ideas for holiday entertaining!)
  • December ~ The Organized Home: Organizational Systems that Sustain Themselves

I will be doing a lot of work and reporting back to you to make your work easier. I will also be sharing resources, tips and strategies regarding both organization and design (both home- and life-related!), so you won’t want to miss the blog. Make it easy on yourself: SUBSCRIBE! That way everything gets delivered right to your inbox.

Here’s to a new year filled with greater awareness, productivity and intentionally driven decisions at home and life in general.  

 

Cheers!

Maria

Friday Finds: Make Room for What You Love by Melissa Michaels

Happy Friday, everyone!  I, for one, am really happy it’s Friday.  It’s been a long, emotional week and I’m ready to carve out some time for relaxation.  What about you?  Any fun plans?

This week I attended the Memorial Service for my friend, Carrie Gilmore, who recently passed away.  Some of you knew her as well, and it felt good to stand beside you and remember her spirit.  During the slideshow at the reception, images of slumber parties, snow days playing outside, dinners with friends and many such small moments were on display.  As I watched the photos cycle, I was again struck by how it’s the little moments that make up a big life.  It’s not the grand gestures, but small moments like pancake breakfasts or birthday celebrations with cake and ice cream that stay with us.

All of these moments need a back drop and it’s most often called home.  Our homes don’t need to look magazine worthy for life to occur, but we do need space for things like play, dinners, hobbies, relaxation and gatherings.  We need to be intentional about making space, both physically and emotionally, for the moments of life to unfold.

I was recently selected to be on the launch team for Melissa Michael’s new book, entitled,  Make Room for What You Love. I’m so excited to share this book with you because it so perfectly captures the habits and ideas that lead to creating a purposeful home and why it’s important.  In the introduction, she writes, “Whatever our style, our home should be life giving and soul refreshing, a soft spot to land on a hard day and a beautiful place to recharge and rejuvenate.  The things we bring into our home can be a reflection of who we are and the life we live.”

MOST COMMON PROBLEM: “Too Much Stuff”

The problem I most often hear clients and friends alike complain about is owning too much stuff.  Piles of “stuff,” better known as clutter, take over our homes and get in the way of living life.  So what do most of us do?  We feel overwhelmed and just choose to not make any decisions at all.  Melissa however, makes an incredible observation in this book.  Our indecision is actually a decision to continue living with clutter.  Stop and reread that last line.  I know, crazy, right?

This realization alone was so powerful and made me view my home in a whole new way.  It motivated me into action in a BIG WAY and had me questioning what things and spaces I had been postponing making decisions about, like my closet, our bonus room and our garage.  It turns out that, “the more decisive you can be, the less clutter you’ll face.”  This past week, I was making LOTS of decisions and filling the garbage bin and boxes destined for Goodwill.

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INSPIRATION & TIPS

This book is not only about clutter management.  Melissa offers so much inspiration and concrete suggestions for how to set goals, cultivate habits and reimagine our homes so that we can live the life we’ve imagined for ourselves and our families.  She invites us set goals and reconnect with the home we’ve dreamed of creating.  She provides great ideas for how to achieve those goals.  Here are some examples:

  • Embrace the Pursuit of Less:  “Simplification of both our inner and outer world will allow us to take a deep breath and appreciate more fully what we really value.”
  • Spend Mornings Intentionally:  “If you want to reorganize your home, you have to make order a priority in your day, starting with the moment you open your eyes.  Mornings become like dominoes, setting the pace and tone for the entire day.”
  • Know What to Keep and Where to Put It:  “The two most important decisions you can focus on to bring order to any space are: 1) what to keep, and 2) where it belongs.”  If you can’t find a place for an item, chances are you probably don’t need it or it doesn’t belong in that room.
  • Find More Joy in Your Home:  “How could you find more join the space you have?  Take a walk around your house and look at closets and rooms.  Are you honoring and making the most of the rooms you have, or are they filled with too much stuff?  How could you pare down to better reflect the space you have to love your home even more?”

I think there is something for everyone in this book.  I consider myself fairly organized, but this book galvanized me into action like no other book thus far.  And most significantly, it made me consider how I make decisions about the items taking up space in my home.  I think you are all going to love this one!

Make Room for What You LOVE, by Melissa Michaels, author of the Inspired Room blog.

Make Room for What You LOVE, by Melissa Michaels, author of the Inspired Room blog.

Enjoy your weekend!  Let me know what you think of the book…you can pick up a copy on Amazon!  xoxo ~Maria

Creating a Home on Purpose

Over the last few weeks I’ve been working with a family that is moving into a 7,000 square foot home. It might sound large (and it is!) but they also have nine – yep, nine – kids.  What I’m enjoying so much about this project is the intentionality and thought that is going into prepping this home for their June  move-in date.  We are painting walls & built-ins, adding lighting, selecting new furniture, changing out light fixtures, setting up kid spaces, home-office spaces and much more.  It’s very exciting for both them and me!

I’ve thought a lot about this process.  Specifically, the intentionality that is going into the planning of this home.  I think most people would agree that it’s motivating to move into a new home.  The process of moving always seems to inspire people to sift through their belongs, reconsider what they own and most significantly, reimagine how they want to live.  But here’s some wonderful news: you don’t have to move into a new house to reimagine how you want to live.  You can do that anytime you want.  Even today or this weekend.

It’s very powerful to look at your home and wonder, “If I were just moving in, what would I do differently?”  Or, “If I could start over with my home, what would I change?”  The beauty is that you can ALWAYS start over.

The first step to any kind of change is imagining.  For example, could you:

  • change the wall color? trim color?
  • change the orientation of the room?
  • add an architectural feature like a fireplace or bookshelves?
  • swap out throw pillows?
  • replace the carpet or add some rugs?
  • hang up some new art?
  • reframe existing art?
  • create a gallery wall of photos?
  • go through your belongings and purge what you no longer use or love?

My company tagline is, “Create a home on purpose,” and I stand behind this idea with all of my being.  I think home is the most important space of our lives.  Anna Spiro captures this sentiment beautifully in her book, Absolutely Beautiful Things, “My mother taught me there is nowhere more important than home.  Home is where we entertain, relax, celebrate, play, hide, nurture our children, create memories and rejuvenate our souls.  It is a reflection of all that we are and all that we love.”  I’m not religious, but I think that deserves an, “Amen!”

So, I want to inspire you to reimagine how you live in and use your home.  Reconsider what you own and what’s taking up space in your home.  Do you still love every vase, every pillow or knick knack you own?  If you’re not in love with something, you can change it.   And, it doesn’t have to cost a fortune.  You can change the entire energy of a room by rearranging or reorienting the furniture or removing some things.  Just play with it and see what happens.  It’s only through doing that we discover what’s possible both in our homes and in our lives.

I can’t wait to hear about what you’re going to take on!

Tune in tomorrow for an awesome new book by Melissa Michaels, blogger extraordinaire over at The Inspired Room, entitled, Make Room for What You Love.  I was selected to review the book and put its advise into action in my own home.  I’m really excited to share it with all of you, and it fits so nicely into this discussion of being more intentional about our homes.

xoxo ~Maria

Small Projects, Big Impact

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Many people resolve to get more organized at home around this time of year. However, many quit before they even start because it feels too overwhelming to tackle everything at once.

Now, let’s think about this in a different way.  Instead of thinking you have to get the whole house organized in one fell swoop, consider small projects you can easily approach that will have big impact on your day-to-day functioning. I’m not talking about projects that involve taking down walls, emptying rooms of their contents or rearranging an entire space. I’m talking about things like the junk drawer in your kitchen, your bathroom vanity, or your medicine cabinet. Maybe even your sock drawer…

Starting with smaller projects builds momentum and more significantly, inspires many of us to do bigger projects. So, even though your attic or garage are enormous endeavors (and feel impossible to begin), starting with smaller projects is a great way to strengthen your, “I can do this,” mindset.

And, just because a project is small in scale doesn’t mean it has minimal impact. Here are a few small projects I’ve tackled this month that have improved life around our house in big ways…

  • Junk Drawer No More: Our kitchen junk drawer was a disaster. It had become the final death stop for anything that didn’t have a home. I found it difficult to find necessary things like clips, tape and scissors. So, I decided to give it a clean up and get it organized. I can’t tell you how happy it makes me to open this drawer now. I added some great sorting trays and some decorative paper to the bottom of the drawer for added pretty.  My kids’ response: “Mom, you can’t call it a junk drawer anymore.” Well, that was the point.
Where things go to die in the Siegel house.

Kitchen Junk Drawer: Where things go to die in the Siegel house.

A few drawer sorters and quick clean up: Junk Drawer No More!

A few drawer sorters and quick clean up: Junk Drawer No More!

We keep hair accessories in our kitchen because I help my kids with their hair in the morning before school (in the kitchen).

I help my kids with their hair in the morning before school (in the kitchen).  I highly suggest extra hair accessories for your kitchen if you have girls!

  • Bathroom Vanity Clean Up: I knew I needed to take on this project when I was getting frustrated finding my makeup and putting away my hair dryer. It didn’t take long (around an hour), but it has made getting ready for my day and getting ready for bed so much more pleasant. And, I got rid of SO. MUCH. CRAP. I had toiletries and medicines dated 2013. Seriously.
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Before: I know… I can’t believe I’m showing you this.

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Little project…BIG Impact!

  • Small Switch-Up, Big Impact: We have an armoire in our bedroom that has housed a television for years. However, we never watch tv in bed. Like, ever. I decided to move the tv upstairs to our bonus room where we have our elliptical so that we can watch movies while we exercise.  We usually watch shows on our tiny phone screens. Talk about big impact!  Our armoire is now being used for linen storage – something we desperately needed in our bedroom.  This small change is major for us and has made exercising so much more enjoyable! And…I love having a big space to store extra sheets and towels.

So what projects can you do that are small in scale, but will have big impact on your day-to-day life?  Think about spaces like your entry, a bookshelf, or various drawers.  Maybe even your laundry room?  How could a small change / quick clean up make a big impact?  Here are some common clutter spaces you might start with…

  • Hall Closet
  • Entry Area
  • Tupperware Drawer
  • Linen Closet
  • Undergarments Drawer
  • Toy Bins / shelves
  • Bookshelves
  • Your Closet drawers
  • Entertainment Console
  • Dining Room Buffet
  • Shoe basket/rack in the entry area of of your home

I hope this has inspired you some. If you need more ideas or suggestions, please feel free to reach out. I’m always happy to help.

Happy Organizing!

~Maria

G.R.E.A.T. Goals In Action

If you tuned in yesterday, I laid out an approach that can be easily used to achieve goals for projects in your home this year.  I created the acronym G.R.E.A.T to help guide your efforts.  Here it is again:

G – Identify the Goal.  What do you want to accomplish? Be as specific as possible.

R – Relevant Right Now.  Your goal should be relevant to your life right now.  How will accomplishing this project improve your home/life right now?

E – Execute the Plan.  Write down a step-by-step plan for how you will achieve your goal.  Be as detailed as possible.

A – Accountability.  Having accountability helps many people achieve goals.

T – Time Frame.  Some goals are lofty and need to be accomplished over time, while some can be achieved in one session.  But, every goal needs an “end date.”

G.R.E.A.T In-Action

To help you see this approach in action, I tackled the cabinets of our master bathroom, which were in dire need of an overhaul.  Getting ready had become frustrating because I was hunting for things and there was too much stuff to dig through to get to what I needed.   This was definitely a relevant right now project.

It looks so pretty, right? Until...you open the actual cabinets.

It looks so pretty, right? Until…you open the actual cabinets.

INSIDE… it’s really not pretty.

The good, the bad and the totally disorganized!

The good, the bad and the totally disorganized!

Goal~ Empty, sort, purge and organize contents of bathroom cabinets.  Clean out space, then return relevant, usable contents to clearly labeled areas.

Relevant Right Now ~  A more organized vanity will make getting ready so much more efficient and pleasant.

Execute the Plan ~

  1. Empty all contents out of cabinets and drawers.
  2. Purge and discard expired/unused toiletries, medicines, and makeup.
  3. Wipe down drawers and cabinets.
  4. Return remaining contents to specific areas / drawers.
  5. Label drawers and bins to remind me where to store items and maintain order over time.

Accountability ~ That would be you – reading this blog!

Time Frame ~ Done by end-of-day Monday in order to share with readers.

Here’s how it went down.

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Why am I saving all of these hotel bottles of lotion? I have no idea.  And what are these pliers doing here??

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I just love a clean, blank slate…

After…

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I threw away so. much. stuff.  An entire garbage bag of stuff, to be exact.

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One drawer dedicated to hair care. Easy.

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When I look at this I wonder, “Why did I wait so long to do this?”

I purchased nothing to accomplish this goal.  I used baskets I had lying around and repurposed what was already there.  The entire project took about an hour.  I love instant gratification!  Starting with a manageable project like this will get you motivated and build up momentum to tackle larger projects.  And, like so many things in life, starting is the hardest part.

Ready to do great things in your home?  Go!  Let me know how it goes…

Happy Organizing,

 ~Maria