Time to Declutter!

minimalist diningI will be turning 60 this year and although I am not ready to retire, it may be time to downsize. Many of the things in my home have surpassed any usefulness, but slap me in the face whenever I see them and know I no longer have a use for them. Red patent leather roller skates, skis, a wet suit, aging furniture which no longer has a place all take up space without delivering the function they once did. A computer tower, TV cabinet, fine china and several closets full of bedding enjoy space that could be used for better things. All have a place in my heart and history, but now look lost, forlorn and useless, at least to me.


I started decluttering/downsizing everything we owned several years ago, more through necessity than desire. I was moving to a smaller home and did not have the room to store it all. I gave many items to my and donated more items. It is always hard to let something go that has been in the family for generations, but there comes a time when possessions can take over and become more a hindrance than a help.

I keep a donation bag handy all the time and when it is full, it goes to the car to be dropped off. My advice on this is, that once in the bag, never look back. A box for each of my children sits ready for their next visit. If they don’t want it and take it with them, out it goes. Anything dog-eared and worn goes in the trash or rag bag.

I am discovering that I like the clean and spacious home without having things to put away, clean, dust and repair. Fumio Sasaki, a Japanese minimalist blogger and write says, in his blog Minimal & Ism “I think many people have learned that gathering things does not make you happy,” Sasaki says. “The older generation experienced the bubble economy, which praised material abundance, but our generation didn’t. You can feel more liberated by having fewer things around you.”

breakfast room

I am not an advocate of stark cold interiors, rather spaces with useful and beautiful items which function properly. Purge gently and often. Limit new purchases to necessities and try, as hard as it is to throw out two things for every one that comes in.


The Organized Entryway


Wood-Bench-In-Entry-White-Paneled-WallsAn organized entry way is the key to a great start on the day. If you have ever started out the morning searching frantically for your keys or sunglasses, you understand that having a spot for everything where you can grab it and go is key to simplicity and calm in the morning.

If you are lucky, as I was, to have kids, mornings are a chaotic mess if there is not a plan and a place for everything. Start with the school stuff. Homework, soccer shoes and notebooks need a special place, hopefully close to the door and large enough to house the day’s necessities. Each person in the household needs their own space, or it won’t work. Hang coats, leave gloves, shoes and scarves here. Anything that comes in and must go out, must be put in place before bedtime, or the time consuming final paper will undoubtedly be left on the night stand or kitchen table. The plan is that everything is in place the night before. For lunches or refrigerated items, leave a sticky note on the door, so it won’t be forgotten in the mad rush out the door. Grand Central Station

The entry or rear entry should contain an easily cleanable flooring material to handle muddy or wet boots and shoes, a bench or seat for removing shoes, cubbies for storing footwear. Hooks, which are handier for coats than hangers are a good choice. They also work for scarves, umbrellas, back packs and bags. Upper cubbies are great for hats, bags and packages. A small table or counter works well for mail, packages and cell phones. A dish or small hooks keep keys in check. The important thing is to purge this area often to keep it from becoming a catch-all.

cubby bench

Sporting goods are best kept in individual bags, backpacks or cubbies so that they can be grabbed without sorting. Leave bag unzipped until all of the items have been washed and returned. If the bag is open, there is something missing, like socks, t shirt or dance shoes.

My personal checklist includes sunglasses, keys, purse, coffee mug and cell phone. In the winter I add a scarf and gloves. Keeping these things near the door and in the same place greatly decreases the possibility that they will be forgotten at home or missing just as I head out the door. A phone charger near the door works well even if you keep your phone by your bed at night. When you get up, plug it in by the door and grab it as you go already charged.

Items to deliver, drop off, donate, mail or ship can also be left in this convenient area, so they can go out the door with you. I often move these right into the car so that they are ready whenever I am.

“Out of sight out of mind” is an old cliché that is a perfect reminder that works like a charm. If you need to remember to drop the check at the bank, mail the payment leave it on the front seat along with your child’s bag or backpack, so they don’t forget it in your car. These all serve as a visual reminder of what you need to accomplish before you go home.

entry benchWhen you come home at night, this is a staging area for the next day. A cue that the day is over and it is time to relax. Knowing that everything is packed and ready to do for the next day makes the evening much smoother and more enjoyable.

Accents, Bedroom Design, Organization

Make the Bed.


Nothing says comfort like a well-made layered bed. Climbing into bed at night should be a relief, not a chore. Think of a turn down service at a luxury hotel, complete with chocolates on the pillow. Sateen high thread count sheets and a down duvet speak of royalty and providence. Extra pillows add a feeling of comfort and relaxation. An extra throw for the cold nights and a neck roll to add height and support and a good night’s sleep is guaranteed. Add a bench or chair to sit on to remove shoes, a pitcher of water on the night stand and a lamp for reading. A comfy carpet or area rugs are a welcome addition to stretch your toes. Soft music, a small TV for viewing and a charger for cell phone. Don’t forget to set the alarm.



Start with the bedding. A comfortable and attractive bed starts with a comforter, duvet and cover or quilt and matching shams. A down comforter and/or feather bed is especially nice in cold winter months.

Comforters and Comforter Sets
The market place is full of ready-made synthetic fill comforters and sets. They are usually inexpensive. These are easy to launder and generally hypoallergenic, but the quality and desirability can be questionable.
Down Comforters


Duvets: according to Wikipedia, are a type of bedding consisting of a bag filled with down, feathers, silk, or other synthetic fibers. They are generally made of white cotton and then protected with a removable decorative cover. There are a number of natural duvet options, but down is most often recommended due to its flexibility. Except in rare occasions, feather and down allergies are a result of dust and dirt collected inside the duvet, not the down itself. Shelter magazines use a high fill count down duvet and beautifully crafted duvet covers.

Synthetic Fibers: More economical than feathers or down, synthetic duvets are easy to clean, but not as insulating as feathers or down. They also are considered more hypo-allergenic.
Feathers: The contoured shape of feathers provides a supportive quality which makes them appropriate for use in sleeping pillows, decorative pillow inserts and feather beds. They are generally not used for insulating purposes.
Down: The three-dimensional plumage found under the belly feathers of ducks and geese is referred to as down, which work as insulation. Unlike feathers there is no spine, making them more comfortable, insulating and breathable. Fill power refers to the volume one ounce of down occupies. The higher the value the more volume the one ounce will occupy. Fill power also provides an index for determining the lofting, insulation properties and quality of the down.
Silk: Silk duvets are generally expensive and are prized because of their superior thermal properties, and hypoallergenic properties. The best silk duvets are made from wild silk.
Feather Bed: A feather bed is much like a duvet, except it generally uses a lower quality of feathers/down and is placed just over the mattress, under the bottom sheet.
Baffles: The construction of vertical walls of fabric between each box allows the fill to achieve its greatest loft and a smoother surface texture. The boxes are stitched closed to prevent shifting of the fill material. The box shape is more visible because the top and bottom layers of fabric are sewn together

Caring For Down Comforters:

down comfortersA down comforter will last many years if cared for properly. Always protect your comforter from direct contact with body oils by using a duvet cover or by placing between two flat sheets and launder no more than once or twice per year unless there is obvious soiling. More frequent washing will shorten the life of your comforter. In between laundering we recommend you occasionally place it outside in fresh air and direct sun to restore freshness. Frequent fluffing will help retain the loft that makes your comforter so lush and inviting. Dry cleaning is an option, if you must, but we prefer not to see the chemicals added to your beautiful down bedding.
Profession laundering (note laundering, not dry cleaning) is recommended based on the fact that most consumers over apply detergent and fail to rinse and dry the item properly. If you choose to home launder please use the following guidelines:
• Check seams and fabric carefully – if weakness is evident do not home launder!
• Machine wash in an over-sized machine without a center agitator, using warm water and mild detergent on the delicate cycle.
• Do not use bleach or fabric softener.
• Repeat the rinse cycle an additional 1-2 times to ensure the detergent is completely removed.
• Dry using the low heat. Place a couple of clean tennis balls or dryer balls inside the dryer to add the process. Removing frequently to shake will help minimize wrinkling and aid the drying process. Dry well beyond the point where the outer fabric feels dry so that the down clusters will be fully dry – this often takes 3-4 hours.
• If possible, allow the comforter an additional 24 hours to air dry and release any moisture before placing inside a duvet cover. If you notice a lingering odor or clumping then the item was not fully dry when it was removed from the dryer.

Matelassé Quilts


Matelassé is a weaving or stitching technique which yields a pattern that is quilted or padded. Matelassé may be achieved by hand, on a loom, or a quilting machine. Because of its tightly woven nature, it stands up to heavy wear and tear, is washable and ages beautifully. It is very pet friendly bedding. The tight quilting is durable enough to stand up to heavy pawing and clawing and provides a sturdy protective layer over fine linens.

Pillows and Shams

Pillows, whether down-filled or fiberfill add to the ambiance of the perfect bed.

Euro Shams: European shams and pillows are the standard in French décor. 27” x 27” square pillows are often covered with fabric to match sheets, duvet covers or accent fabrics. They are usually are placed next to the headboard for extra support or to add interest to the bed. Shams are covers only, and fillers are generally purchased separately from the shams.

Standard Shams: American shams generally fit standard sized pillows. These are usually 21” x 27.” Queen and King shams are also available on some products, which fit larger pillow forms.

Accent Pillows: Accent pillows are added to enhance design or for specific uses such as neck-rolls for neck support.

Bed skirts or Dust Ruffles


Bed skirts and dust ruffles, although usually commandeered to Country or Rustic designs, are making a come-back. Look for soft voile, gauze and burlap fabrics to embrace the new rustic and industrial markets.

Sheets and Pillow Cases
Cotton sheets are the most comfortable because they absorb perspiration and “breathe”. Egyptian cotton is the best quality, but other high count sheets are also acceptable. The higher the thread count the smoother and silkier the sheets will feel. Avoid blends of cotton, polyester or other fabrics, since these tend to pill and are not as absorbent.

Lastly. Add a throw to the foot of your bed for these cold winter nights. It adds an extra layer for drama and a little extra warmth.

Climb in and enjoy!