When I began plotting out this week’s post, the topic I had in my sights was a how-to on home staging. But then I remembered, “Hey, it’s Christmas tomorrow. Nobody wants to hear about something that might resemble work.” Sadly, by the time I had this realization an hour of research had been logged and I had a full page sitting before me of transcribed brainstorming. Well, “waste not, want not,” Mom used to say. Since I can’t disregard my mother, today we will make use of all we have learned about home staging and apply it to our lives, together creating something of a New Year’s Resolution grab-bag.
The first and possibly most important thing about home/life staging is this: Clear the Clutter. These pictures, posted by Michelle Minch, illustrate just how important cleaning up your living space is. Whether you’re trying to sell a house or just get dressed in the morning, everything comes together rather painlessly if you are organized and making the most of the space around you. This could be as simple as buying a bigger hamper or a Rubbermaid that fits under your bed. Or you might make a circuit around your house and/or office with a black trash bag, tossing out anything you’re sick of or whatever happens to get in your way. The goal is to get your possessions whittled down to a point where they each have their own place and aren’t overflowing into other possessions’ air space. Doing this will eliminate the “Where’s Waldo?” method most people employ when looking for a pair of socks or a can opener. Being organized and knowing where things are will reduce daily stress exponentially, in turn affecting the way you interact with clients and even the way you look at your day.
Another important facet of staging is the way you Put Your Color Scheme to Work. In a living room, this might mean matching a throw rug with a new roll of wallpaper, or applying a fresh coat of paint to accentuate the warm breath coming off a hardwood floor. As far as life goes, this concept doesn’t mean so much that we should match our overcoat with our car’s paint job, but instead that we should strive to achieve a harmonious living environment. A wristwatch will cease to tick if a cog is misplaced, and the same holds true for our day to day. Strive to keep every facet of your life working in congruency rather than competition. This could mean seeking membership at a gym located between your office and your kid’s school, minimizing your commute. Or maybe you could begin keeping a coffee maker on your desk so you have one less thing to worry about when leaving the house in the morning. Taking small steps like these to hurdle the logistical barriers in your daily itinerary will help make things seem less overwhelming and soon the halting progress of your daily grind will become more like a purring, well-oiled machine that just won’t stop.
I recently read a story of an agent in the midst of staging a home who removed a picture from its mount, only to reveal a before unseen set of windows providing an uninhibited view of the property’s most valuable asset: a pool-touting, fully landscaped backyard paradise. You might ask, “Why would the homeowner want to cover up a set of windows?” Well don’t ask because I don’t know. I do know that windows are one of the most important parts of our lives. Why? Well, why does the caged bird sing? I’ll tell you: the caged bird sings so that he can forget for a few moments the cruel reality of not being outside. When we are ‘caged’ in our homes, windows to the outside world remind us of the people in our lives, the places we go, the things we have seen. Windows let us travel through our memories, thinking back on bygone days spent looking out windows in much the same way you are now; the only difference being what’s on the other side. Alright, alright, what does all this have to do with my life, especially after New Year’s? In truth, windows have as much to do with New Year’s as the Easter Bunny, but the point I’m trying to make here is that the memories and opportunities provided by windows are the reasons we should sing. Why does the caged bird fall asleep when you cover him in a blanket? Well, because you just took away his only inspiration for song.
True, the Christmas Spirit has been known to turn even the burliest of men into sentimental sobs whose eyes water at the sight of puppies and babies and anything wearing antlers. But is that necessarily a bad thing? After all, sentimentality is just an enzyme in the brain sparked by whatever happens to be on the other side of the window. Is it so bad to be labeled a sob for one day out of the year? No! You go girl, fawn over those puppies! This holiday season, don’t be afraid to get caught up in it all. Find joy in giving the gift that makes your friend smile; don’t stifle the urge to enjoy cheesy Christmas specials with your kids; and don’t forget to take a good, long look out your window tonight. We will never be able to get Christmas Eve, 2008 back, and some of the people that are standing with us around the window might not be here next year to enjoy the view. I don’t say that to discourage, but instead with the hope that you all will take the time to cherish the inside of your ‘cage’, step back, sing a song, and hopefully realize that the meaning of life is just that: living.