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Bonus Post: Holiday Clean Out

Greetings and a Happy Holidays to everyone! The Holidays can be a tough time to keep everything balanced and juggle all the end-of-year work, kid's activities, family commitment and the like. I've tried to keep a once-a-week post schedule, and that, already, has fallen away during this hectic time. That said, I would like to share something my family and I have tried twice now (last year and this year) - an end of the year clean up and clean out.

Normally this blog, and my advice, is for renovation, additions to houses, basement fixing, and updates to spaces. However, I wanted to share this year what my wife and have tried twice now - that sometimes just tiding up a space makes a huge difference. Both visually, and mentally. My wife and I renovated our basement with DIY spirit (and some great contractors) almost 2 years ago now. Our first pictures of our new space were of a clean, crisp, curated space. Well this holiday season things were looking a bit...well, shabby. Mostly because of things stacked here, or there... or there...or on top of that. Just the act of living has this effect. We took advantage of time-off to clean house, literally.

We did three things:

1) We set up two bags, Goodwill and Garbage. (and one more actually, to sell; on a Facebook group in the Northshore area). This step got us in the mindset of letting go... some things have a better home somewhere else, and it may be the garbage.

2) We re-organized a couple shelves in our storage area for a better functional flow. We moved the extra TP, paper towel, envelopes, printer paper, etc. to a closer shelf.

Note on STORAGE : We purposely created a small storage area in our basement renovation to keep us honest. We said, "lets use one part for activity - TV watching, Exercise and Kid play zone; the remaining small part will be our storage..and that's it". We bought nice metal wire shelves and what fits will limit what we can keep.. When things start stacking on the floor we know it's time to clean. That is what we did in 1 hour as our holiday vacation kicked in... before new stuff came in.

3) We asked our daughter to help. We asked her to pick out things that she felt she was too "old for", or that she was tired of playing with - and we emphasized that another family might need it more than her. We have done this a few times with her and she always has gotten excited about letting something go to help someone new. My wife and I are quite proud of her.

All in all we took about an hour to let some stuff go, re-organize our storage area for a more efficient use of shelf space and teach our daughter about giving and sharing.

This act of re-organizing and updating also got me thinking about how renovations, additions and new construction is typically depicted in media. We see Dwell Magazine, and great Pinterest or Instagram pictures of living spaces... all curated and set up. But we all know that is not how most of us live. Life is fast, it gets messy, and things get accumulated, distributed and stacked. Especially with kids (they are SO good at distributing toys so evenly you would think they planned it in advance). So as a way to make myself feel better - I took a few photos of my "before" and "after"... we cleaned... just like a renovation. Why?, Because it felt like a renovation. A mini-reno. Emotionally it felt great to see the space all curated again... all put back in its place, and to have sold some stuff and giving much away. So as a holiday bonus: Renovations don't always need a saw or a contractor. Sometimes just time and a garbage bag.

Note: because I got this idea while working on the project, I forgot to take a "before" image. OOPS! So if you use your imagination, picture lots of stuff stack next to the shelves... like paper bags of clothes for good will, magazines, dog food, summer blow up toys... etc.

LOCATION: Greater Milwaukee


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